Featured in the July/ August 2018 Issue of Compete Magazine

Capital Rugby Union has been selected by the Sports Diversity Leadership Council, LLC (SDLC) to be the first rugby organization to become SDLC Certified. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, the certification demonstrates Capital Rugby’s commitment to sports diversity and speaks to rugby as one of the most inclusive sports played today. It also harkens back to the roots of the SDLC and Compete Magazine; both were founded by Eric Carlyle, a former rugby player with the Phoenix Storm Rugby Football Club, according to director of the SDLC, Jared Garduno.

To earn the certification Capital Rugby Union will be required to complete an application process and sign the IDEAL Principles Pledge supporting diversity in sports. The Pledge stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, Acceptance and Leadership. Capital Rugby Union also has nominated two board members to earn the Sports Diversity Leadership (SDL) Designation. Those SDL Designees must complete an application and interview process, attend educational webinars and demonstrate leadership and community service accomplishments.

Matthew Robinette, president of Capital Rugby Union had this to say when asked about applying for SDLC Certification: “The Capital Rugby Union is excited to lead the United States Rugby community in terms of diversity training for leadership. The sport of rugby is growing in popularity in all demographics, including the LGBTQ ranks. The Union wants to ensure our member clubs and their leadership can recruit athletes, understand different populations and grow their club and the sport.”

While some are surprised that Richmond is so open to diversity and inclusion, the forward thinking of Robinette and the Capital Rugby members goes back to 2013 when the Virginia Rugby Union and the Potomac Rugby Union consolidated ranks to become Capital Rugby Union. The organization now represents rugby players across the wide geographical areas of northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The reason for naming their new group Capital? They say the answer is easy since the new region includes the colonial capital of Williamsburg and the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. (A note on their website reminds readers a capital is a seat of government while a capitol is a building.)

“The fact is that I can only experience the world through my eyes. While I try to be open minded and understanding toward different populations,” said Robinette, “I don’t always know what to say or do without offending. The partnership with Sports Diversity Leadership Council will demonstrate our commitment to becoming a progressive thought leader in the community, to provide value to our member clubs and to authenticate our Union’s acceptance of all athletes. On behalf of the entire Board of the Capital Rugby Union – thank you for this opportunity and partnership!” Robinette has also applied for the SDL Designation.”

Garduno expressed excitement in being able to work on certifying Capital Rugby Union as a leader in sports diversity. The group will join the SDLC membership organization now comprised of over 85 organizational and individual members representing over 100,000 member-participants. Members include local, regional and national sports organizations, businesses and individual members. In addition to membership, the SDLC certifies organizations as leaders in sports diversity and offers the SDL Designation program to individuals.

By Connie Wardman