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Open Letter from Coach Steve Williams

I wanted to finally get around to contacting the Tiger Rugby Alumni and see how everyone is doing. With covid around it has been a weird year for everyone especially the University of Memphis and the Tiger Rugby Team. Because of covid the University cancelled the fall season and rugby until further notice. There are discussions about possibly starting it up in the near future but given the current situation in the City that is doubtful.We are hoping some type of spring season will take place but again, like everything else, time will tell.

Memphis Tigers 1989

Another phenomenal development for the Team was getting Blake White to coach the team. Blake comes over from the Arkansas State Rugby Team which is one of the most successful and nationally ranked teams in the country for the past 20+ years. Blake decided to coach the Tigers as he see almost unlimited potential with the Memphis Team especially with the high school feeder program we have in Memphis and the surrounding areas. He also has great international connections and we could shortly see players with accents (other than Southern) attending Memphis and playing for the Team.

I know many of you were wondering where I have been and why I haven’t already contacted you asking for donations. I really don’t have any good excuse other than I got lazy and found a number of reasons not to do anything. Well I hate to tell you this but I’m back, lean, mean, I’ve got my hand out and I’m again asking for money. As usual we have a number of potential sponsorship levels and opportunities for you to donate to the Team. The donation levels range from as little as $10/month to over $5,000. Should donate you over $5,000 we can easily customize the proper recognition of your donation and work on getting your name and likeness on any number of merchandise or sponsorship items. The donation opportunities listed below are various sponsor levels which could be a monthly draft or lump sum donation. You can choose one of 5 different sponsor levels from the Grey Tiger to the Gold Tiger. In return for your donation you would receive some stunning Tiger merchandise based on the level of your donation.

University of Memphis Rugby Team Donor Levels

Grey Tiger $10 per month$120 per year – foam drink koozie. – This donation will provide a player with a jersey.

Blue Tiger $25 per month $300 per year – koozie and cap. – This donation will pay the S.C.R.C. Conference dues for a year.

Striped Tiger $50 per month $600 per year. koozie and polo shirt. – This donation will pay for the cost of game balls and athletic tape for 1 year.

Silver Tiger $100 per month $1,200 per year – koozie, cap and polo shirt. – This donation will pay for referees for one season.

Gold Tiger $250 per month $3,000 per year. koozie, cap, polo shirt, gym bag – This donation will pay the cost of van rentals for 2 tournament trips each season.

The next donation option would be to sponsor a Team locker. The Team has arranged to fabricate lockers that will be installed in the locker room which is located in the Elma Rhone Fieldhouse. We are looking for individuals or firms that would be willing to be a sponsor for one or more of these lockers. The sponsorship cost is $5,000 and would be good for 10 years. The individual or firm sponsoring the locker will have their name placed on the locker. Below is the information on the locker sponsorship opportunity and a picture of the typical locker is on the attached Tiger Merchandise Sheet. To date we have sold 7 lockers so if you want your name emblazoned on a locker used by one of our stellar student-athletes please let me know.

University of Memphis Locker Sponsorship -Team Locker Sponsor$5,000Payment terms: One-time payment or $1,000/year over 5 years. Donor will have name in plaque placed on the locker. The lockers will be located in the team locker room in the Elma Rhone Fieldhouse. The final sponsor opportunity would be to fund a one or four year scholarship for a player. The donor would have the scholarship named after them if desired. To date we award 7 scholarships annually to deserving students that are members of the rugby Team. This would be an opportunity to financially assist and provide that extra support for one of the student-athletes on the Team.

University of Memphis Rugby Scholarship Sponsor

Scholarship Sponsor $1,200 to $4,800 Donation over a 1-2 year period depending on term. This donation will provide a 1 or 4 year, $1,000 per year scholarship for a student.

Here are a couple of web site links to make either your monthly or lump sum donations described above. For locker or scholarship sponsorships please contact me to discuss the specifics of that type of donation. As always any donation you make to the Tiger Rugby Foundation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Click on on this link and follow the instructions for your donation and sponsor level for the Club. If one of the links below is not a donation option for you we will take cash, checks, credit cards, Venmo and any other form of legal currency or tender and have even been known to accept a large bag of small unmarked bills in a pinch.

Finally I know many of you were hoping to purchase some additional Tiger clothing. We continue to stock a lot of the same Tiger merchandise you purchased last year and gave to family and friends as gifts and tokens of your appreciation. This year we have the same quality merchandise that you have seen in many of the clothing boutiques and fashion houses in Memphis, New York and Paris. Email Me for a Merchandise Form stevewilliams@smpo.com and consider stocking up before the holiday rush begins. Nothing says your special to me like Tiger merchandise given as a gift for Halloween, Deviled Egg Day (11/2), National Fast Food Day (11/16), or National Tie One On Day (11/25).

