The New York Athletic Club Rugby Team

Rugby

NYAC Rugby Team Wins US Title

Winged Foot team defeats Austin Blacks in a game for the ages
June 15th- Infinity Park, Glendale, CO

In a see-saw battle that had NYAC down with only 2 minutes left, a national championship was on the line in a highly contested match that surprisingly was almost never played.

Severe thunderstorms at Infinity Park in Glendale had engulfed the area an hour prior to kickoff. Officials had barred the use of the field until the storms cleared. The Womens national match had not yet been completed and the Men’s final was looking at a 9pm kick-off or faced with having to play the match either Sunday morning at 6am, at a later date, or not at all. After some tough negotiations with USA Rugby and the Austin Blacks, NYAC asked the Austin Blacks to step outside the comforts of Infinity Stadium and to settle the championship on an adjacent field, away from the crowds, knowing the game will no longer be streamed live, but at least had artificial turf which processes the rain more efficiently and coincidently is much like the surface they are used to playing on at Travers Island.

 The bold move initially proved disastrous as with a shortened warm-up period, the Austin Blacks were the quicker team out of the blocks. The NYAC had to play into strong winds and driving rains during the first half and were put under pressure right from the kick-off. Three quick tries by Austin left the NYAC down 21-3, under constant pressure, and showing no signs of launching any offense.

“My kingdom for a dry ball!” screamed Patrick Fiffe as the NYAC lineouts were compromised by the severe conditions. The NYAC scrums held their own against a larger Austin pack which left the NYAC to execute open play flawlessly in order to gain ground.

After 20 minutes the hitting had intensified, the NYAC stormed back with lightening quick scoring attacks from Tobias Henry, Quentin Pradere, James Denise and Kyle Granby.  The NYAC was now up 27-24 but momentum was clearly on our side and the Austin Blacks were starting to tire and looked confused on how to counter the speedy NYAC offense.

In the waning minutes of the first half, the NYAC was again pressuring Austin and near their try line, then a clearing kick got caught up in the swirling winds and took a horrendous bounce that landed in the hands of a charging Austin player who found pay dirt and closed out the first half with a 29-27 Austin lead.

The Colorado weather remained true to form as we experienced four seasons of weather within our 3 hour stay. The second half began with the NYAC now having the wind at their back…. for all of two minutes. The wind had turned and Austin once again started the half as the stronger side. Mental errors led to the first try of the second half and moments later an Austin kick to the corner lead to a line-out and Austin pushing the ball over the try line seemingly effortlessly. With 20 minutes left, the Austin lead bloomed to 39-27 and NYAC’s chance of winning a fifth National title were starting to fade.

Faced with a cataclysmic decision of riding out his starters or going to the reserves, Head Coach Phil Bailey opted for the fresh legs and went to his very deep and talented bench of Jewett, Brakeley, Soderman and Hall, who all made a huge impact on both sides of the ball and deserve much credit for the renewed pressure put on Austin.

With nothing but the other team standing between him and the try line, Big Man Al McFarland ran the ball in from 20 meters out and started the NYAC scoring in the second half. Moments later, #8 Harrison Edwards was also able to score and the NYAC had now crawled back from the dead and retook the lead at 41-39.

Having just made two crucial conversions to get the NYAC back on top, the team once again called on Justin Hundley to make a penalty kick and pad the NYAC lead. It was good, and left the score at 44-39 to the NYAC, with two minutes left on the clock. Austin was now faced with the daunting task of crossing the try line within two minutes or going home with the loss.

With just 120 seconds standing between the NYAC and the national title, the emotional anxieties were sky high. From the resulting kick-off, the NYAC somehow gave away a stupid penalty and Austin kicked to the corner and regained the ball five meters out from the NYAC try line.  Looking to drive over the goal line and retake the lead, the wet and wild fans were at fever pitch. If Austin could execute the same play they did 15 minutes earlier, all was lost for NYAC.

