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February 15, 2024

Freetown Rugby Club (FRC) and Yale University Rugby Club are pleased to announce the establishment of a partnership framework between the two clubs. Pursuant to their partnership, Friends of Yale Rugby (FYR), the alumni body that supports Yale University Rugby Club, will provide support for FRC and its players in a variety of ways as FRC pursues its mission of having rugby serve as a means of empowering the young people of Sierra Leone and creating a pathway to educational opportunities in the United States.
FYR is pleased to provide FRC with operational support, including in the form of an operations manual, modeled on the operations manual for Yale University Rugby, which will be adapted by FRC for its own use.

FRC may also choose to share that operations manual with other rugby programs as a “best practices” document, as FRC sees fit. FYR will also support Yale Rugby’s Director of Rugby in providing coaching guidance to FRC’s coaching team, with the goal of sharing best practices in coach development, player development, technical coaching points, strategy, and other matters relevant to creating a strong rugby program and culture.

FYR will also provide support for FRC players who apply, and are admitted, to Yale University. Yale already has in place a means for recruiting students from Africa–the Yale Young Africa Scholars program (YYAS). For any FRC player admitted to Yale through the YYAS or otherwise who joins the Yale Rugby Club, FYR will arrange for (a) an older student to serve as a formal on-campus mentor and advisor to help ensure the student has a support network on campus, and (b) a Yale alumnus to serve as a mentor for career development and other needs.

The hope is that this admission and support program can serve as a model for easing the admissions process and providing on-campus support to FRC students as they apply to other elite educational institutions.

“We’re thrilled to partner with FYR and Yale Rugby to bring state of the art practices and support to Freetown Rugby Club and other rugby clubs in our region,” said Naasu Fofanah, the founder of FRC.

“During my time in New Haven as a Yale World Fellow, I was able to witness first-hand the positive impact world class coaching and student and alumni support can have on the development of student athlete rugby players. I believe this partnership will help create a roadmap for Sierra Leone student admission and persistence at elite universities like Yale.”

“Yale Rugby has a deep commitment to broadening rugby participation, and in using its coaches, players, and alumni as a support network for its athletes,” remarked Craig Wilson, the Director of Rugby Operations at Yale University. “We’re thrilled with the opportunity to support a promising, developing rugby program in Sierra Leone, and hopefully pave the way for more and more students from Africa to participate in rugby and other aspects of student life and education at Yale.”

FRC was founded in 2022 with the goal of establishing world class rugby clubs in Sierra Leone and beyond. Additionally, FRC aims to use rugby as a means of teaching young people–and in particular young women–the toughness, discipline, respect, teamwork, and determination learned through rugby to develop student- athletes who are prepared to earn entry into, and persist at, elite educational institutions.

Yale University Rugby Club was founded in 1875 as is one of the oldest collegiate rugby programs in the United States. FYR was formed for the purpose of promoting and supporting the continued success of the Yale University Rugby Club.

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