Georgia State welcomes new rugby team

Players of the Panthers new rugby team hard at practice. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

Georgia State students created a men’s rugby team and they are proving to everyone why they belong here. The team has only been on campus since the beginning of the semester, but they are already in the process of making a name for themselves.

Georgia State student Tariq Islam is the president of the Rugby Club and said this is their second attempt at starting a team. The team now has twenty-four guys on it and they are hoping that it grows.

“It was only me on the team. It started out, but it died. The person that was over us couldn’t take the leadership role,” Islam said. “I played for off campus teams in the meantime, but over the summer I started recruiting guys. One by one people started to join, and now we have a full team.”

The team is now in the pre-season and is playing NCAA Division III rugby. Tariq Islam says that in their spring season they will then be a Division II (D2) team. During the playoffs after their D2 season, they will play schools like Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, and Kennesaw State. Next year they are hoping to be D1. The team currently competes in the National Small College Rugby Organization Conference.

Being that the team is so fresh, many people on campus are unaware of the team and their accomplishments. They are excited to get their team out there so that everyone can come support. So far they are undefeated.

“The school doesn’t know about us. If they did, it would be a good thing. We would love their support,” Islam said.

The new team does not have great funding on their side.

“Last year when the team was suppose to happen, we had a budget. When the team didn’t happen, the budget dropped. Now everything we do is out of pocket. We are currently trying to start a Go Fund Me to get new uniforms. We hope people support,” Islam said.

They don’t blame the school for them not having a budget or even not having a lot of publicity. They understand that it is all about budgeting.

“Other teams get more equipment and uniforms than us because of budgeting. The old coaches didn’t do what they needed to do, so it affected our budgeting. If we had a budget, a lot of problems would be fixed,” Islam said.

Many of the players are very excited about the team and the direction that they feel it is headed. Georgia State student CJ Harper feels that they have a lot of potential and the school will soon see that.

“I think being on the team is great. I am so happy that we were finally able to get the team going. Being on the team has let me meet some guys I wouldn’t have met before, and it’s also giving me something to do,” Harper said.

“Rugby isn’t like any sport I’ve played, and I played NCAA lacrosse for years,” Harper said.

Sam McCranie, a member of the rugby team, explains how the team gets better day by day and has good athletes.

“The team has seriously improved over the span of two months. Having played rugby for a few years now, I know how difficult it can be to learn the game,” McCranie said. “The games we have played in shows not only the team’s fantastic athleticism but excellent teamwork and chemistry.”

“Playing for Georgia State’s men’s rugby is an amazing opportunity to not only play for, but also having the privilege to be the captain of some of the hardest working and dedicated men I know,” Harper said.

“I am glad our president, Tariq Islam, has been able to put in the work and dedication to revitalize an amazing club that plays one of the best sports in the world,” Harper said.

Bejohn Baker, a student at Georgia State, is loving the experience that he is getting by being on the team.

“My experience with the team has been one I wouldn’t take back for anything. Learning a new sport is always a great experience when it comes to the love of physical competition and creating brotherhood,” Baker said.

“We are undefeated in our conference right now, and we hope to continue to improve and keep that going. We hope to win the playoffs in the spring,” Islam said.

The team has their practice on Monday and Wednesdays from 6:30pm-8:00pm at the Martin Luther King practice facility. They are happy that they were able to get this space to practice since a lot of teams practice there.

The men’s rugby team wishes to gain support from their fellow schoolmates so that everyone can see all of the hard work that they have put in to make the team happen.

Things to Know:


  • The Rugby Team has practice on Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 6:30-8pm at the Martin Luther King Practice Facility.
  • Tariq Islam is the President of the men’s rugby club
  • The team competes in the National Small College Rugby Organization Conference
  • The official season for the undefeated team starts in the Spring.
  • “I am so happy that we were finally able to get the team going after trial and error,” Islam said.