Sooners Head to Jamaica Before Varsity Cup Run
The University of Oklahoma rugby team will be touring Jamaica over spring break, arriving at Montego Bay March 14 for a week of great experiences. The tour opens on March 15 against the Jamaican Defense Force (Army) in Montego Bay, before the Sooners head to Kingston to play the Jamaican National Team on St. Patrick's Day.
The week winds up with the Negril Sunsplash Sevens, where six Jamaican teams and two from OU will be competing for the Sunsplash championship.
“We have partnered with Randy Dittmann of Jamaican Eagle Data and Patrick Alexander of the Montego Bay Panthers to grow rugby in Jamaica while exposing our team to face a full International squad in a beautiful, culturally rich country,” says Jon Velie, Oklahoma's Director of Rugby.
International tours are a tradition at OU. The team toured Oxford and Cambridge, England 10 years ago, where Velie says they found themselves “treated to dinner in halls that resembled those of Harry Potter.”
“We believe playing elite level competitive rugby during college builds great people,” he says. “The international tour is a catalyst for that model. The tour allows us to work daily with the team and prepares us for the daunting Varsity Cup championships.”
Gearing up for the Varsity Cup
Oklahoma’s spring sevens season continues with an April 9 round-one contest vs Army in the 2016 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.
“This is a great challenge,” Velie says. “West Point is a traditional rugby powerhouse and is coached by our friend Matt Sherman—a National Team Coach, an Eagle and an All-American from my alma mater Cal. Army always produces excellent rugby players and gentlemen. It will be a great challenge for our squad, but the boys are working five days a week to prepare for this level of competition.”
If the Sooners can beat the Cadets, they will most likely host powerhouse Cal at the Oklahoma Soccer Stadium in Norman. Velie believes they would be ready.
“It will be a real honor to host the 27 time national champs. Cal sets the standard for elite collegiate rugby in America. I spent 5 hours meeting with coaches Clark, Billups and Big Mac and watched the Bears practice earlier this year. We evaluated our approaches to many aspects of rugby from X's and O's to fundraiser, strength training, event management and culture.”
Oklahoma is fundraising for the Jamaican tour. Each $100 donation enters you for a chance to join the team on their trip. Checks can be made out to OU Men's Rugby and sent to:
OU Men's Rugby
401 W. Main St., Ste. 300
Norman, OK 73069
Or, visit the team’s GoFundMe Page: https://www.gofundme.com/OURugbytourJamaica
Oklahoma Rugby 2016 Jamaica Tour Schedule
March 14: Leave OKC - Arrive Montego Bay
March 15: Montego Bay, Oklahoma v. Montego Bay Panthers
March 16: Montego Bay
March 17: Kingston, Oklahoma v. Jamaica National Team, Red Stripe Field
March 18: Negril, bar-b-q at Randy Dittmann’s home
March 19: Negril Sunsplash Sevens. 6 Jamaican teams, 2 OU sides
March 20: Negril-Bus to Mo Bay-Return Flight arrive OKC