For the last 18 years, head coach Ram Eddings has been a fixture on the sideline for Idaho State University rugby. With the recent announcement of his retirement, recognition is due to the man largely responsible for turning the program into a powerhouse.
As has been the case for many of those 18 years, ISU rugby had a successful season this fall, going undefeated over eight games.
“We have been a consistently winning program for a long time now,” said Eddings. “Over the past 15 years we have performed really well.”
While routinely leading his teams to strong performances on the field and in the community, the man affectionately known as Ram has, according to himself and the alumni, changed his coaching style to a degree.
“I’ve always been the type of coach that gives you the information and it is then up to the athletes to do everything they possibly can do to be best at what they are doing,” said Eddings. “I used to be far more aggressive.”
One thing that hasn’t changed for the Bengals’ head man is his commitment to ensuring that ISU has one of the top programs in the country on a yearly basis. In order to have the opportunity to play the games on Saturday, the rugby club has numerous considerations to keep in mind. Some of these include scheduling, raising money for necessary equipment and travel, along with coordinating community events and practices.
A lot of the credit for the success can also be attributed to the Pocatello community.
“We have tremendous support for the team here at ISU,” said Eddings. “We have the best rugby facilities in the conference and region. Our grounds people really keep up with it well.”
Along with his commitment to the rugby club, the man originally from Alabama has also worked as an adviser with the TRiO program, something that he will continue following his retirement from rugby. TRiO aims to help students from low-income families, first-generation college students and those with disabilities to succeed in the university setting.
While he will still hold that job working with the TRiO program, for Eddings, it will be a transition to a much different life away from rugby.
“I’ll take a long break,” said Eddings. “I was sitting at home the other day and then I realized that I’d been involved with rugby half my life. It is time to relax.”
The amount of effort put into the sport by the coach is something that has taken a toll over the years.
“It’s tiring after you do it for so long, all the late nights and always traveling,” said Eddings. “Anyone who coaches club sports works just as hard as anyone who gets paid.”
During his time at ISU, Eddings has been able to coach a bevy of players. The chance to see them develop on and off the field has made all the hard work worth the effort.
“The best part of coaching for me has been teaching new players the game and helping those who have played to improve on their games as well,” said the longtime Bengal head coach.
For ISU rugby, the next step will be selecting a replacement for Eddings, something that will be no easy task. Currently, Gary Dixon is working with the team as an adviser, with the club looking at a couple of candidates to be named the head coach. That selection process is expected to be finalized sometime over the next few weeks.
While looking back on his 18 years as the head coach of ISU rugby, Eddings will be able to focus on the many accomplishments him and his teams have been able to achieve.
“I’m really proud of what we have built here,” said Eddings. “I can’t say enough about the character of ISU rugby. Everyone just steps up to another level. This program will win a national championship and it will be because of everybody, players from the 1996 season to today. Each generation has contributed a great deal.”
As the 18-year head coach of ISU rugby steps down after a largely successful tenure, the club will begin to look ahead to its next season beginning in the spring. With the footprint left by Eddings and the previous generations of Bengals, the hope is that the spring season will lead to that national championship run the coach is expecting from the program.