After back-to-back trips to the Collegiate Rugby National Championship, it is safe to say that Christendom has solidified itself as one of the top small rugby colleges in the nation. That fact is thanks in large part to alumnus Patrick Audino, a 2016 graduate who helped guide the Crusaders through an incredible period of growth, cementing it as the force it is today. The leadership skills he developed at the school have helped him continue to thrive afterwards, with Audino now a part of the USA South rugby team, which just captured the 2018 Rugby Americas North Men’s Championship against the Cayman Islands.
Audino was one of the Class of 2016’s two Thomas S. Vander Woude Memorial Scholarship honorees, after showing skill and character as a member of St. Gregory the Great Academy’s rugby team in high school. Upon arriving at Christendom, Audino earned spots on the college’s varsity soccer and rugby teams, competing hard against talented teams. On the rugby pitch, especially, Audino was a force to be reckoned with, exploding through defenses and making his own great tackles.
Christendom is one of the smallest rugby schools in the nation, but this fact did not hold Audino and others back. As fly-half (effectively rugby’s quarterback), Audino became a natural leader for the team, eventually taking on the role of captain. He helped the players, many of whom had never played rugby before, learn and excel at the sport, leading them to an undefeated season, a win over Duke University, multiple tournament victories, and finally an invitation into conference play — something that eventually led to Christendom’s 2017 National Championship. This final achievement, amongst the others, helped Audino earn the college’s Leadership Award his senior year for his contributions to athletics at Christendom.
While he was finished with college, Audino felt he had more to offer to rugby. He coached rugby for a time at Ave Maria University, but eventually was offered an even bigger opportunity: to join the USA South rugby team. USA South features many of the best rugby players in the southern region of the United States, from professional rugby players, to DI college athletes. That Audino, an alumnus of the smallest school in the NSCRO (the league Christendom competes in) was invited to represent the team and compete in international rugby was remarkable. That he played in Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Atlanta, helping them win the 2018 Rugby Americas North Men’s Championship in Atlanta? An even greater achievement, amongst an already long list.
“I really enjoyed the unique character building aspects that the Christendom Rugby program fostered,” says Audino. “The players themselves learn to run the show on and off the field. For me, this opportunity for leadership helped me in countless ways and prepared me to take my talents elsewhere after college and make an immediate impact. From boarding school to Christendom to international rugby, I have many people to thank who helped me get where I am today. I’m extremely grateful for my time at Christendom and hope to represent Christendom well going forward in my career.”
Audino is back in Front Royal, Virginia, now, and is helping coach the Crusaders with the rest of the National Championship-winning coaching staff. He aims to help train this next generation of rugby players to be even better than the last, competing against top talent all for the “love of the game and the glory of God.” It may be a tall order, considering the Crusaders’ past achievements, but so was the idea of such a small school thriving so well on the national stage. Audino cannot wait to see what comes next.