Last year we received almost $60,000 in donations and commitments from alumni, players, parents and rugby supporters from around the country. We are hoping the Alumni will take a few moments to consider donating to the program again or for the first time.

So before you forget, write yourself a note to donate to the University of Memphis Rugby Team. Please remember that I’m getting older by the day and may not have much time left. So it’s important you dig deep as you can because you don’t want me to come back to haunt you for missing a unique donation opportunity. Let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above sponsorship levels for the Team and thank you again for your support of the University of Memphis Rugby Team. Take care and be safe,

Steve Williams

Tiger Rugby Foundation

Coach White Letter to Tiger Rugby Nation

Tiger Rugby Family and Friends,

            First, I’d like to thank Dr. Cole, the Board of Directors along with the current player leadership group, for putting their trust in me while giving me the freedom to help grow the program. 

            Currently, we have around 15-25 players. Having spent the last three years as head coach of a national contending program at the D1 level it was a relief to hear our leadership group express their intent to become National Champions and how this would require more work and commitment from everyone. In that meeting, we concluded that adding two morning fitness sessions a week was a good start. I have already seen great skill development and rugby IQ increasing seemingly at each session. I am encouraged by this groups effort and enjoyment of the game but even more so their care and commitment to each other as young men.

            In our leadership meeting, these young men came up with three words that will guide us this season. These three words are what we want to hang our hat on and look to as a guide for our thoughts and actions.

-Champions-In everything we do, we will do it to the best of our ability.

-Gentlemen- We will be regarded as upstanding young men on and off the pitch.

-Servant Leaders- We will put others first and always find the courage to be the example.

            I truly believe there is unlimited potential here if we can get the right people aligned and supporting the club to help sustain the growth needed to get this program to the top. Locally we have several youth and high school clubs competing, led by great coaches. I have several connections to some of the best High School programs all over the world and know that with all that Memphis has to offer I can get them here if we can get enough financial help to ease their costs. Having these players will make an immediate impact on our team but this will more so have a lasting impact on our program through cultural diversity and our local talent playing alongside more experienced players. As you may know, we are constantly seeking help to cut costs and improve our program in a variety of ways. Some items include; travel, hotel, jerseys, practice kit, practice equipment, film equipment and software, meals, team fees and the list goes on. From my experience, collegiate rugby in the USA is still very much an arms race, and the programs that can raise the most money to get these items will have a much greater chance at reaching their goals.

            We have a wonderful opportunity to immediately impact our boys. We have purchased 19 custom lockers for the starting lineup, three staff lockers and even one for the referee to be put in our locker room at Memorial Field. These will be numbered 1 through 15 for game day use. We are looking for donors that would like to sponsor the naming rights. The cost will be $1,000/year for 5 years or you can pay all at once. The sponsorship will last 10 years or with an increased amount you can permanently name a locker. ACT FAST as there are only 19 spots available, in years past these have sold out in less than 48 hours. Perhaps you’d like to name a locker in someone’s memory, have your name above the jersey you wore yourself or even your company’s name. These lockers will be movable should we ever be moved to a new locker room.

We have several ways of contributing towards our program, please feel free to email me at Bwhiterugby@gmail.com if you’re interested in helping out.

I’m excited to see you all at our matches this spring!

Go Tigers Go,

Blake White

Head Coach

Memphis Tigers Rugby

Blake White New Memphis Rugby Coach

Memphis TN –10/7/2020 – The Tiger Rugby Foundation announces today that Blake White is taking over the helm as head coach at The University of Memphis.  He assumes the coaching duties as well as management of Tiger Rugby operations.

Coach White now a Tiger!

Blake recently resigned as head coach of Arkansas State (ASU) where he led the Red Wolves to top competition in the USA.  “I’m thrilled to be coaching the Tigers,” said Coach White.  “This program has so much untapped potential.  There is no limit for this program.”   

Tiger Rugby was started in 1983 by Steve Williams who led the program for 7 years before collegiate rugby in the US was highly organized.  Many of his players became leaders and coaches for rugby programs across the US. 

The modern Tiger Rugby program was resurrected by Josh Gardner in 2004.  Richard Cole and Steve Swatzyna took over the program in 2006 and grew the program to be competitive in the South Independent Rugby Conference (SIRC) and then to the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference (SCRC). Marc Holley took over the reigns in 2019 and led the Tigers to their first ever SCRC Division 2 Conference title. 

Along the way, it became clear that the post of head coach was a significant time challenge for any volunteer coach.  The responsibility of club management, fund raising, scheduling, training and game day management could be overwhelming. 

Coach Cole welcomes Coach White

Blake White became available at just the right time. He comes with a wealth of talent.  We was a high school All American in rugby.  He played his collegiate career at ASU where he was selected to play for the All South Team. He played in Australia for West Brisbane Bulldogs.  He then returned to ASU where he served as assistant coach until taking the head coaching job.

