Nearly Undefeated Rugby Club Returns Home After Transformative Season
Date Published: April 13, 2017
Born through a brotherhood that has garnered affection and popularity among the entire
student body since its inception more than three decades ago, the University of Dallas
Football Rugby Club (affectionately referred to as the “Hoggies” by the university
community) has returned home after competing in the PacWest Regional Championships
hosted by the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO). Going where no Hoggie
had gone before, this year’s team effectively raised next season’s expectations, finishing
out with a nearly undefeated record (16-2) and turning all eyes their way.
This season marks a complete about-face for the Hoggies, according to alumnus and
2015 team captain Alec “Theseus” Thie, BA ’15, who’s also member of the Groundhog
Rugby Alumni Association. They’ve become a UD “Cinderella story,” going from only
one win on the pitch last season to transforming the club’s coaching and lineup strategy,
making strides both on and off the field.
“Going into the season, we had expectations to win, but we never imagined advancing
to the national championship round of 16,” said senior Hoggie player John Simpson.
“By January, we were undefeated with a record of 11-0, which speaks highly of our
new coaching staff.”
Sensing the need for change after three consecutive losing seasons, the players unanimously
decided to bring in an outside coaching staff to help inspire, motivate and reinvigorate
the club. Then, while visiting a Dallas “Reds” Rugby Football Club practice, senior
Hoggie player Jack Teller laid the groundwork to hire one of the Reds’ coaches, Bruce
McGregor, with additional coaching assistance from his colleagues Filip Keuppens,
who coached the Reds to the 2014 national playoffs, and Dean Robinson. The trio once
coached the Texas All Stars together.
Keuppens instilled in the Hoggies a phrase the club and its players now live by: “Better
men make better rugby players.”
“Now we are a whole team from top to bottom, which has transformed the club’s overall
culture and how we perform on the field, in the classroom and in our personal lives,”
Three weeks ago, the Hoggies defeated the University of Denver (25-22) in the Cowboy
Cup semifinals, continuing their forward momentum and advancing to the regional championship
in Claremont, California. In preparing to make the cross-country trip to the West
Coast, however, the Hoggies realized they had already exhausted the club’s booster
money, so players and coaches promptly began a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the
Following the Cowboy Cup victory, in less than 48 hours the Hoggies managed to raise
the nearly $20,000 needed to continue their championship run. The raised funds primarily
went toward the team’s travel expenses to California, and additional leftover reserves
will now go toward funding equipment and uniforms for the new season.
While the Hoggies are classified as a university club, they rely on club funds supplied
by the Office of Student Affairs and outside contributions, unlike NCAA sports teams
currently housed under the Athletics Department that rely on athletics team funds.
Simpson and other players said they would like to one day see the Hoggies moved under
the Athletics Department, so they will have access to additional funds and departmental
Though they remain unclassified as an official university athletics team, the Hoggies
have successfully entered the national arena, competing head-to-head against the best
of the best with a berth in the PacWest Regional Championships, proving their players
can balance the rigorous demands of collegiate sports while also excelling in the
classroom. To date, 10 new rugby players have already signed and committed to UD for
next season largely due to the Hoggies’ recent success on the pitch.
“We carried the legacy of everyone who put this jersey on before us,” said Robinson,
who twice served as head coach for the Dallas Reds. “Moving forward, we’re doing something
no other team has done before at UD.”