Morehouse Rugby Club Receives National Support In Their Effort To Expand Team

Date Released: April 24, 2017

By D. Aileen Dodd


Interest in the Morehouse College Rugby Club is growing as athletes and national supporters rally to help the winning team become more competitive in the sport. The club recently received a donation of sports equipment from the National Small College Rugby Organization.

Morehouse’s rugby club, which launched in 2012, has 50 members. It combines the talents of freshman, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and alumni who continue to play with the group.

Senior Jeff Bonilla, a business and marketing major from upstate New York, said that he would like to see rugby become part of the regular athletic program at Morehouse College. He joined the club three years ago after learning how to play the sport at Morehouse. He was intrigued by the physical challenge and history of the sport.

“Football originated from rugby, so the sport has a lot of history,” said Bonilla, who plays a flanker on the team, which is like a running back in football. “Rugby is a very hard, gritty, physical sport. You show your speed, make passes … and touchdowns. To be effective on the field, you have to work together as a unit.

“It is safer than football,” Bonilla added. “In rugby, there are certain ways you take down your opponent so that you don’t hurt yourself or your opponent. If you do a tackle wrong in a way that could harm someone, you have to sit out. Football is more dangerous because it is a collision sport. ”

The Morehouse College Rugby Club plays in the Atlantic Conference competing against college teams and private clubs. They have faced rugby teams at Georgia Tech, Valdosta State, University of North Georgia, Emory University, Georgia College & State University, and men’s rugby clubs across metro Atlanta. The Morehouse club is coached by Juanita “Scorpio” McCoy, who plays for the semi-pro team the Atlanta Harlequins, and men’s rugby club veteran Shawn Elms.

“We started getting more buzz as a team in 2014 because we had a reputation for being very tough competitors,” Bonilla said. “We were laying people out and winning a lot.”

Bonilla said there is also a networking aspect to rugby that football does not offer. He said learning rugby as a business major can be as essential as knowing how to play golf.

“Rugby is sport played by gentleman,” Bonilla said. “You can be playing against someone who works for a ‘Fortune 500’ company and not even know it until after you shake his hand when the game ends.

“After every rugby game against a men’s club, we have socials with the other team,” he said. “You meet the guy you just stiff-armed in the face not too long ago and play pool or darts and mingle. You meet people who are established that can help you in your career.”

Bonilla’s rugby connections landed him an interview for a finance job after graduation. He got the opportunity after rugby players with Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of 21st Century Financial, came to Morehouse College to lead a personal finance seminar. Bonilla said he met some executives who wanted him to interview with the company.

“They want more young blood in their firm,” Bonilla said. “I am in the third stage of interviewing for a job as a wealth management financial advisor.”

Bonilla, who is vice president of the Morehouse Rugby Club, said he is leaving the organization in good hands. A group of energetic freshman has joined the club with the hope of taking it to the next level.

“Now that the USA put rugby back in the Olympics, more people are getting into the sport,” Bonilla said. “We had a large turnout for tryouts, especially among the freshman class. We added some good players on the team who will continue to expand the club. “



Last Modified: April 24, 2017, 10:04 AM, by: Aileen Dodd

< Previous | Next >