At the BYU-Utah rugby game this weekend, one business wasn’t choosing favorites.
Cambridge Financial Center and partners donated $3,000 to each team at the match. Bryan Washburn, managing partner for the center, said he is hoping to make this an annual event, increasing the amount each year. The company’s primary partner, Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, supports college rugby in Philadelphia, where they are based. Cambridge Financial Center decided to go local and give to the best rugby teams in Utah.
“To the football team, [$3,000] would be nothing, but to the rugby team, it’s actually a big deal,” Washburn said.
Daniel Christensen, a senior in business and president of the rugby club, said the donation is a major help for the team.
“Being a club sport, we don’t have too much in funds and facilities,” he said. “Anything we get is a huge help.”
He said the money will most likely be used to cover travel — something student team members and coaches had to pay for with personal funds in the past. Currently students pay $500 to be on the team, and with travel costs during the season, it ends up being about $800 to $1,000 total.
The rugby team has received donations in the past and annually receives $1,000 from C. R. England trucking, but the annual donation from Cambridge Financial will make a big difference, Christensen said.
“It helps to eliminate some of the strain of players having to practice five days a week, go to school full-time and find a way to pay the cost of playing,” he said.
The U rugby team has been around officially since the early 1980s, and this season’s team has about 45 to 50 players. The U is currently ranked seventh nationally, and BYU is first.
Christensen and Washburn have seen a major spike in national rugby interest recently, which is one of the reasons Cambridge Financial Center decided to help the sport grow in the state.
“It’s an exciting game,” Washburn said. “It’s fast-paced, and it keeps everyone’s interest.”
Rugby is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Christensen said he’s not sure why people are suddenly becoming interested, but he sees interest only going up from here. Rugby’s addition to the Olympic Games will also likely boost its popularity.
“Rugby is an interesting game. There’s a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood,” he said. “It’s hard-hitting and has the intensity of football, but [it’s] a little less taxing on your body, which may be a draw for parents.”
By donating to the team, Cambridge Financial is hoping to build a partnership with the team that extends beyond the field and includes possible job opportunities for players.
“The characteristics that make them great athletes are the same characteristics that we’re looking for in recruiting new advisors to our company,” Washburn said. “It’s a relationship we are looking to build on and hopefully have for many years to come.”