The Cleveland Crusaders Rugby Football Club is the result of Cleveland rugby players from the east and west sides of the city with eyes on a National Championship and the desire to make the Cleveland rugby scene the force it has the potential to be.
Rugby has been in the city of Cleveland since 1964, and from that inaugural season going forward there has always been at least two teams in the city. Whether it was the Cleveland Rugby Club, the CATS, the Eastern Suburbs Rugby Football Club or the Cleveland Rovers, the city’s talent has always been dominant yet divided. As the most recent teams, the Cleveland Rovers and Cleveland Rugby Club, both teams attained success in the 15s and sevens format of the game and made names for themselves in the Midwest and beyond.
Over time the scene rugby scene in the city developed to have a strong high school program and a number of college teams in the area. As the scene developed, so did the men’s teams’ influence at these levels. The men’s teams also developed strong ties with colleges like Bowling Green State University, Notre Dame College, Kent State University, Ohio University, Miami of Ohio and other programs around the country. Those who came from any program with an eye to play in Cleveland had to choose between two very similar teams with very similar limitations. It was this division that led to talented Cleveland players choosing to take their talents to programs outside of the city. This division of talent hindered the growth of the teams and the scene overall, but as a younger group of players came into more leadership positions within the two clubs the division was set to dissolve.
In 2015 a movement was spearheaded by the leaders of the Cleveland Westside Rovers and Cleveland Eastern Suburbs Rugby Club to combine forces in an effort to create a premier rugby club with the ability to compete and be successful in multiple divisions. The plan: provide competitive and meaningful rugby for all levels of Cleveland rugby player to achieve success and advance to the highest competition possible. It is the hope that having two quality teams in two divisions will attract the most rugby talent to the city possible, with a focus on the local talent being cultivated in the nearby clubs. Much like other successful teams across the country, the Crusaders will provide as much quality and meaningful playing time to club members as possible, something that few clubs in the area can promise.
In its inaugural season, the Cleveland Crusaders RFC will field competitive teams in Division II and Division IV, with an eye on moving up in the world. The Crusaders are always welcoming new players. No experience is necessary. All that is required is a desire to compete and learn the sport of rugby.