Despite uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas A&M men’s rugby football club is having its 14th annual raffle fundraiser.
The winning raffle ticket for a two-night stay at the 777 Ranch in Hondo will be drawn on Dec. 23. The winner and three guests will receive lodging, meals, beverages, an open bar in the evenings and a trip where a guide will take the winners hunting, fishing and touring in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Rugby coach James Lowrey said the fundraiser is the team’s primary source of funding.
“It has allowed us to travel across the country, compete in national tournaments, compete on tours and play some of the best teams in the country,” Lowrey said. “[The] biggest [effect] would be the relief of financial pressure for the players to be able to focus on their education, train and play.”
The owner of 777, Jeff Rann, has been a supporter of A&M Rugby since his son Jared played on the team as a student from 2006 to 2010.
“It has been great being able to help sustain the rugby club, and over the years, keep up with what the club is doing and seeing the rugby program grow,” Jared said.
The ranch became involved in the fundraiser during Jared’s second year at A&M. He said his dad saw a need for funding on the team and knew he could help.
“There were limited funds available to the team through the Rec sports, but in order to travel and compete on a higher level, the rugby team had to figure out how to raise the necessary funds,” Jared said. “My dad, Jeff Rann, had purchased the 777 Ranch in 2002 and when I was at A&M I would travel back to the 777 Ranch from time to time to help out as a hunting and fishing guide, so I think my dad recognized the idea for a raffle as a natural way to help out.”
Since this year’s fundraiser began on June 9, it has raised $6,750 of its $30,000 goal, which is helped by the fact that anybody can donate from any place.
“The outreach is quite grand,” Lowrey said. “On a positive scale, it’s able to reach a lot of people where they can come and give back wherever they are in the country.”
The fundraiser is necessary to provide his rugby players with the funds they need to achieve their dreams, Lowrey said.
“It’s very humbling in some aspects, but it also provides us with a lot of confidence and support,” Lowrey said. “We always have an opportunity to give these boys the resource[s] or an outlet to make their sporting dreams come to fruition and make life a lot easier as college students.”
The team has kept in shape despite guidelines keeping the players apart, and Lowrey said they are ready to play whenever it is safe for them to do so.
“This particular group of young men could be the most talented group I have had. This group has benefited from a strong emphasis on a winning culture of work ethic, accountability and fun. That has brought a standard to this team they wish to continue and contribute,” said Lowrey. “So both mentally and physically, with the COVID set back, the club is in good shape. I just hope there's some normality in the world soon, and we could pursue the luxury of enjoying some sport in the spring.”
“It’s our big moneymaker for the club,” Lowrey said. “The more we make, the more we can do with the team… Every penny helps.”