Wayne State to Lose Rugby Field

Tucker Ashburn, News Writer

The nationally recognized field that Wayne State College rugby teams have used for the last 20 years is being torn down in November for an apartment complex to accommodate the expanding Wayne population. This comes after WSC set their $26.5 million expansion/renovation plan for the athletic and recreation departments in motion. 

The rugby field was host to many championship games on the high school and collegiate levels. It was also host to the 13-time national champions, the Wayne State rugby teams.  

During homecoming this year, the teams hosted “20 years of rugby alumni” where former members were encouraged to visit their old stomping grounds. The site has hosted games for the national championship and the second-largest rugby tournament ever when 93 teams came to visit.  

“This is the equivalent to Yankee Stadium, to Lambeau for rugby,” Head Coach Darrin Barner said. “You have teams from all over the country that love to come to Wayne. When you hear ‘we’re going to Omaha’ (for college baseball), we have people say, ‘we’re going to Wayne’ that means something.”  

Rugby has been a huge part of WSC’s recruitment efforts, attracting students Ghana, South Africa, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Portugal, England, New Zealand and Australia just to play rugby in small town Wayne.  

An apartment complex will be built on the spot where the field is for the town and college’s increasing population.  

“Over the past three years, WSC has seen a 20% growth in enrollment, 200% growth in club sports, 25% growth in intramural participation and the addition of two varsity athletic programs,” a Norfolk Daily News article said. “Because of this growth, facilities need to be developed to service all needs.” 

The rugby teams will play at the soccer stadium by Memorial Stadium, which was refitted with AstroTurf to accommodate the extra use. The final games at the rugby field will be on Nov. 12 and 13 where they will host the Rugby Collegiate National Championship.