DENVER, Colo. — The Marine Corps partners with organizations that share its core values of honor, courage, and commitment. Rugby, which is well-known for instilling discipline, physical fitness, and mental toughness on its players, was a natural choice for the Marines.
“I felt like, wow, we really nailed the perfect fit for our community and our sport,’” said Pam Kosanke, a board member of USAR and former rugby player. “The type of character, values, and culture we have in rugby – America specifically – perfectly aligns with the values of the Marines. I don’t know any groups of people who would run harder, faster, or through more brick walls than rugby players, so I was super excited once I heard about it.”
USAR was founded in 1975 and is the national governing body for the sport of rugby in America, and a member of the United States Olympic Committee and World Rugby. It consists of 115,000 active members and oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, as well as an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. As an official partner of USAR, Marines will have the opportunities to attend several USAR events such as training and education seminars, college championships, and high school regional cup tournaments. This will allow Marines to engage with rugby athletes as well as an ever-growing influencer network of coaches, where they hope to impact their play on the rugby field and possibly influence them toward service in the Marine Corps.
“To play this sport well, you have to be willing to sacrifice, or go to that dark place, and fight through adversity – same thing you have to do to be a successful Marine,” said Dan Payne, the chief executive officer of USAR.
Major General Paul Kennedy, the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, said he was particularly interested in the female division of rugby. As of March 2016, women were allowed to begin directly enlisting into Marine Corps’ combat occupations, which includes infantry. These types of jobs are very physically demanding and have a higher attrition rate than most of the other jobs in the Marine Corps. Kennedy, who is an infantry officer, believes that both men and women who are recruited from the sport of rugby will have a better chance of enduring the Marines’ grueling training.
“You can’t just throw people in the deep end of the pool and expect them to succeed,” said Kennedy. “You have to pull people from the right walks of life…that’s why you see us here today.”
Payne and Kennedy said they both look forward to what the future holds for the partnership.
“I think the sky is the limit [in this partnership]. Major General Kennedy and I spoke about the potential of the future engagements like leadership development classes for our coaches and athletes and we believe in the same principles.”