It is with great sadness that D1A Rugby has learned about the passing of Colorado State’s head coach, Rod Hartley, after a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hartley had been a tremendous servant to rugby in America, and particularly within the Colorado community.
Hartley in the last decade really cemented himself within Colorado’s rugby playing population. It began coaching when he coached the University of Northern Colorado’s women’s team, however, after a short spell with them he transitioned to the men’s game and was placed under the wing of Mark Smith. Smith grew close with Hartley and held him in the highest regard, “He epitomized what rugby and coaching was all about.” Smith stated, “He was dedicated to his team, to coaching and to his players. He personified the ethos of rugby being a gentleman’s game.”
After his tenure with Northern Colorado, Hartley moved to Colorado State where he had enormous success and was able to coach them into the D1A Playoffs this season. He not only left a lasting impact on the field through his players, but he created one off the field too. Rod was the type of coach that players wanted to play for. When players were deciding between Colorado State and other schools it was often Rod who was the catalyst in their decision.
Rich Cortez, USA Rugby’s Director of College Rugby, echoed the sentiments of those who had spent time around Hartley. “He was a professional- he was a kind and gentle person who was skilled in coaching and in human relations.”