Nick Dugan | March 12, 2018
D1A was back in full force this weekend with all top five teams in action and a host of big games bringing conference implications.
The University of Oklahoma Men’s Rugby story begins in 1974 with two law students and an English professor. Tim Wilson, who discovered rugby after serving as a Marine in Viet Nam and Jon Woods, who played rugby as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, quickly grew tired of flag football with their fellow law students and decided it was time to promote a more demanding style of competition.
The first OU Rugby Football Club game was played at the Girdlestone Tournament in Fort Sill, and ever since then the club has grown in size and popularity. After the first home game against the Albuquerque Aardvarks, students were anxious to become a part of the up-and-coming program. Far from being exclusionary, the team has always prided itself on including student athletes from all walks of life.
A base expectation is that these student-athletes are “All In” as athletes, students, and community members. As testament to the effectiveness of this balanced yet challenging program, Oklahoma Rugby has produced many All-Americans and National Team players. Most recently, Taylor Mokate was named All-American in a 2010 tour to England and was named to the US Eagle 15’s squad.
OU has also had a tradition of excellent coaching. The sixth and current Head Coach A. Jason Horowitz has been coaching successful rugby teams for fifteen years and continues to drive this program forward.
The University of Oklahoma Offices of Development, Admissions, and Athletics have also played an integral role in supporting the team. OU was selected to become a part of the Inaugural Collegiate Premier League in 2011, is a current member of the D1A Allied Rugby Conference; and in the Spring of 2014 will be competing in the 12 team Varsity Cup. They will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the team’s founding in March of 2014.
The 2013-2014 season was a successful 7’s and 15’s campaign for the young Sooners under their new Head Coach Jason Horowitz. OU is returning 19 players and has a solid recruiting class that consists of 31 players both incoming freshmen and transfers that have varied experience and specialties. The team expects to compete this Fall 2014 season with 50+ athletes from over 14 states. Last year OU dug deep and competed with only 24 on the roster.