Founded in 1967, the Clemson University rugby program has a rich history of success in intercollegiate competition. With strong performances throughout the 1990’s and consistent top 15 national finishes from 2005-2007, and an Elite 8 finish in 2013, Clemson Rugby has been symbol of excellence in American collegiate rugby. Through tremendous support from the University and the Clemson Rugby Foundation, the rugby team is making great strides to re-establish itself as an elite program in the United States. Clemson competes in the Atlantic Coast Rugby League.
- USA Elite 8 Appearances: 2013, 1996 & 1989
- USA Sweet 16 Appearances: 2013, 2007, 2006, 2005, 1998, 1996 & 1989
- Atlantic Coast Rugby League Champions: Fall 2013
- Atlantic Coast Rugby League Runner Up: Spring 2013 & 2012
- USA Rugby South Champions: 2006, 1998, & 1996
- Georgia Rugby Union Champions: 2006, 2005, 2004, & 2003
Returning this year, are Head Coach Justin Hickey and Assistant Coach Wright Henry, who, together, have compiled a 22-4 record in ACRL conference play over the last 4 seasons.
Dr. Rob Lawson rejoins the staff in a greater capacity this season. Dr. Lawson will oversee the team’s Strength & Conditioning program. Dr. Lawson also works with athletes on the Track & Field and Golf teams at Clemson, but has rugby roots dating back to his time spent studying and playing at Life University.
Nick Whitrow enters his first season as Assistant Coach for the Tigers. Coach Whitrow comes to Clemson from Ormskirk, England by way of Tucson, Arizona. He will work primarily with the backs, and will bring a high level of knowledge from his days as a player where he was primarily a scrumhalf/flyhalf as well as his coaching experience, which he gained as part of the USA Rugby High School All American staff, where he aided Salty Thompson with video analysis for various domestic camps.
Mike Finney joins the backroom as a Graduate Assistant Coach this fall. Mike is a former Tennessee Volunteer, where he received his undergraduate degree, before pursuing a Master’s degree and now a PhD at Clemson. Mike will continue to train and play with the Clemson JV squad, while he transitions into a role, focusing on development of the Tigers’ freshman squad.
The program also has a new full time athletic trainer. Nadia Najm joins the rugby staff as a Graduate Assistant Athletic trainer. Nadia comes to Clemson, where she will study Nutrition, from Connecticut. Nadia’s addition to the staff provides a major step in the right direction in terms of high performance and athlete welfare.
The Tigers return a number of key players for the 2013-14 season, including Senior Max Simons, the 2013 team MVP. Simons, a tight head prop, will be looked to as an emotional leader, being one of the only seniors on a young and talented squad which includes 2013 ACRL Freshman of the Year, Ryan Gilroy. Gilroy will again provide direction from the scrumhalf position, launching a dangerous Tiger backline, including 3-year starter Nick Johnson, and senior Eddie Abreu. The team will also look for a breakout year, from returning sophomore Dylan Goulding who will slot into the centers. Prop Brett Weaver, along with 2012 ACRL Freshman of the Year, and hooker Dan Collins, will provide leadership in the forwards along with Simons and flanker Ryan Sullivan. Also look for sophomore flanker James Rogers to have another outstanding year.
With a very talented recruiting class entering, Clemson anticipates strong contributions and an immediate impact from a number of freshman. Jason Damm, Dylan Bargar, Greer Layne and Stuart Harr will look to provide depth in the forwards, at backrow and at lock, along with Nic Query, a solid, young prop. Flyhalf Aaron Keers and scrumhalf Jennings Stroud make up an exciting half back combination that could thrill Tiger fans for a number of years. Backs Colin Gregory, and Garion Wascher provide explosiveness to the midfield and on the wing.