Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
The signs of progress in American rugby aren’t just confined to the playing fields. A very strong indicator of the progress being made can be seen in the number of rugby inspired commercial ventures that have been launched in recent years.
A number of rugby apparel sources have cropped up within the past decade and are doing well. Of those, Rugby Athletic may offer the most diverse and team-friendly avenues for clubs to pursue.
Founded in 2005 by Minnesota native Chris Babiash, Rugby Athletic is a growing full service wholesale rugby company that focuses on service, relationships, original design, custom rugby uniforms & team equipment, event promotion and marketing for teams.
Since Rugby Athletic’s inception, Babiash has been joined by Creative Director Adam Kopp as well as Sales Executive’s Rob Thoresen and KC Johnson. Former USA 7’s player and renowned blogger Dallen Stanford recently joined the team in a Referral Sales position.
With a concentration on helping clubs make the most out of their limited amount of time, Rugby Athletic provides a myriad of services that can benefit clubs from youth all the way on up.
“We consider ourselves original and un-matched with team opportunities, options and prices,” said Creative Director Adam Kopp.
“Rugby Athletic not only has a web presence, we develop team identity with original team logo creations, and travel to events (currently) across the United States with our 35’ rugby vending trailer. We represent three national brands; Barbarian Rugby Wear, Canterbury of New Zealand and Union Rugby, as well as our own private label RA – Rugby Athletic.”
Merchandising has been a struggle for clubs across the board with duties often falling to one or two already busy individuals. The final results, in most cases, are usually a handful of generic t-shirts or hoodies. Little in the way of marketable merchandise that goes beyond club members. Rugby Athletic is working hard to break down those barriers with innovative and creative redesigns of club merchandise.
The end product from Rugby Athletic is a professionally designed and far more marketable product for teams interested in branching out.
Kopp adds, “Rugby Athletic is a one stop shop – custom graphic design, full service apparel design for on & off field, online store capabilities, advertising & marketing – we are a full service design agency.”
Rugby Athletic’s growing list of clients includes The Gentlemen of Aspen, Old Puget Sound Beach, Chicago Griffins, Seattle RFC, Seattle Breakers, Denver Harlequins, The Aspen Ruggerfest, Cowpie Tournament, and Midwest Championships, and collegiate merchandise for Washington State University, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, among many others. A trip to the photo section of Rugby Athletic’s facebook page yields a wide array of projects that they have worked on in recent years.
Rugby Athletic’s work is not confined to rugby clubs and tournaments, they have also reached out and made partnerships with rugby websites including Paki’s Corner, Your Scrumhalf Connection and recently with Rugby America. The logo for the brand new website launch is the handiwork of Rugby Athletic and more is on the horizon.
The future appears bright for Rugby Athletic as they branch out within the rugby community and spread their brand into new areas of the country.
“We plan to hire a few more salesmen, we have a ton of events for the 2011 year planned, more custom design, further development of our online club stores service and making sure all of our clients are taken care of,” said Rugby Athletic’s Chris Babiash.
As Rugby Athletic grows, they are also keen to not forget the roots of the sport. To that end, they have started a charitable foundation to give back to youth rugby. As part of this process, Rugby Athletic has incorporated their popular mascot Ruckie the Moose in this project. Youth clubs and charities can contact Ruckie through www.ruckiethemoose.com to see what can be done to help out their programs.
Ruckie’s iskeeping his plate full with charitable efforts and the New Year provides some exciting opportunities.
“In January, Ruckie is gonna take the polar plunge in Minnesota. As well Ruckie will be looking to build relationships with youth teams and charities,” said Babiash.
Rugby Athletic’s expanding list of events is already shaping up for 2011 as their crew hits the road in their 35′ trailer. The trailer and Rugby Athletic’s services go far beyond simple vending at a tournament.
“Our services are unique as we can offer the full service. Design the apparel, produce the apparel, create marketing for the event, pull the trailer to the event, sell the club’s/event merchandise at the event for the club/event & have a full service presence with on field & off field rugby apparel & equipment available for the participants,” concluded Kopp.
Events for 2011 already include the Wayne State Rugby Touranement in Nebraska, The 44th Aspen Ruggerfest in Colorado, 37th Annual Cowpie Tournament in Colorado, the All-Iowa Tournament, and Minnesota State Championship to name a few.
With full service assitance for clubs and events along with a charitable foundation giving back to the game, Rugby Athletic is making a concerned effort to improve rugby in America while at the same time building the foundation for a business that is so much more than meets the eye.
To learn more about what Rugby Athletic can do for your club, team, event, or tournament you can visit their website.