At the summer AGM, a committee was formed to generate a uniform tournament application and guidelines for tournament hosts. Thank you to those that helped, particularly Jeff Herron from Tampa Krewe. The summer 7s will be our first time rolling out the new application and guideline process. For those interested in hosting a summer 7s tournament, February 5 will be the first deadline for applications hosting tournaments. On Feb 12, a second application cycle will open for dates and venues that have not yet been selected and will close February 19. After that applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Information regarding the summer 7s season and application can be found here:
The Florida Rugby Union is excited to announce the USA Eagles vs. Chile Group Ticket Competition. The Club who purchases the most tickets from Thursday January 21st until midnight February 3rd will win $500 and a signed USA Eagles Jersey.
The competition is open to both group and individual ticket sales. When purchasing the tickets please indicate which club you are affiliated with. Only tickets purchased with the club affiliation selected will be used as a part of this competition.
Winners from this competition will be announced on Thursday February 4th at 4pm.
If you are interested in purchasing 20 or more tickets; USA Rugby is running a group discount for these tickets. Simply enter “rugbygroup” in the promotional code box to bring up the option of purchasing group tickets. All discounted ticket prices are listed below.
The inaugural Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) is coming to Ft Lauderdale on Saturday February 20th. The ARC features six of North and South America’s top-ranked International Rugby Union teams. The United States’ Men’s National Team, known as the Eagles, will play their first Test Match in Florida since 2008.
The Eagles will be playing Chile at 6pm at Lockhart Stadium, this match will be the last home game in the US for the Eagles before they head to South America to play their return matches. The FRU is really excited about this match and we would love to see more international teams playing right here in our home state for the future to come. We would like for the Eagles to return to Florida soon, so let’s show USA Rugby what an amazing, supportive rugby community we have.
Make a Weekend out of it
Join USA Rugby Trust and Florida Youth Rugby Union for a game of golf while supporting the greatest sport in America! All proceeds from this event will directly support programs for both organizations.
A Florida High Performance Player camp is being hosted this Sunday January 17th at Eckerd College. This camp is open to any College/Senior Women players serious about taking their game to the next level. The camp will be run by Jason Schiessle and is to chose/prepare a team to play Life University in Orlando on February 14th.
Location: Eckerd College – 4200 54th Ave S, St Petersburg, FL 33711 – Kappa Field follow the entrance road to the right and drive all the way to the back if the campus
A great coach can turn an ordinary team into something special. And in the case of Ronnie Suarez, that’s exactly what he’s doing across the state of Florida.
Whether he is on the sidelines as the head coach of the Florida International University men’s rugby club or cultivating talent as the head coach of the Florida Rugby Union High Performance Sevens team, Suarez’s dedication and passion for the game has led to impressive results.
The well-traveled former Marine grew up around the game, as his aunt played for the Old Blue women’s team in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Suarez’s playing career included stops with North County Gurkhas and OMBAC, with his first official action coming in 1995 in Fremantle, Australia as a member of the Palmyra RFC. After moving to Miami in 1998, Suarez began playing for Miami RFC until he decided to make the natural transition from player to coach.
A self-described technical thinker who hails from a family full of successful sports coaches, Suarez credits both his mother and his military experience as major influences on his approach to coaching the often-misunderstood game of rugby.
“The discipline and hard work ethic is definitely my mom’s doing,” he said. “She was a tough, single mother who raised her kids to be the same way. The Marine corps gave me my never say die, never less than 100 percent respect and honor attitude.”
Of course, coaching soccer or baseball is one thing, but coaching rugby is an entirely different animal. Luckily, Suarez has been able to pick the brains of some of the top coaches around the globe to help shape his philosophies.
“I went to New Zealand and spent 10 days with City RFC in Whangarei watching their coaches and how they taught the players more than they coached. It really changed my thought process on how to coach the game,” Suarez explained. “There are a lot of coaches that I look up to and have helped shape me as well like Pierre Villepreux and Mike Luke.”
Suarez also credits Boca RFC coach Frank Tito as a major influence and says he could not have done a lot without his mentor’s guidance.
As a man who wears many hats, Suarez is intimately familiar with the challenges of coaching for both FIU and the FRU High Performance Sevens team. Interestingly, the challenges differ quite a bit between the two programs.
“In my current setup as head coach of the FRU Sevens, my major challenge is getting coaches behind the program and encouraging their players to try it out,” Suarez said. “With FIU, changing the perception of rugby to administrators who have no idea about the sport is pretty hard. Our own president and athletic department didn’t know FIU Rugby existed.”
Despite the widespread challenges of culture, administration, attitudes toward the sport and financial support, Suarez continues to charge ahead and establish himself as one of the most successful and influential members of the Florida rugby community. He recently led FIU to an undefeated season that culminated in a thrilling victory at the SIRC Championship that may finally put FIU Rugby on the national radar.
“Ronnie is a competitive and laser-focused coach that has been able to assemble a great team by knowing his players’ strengths and weaknesses,” said FIU senior standout Jose Laphitzondo. “Under him, the team had the mission to make it to nationals. The team understood that under a common objective every tackle, sprint and burpee had a purpose so the team pushed each other towards that goal.”
However, it’s Suarez’s work with the FRU HP Sevens program that has a potentially more profound effect. With rugby sevens gaining popularity based on the success of the U.S. Eagles, there’s a great opportunity for the game to catch on and attract more attention from television networks and crossover athletes.
For Suarez, the FRU HP Sevens program is the perfect gateway for the state’s top rugby athletes to get a chance to represent their country on an international stage. One of Suarez’s goals is to get the Florida HP Sevens program recognized as an Olympic Development Academy, which would give every player in the state the opportunity to get a chance to be chosen for the USA Eagles Olympic Pathway.
“Growing our program now and getting it recognized is something we are in the process of doing, but participation numbers are what really make and break us, so getting those numbers up is key.”
Additionally, Suarez’s long list of goals includes gaining varsity status for both the men’s and women’s rugby teams at FIU as well as getting in the elite coaches group for sevens in the U.S.
As someone who never settles for less than perfection, Suarez certainly isn’t someone you want to bet against. No matter if he’s running an extra conditioning session with his FIU team or preparing to take on Mexico with the FRU HP Sevens squad, Suarez is a man whose intense preparation and selfless dedication will help grow the game of rugby not only in Florida but across the United States.
“If the clubs, officers and players of Florida ask themselves ‘How to help grow the game?’ and follow through with it, we will see Florida rugby rise to where it should have been a long time ago. But it starts with that question: How may we help grow the game?”