JBU Rugby gets creative to fund team

A money shortage has forced the John Brown Rugby team to get creative to fund its club. And that is just what it is doing.

Every year the Rugby Club is given $5,000 from the school for operating costs. Sophomore Chris Dye, the club’s president, said money almost always runs out by second semester, forcing the club to spend its energy fundraising for its handful of spring games.

“This semester we are breaking-even,” Dye said. “From here on out we are selling shirts and fundraising in order to just keep [rugby] going.”

The rugby team has two home games, one road game and potentially a trip to a tournament in Kansas City in March scheduled this semester. Without money, though, those games are in jeopardy.

The reason for the team’s financial situation is two-fold, Dye said. Every year the rugby team has to travel farther for its games, and every year to cover those increasing costs, the rugby team has to buy more t-shirts to sell, putting the club more in debt to itself until the t-shirts are sold.

That does not always work, though. Many times t-shirts do not sell, and the club is stuck with debt and unbought t-shirts.

Last semester, the club used a portion of its budget to simply offset unsold merchandise from past seasons and not for funding games, which run at least $300 each.

“It made us more creative in how we approach fundraising,” said Mark Harris, the team’s game warden. “We’re going to try a couple of creative fundraisers that I think are going to be fun for the JBU community.”

Besides selling t-shirts, which the rugby team will continue to do every week in the student center, the team is brainstorming other options.

The Rugby Club is in the early stages of planning one event, a Valentine’s Day banquet that all University students will be able to attend for a fee. Before the banquet, there will be a “Rent-a-Rugger” auction, in which rugby players will be auctioned off as a date for the banquet to the highest bidder.

All the proceeds, naturally, will go to the team.

Also, the team is planning to give raffle tickets to those who donate to the club, with the winning ticket getting to pie any of the rugby players in the face at the team’s first home game.

If these fundraisers do not come to fruition or are unable to raise enough, rugby’s spring schedule may take a hit.

“First and foremost, [if enough money is not made] a game probably will be canceled,” Dye said. “Right now, it’s up to fundraising.”

At the very least, players may be asked to pitch in and help pay the $150 fee for referees.

Still, Dye said he would rather the student body’s donations and purchases be enough to fund games.

“We’re doing this because we love to play rugby and we know JBU loves to watch the games,” Dye said. “There’s only so much you can ask of a small group of college students to do. Asking the campus to give a few dollars to buy a shirt or as a donation, that’s what’s going to accomplish our task.”

The campus’ contribution goes beyond simply giving money, though.

“[JBU students] play a larger role than they think,” said team captain Tyler Kinzer. “Without them buying our shirts, giving donations and supporting us at our games, we would lose morale and we honestly would not be able to play as many games.”