GREENWOOD – Lander University Athletics Director Brian Reese announced the addition of men's and women's club rugby to the Bearcat athletic department lineup today. Reese also announced Buckley Billings as the new head coach of the men's and women's programs.
"We are very pleased to have our two club rugby programs housed within the athletic department and to have Buckley Billings coming aboard to lead our teams," said Reese. "Our goal is to have two programs that can compete at the highest level and are comprised of young men and women who represent Lander in the best way on the field, in the classroom, and in the community."
Lander men's rugby is a Division II member of the Southern Rugby Conference, which includes the same teams as the Southern NCAA conference. Each fall, the men compete for a 15-side National Championship in the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) and each spring, the men compete for a 7-side National Championship in the NSCRO. Women's rugby at Lander competes in the Carolinas Geographic Rugby Union and is eligible to compete for an NSCRO National Championship. Outstanding players from the men's and women's teams are invited to play for the NSCRO select teams, who compete against the best teams in the country and abroad.
Billings comes to Lander after serving as the founder and head coach of the Tribe Rugby Football Club at McMinn County High School in Athens, Tenn, where he also worked as a teacher and assistant administrator for 10 years. During his time at McMinn County H.S., Billings won six TN Rugby Association State Championships, including a run of five consecutive girls titles from 2013-17, and helped send 22 players to collegiate rugby programs. In 2017, Billings was named the National Girls High School Rugby Coach of the Year.
"It's exciting to get to come in and be part of a successful program and have the full backing of the athletics department," said Billings. "There's a lot to be excited about. Lander's a great school and a great location to be able to attract some really talented rugby players. There are several great high school programs in South Carolina already, so there's a lot of growth potential."
Both programs will begin their first seasons of competition as part of the athletic department in the fall of 2019.