Despite financial woes, rugby club finds new home

After a grueling five-month roller coaster ride to secure a stadium, the Gators Rugby Football Club have finally found a place to call their own.

The squad has established Boxer Stadium, a field near Balboa BART Station, as their home turf.

“It was freshmen and sophomore year, we used to practice on the field next to Boxer Stadium,” said GRFC team captain Zeth Tutupoly. “Our coach used to say ‘one of these days guys, we’re going to play on this field.’ And now we’re here.”

Despite months of searching, the team now faces the new hurdle of allocating $4,000 to use the field for home games.

The team was promised $1,000 from the club sports fund to help pay for the new field, according to Gregg. GRFC still awaits a response from the Associated Students Inc. to see if they can receive additional funding for miscellaneous expenses including paying referees for games, new equipment and jerseys, Gregg said.

Nathan Wroth prepares to tackle Justin Dawdy as he sprints the ball toward the end zone during a scrimmage at SF State rugby practice on the West Campus Green on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Photo by Sara Gobets

Nathan Wroth prepares to tackle Justin Dawdy as he sprints the ball toward the end zone during a scrimmage at SF State rugby practice on the West Campus Green on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

The sports team started off as a small club in 2005 and over the past 10 years has had its fair share of tough battles against Division I-AA Pacific Western Collegiate Rugby Conference opponents and the University itself over the use of Cox Stadium. The love for rugby continues to motivate GRFC through the rough patches it has encountered in the past few months.

Midway through the Fall 2014 semester, the rugby squad was notified by their league that they no longer could play in their old field at Fog Rugby Pitch on Treasure Island due to hazards, including broken sprinklers on the sidelines.

“It was crazy,” Tutupoly said. “The league told us we couldn’t play on our last field in the middle of last semester. We had four home games and we had to forfeit a home game to Stanford.”

The team went on to ask the University to play at Cox Stadium, but numerous obstacles prevented the usage of the field. With the multiple challenges the young rugby squad faced, GRFC took matters into their own hands and decided to go on separate paths from the University to find a new field to call home.

Nathan Wroth prepares to tackle Justin Dawdy as he sprints the ball toward the end zone during a scrimmage at SF State rugby practice on the West Campus Green on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Photo by Sara Gobets

Nathan Wroth prepares to tackle Justin Dawdy as he sprints the ball toward the end zone during a scrimmage at SF State rugby practice on the West Campus Green on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

“I knew the whole time they were not going to let us play on the field but I felt it would be worth the shot to try at least,” said GRFC President Donny Gregg. “It would have been great to play at Cox (Stadium) for an endless list of reasons, but maybe in the future they will let the team play there.”

After the school denied the usage of Cox Stadium, Gregg and GRFC team captain Lukas Zonali began the tedious and stressful task of finding a new home for the team.

“Time was a huge concern,” Gregg said. “We were being contacted by other teams in our league about where exactly the matches were going to be held. It was embarrassing telling them we did not quite have a field lined up.”

Zonali started emailing and contacting various available fields around the city before stumbling upon Boxer Stadium.

“They’re renovating most of the fields so we had no other option but Boxer Stadium,” Zonali said. “Obtaining that is a five-month process, so I started emailing them in August.”

It wasn’t until early January that the team was able to secure Boxer Stadium, but it came with the challenge of finding a way to pay the total cost of $4,000 to play their home games for this season.

The team currently has a GoFundMe to raise money to pay for their home games at Boxer Stadium this season.

“I am thankful for that, any amount of money helps tremendously,” Gregg said. “This club has done a lot for me ever since transferring to SFSU. If I have to use some of my hard-earned money out of pocket to keep us afloat then so be it.”

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