First Men's Team

First Men's Team, Fall of 1963

Fairfield's rugby club, with coach Dr. John Kenyon

Front Row (kneeling): Pat Reilly, Don Reddington, John Bender, John Swanhaus, Mike Kelly, Pete Fallon, Gerry Chisholm, Guy Caputo, Jeff Campbell, Jack Ploehn, Carl Hagan

Back Row (standing): Dr. John Kenyon, Frank Quinn, Bob Batch, Ken Waters, Bob Corbett, Doug Ciacci, Carl LoGalbo, unknown, Dan Gatti, Dick Kappenberg, Al Sullivan

The Fairfield University Rugby Football Club was born in 1963 when Pete Fallon, '65, introduced the game to the campus, having learned the essentials from an English exchange student while in high school. Recruiting players was supported by the understanding that home sides must host a beer party after each match. It is said that this mandate caused enthusiasm to explode on campus.

Tryouts were held at the field across from the pond (in later years, after the construction of Grauert Field in 1969, this would be the sight of the Dolan School of Business). With its rabbit holes, manhole covers and enormous 25-degree slope in the middle of the field a tremendous home field advantage was created for a side used to practicing and playing there. Energetic, enthusiastic player tryouts produced enough quality athletes to field an A side. Before the team was one year old its reputation and popularity had grown so that a B side was soon playing alongside the A's.

Former high school football players filled the ranks of the team. They were strong, athletic and tough but one player stood out among them: Doug Ciacci. An all-state halfback from New Britain High School in Connecticut, Doug was strong, fast and shifty; and a difficult man to bring down.

The team's first match was against the Fordham B team played on campus at Fordham University. The team had no uniforms; matching Fairfield University sweatshirts were the best they could do. However, the rugby showed real promise. Captain Pete Fallon converted a try for the final score in the club's initial win, an 8-6 victory. Games against the Boston Rugby Club, Harvard Business School, New York Met Union club power Manhattan and others followed.

Games against these teams, which featured exchange students and ex-patriots, were instrumental in the club moving on from a football mentality, and embracing the new game they were learning. The highlight of the season was the year-ending New York Seven-A-Side tournament held at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City. The team was not expected to do much in the tournament but, led by Doug Ciacci, the team of Al Sullivan, Bob Batch, Ken Waters, John Swanhaus, Mike Kelly, and Jeff Campbell rolled through opponents, earning a spot in the tournament finals against the Old Blue A side. Despite a 0-11 loss, Fairfield had established itself as a team to be reckoned with in the future. The tournament was covered by The New York Times which commented on the group of upstarts taking on so many more experienced, senior players.

The fall 1963 team was the beginning of Fairfield rugby! It included a "Stout band of brothers," men who all future Red Ruggers should never forget. In addition to those mentioned above, the team included: John Bender '65, Ed Carrington '65, Guy Caputo '65, Joe Card '65, Jerry Chisholm '66, Tom Cook '65, Bob Corbett '66, Pete Fallon '66, Cort Freeman '64, Dan Gatti '66, Quentin Greely '65, Carl Hagen '65, Dick Kappenburg '65, "Big" Mike Kelly '65, "Lil" Mike Kelly '66, Carl LoGalbo '66, Jim Malley '65, Ray McDermott '66, Tom McGoldrick '65, Vincent McSherry '65, Web McCareffy '65, Tom Peddicord '66, Jack Ploehn '65, Pat Reilly '67, Pat Scully '67, Don Reddington '65, Bob Sullivan '65, John Sullivan '65, Frank Quinn '66.