The Harvard athletic department announced the hiring of Sue Parker as the first head coach for women’s rugby May 8, 2013, and she recently completed her fourth season as head coach in 2016-17.
In the 2016 fall campaign, the Crimson finished 6-2, including 4-1 in Ivy action. Parker helped Harvard return to the conference championship game for the first time since 2013-14. During the 7s campaign, Harvard went 19-5 and recorded its second-straight Ivy 7s title, taking down Dartmouth, 10-5, to secure the championship.
In 2015-16, Parker guided Harvard to a 4-5 record in its third season at the varsity level in the fall, highlighted by participating in the inaugural National Collegiate Women’s Varsity Rugby Association Championship. Parker and the Crimson then won the Ivy 7's Championship in the spring of 2016, defeating Brown, 17-5, in the chamionship.
Year two saw growth for the program and the sport itself. In the fall Harvard took on Brown in the first all varsity women's rugby match in Ivy League history. The team also participated in its first 7's national torunament at the ACRA's 7's Championship.
In her first season with the team, Parker helped Harvard claim the 2013 Ivy League Rugby Tournament title and earn a berth in its first-ever USA Rugby Collegiate Division I national championship tournament.
Women's rugby is the 21st varsity sport for women and 42nd varsity sport overall at Harvard making the university the nation's leader in both areas.
In her first season as head coach, Parker saw the Crimson capture the 2013 Ivy League Rugby Tournament championship, defeating Brown and Dartmouth en route to the title. In the spring, Harvard posted a 2-2 record, but garnered its first-ever berth in the USA Rugby Collegiate Division I championship.
Parker, who brings a host of national team and international competition experience to Cambridge, served as head coach for women’s rugby at Navy from 2002-08 and 2011-13, establishing a perennial national championship contender in Annapolis, Md. Parker cultivated a positive team culture in the club environment, while sustaining excellence on and off the field. She developed players in all facets of the game and oversaw the strength and conditioning program for the team at Navy. In addition, several members of the Midshipmen earned spots on various national teams. Parker also worked to form an alumni network and led all fundraising efforts.
Parker was the head coach of the Washington, D.C. Furies Women’s Rugby Football Club during the summers of 2010-12, establishing the team as one of the best in the country on a consistent basis.
In 2009, Parker was tabbed head coach of the USA Women’s 7s Rugby National Team, and she managed all aspects of the squad and program. She led the team at the Dubai International Tournament, and created a city-based league to serve as the beginning of a high-level infrastructure for developing the game in the United States.
From 2007-08, Parker worked as an assistant coach for the USA Women’s 7s Development Team, and frequently acted as head coach in international competitions, including the North American Caribbean Rugby Association in the Bahamas in 2007 and the National All-Star Championships from 2007-08. Parker also served as an assistant coach for the USA Women’s U-23 15s squad from 2003-07.
The Chair of the USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate Strategic Committee, Parker helped draft the vision statement promoting women’s rugby to NCAA varsity status and presented the plan to the USA Rugby Board of Directors. Parker is also a member of the USA Rugby Women’s NCAA Committee and is a non-voting member of the USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate Competitions Committee.
Parker, a former member of the USA Rugby 7s Eagle from 1997-2000, holds several rugby coaching education certificates including the iRB Sevens Level I, USA Rugby Level I and II and the Developing Rugby Skills Course. She is also a USA Rugby Level I Instructor.
A 1986 graduate of the University of Maryland, Parker was a member of the women’s track & field team for four seasons. She also attended Virginia Law School, earning her degree in 1990. Parker is a member of the American Bar Association and holds Bar memberships in New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia, as well as the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Federal Circuits and the United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and the District of Colorado.
Division I women's rugby is currently classified as a National Collegiate Athletic Association emerging sport. This designation is used to encourage growth of opportunity at the intercollegiate level in these sports. According to USA Rugby, growth of the sport has increased exponentially at the high school and intercollegiate level and currently there are over 300 collegiate women's rugby clubs. The sport of rugby also returns to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 after being recognized in four previous Games.