Coming off the back of a D2 State Championship, the Griffins Rugby Club, Texas is taking its first step into Division 1 this season and in order to achieve the very lofty goals the club has set for itself, we’ll be seeing a few new faces in the mix over in Allen, Texas.
“We’re playing with the big boys now,” said Phil Camm, the club’s founder who has moved into the role of Managing Director, “Elaine is far more qualified than I am to take the on-field product to new heights and we’re lucky to have her.”
Camm is referring to Elaine Vassie who comes to the club from the UK and will take on the full-time position of Director of Rugby, overseeing all coaching and player development throughout the club. With a reputation for achieving incredible results in a male dominated sport, Vassie has an impressive résumé including several seasons as DoR at the National One level with Manchester Rugby, Coach Assessor with the RFU and Regional Manager & Rugby Coach with Activate Sport.
“I’m delighted to be joining Griffins following their promotion to division one.” Said Vassie, “Having had a number of conversations with Phil it’s clear the club has ambitious, but well supported plans to maximize both player development and general rugby development in the area.” When asked about her thoughts on coaching American rugby players, Vassie pointed out how much later in their careers the athletes get to experience rugby, “This really is a unique opportunity to work with talented athletes as we challenge their thought processes and skills in Rugby. I’m looking forward to creating an environment where our players are able to fulfill their potential and allow Griffins to continue to build on its already successful history.”
Founded in 2008, the Griffins is by far the youngest club in its division, with most of its rivals dating back to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. That hasn’t stopped the club from climbing through the lower divisions at alarming pace and taking a seat at the table with clubs like the Dallas Reds and Woodlands RFC. “The Woodlands Rugby Club is excited to see Griffins Rugby continue to grow.” stated Doug Corrigan, President at Woodlands RFC and the D1 Director for the Texas Rugby Union. “The move to D1 can’t be taken lightly but it shows their dedication to grow competitive rugby.”
This season’s campaign will start with a pre-season match against Oklahoma City Crusaders in OKC. The Crusaders will be pushing for a Division 2 title this season and have similar ambitions for growth. “John (White) and Kyle (Lubbers) have a great program up in Oklahoma and are organizing themselves ready for a big season, “ commented Camm, “They have already played several pre-season matches and we expect them to give us a good contest which will give Elaine an opportunity to closely examine her new squad.” Following the game in OKC, the Griffins will have just three weeks to prepare for their first D1 contest, away at Ft. Worth. “We expect it will be a shock to some of the players who have not yet experienced this level, but we’re confident that Elaine can get the guys ready.” continued Camm.
Along with several other new players, one that Elaine will be eager to work with is former NFL running back, Ryan Moats who signed with the Griffins at the beginning of summer. “Ryan is a natural athlete with pace and power.” boasted Club Captain Kevin Harrell, “We’re all excited to see what he can do as he learns rugby. We know he can run through or around people but rugby is a complicated sport and it will take him some time to make the transition.”
For more information about the Griffins, including details on how new players can join the club’s development or youth academy programs, go to www.griffinsrugby.com