Founded in 1967, the Georgia club rugby team has a rich history as one of the longest standing rugby clubs in the country. The current team, while young, has matured throughout the season and has shown promise to rise up to the high standards set at Georgia. The Bulldogs finished their season with a 2-5 record, three of those losses coming from forfeits.
This is the beginning of a new era for Georgia as they have a new coaching staff coming in. Coaches Jonny Wilson and Larry Doong worked with the team this season while head coach Cameron DiLoreto will begin his five year tenure next season. All three of these coaches have connections to Georgia.
Wilson is a Ph.D. student at Georgia and originally hails from Northern Ireland. Doong and DiLoreto are both former players for the Bulldogs. All three coaches share a love for the program and understand the culture they want their team to embrace.
“We’ve brought in a bunch of new stuff this season, and guys are starting to gather it,” said Wilson. “That is how we want to grow going forward.”
Though the Bulldogs finished the season with a losing record, they have many positive things to take away. Georgia lost a lot of seniors after last season so it has spent much of the year more rebuilding the program. This meant that many of the younger players had to take on a larger role over the past season.
“It’s been a big transition year, there were a lot of seniors last year and they left. This left us with the new guys, who kind of had to be thrown into the deep end,” Wilson said. “This means you can make big improvements pretty quickly, which is exciting.”
During the offseason, the Bulldogs will participate in 7-on-7 drills and train to improve their fitness for next season. The coaches look forward to a new season with a promising team and a drive to improve. Wilson and Doong have worked with the young roster to implement the culture and philosophy that they know Georgia rugby should embody.
“We’ve got a really good group of guys that are trying to build back the culture of the club,” said Doong.
Both Doong and Wilson have high praise for DiLoreto and his plans for the club. As a former player they believe DiLoreto knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level. With the experience of Wilson and Doong to back him up, the program looks to be in good hands.
DiLoreto has been in Australia for the past year interning with a professional rugby club. He is gaining the coaching experience that he needs to take over his own club. While in Australia, DiLoreto has been recruiting high school players to come join him in Athens. Ten of these potential recruits attended a game at Georgia this season and were given a tour of the campus.
“DiLoreto has been working hard on recruiting,” said Wilson. “You need a couple good years of recruitment to start to gain momentum.”
As one of the oldest clubs at Georgia the rugby team understands the importance of club sports. The coaches look forward to representing the University of Georgia on the field and hope to have more support over the years to come.
“It’s just so exciting, the action is non-stop,” said Wilson. “It’s not a huge time investment, come see some big hits, [come] see some exciting plays.”