CREATING A CULTURE OF GIVING BACK

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Rugby players are known for giving back to the community. In 2017,17 college players were nominated for the Life of Significance Award given out at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship to a player who best exemplifies a commitment to community and a better future for all. However, it is more than just players who give back. Several Penn Mutual CRC teams have taken the lead in instilling a culture of supporting their local community.

The Clemson men’s rugby program under head coach Steve Lynch has been involved in a myriad of causes for the betterment of the community. Partnering with the organization Camp Kemo, the team hosted the “Scrum for the Cure 7s” and participated in the Clemson Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research.

“Clemson Rugby values are based on the whānau, a Māori concept of extended family. Every member of our whānau must support each other to be most effective; a deep commitment and fierce loyalty to teammates ensures that no members are left behind. Moreover, these principles of whānau embrace the broader community as part of our extended family,” Lynch told Penn Mutual.

Additionally, the team has worked with Collins Children’s Home to support their goal of giving marginalized children a sense of family and belonging and partnered with Fostering Big Ideas to collect stuffed animals and suitcases for children in foster care.

In addition to the work being done in their local community with foster care, the Clemson Rugby program continued its charitable contributions while attending the CRC in Philadelphia. Prior to arriving, the program connected with a local organization, Northern Children’s Services. The team spent the Thursday before the CRC sharing rugby culture with a group of kids ages 8-13. The club, through a generous donation from National Athletic Village, provided the children and families with free tickets to attend the CRC and cheer on their favorite players.

Clemson University rugby teammates

“It’s not about community service, it’s about community connection. It felt almost magical, a rare, but real connection beyond sport was made. We joined our fans in the stands after our match and were welcomed by our new “siblings” with high-fives, hugs and love,” said Lynch.

For all of their work, the program, rather than an individual player was nominated for the Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award.

Along with the Clemson men’s rugby program, the Lindenwood women’s program under coach Billy Nicholas has created a culture of community support.

“It is really important to me that we are not only developing the player but also the person here at Lindenwood. That involves getting out into the community and making sure we are a positive fixture,” said Nicholas.

The program has participated in several fundraising efforts. Lindenwood supported Rockin’ 4 Relief, an organization that raises money for fire fighters and paramedics who lost their lives in the line of duty and Girls on the Run, which supports the empowerment of women in St. Louis.

“These are causes that impact our community. Our girls are making a commitment to giving St. Louis a brighter future,” Nicholas told Penn Mutual.

Coach Billy Nicholas speaks to team

In addition to the fundraising efforts, the team also uses rugby as a means of giving back to the community. The Lions have taken part in a number of Rookie Rugby clinics around the St. Louis area, introducing the sport to the local youth.

“As part of our commitment to giving back we love introducing the game of rugby to new people. The game is a great vehicle for teaching life skills and we love being able to use it to support other people and do our part to grow the game,” Nicholas concluded.

The rugby community is well known for its commitment to giving back. These two programs are two examples of teams going above and beyond to help make a better future for everyone.

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