But after a thunderous hit from #6 Al McFarland, and a heroic goal line defense from the forwards, a frantic battle for the ball led to McFarland stripping the pill from an opponent and then passing to Mike Petri who cleared the ball out of bounds as time expired.

Final Score NYAC 44 Austin Blacks 39

Side Notes-

Michael Petri was awarded the MVP of the match. Petri’s play was brilliant and he demonstrated the form that makes him a USA National team member. Look for Mike in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in September to be held in England.

This is the 5th National Title in 11 years for NYAC Rugby.

First year Head Coach Phil Bailey was unanimously voted Coach of the Year.

Assistant Coach and Strength & Conditioning Coach Neil McMillan deserves much credit for the NYAC’s superior fitness and stamina throughout the year. All members can access Neil’s talents at City Athletes, a not-for-profit group that is dedicated to the fitness training for individuals or groups in the inner city. Neil can be reached at neil@city-athlete.com.

On behalf of the players, coaching staff and administration, we would like to thank the NYAC and all its members for their ongoing support for which this all would not be possible. Special thanks to Tommy Lynch, Robert Rodriguez and Cedric Jones whose leadership of NYAC athletics creates a sporting environment that is second to none.

Ted Vaccaro

NYAC Rugby Chairman

_______________________

The New York Athletic Club Rugby team competes in the American Rugby Premiership which is the highest level of rugby competition in the USA.

We also carry a B-side and, sometimes, a C-side who compete against the B and C-sides of opposing teams or Division I teams.

The NYAC Rugby club was established in 1973. We won the Rugby Super League National Championship in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012. We have fielded and supported numerous members of the US Eagles throughout the years.

Our regular season starts in September of each year and runs through November. We reconvene in March and the playoffs take place in late May and the finals are held by Memorial Day. We play 7s during the summer and have made numerous appearances in the National Tournament. We train three times per week during the pre-season and two times per week during the regular season. Training sessions are normally held at Randall’s Island on Monday and Thursday evenings from 7pm to 9pm. We also hold indoor preseason training in the New York Athletic Club at Central Park South and 7th Avenue.

We are an amateur club and abide by all of the rules of the New York Athletic Club. All are encouraged to try out for the team. Practice times and schedules will be updated regularly on this site.


  • Team Schedule
    • Date

      Location

      Opponent

      Kick off

      September 12th          

      Travers Island         

      Boston RFC

      1pm

      September 19th

      Travers Island

      White Plains RFC

      1pm


      September 26th

      TBA

      TBA

       
      October 3rd

      Boston

      Boston Irish Wolfhounds

       
      October 10th

      TBA


       
      October 17th

      Boston

      Mystic River RFC

       
      October 24th

      TBA


       
      October 31st

      Atlanta, GA

      Life University RFC

       
  • Practice Information
    • Starting March 19th, “Rugby practice is being held at Randalls Island, field 10, from 7pm to 9pm on Mondays and Thursdays.

      Directions to Practice
      Field
      Take the 4,5,6 train to 125 st. On North west corner, get M35 bus. Once on Randalls, get off near golf course, its usually the 2nd stop on Randalls, we are on the big turf field under the lights.


  • Program Highlights
    • HISTORY OF NYAC RUGBY

      It doesn't seem possible that twenty years have gone by since Bill Smith, Jack Delany and I were sitting in a bar discussing the possibility of forming a rugby club within the New York Athletic Club, but it was January of 1973. The Club had been approached by another group some fourteen years earlier but the time just was not ripe, and the club turned them down. This time though, the game had enjoyed a terrific growth, particularly around New York City, and Jack Delaney was very enthusiastic about supporting us and using his influence to gain support from the Board of Governors. They quickly assigned us a budget of $1000, which was mind boggling at the time to Billy and me. We had spent nearly 20 years playing with rugby clubs who existed through the Christmas raffle.

