The West Houston Lions rugby club is one of the largest and well-run clubs in Texas. It has three men’s teams in the national divisions and a big youth program.
There isn’t a senior womens’ team yet, but girls play at youth level. The club runs a sevens team through the summer and plays touch rugby.
Where Are The West Houston Lions Training Fields?
The West Houston Lions train and play home games at their own fields in Brookshire, about 34 miles west of downtown Houston. The club established two playing fields at their new grounds in the summer of 2019, with plans for further expansion across 30 acres.
The address is 38510 House Road, Brookshire, TX 77423.
Men’s training is usually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Youths have Sunday practices in the afternoon. Check out their Facebook group with the latest news about training.
West Houston Lions Men’s Teams
The West Houston Lions traditionally played just beneath the top division. They set out in recent years to raise their standards and run two senior men’s teams.
But they also committed to having a social side for newcomers to rugby and older veterans. The 2019/2020 season saw this come to fruition with three men’s teams.
They entered a team in the D1 division in the 2019/2020 season. It’s no surprise they had a tough season before it was truncated due to the pandemic. They’re up against clubs like the Austin Blacks and the Austin Huns, who have been playing top amateur rugby for years.
West Houston Lions have been playing D2 for several years. They are usually competitive, with mid-table finishes.
The club puts a lot of effort into encouraging newcomers with no rugby background. The D4 side is a development team to allow players to hone their skills in a match environment. It’s also a great outlet for older veterans who are winding down their playing days – but aren’t ready to hang up the boots just yet.
The club runs touch rugby sessions and matches. This is a minimal-contact form of rugby with an emphasis on passing and team skills. It’s a great start for people who want to get into rugby.
The club also trains and plays sevens during the summer. This is a great option for newcomers with no rugby experience but a little bit of pace.
Does The Club Have Women’s Teams?
The club doesn’t have a senior women’s fifteens team yet, but it’s part of their vision. With girls playing in their youth teams, it should only be a matter of time.
Youth Programs At The West Houston Lions
The club has an outstanding youth program. I’m not sure that there’s another U.S. club with as many coaches for their underage streams.
Their “Give Rugby A Try” program attracted 120 youngsters to come and try the sport on a Sunday in 2019. There were burgers and cupcakes after training! It was a massive effort for the club, and they were supported by players and coaches from the Houston SaberCats.
The age groups start from four years old, playing flag or tag rugby. This is minimal contact with an emphasis on running and passing. The younger levels are co-ed, with girls and boys mixed through the teams.
Middle school and high school grades play contact rugby, with an emphasis on teaching safe contact and tackling skills. Girls and boys play separately.
West Houston Lions Sevens Rugby
The Lions men’s 7s teams play in various tournaments in Texas and further afield.
The TOLA 7s series includes Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas along with the Lone Star State.
Recent Notable Coaches And Players
The last couple of head coaches at the club were household names (well, rugby households!).
Coach Paul Emerick
Paul Emerick, the USA Eagle, did a stint as coach from 2018. Emerick has 53 caps for the Eagles XVs and 20 for the national sevens. He also played in Wales, Ireland, and England – successively for Dragons, Ulster, and the London Wasps.
Paul’s brief stint with Ulster overlapped with his successor as head coach at the West Houston Lions.
Coach Pedrie Wannenberg
When Emerick moved full-time to coach with the Houston SaberCats, the club hired another coach with an international playing pedigree.
Pedrie Wannenberg played in the back row for the Springboks from 2002 to 2007 and had a very successful club career with the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. He moved to Ulster in 2010 and played in the final of the European club championship in 2012.
Pedrie moved to the U.S. and played for the Denver Stampede. He was lured to Texas in 2017 to join the Austin Huns as the defense and forwards coach. He went on to replace Emerick as head coach with the West Houston Lions.
Player Rodrick Waters
Winger Rodrick Waters played with the Western Houston Lions during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, while also being on the development pathway for the Houston SaberCats pro team.
The Austin Gilgronis came calling, and he started four matches in a row for the professional outfit in the 2018/19 season. He continues on the player roster for 2021.
History Of The West Houston Lions
The West Houston Lions are an amalgamation of several rugby clubs in the region.
Back in 2004, a number of rugby players in the Katy area formed a social men’s team as the Katy Rugby Club. Getting a bit more serious, they joined the Texas Rugby Union as the West Houston Barbarians.
They switched their name to the Katy Lions in 2011. With growing numbers, they added a new social side in 2017 to play in the D4 division. The Katy Lions also wanted to get involved in youth rugby.
There was already a youth club called West Houston, and the two clubs decided to merge as the West Houston Rugby Football Club. The club teams play as the West Houston Lions.
Online Presence And Social Media
You can check out their club website.
Their public Facebook group is the best choice for current news on training and playing schedules.