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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Queens University Of Charlotte Adds Rugby


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Queens University of Charlotte Director of Athletics Cherie Swarthout announces the addition of men’s and women’s rugby to the departments sport lineup. Both teams will begin competition in the spring of 2018.

Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports at the collegiate level in the U.S. An emerging sport in the NCAA since 2002, the push for varsity women’s rugby status received a boost in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee announced that rugby 7s would return to the Summer Olympics in 2016. The emerging sport status allows for competition to include teams to satisfy the minimum number of competitions bylaw established by the NCAA. As of the fall of 2016, the NCAA has sanctioned rugby for 16 schools. Five of those schools are Division II, while seven are Division I and four are Division III.

Though most colleges and universities classify their men’s rugby programs as club sports, a growing number have begun offering it as a varsity sport. Overall, Rugby in the U.S. is not governed by the NCAA. It is, however, governed by USA Rugby and its representative, geographical unions and local area unions. Under USA Rugby, a college management committee and collegiate director exist to oversee college rugby.

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With the addition of men’s and women’s rugby, Swarthout also introduces Katie Wurst as the director of rugby and Frank McKinney as the head men’s rugby coach.

“We are very pleased to have Katie and Frank lead our foundational efforts for our rugby programs,” said Swarthout. “We look forward to having young men and women on this campus who can help promote the growth of the sport while establishing the Royals as a national caliber program.”

Wurst comes to the Royals with nearly 15 years of coaching experience that spans across youth, college, and professional programs. Collegiately, Wurst has coached at the University of Colorado, the University of Minnesota, Elon University, the University of South Carolina. At the professional level, she served as the national team coach for Lao Rugby Federation, and was a youth coach for Shannon Rugby Football Club in Limerick Ireland. Wurst has also had an array of positions with USA Rugby. After starting out as a game development officer from 2005-2007, she would become the youth development manager from 2007-2009. Currently, she is a coaching course leader and World Rugby coach educator, a role she has held since 2008. Wurst also works as broadcast talent and part of the event management staff for USA Rugby.

Some of Wurst’s competitive sport experience includes nine Munster Women’s Rugby International Tour in France, the Midwest Collegiate Women’s Rugby Development Program, the USA Rugby West Collegiate Women’s NASC, the USA Rugby Senior Women’s NASC, the USA Rugby Senior Women’s Premier League Championship, the Asian Women’s 7s and 15s National Rugby Competition, the Kowlooh 10s Men’s International Competition with the Lao Nagas, and the local DII Charlotte Rugby Club.

"Developing a collegiate rugby program at Queens University of Charlotte is a phenomenal opportunity, and I am truly humbled to play a major role in this progressive movement, said Wurst. “I am greatly looking forward to working with the athletic department to add one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. to the current list of exceptional student-athlete experiences."

Wurst earned her bachelor’s degree in sports management with a minor in strength and conditioning and sport coaching from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse in 2003. She then continued her education at the University of Minnesota to obtain a master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology with a minor in prevention science in 2011. She is currently working towards a Doctorate of Education in kinesiology at UNC-Greensboro.

McKinney has experience in coaching and playing the sport. He played for Belmont Abbey College in the early 90s earning team captain honors before joining the Charlotte Rugby Club where he was a member of the team from 1993-2008. While with the Charlotte Rugby Club, McKinney won five North Carolina State Championships and three Virginia State Champions.

McKinney was the head coach of the Charlotte Tigers from 2015-2017, finishing state runner-up in 2015. Additionally, they were ranked as high as No. 17 in the nation in 2017. In 2014, he served as the head backs coach and head tactical coach at the Citadel.

Prior to coaching the Tigers, McKinney was the head coach at Myers Park High School from 2006-2012, earning regional championship honors in 2012 after the team ranked No. 11 in Rugby Magazine. McKinney also coached at various levels with the North Carolina All-Stars.

“This will be the first varsity rugby team in the state of North Carolina, and being a part of the start is a huge honor,” said McKinney. “I’ve been coaching locally for nine years and this addition at Queens is big for the sport, the city of Charlotte, and the state. I am really excited to be a part of running what will be a great program.”

McKinney holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Belmont Abbey, and a MBA from the University of Michigan.

The Royals will begin recruiting immediately with the goal to play 7s in the spring of 2018.

The Department of Athletics at Queens University of Charlotte is a leading NCAA Division II program in the United States distinguished by its commitment to transforming the lives of its students, and consistently competing at the highest possible levels. Housing 23 varsity level sports, the Royals are a member of the South Atlantic Conference with the men’s and women’s swimming teams competing in the Bluegrass Mountain Conference.

Queens University of Charlotte is a master’s-level university with a commitment to both liberal arts and professional studies. Located in the heart of Charlotte, Queens offers undergraduate, graduate and online degrees such as a highly regarded MBA program, a top-10 Low-Residency MFA program, and an online MSN-Clinical Nurse Leader degree. The university serves approximately 2,250 students through its College of Arts and Sciences, McColl School of Business, Wayland H. Cato, Jr. School of Education, James L. Knight School of Communication, Hayworth School of Graduate and Continuing Studies and Andrew Blair College of Health which features the Presbyterian School of Nursing.

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