There will be an upcoming student referendum focusing on improving and expanding varsity athletics at Durham College. It could happen as early as October 2016. If approved, Durham students could arrive to school in the fall of 2017 to see flyers around campus advertising Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) varsity rugby.
Ken Babcock, Athletic Director at Durham College says part of the referendum’s topic and voice will be to expand programs. Of those programs expanding, men and women’s rugby is number one on the list. “That’s talking full blown, fully funded, coaches, paid for, varsity rugby,” says Babcock.
Babcock’s only concern is where the team will play because Durham already has five varsity teams playing across the street next to the arena. “We will probably turf the field at some point, allowing the rugby team to share the field because cleats won’t ruin it,” says Babcock, “until then, the initial games could be played up at the Oshawa Vikings home field on Raglan Road.”
Many alumni who have attended Durham College may not find this news, as the school once had an OCAA varsity rugby team 20 plus years ago. According to Babcock, happened to win back to back OCAA titles in their time. A format that used to feature just a tournament and no regular season games with contending colleges.
Babcock says rugby is a sport that has always been successful in the past and will remain successful. The school hasn’t been this close to adding varsity rugby in eleven years.
Babcock admits that he’s had several students approach him in his office and ask about adding rugby, but ultimately the funding hasn’t been there. Now, he encourages all the rugby lovers attending DC to get “off their butts” and vote when the referendum takes place next fall.
Along with rugby, curling and cross country running will be added to the list of varsity sports coming to Durham College, with the only other changes being to move both the men’s baseball and women’s softball team out of the OCAA and into the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) just south of the border.