Mount St. Mary's University Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson announced the Mount will elevate the women's rugby program to full varsity status beginning with competition this coming fall. The decision makes the Mount one of only seven NCAA Division I programs in the nation and means the university will compete against some of the nation's most respected academic institutions.
Robinson has also announced the hiring of Farrah Douglas as head coach for the inaugural varsity team.
Mount St. Mary's joins Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, and the United States Military Academy as the only NCAA Division I women's rugby programs in the country.
"After much research and discussion, we have made the decision to elevate our club women's rugby team to NCAA varsity status. The popularity and awareness of the sport is growing at all levels," commented Robinson. "We have had a very strong club program the past few years and we are confident that we will be able to make a successful transition to varsity status. We already have a great group of young women involved with the club, and we feel that we will be a very competitive NCAA program in a short period of time. We all look forward to a successful season in 2017-18."
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The announcement is part of a plan to expand the Mount's intercollegiate athletics program over the next few years as women's rugby becomes the 19th Division I varsity sport at Mount St. Mary's.
"We are pleased to offer such a unique D1 sport as part of our strategy to grow athletics and add to our legacy of excellence in athletics. I am also extremely pleased that Coach Douglas has agreed to join the Mount and lead our team. She comes extremely well qualified to make our program very competitive," said President Tim Trainor.
Douglas brings over 12 years of coaching experience to the Mount, with involvement at the national, collegiate and high school levels. Douglas has been the head coach of the USA Girl's High School All-American (USA U-18) Team for the past two seasons, and the assistant coach with the USA Women's National Team since 2012. Douglas has been at the helm of the Gonzaga College High School team in Washington, D.C. since 2010, while also serving as technical director and skill coach at The Rugby Academy in Potomac, Md. from 2010-15.
"We are thrilled to welcome Farrah Douglas to Mount St. Mary's University as our new head women's rugby coach. Farrah's experience as an elite player and successful coach perfectly position her to guide our program, and we are extremely fortunate to have her join the Mount family. Under Farrah's leadership, the future of our women's rugby program is indeed very bright," said Robinson.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to assist in developing women's rugby at Mount St. Mary's and continue to be a part of the growing history and legacy of women's rugby in the United States," said Douglas. "It will take time to create a successful varsity program, but I am thrilled about both the potential and the future. We will build upon many of the current team's foundations and collaborate with the men's staff as we look to not only develop women's rugby at the Mount and as an NCAA leader, but a program that will be at the forefront of collegiate rugby."
Douglas got her coaching career started as an assistant at Noble Street Charter High School in 2004, working there for five years before breaking into the collegiate realm as an assistant coach at Penn State University from 2009-10.
"Having Farrah as the head coach of our NCAA Division I women's rugby program is an incredible opportunity for us," said Director of Rugby Operations Jay Myles. "She is an amazing coach and mentor for young women across the nation. I am anxious for us to work together and believe she will be a huge asset to the Mount."
Douglas was a member of the 2006 and 2010 USA Women's National Team, registering 26 international caps during her time with the squad. Douglas served as an international female athlete representative to USA Rugby's Congress from 2009-13.
Douglas, a 1999 graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, was a member of the women's rugby and indoor & outdoor track and field teams during her collegiate career.