The Houston Athletic Rugby Club is based near downtown Houston. It has men’s teams, a women’s team, and a youth program for fifteens rugby. The club plays sevens rugby in the summer with multiple teams. They also run touch rugby sessions and matches for youths and development sides.
The club is also known as HARC, and the women’s team are the sHARCs.
Where Are The Training Fields And Home Grounds?
The Houston Athletic Rugby Club train on the grounds of the Regis School in Spring Branch.
Occasionally, training is moved to Law Park in Southeast Houston. The F.U.N. stadium at Bayland Park has also been used. Keep an eye on the club’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date location!
Home games are usually played at the Houston Sports Park, which is about 15 minutes south of downtown. This multiplex also has the stadium of the Houston SaberCats, the professional rugby franchise.
Training is usually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Sometimes the club takes a rain check! Check out their Facebook group with the latest news.
Houston Athletic Rugby Club Men’s Teams
The Houston Athletic Rugby Club currently has two men’s teams. The senior team plays in the D2 division, and there is also a development side.
The D2 team was doing well in the truncated 2019/20 season. They were second on the leaderboard when the season was canceled. In the previous season, they also placed second in the D2 South division. The big rivals are Houston United (HURT).
The development team plays in the more relaxed D4 division. If you’re new to the game, this is a great gateway into a great sport.
Even if you have no experience with rugby, you can rock up to a training session and introduce yourself. You won’t take part in contact training until you sign up with the club, but they have a genuine welcome for new members.
Houston Athletic Rugby Women’s Team
The women’s team is known as the sHARCs and plays in D1, the top division.
The SHARCs have had good success on the field at fifteens and sevens. And they have an Eagle in their midst! Prop Nick James went to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup with the USA team. She both plays for and coaches the SHARCs.
The club’s big Texan rivals are the Austin Valkyries, who have women’s teams in all three divisions. I’ll wager the SHARCs would love to expand their own team base. They will welcome you if you have no rugby experience, and you’ll get good training with this club.
Aside from the fifteens game, the club runs women’s sevens teams and touch rugby tournaments. Those are great ways to ease yourself into the sport. And you can stick with sevens if you prefer the format.
Youth Programs At The Houston Athletic Rugby Club
Many of the players and coaches at the club also volunteer as youth coaches with high schools across Houston.
Aside from contact rugby, the club runs weekend Touch Rugby sessions and tournaments at youth and adult level. Touch Rugby involves minimal contact and great fun. The emphasis is on everyone getting lots of chances to run with the ball.
The club is an active supporter of the Houston Youth Rugby League, which organizes touch or flag tournaments and sessions.
HARC Sevens Rugby
The club plays sevens rugby through the summer months. They have both men’s and women’s teams of varying experience. The experienced teams play in a league, and the club also supports beginner sides.
Houston also hosts a fantastic annual 7s tournament called Hell Or High Water. The barbecues alone are worth attending as a spectator!
Coaches At HARC
I’ve already mentioned that the women’s team has a US Eagle as one of their coaches. Nick James puts a huge amount of effort into Houston rugby in general.
On the men’s side, Rory Gleeson had a lot of club experience in Ireland before he came to Texas. He captained his club to win the highly competitive Towns Cup for the first time. This is what one of his teammates had to say:
Rory has played in more positions than Jamie Dornan plays in 50 shades of grey!Ashbourne RFC, Ireland
Rory joined HARC as a player and started coaching in 2019. Like most Irish rugby players, he was introduced to the game as a schoolboy. So, he has actively adjusted his training methods for players at his Texan club.
In the US, I’ve found that most guys started playing rugby very late; therefore many of them are still in quite a developmental stage. We’ve started implementing a 30-minute slot in every session for players to work on position-specific skills.Rory Gleeson
If you don’t want to lace up your boots, the club has a social membership scheme for supporters. You’ll get HARC shirts or hoodies, and you’ll be on the invite list for social events.
The social side includes cheering the teams, partying, and volunteering with local charities.
A fun part of being in Houston is that the city also has a professional franchise. The owners of the Houston SaberCats are keen to get the local clubs involved.
History Of The Houston Athletic Rugby Club
HARC was formed in 1998 when two men’s clubs and a women’s club decided to join together.
Houston RFC was the oldest of the three clubs. In the late sixties, a former Notre Dame rugby captain spotted a South African kicking a rugby ball in Memorial Park. The two men, Nat Davis and John Savage struck up a friendship and went trawling for more players. They established the club in 1969.
The Houston Old Boys RFC was founded a few years later in 1972. Bill Sonvico had played youth rugby in Argentina, although his father played soccer for Newell’s Old Boys in Santa Fe. Sonvico borrowed the name of his father’s club when formed a rugby club with Lee Garner.
The fantastically named Houston Herricanes was a women’s club that formed in 1990. Some of the players came from the rugby teams of Texas A&M University. Others came from the Houston Heathen Hearts, a short-lived women’s team that had great success in the early 1980s.
Online Presence And Social Media
Here is their club website, where you can register as a player or a social member.
Their Facebook group is the best choice for the most up-to-date news on schedules.