      Once given permission to form the club we had to take inventory of the players we had available and make some decisions as to whom, when, and where we were going to play. There were in fact a number of very good players who were members of the New York Athletic Club but unfortunately, they were all committed to playing with other clubs and we were moderately successful at recruiting them in the first season. We then made the decision to get the program off the ground by forming a Sunday side. After a hurried call for the recruits we held our first practice on a Sunday afternoon in February of 1973 in the gym. We had something like seven or eight new recruits, people who were athletic and eager to try something new, but who had never played rugby before. Together with them and members of the A.C. who were playing with other clubs we filled 15 spots for our first side. In that first Spring season, many if us played each Saturday with our regular clubs and every Sunday with the NYAC team, to be known as Winged Foot.

      Before the first game, George Mayer and I were assigned the task of going up to Travers Island and to survey the playing conditions. We found a 200 year old tree in the in-goal area, a baseball diamond on one end, and four shot putting rings, which were actually steel rings filled with seven inches of reinforced concrete, on our new playing field. Naturally, they strategically placed right at the half-way and inside the touch lines. We had to use great imagination to lay out the pitch in the form of a parallelogram so that the tree, which was at least 6 feet in diameter, would fall in the in goal area, rather than on the playing area.

      We organized a party to go up there the following Saturday armed with sledge hammers and crow bars to break up the shot putting rings. This was hell of a lot easier said than done and we had only partly completed the job when our first scheduled home match came up. It was held on a Sunday in April 1973 against the Old Blue Thirds and luck would have it there was a heavy down pour all day long. In the morning, I had gone to the nursery and purchased 60 to 70 square feet of sod. The owner was somewhat incredulous when he was standing in the pouring rain loading it into the station wagon and he asked "what on earth are you doing to do with sod on a day like this?" I said, "I'm just going to fix my rugby pitch". He simply stood there scratching his head as we went off to Travers Island and immediately set about covering the concrete with a carpet of sod, figuring that the Old Blue would be the none wiser. Sure enough, early in the game I tackled someone who landed on top of the soil who cursed" damn, this pitch feels like concrete".

      Eventually we completed the job, had the baseball infield sodded in and continued to play on our parallelogram field for the next five years, much to the dismay of the referees, who could never sort out a forward pass.

      We became a regular side in the fall of 1973 and about two years later when the Metropolitan Rugby Union was formed we were assigned to the third division. We won the third division that year and moved up to second division the following season. We won that also, and competed in the first division until 2001. During that time we had two Sweet Sixteen National Tournament appearances and in 2001,after losing in the finals of the Division 1 National Championship, we were asked to join the Rugby Super League and have been there ever since.

      Winged Foot has grown from those early days of scratching for 15 men, to a point where we are now the most successful member of the elite USA Rugby Super League. We field two sides every weekend and an Old Boys side several times each season. The addition of Mike Tolkin and his Xavier High Alumni, along with some key player acquisitions, and as a result of consolidation in the Met Union has emerged an even stronger Winged Foot Rugby Club. The Winged Foot now regularly plays matches all over the US. We have won Rugby Super League National Championships in 2005, 2008 and 2010 and hold the most national titles of any current member of the Rugby Super League.

      For anyone who lives and works in the New York area, there is no finer place to play rugby than with the Winged Foot. The financial support, the marvelous athletic facilities of the Parent Club, and perhaps most important, the caliber of the individuals who belong to it are second to none.  - Robert Cullum Sr.-1993


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  • Latest News
    • NYAC vs Boston RFC- 10/4/2014

      It was driving wind and horizontal rain as NYAC's final fall season game kicked off In the otherwise beautiful Harvard University Campus, the weather was the only negative part of what was tipped to be a big clash between Boston and NYAC. Boston kicked off with the wind at their backs and were quickest out of the gate, and on the scoreboard, with a penalty kick after just 5 minutes. Boston enjoyed a large chunk of territory and possession in the first half, and definitely used the wind to their advantage to keep the pressure on NYAC. The NYAC defense held up extremely well, and with regular starters like Eagles Troy Hall, Brian Doyle, and 7s player Justin Hundley away with the ARC squad, it was time for the rest of the squad to step up and show what they could do. The Back row of Al McFarland, Steven Sanchez and Chris Soderman got through a ton of tackles kept Boston without a try when the half time whistle blew. The score remained 3-0 at the half, but Boston doubled the lead to 6-0 after a well struck penalty, following an offside in midfield. This sparked a big effort and change in gear from NYAC, and after some well worked patterns and phases of play, with new recruit Tobias Henry pulling the strings at 10, Boston were stretched in defense.

