Players on the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity men’s rugby club rep­re­sent eight coun­tries on six con­ti­nents, but the bonds they have forged on the pitch have tran­scended lan­guage and cul­tural barriers.

We’re like a family,” said Ty Taylor, a center from South Africa. “We put on our jersey for the man next to us.”

The tight-​​knit club won the East Coast Rugby Con­fer­ence 7s tour­na­ment last month in Ames­bury, Mass., securing an auto­matic bid to the USA Rugby 7s Col­le­giate National Cham­pi­onships on Nov. 29–30 in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

First year head coach Jamie Green, who played col­le­giate rugby at the Uni­ver­sity of Wales, believes in the club’s chances of out­lasting the 24-​​team field. Green has good reason to be con­fi­dent: His 7s team com­piled a 6–0 reg­ular season record, beating oppo­nents by a com­bined score of 226 to 27 en route to the East Coast Rugby Con­fer­ence Championship.

We came into this season with the goal of win­ning a national cham­pi­onship,” Green said. “We’re trying to build a pro­gram here that can develop into some­thing spe­cial and this tour­na­ment is the first oppor­tu­nity to put our­selves on the map.”

The rugby club formed in 1984 and began holding prac­tices on a makeshift pitch of dirt, rocks and weeds on Hunt­ington Avenue. Today the club prac­tices and plays home games at Par­sons Field in Brook­line, Mass., the university’s flag­ship ath­letic facility.

Nick­named the Mad­dogs, the club has a rabid fol­lowing. Friends of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Rugby, for example, a non­profit alumni orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to raising the club’s national pro­file through fundraising and com­mu­nity out­reach, was estab­lished in 2002 and now counts more than 170 active members.

Jon Hagan, BHS’97, played for the Mad­dogs in the mid-​​90s and cur­rently serves as the organization’s pres­i­dent. His pas­sion for the club drew him to attend almost every match this season. “There’s a love for the game that brings alumni back to the school,” he explained. “The sky’s the limit for this program.”

Taylor, a fifth-​​year busi­ness major, noted that a member of FONUR has offered to help him find a full-​​time job after grad­u­a­tion, saying, “Once you play rugby at North­eastern, you’re always part of the team.”

Brian Den­ning, a devel­op­ment officer for Uni­ver­sity Advance­ment, agreed with Taylor’s assess­ment of the university’s rugby family and noted that alumni have raised some $130,000 for the pro­gram within the last year. “The stu­dents know they are part of a tra­di­tion of suc­cess and respon­sible for a legacy that started before they were born,” he said. “The alumni show their sup­port and ded­i­ca­tion by attending matches, raising finan­cial sup­port and pro­viding resources for the stu­dents to be suc­cessful on and off the field.”