Men and Women Red Ruggers remember five decades of Fairfield University rugby

"50th Anniversary Celebration of Fairfield University Rugby"
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Lt. Hans Grauert Memorial Field, Fairfield University

Image: 1963 RugbyKicking up five decades of memories of playing rugby at Fairfield University, more than 500 former "Red Ruggers" are expected to return to the campus of Fairfield University the weekend of Oct. 4 - 6, 2013, to celebrate the "50th Anniversary Celebration of Fairfield University Rugby." The weekend is designed to festively commemorate Fairfield University's oldest club sport, with Men's and Women's Alumni games, current Red Ruggers Men's and Women's Club matches, special ceremonies at Lt. Hans Grauert Memorial Field, a barbecue, gala events on Bellarmine Lawn, and Sunday morning Mass at Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, on the schedule. The public is invited to Saturday's morning and afternoon games and ceremonies, and VIP invited guests include Governor Dannel P. Malloy, and the actor, writer, and politician Malachy McCourt, who will be attending. An Irish immigrant, Mr. McCourt was also a highly regarded rugby referee in the early '60s. He refereed a number of Fairfield's first games and contributed to the early growth of the club by introducing all of the aspects of the game to the Fairfield players, including its laws, the way it should be played, and how the players should act during and after the game.

Events on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, open to the public, and taking place (rain or shine) at Lt. Hans Grauert Memorial Field, on the campus of Fairfield University, include:

The "50th Anniversary Celebration of Fairfield University Rugby" volunteer committee of over 100 leaders, "decade whips" and class captains is co-chaired by Dr. Kurt Schlichting '70 and Bill Connolly Jr. '69. "We're expecting an extremely large, enthusiastic turnout," said Bill Connolly Jr. '69, co-chair of the event. "It should be a great day and evening.".

In his blog post "The Gimp Remembers: Fairfield Rugby 1963," Robert "Gimp" Sullivan remembers that Fairfield opponents that very first year included rugby clubs of Fordham, the Columbia "Old Blues", Harvard, Brown, Wesleyan, the New York Rugby Club, and - quite possibly - MIT. In all, the Fairfield ruggers achieved a 5-1 record its debut season. "Gentlemanly conduct, aside from attempting to wreak bodily havoc on the opponent, was mandatory," he writes, adding: "The ubiquitous adage of 'work hard; play hard' was no better professed than in the rugby milieu, an inveterate contract among the clubs to foster a spirit of aggressive competition salved by after-the-match gatherings among the players, friends, female compatriots, and accompanied by copious amounts of adult beverages supplied by the host club."

Sullivan, of those gatherings, recounts: "A swaggering revelry of songs permeated the surroundings, commonly of Irish flavor. These were first introduced to our club by Malachy McCourt, of literary and thespian fame, the referee at our opening game with Fordham and the provider of the cultural genesis." He adds, "Regardless of the degree to which these pioneering ruggers encountered situations you'd prefer not relating to mother or sister, there was never a point where reckless abandon or wanton behavior reared its ugly head."

The public is welcome on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, to participate in the "50th Anniversary Celebration of Fairfield University Rugby"; registration is required for the gala.

To register, visit

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Media Contact: Mike Horyczun, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647,

Posted on September 20, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 53

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