If varsity teams were collectable baseball cards, the University of Calgary would have them all except for one. To complete the set we would have to elevate the Dinos women's rugby club to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level. That might prove to be as costly as that million-dollar Honus Wagner card from the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates.
"The only way I'd consider a [varsity] rugby team is if they could raise a minimum $50,000 a year," said Don Wilson, the director of athletics. He added that because CIS rules limit teams to raising a maximum of five per cent of their own budget per year, the women's rugby team would need a million dollars to cover their operating costs without help from the athletic department.
CIS tries to encourage Canadian universities to have equal numbers of male and female varsity athletes. With football teams boosting the number of male athletes, women's rugby and field hockey teams help restore the balance. Men's rugby is not a CIS sanctioned sport.
While you might wonder how the Dinos can afford to have a tennis and golf team--sports that the CIS does not sanction--Wilson noted that these teams place no strain on the athletic department's cheque book because they are self-sufficient, use off-campus facilities and don't require much athletic therapy.
However, the goal of getting varsity status isn't a lost cause in the lady Dinos' eyes.
"We are not convinced that the program would require $50,000 per year, so there is work to be done," said the rugby club's president Dean Kittleson. He hopes that interest in the club from the Dinos rugby alumni will help raise the money and support necessary to push the ladies to the varsity level.
Even with support from Calgary's rugby community, the dream of a varsity team remains a hard sell for Wilson, who wants to concentrate the athletic department's efforts on the existing varsity teams
"I'd rather do everything great first, then add," explained Wilson, noting that some Dinos teams--such as women's hockey--struggle every season.
Whichever side of the debate you stand on, the rugby Dinos hope to attract some attention with their fundraiser Mon., Apr. 10 at Shanks in Crowfoot Centre. The event will have a series of activities including a silent auction. If you happen to have one of those Honus Wagners lying around the house, that would be perfect. Email email@example.com for tickets and information.