Wheeling Jesuit University made the hiring of Eric Jerpe as Director of Rugby and Head Coach official Monday. Following its announcement in December regarding the renaissance of Rugby at WJU, the University set-out to find a leader with experience as a player, success as a coach, and dedication to the development of the sport.
“We were impressed with the breadth of candidates who were interested in leading our rugby program,” said Sancomb. “The search committee believed Eric’s impressive experience in organizational leadership and coaching was a perfect combination for the position. Eric brings a proven record of success to our rugby program and we are very excited about his leadership."
A resident of Pittsburgh, Jerpe comes to Wheeling Jesuit with experience as a player, coach and administrator. He has played the game locally as a member of the Pittsburgh Harlequins for 23 years and the Excelsior Blues of Oamaru, New Zealand. He also has competed internationally – in New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, England, Ireland and Wales. Eric has held head coaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh Carnegie Mellon University, Slippery Rock University, California University of Pennsylvania and served as head coach for the Collegiate Select Side of the Allegany Rugby Union.
Along with his many leadership positions with Pittsburgh’s Harlequins Rugby Football Club, he has been a member of the USA Rugby Board of Directors, Manager of the USA U-17 National Team, Match Commissioner for USA Rugby National Championships and past President of the Allegheny Rugby Union.
"I'm extremely pleased with the opportunity to lead Wheeling Jesuit University's rugby program," Jerpe said. "Wheeling Jesuit's choice to make rugby a varsity sport is a testimony to their commitment to creating a great program. I look forward to building the rugby program and I invite prospective players to review the WJU Rugby website and contact me regarding the fall 2012 season."
The reestablishment of Wheeling Jesuit's Rugby Football Program was announced in December 2011 after a 20-year hiatus. During its prior 30-year existence, WJU rugby was a successful student-organized club that defeated teams such as Penn State and Ohio State.
With its renaissance, the program is now a full varsity men's sport -- one of only three in the country -- which will provide scholarships for qualified athletes. A 45-man roster will be filled by spring. Wheeling Jesuit will play its first match in September 2012. Matches against Georgetown, Boston College and Army, as well as teams in the tri-state (West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania) area are being scheduled. The team also is planning a tour to Argentina for its 2013 season.
"Rugby is deeply rooted in the Wheeling Jesuit story as well as the life of other Jesuit colleges and high schools across the country, indeed, around the world. I believe that Eric's experience and leadership will provide a solid foundation for success as we move forward to recruit outstanding student-athletes with our goal of building a nationally recognized program," said President Richard Beyer.
Jerpe is a graduate of Bethany College where he earned a bachelor of arts in communications. He then went on to earn a master's degree specializing as a teacher of the blind and visually impaired from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his rugby career, Jerpe is a specialist in providing early intervention services to children between the ages of birth and three.
A global leader in academic excellence, undergraduate research and service learning, Wheeling Jesuit University is one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Wheeling Jesuit has earned a place among America's Best Colleges by Forbes Magazine since its rankings began. Wheeling Jesuit has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top regional university for the past 15 years.
The University's 20 varsity sports include 19 men and women's NCAA Division II athletic teams and its USA Rugby Program. Jesuit teams have won 61 conference championships and boast 45-plus Academic All-Americans.