Home of the Red Ruggers - Established 1963
This past April, Fairfield University Men's Rugby Club entered a new era of competition. The club moved from Division II status to Division IAA. With the move, the Red Ruggers will be competing in the East Coast Rugby Conference. The DIAA competition begins this coming fall season. It is an excting time for the club and the Friends of Fairfield Rugby who have wholeheartedly endorsed the move. Matches will include the University of Connecticut, Middlebury College, and the University of Massachussttes, just to name a few opponents.
More excting news devloped this past spring. Doug Ciacci '65 was inducted posthumously into the Class of 2015 Fairfield University Athletic Hall of Fame. Doug was a co-founder of the Fairfield University Rugby Football Club as an undergraduate during the Fall of 1963. He was named the team captain in his senior year, serving as the team leader and “on field” coach in that role.
Under his guidance, the team reached the championship game of the New York’s Sevens, the nation’s most prominent seven-a-side tournament. He was the team’s top scorer during his two seasons with the team. As tribute to his legacy in the development of rugby on the Fairfield University campus, the club subsequently named the yearly team most valuable player award in Doug's name.
Tragically, Doug passd away two years after his graduation. At the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Doug was represented by Mr. Bill Crawford ’65, Doug’s college roommate and close family friend, and Mr.Pete Fallon ’65, an additional founder of the club, as well as one of the first team captains.
On the weekend of October 4-6, 2013 the Fairfield University Rugby Football Club celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding durng the fall of 1963. The 4 year planning strategy was implemented by the Friends of Fairfield Rugby (FURFC) in coordination with the Fairfield University Office of Alumni Relations.
A sun drenched Saturday enveloped The Lt Hans Grauert Memorial Field where 4 matches began the day's festivities. Both the Fairfield women's and men's alumni played spirited matches on the pitch. Over 600 spectators were in attendance, as finding an open spot on either the hill or the stone wall was not an easy task. As the alums competed, the comaraderie felt by all was once again on display as it was back in the "good ole days" when the participants were students at Fairfield.
While maybe only the players kept score on the field, those on the sidelines talked, laughed, cheered on and encouraged the competition throughout the matches. Following the alumni games, the Fairfield University women's club defeated Hofstra while the men's side dropped a hard fought decision to Marist College. Later that afternoon, a celebratory mass was held at the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola.
The highlight of the weekend of celebration was Saturday evening’s gala dinner on the Bellarmine Lawn. Over 850 alums, friends and families attended the dinner, welcomed by Fairfield University President, the Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J.
In appreciation of their continued allegiance with the university, the Friends of Fairfield Rugby presented the university with a gift totaling $100,000.00. Inclusive of this gift, Mr. Chris Grauert, '68 presented a $30,000.00 contribution on behalf of the Grauert family, dedicated to the maintenance and upkeep of the Lt Hans Grauert Memorial Field.
The Department of Recreation sincerely thanks both the Friends of Fairfield Rugby and the Fairfield University Office of Alumni Relations for presenting such a special event.
Previously, in April, 2013, Mr William Connolly, '69 was inducted into the Fairfield University Department of Athletics Hall of Fame. Connolly was a four-year member of our Fairfield University Rugby Football Club and helped mold the program into one of the top clubs in the college ranks. On the field, Connolly helped lead FURFC to one of its best years in school history when the 1968-69 squad went 12-3-1 and was a co-recipient of the Doug Ciacci Memorial Most Valuable Player Award.
As team president during that historic run, he made his mark by organizing the dedication of Lt. Hans Grauert Memorial Field, the first collegiate field in the country that was dedicated to the sport of rugby. After he left Fairfield, Connolly remained active in the sport, founding the Essex Rugby Club in 1970 and serving as team coach. He also remained connected with Fairfield, serving as the chairman of the Fairfield University President's Circle and as a Trustee from 1992-98 and as a founding member and officer of Friends of Fairfield Rugby.
The home Rugby Pitch of the Red Ruggers is the Lt. Hans Grauert Memorial Field. Christopher Grauert '68 and his mother, Leila B. Grauert, donated the rugby pitch to Fairfield in 2003 in honor of his brother Lt. Hans Grauert, who was a naval aviator lost at sea during the Vietnam War.
During the dedication ceremony at the FURFC 40th Anniversary Celebration, Grauert read a letter written by his mother to honor the players and the esteemed tradition of hard efforts on and off the field of the Red Ruggers.
In the letter, Grauert's mother wrote, "Like everyone else in this room, Hans possessed the traits which personify every rugger - athleticism, good sportsmanship, and a zest for life. This rugby pitch resides in the softest part of my heart and will always remain 'God's Little Acre' to me!"
THE TRADITION OF FAIRFIELD RUGBY CONTINUES
In August 2014 a new head coach, Marc Downes, was brought on board to lead the program on the pitch. Marc has played and coached on both the local and international level of elite rugby play. Ben Kelley, cross fit training specialist, also with international expereince, has provided his expertise in sport specific training at his local downtown Fairfield facility, BK Athletics Inc. Members of both the men's and women's clubs began weekly cross fit training sessions this past September.
Marc and Ben, as well as Austin Ryan (women's head coach) have established an excellent leadrship core on all fronts for the continued success of Fairfield Rugby.