Wayne State College

About Wayne State Rugby




Women’s 15’s National Appearances
2012 – 1st Place                             
2013 – 1st Place
2016 – 1st Place
2017 – 1st Place
2018 – 1st Place
2019 – 1st Place
2021 – 1st Place
2022 – 4th Place

Women’s 7’s Nationals Appearances
2014 – 1st Place
2015 – 1st Place
2016 – 1st Place
2018 – 1st Place
2019 – 1st Place
2021 – 3rd Place (all divisions)
2023 – 8th Place

Men’s 15’s National Appearances
2018 – Final Four
2021 – 2nd Place
2022 – 2nd Place
2023 – 2nd Place

Men’s 7’s Nationals Appearances
2015 – Qualified  
2022 – Qualified
2023 – 8th Place

Rugby Program Founder: Darrin Barner (Head Coach 2002-2023)

Darrin Barner, a Wayne native, founded both the women and men’s programs in 2002. Winning seasons started early as both the women and the men won the conference championship and advanced into the national playoffs.

A unique program where both women and men practice together has also carry the motto “2 Teams / 1 Program / All Dedicated to The Program” mentality.

This has carried over to 13 national championships for the program in both 7 on 7 rugby and 15 on 15 rugby.

Barner, a four-year defensive back 1985-1988 for Wayne State Football, was coached by Rich Basaccia and Dennis Danielson; both who moved forward in their coaching careers to coach in the NFL. Barner started his rugby playing career after college and played for Fort Worth, Texas, and played until 2002. As a member of the 1999-2000 Ft. Worth Rugby Club, they won the National Championship.

Barner was awarded the 2015 Program Development of North America by USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez and Scott Harland from Rugby Canada, with a large presentation during the rugby homecoming game. He earned the 2017 USA Rugby Coach of The Year and has been a guest on two occasions with the USA rugby 7’s women’s team at the Olympic Training Center, along being a guest with the USA men’s 15’s program in 2019 just before team USA went to the World Cup in Japan.  Barner also was part of a coaching scholarship program with the British Council and traveled to the Premiership Professional teams in England as part of a coaching advancement program that spent practice time with the London Wasps, Northampton Saints and the Leicester Tigers.

Off the field Barner was awarded “Nebraska Admiral.” This is the state of Nebraska’s highest honor; approved and awarded by the Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts.

Level 3 World Rugby Coaching Certificate
USA Rugby Referee Certificate

Barner is supported by his bride Brenda, his college school sweetheart from Berry Hall dorms at WSC.

Tompkins Rugby Park (2002-2022)


Tompkins Rugby Park

A 22-acre rugby complex located eight blocks off campus.

Located on East 4th Street, this four-field rugby complex is one of the finest rugby facilities in the Midwest.

  • Two practice fields 70x120 yards
  • One match pitch 76x124 yards
  • Match pitch built into a bowl and able to seat 1,500 fans

Located next to the Wayne Softball Complex, a concession stand, adequate parking, and indoor public restrooms are already located next to the rugby park. Lighting is already under consideration with the use of the power source from the softball utilities. Changing rooms are also being planned for next season. In 2012, a brand new large scoreboard and new PA system was added to the main pitch along with a video and broadcast booth 35 feet above the main pitch for play by play coverage.This video booth is located at the 22-meter line, just north of the two-story clubhouse that is a the midfield stripe elvevated on a 20-foot elevated hill for excellent viewing of the games. Plans for showers for both teams are in the works for next school year and those will be located right next to the changing room areas behind the north goal posts.


With this facility and aggressive improvements, the Wildcats of Wayne State College has hosted four rounds of the national playoff structure of the Sweet 16/Elite 8 rounds of the collegiate playoff system for women and men. Having 120 hotel rooms just two blocks away from the rugby park, playoff rugby has been massive in Wayne.

In 2022, the City of Wayne annouced the plan to repurpose the rugby park as part of an expansion project of the summer sports recreation complex, Prarie Park, including addditional softball fields, new playing fields, campgrounds, a man-made lake and an apartment complex.