“Coach White has the talent, temperament and skills to take the Tigers to the next level,” said Coach Cole, Tiger Rugby Foundation Chairman. “We are all very excited about his passion for our players, Tiger Rugby traditions, and the City of Memphis.”

Coach White is currently meeting with volunteer Tiger coaching staff, players and supporters and making plans for the spring season. (SCRC moved their 15s schedule to the spring and still hope for a 7s tournament in November 2020). 

Coach White is coaching the Junior Blues since the Memphis Tigers are currently in lockdown due to Covid-19.  The Junior Blues program is planning a limited 15s schedule this fall. 

This is a call for Tiger Rugby Nation to help with your support. There are many ways you can help. First, make sure your Kroger Plus Card is linked to Tiger Rugby. We get several hundred dollars each year from Kroger and that number should be several thousand. Here is how you can link your card.

We also need folks to sign up for annual donations or monthly donations to support the Tigers. The Annual Fund allows donors to contribute to support the team on an annual basis and the Tiger Rugby 100 Club is for people who will pay monthly in support of the Tigers. Click on the hyperlink to know more.

So, please link your Kroger card and give a kind gift to the Tigers. Thanks so much for your support.

Tigers Receive Kroger Dollars

Today the Tigers have an additional $400 thanks to all of our fans and families who have taken time to link their Kroger cards to Tiger Rugby.

Kroger Corporation provides a portion of each purchase for folks who have linked their Kroger Plus card to the Tigers. This is free money and we desperately need the funds.

Please link your Kroger Card to the Tigers today. You lose nothing and we gain essential dollars to keep Tiger Rugby rolling.

For instructions on how this works, please follow this link.

Thanks so much for your support of the Tigers!

Tiger Rugby Fall Training Regimen – 2020

Since we are not able to get together, Captain Ethan Scott has approved the 2020 fall home training regimen that you can download at this link. This is an off season training regimen that has been used by Tigers for the past 11 years.

The training regimen is patterned after the USA Eagles training regimen and is designed to provide the proper strength, speed and endurance for competing at the highest levels of rugby.

Ethan Scott, Tiger Captain

“We have a great bunch of players ready to go, said Captain Scott. “It is a shame that we cannot start practice, but we will do the best we can with what we have to work with. This training program will get the players fit so we can work on skills when we get together.”

Read the instructions carefully. Contact Coach Cole if you have any questions. Pay attention to getting adequate sleep and nutrition. You cannot build muscle and endurance without adequate protein and rest.

Eventually, the Covid-19 shutdown will end and we want our team ready to go. So, get off the couch and get to work.

Download the training program at the link above or below.

Tiger 2020 Fall Season Cancelled

The University of Memphis Rugby Team was informed on Friday, July 31, 2020 that their fall 15s season would not happen. There were a combination of issues that cancelled the season, all related to Covid-19.

The University of Memphis club sports division exists under the authority of “clubs” at Memphis and clubs have been prohibited from meeting in person until September 18, 2020. There will be rolling evaluations going forward and in-person meetings (practice) will be evaluated on a monthly basis as the university functions are normalized.

Simultaneous to the announcement from the UM officials, the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference (SCRC) had received notice from several conference teams regarding the same problem. Simply, they were not allowed to play by their universities. So, conference commissioner Martin Bradley has decided to cancel conference play for the fall. Teams may play friendlies as their universities allow.

The SCRC will be evaluating the possibility of have a 15s competition in the spring.

The Tiger leadership will be posting training challenges for the players to increase their speed, aerobic fitness and strength. “Might as well work on our fitness while we are off,” stated captain Ethan Scott. “When we come back together, I want our players bigger and faster.”

2020 Tiger Awards Presentation

We honor our seniors, officers and Honor Roll players on Thursday, May 21 on a Facebook Live presentation at 7:00 pm. You will also find out who the new officers are and the future of Tiger Rugby.

https://www.facebook.com/TigerRugbyFootball/live/

Make plans to check in at 7:00 on Thursday the 21st.

We’ll see you on the web.

Tigers Achieve Academic Honor Roll

It is with great pleasure that I announce that three Tigers have achieved a cumulative GPA above 3.5. These players will be recognized at the Virtual Tiger Awards Banquet, by USA Rugby and by the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference for their achievements.

The Tiger Honor Roll includes

  • Alec Sisco – 2020 graduate and double major in psychology and Criminal Justice, Alec was a key leader on an off the field. While thrilled with his successes, we will sorely miss his intellect and leadership.  

  • Ethan Scott –  Current club secretary and double major in English and Philosophy, Ethan has excelled on and off the pitch.  He is tough at scrum half and plays  30 pounds over his weight. He is a rising senior, so we are looking good next year. 

  • William (Liam) Scott – Junior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Criminal Justice. He was a steady performer at flanker and we are glad we still have him with us.

Well done gentlemen!