CBU signs first-ever rugby player

CBU signs school's first rugby player

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With the introduction of rugby at Christian Brothers University, one Memphis athlete is making history and breaking new ground.

Firsts in life can be filled with mixed emotions.

"I'm extremely excited, but I'm extremely nervous,” said Nadia Bonner-Burton, first rugby player to sign with CBU.

For Nadia Bonner-Burton, she’s preparing to experience two firsts.

She will be starting her freshman year of college in the fall and become the first rugby player in the history of Christian Brothers University.

"The fact that I am the first and I know I got a lot of challenges that may be put ahead of me,” said Bonner-Burton.

Perseverance is nothing new for her.

She started playing rugby only two years ago at Freedom Prep Academy and has already won two state championships while graduating Magna Cum Laude with a 3.7 GPA.

"I know that a lot of people put their trust in me, and so I really feel like it's my job not to let them down,” said Bonner-Burton.

While she is preparing to make history at CBU, school administrators are preparing for a first of their own.

"With adding any sport at any level, you're really digging up a business plan,” said Brian Summers, CBU director of athletics.

Brian Summers, Director of Athletics at CBU, said the school started thinking about adding additional sports when he arrived five years ago. It wasn't until the last year when working with Memphis Inner City Rugby that talks became serious.

"The advantage for rugby is that it's a sport that is very diverse… socio-economically, demographically and geographically,” said Summers.

In the midst of interviewing coaches and recruiting players, Summers says he couldn't be happier to have Nadia as the school's first signee.

"It was really touching and very exciting to see the people in the room who were really moved about Nadia and her testimony of her success and how much of an impact the people in the room had on her,” said Summers.

Though nervous, Nadia says she's excited for the first of many new adventures ahead.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and I want to build up the women's brand,” said Bonner-Burton.

CBU’s rugby program is not sanctioned by the NCAA, but it will get a full-time head coach and offer competitive scholarship packages.

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