CHICO — On the rugby field, players fight for every inch and every point, but the California State University, Chico men’s rugby squad is now also fighting for every penny.
“We knew that state dollars would not be able to help our team get to where they needed to go,” said Chico State’s Director of Recreational Sports Kendall Ross.
The Wildcats are scheduled to play defending champion Dartmouth College in the championship match on May 4 in North Carolina.
“We have an extremely short amount of time to organize 32 people on a plane, to get enough to house in a hotel, to get ground transport,” said head coach Lucas Bradbury.
Travel costs for the team are anticipated to be almost $40,000.
But because of Assembly Bill 1887 the trip was in serious jeopardy.
The bill, which was passed into law in 2017, bans state-funded and state-sponsored travel to other states that have laws in place that authorize discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. That extends to the CSU system.
North Carolina does not allow for gender-neutral bathrooms.
“Because of the location, those dollars just cannot be used for travel,” Ross said.
FOX40 reached out to California’s Attorney General’s Office for comment. They sent back a video clip from last year, during which Attorney General Xavier Becerra voiced his reasons again for supporting the law and the message it sends to the LGBT community.
“We wish you to thrive in California not just when you are here, but to know that anywhere in America that you go that we’ve got your back,” Becerra said.
Chico State is a club team, so they are only partially funded by the university. They say they missed out on about $5,000 toward travel expenses because of the law.
“This is not new to our program,” Ross said. “This is not new to men’s rugby. We fundraise all year long with all of our teams because they are club. This, of course, required us a little bit of more fundraising.”
The donations have been rolling in and not just locally, they are coming in from the broader rugby community as well.
“We do actually have some people in Australia who have donated and people from London who have donated and people from South Africa,” Bradbury said.
“It’s insane how much support the community and the rugby people and just people on Facebook that have reached out to have had for us. We’ve brought so many donors and we’ve raised a lot of money,” said team captain Brandon Roscoe.
As of Thursday afternoon, the team has been able to raise $33,000 of the nearly $40,000 needed for travel. If you’d like to donate you can click here. The team will be holding a “Rugby Night” at the Parkside Tap House April 30 to raise money.