      While playing advantage following a ruck infringement, Mike Petri slotted a drop goal, to claw back into the game at 6-3 in Bostons favor. Then as Boston tired, NYAC found another big push and hammered out 3 tries in the remaining 15 minutes. After some superb lineout drives and quick forward rucks, new tight head prop Chris Baumann crashed over. Closely followed minutes later by a Mike Petri try after a clean linebreak form Tobias Henry. This was converted by Chris Chapmann and left the score now 15-6 with NYAC in the lead.

      In the final minutes, there was a clever kick down the line which was chased in by NYAC flyer Kyle Granby who touched down in the corner to finish the game at NYAC 20- Boston 6. NYAC's Fall season ends with a 3 and 1 record, with the spring season to come! Full credit to both sides in putting on a great display in rough conditions.



      NYAC vs Boston Irish Wolfhounds - 9/13/2014

      Venue: Irish Cultural Centre, Canton, Mass
      Kick off 1pm
      Score: NYAC 58- BIW 21
      ​NYAC rugby got their 2014 season campaign off to a winning start on the road against the Boston Irish Wolfhounds.

      Playing their first game in the newly, constructed American Rugby Premiership, NYAC traveled to the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton Mass.

      With their family day in full swing, there was a decent sized crowd out to watch a high scoring match up between these two teams.

      Boston struck first on the scoreboard through ex NYAC scrum half Mike Durant, which caught NYAC off guard and definitely lit a fire under them. NYAC led by captain Mike Petri, replied with first half tries from hooker Patrick Fiffe, debutant prop Chris Baumann and Troy Hall.

      It was a pretty one sided affair most of the first half with NYAC putting together some clinical patterns and taking their chances. The wolfhounds were an extremely physical outfit, however ill discipline cost them to have 2 players sent to the sin bin, resulting in NYAC taking full advantage.

      NYACs set piece scrums and lineouts functioned well all afternoon and gave a solid platform for Justin Hundley to launch some superb attacks through a new look back line. As the second half started, the Wolfhounds made significant territory and moved swiftly into the NYAC half, only to be thwarted by Justin Hundley who snapped up an intercept and ran 75 meters to score.

      More pressure was added through Troy Hall, who scored 3 second half tries, brining his personal tally to 4 for the day. Further tries came from NYACs wingers Kyle Granby and debutant Dom de Falco.

      The Wolfhounds gave a late surge and managed to score and try and were awarded a penalty try after persistent infringement at the breakdown from NYAC.

      But resilient goal line defense from the NYAC squad stopped the Wolfhounds from gaining a valuable 4 try bonus point and finished the game deserved winners at 58-21.


      The Wolfhounds were gracious hosts and we look forward to having them down at Travers Island for the return fixture in the spring.

  • Contacts
  • Club Rules
    • Club Rules

      All players must adhere to the following NYAC rules:

      1) All players must have status, of either full member, athletic member, or privilege card status. No player is to represent NYAC without status. Any deviation from this can result in the suspension of the sport.

      2) PC cards are good for one year, upon expiration; the athletes are expected to become athletic members. All conditions of a Privilege Card must be adhered to.

      3) All requests for field or facility use must be approved by the Athletic Department and Travers Island management.

      4) All receipts must be compiled and forwarded to the Chairman. No one is to receive any funding whatsoever from the Club if they are not a member or PC registered. All funding must be cleared through club appropriation and approved by the chairman.

      5) All sports must have an acceptable ratio of full and athletic members to privilege card holders. All sports will be judged by the amount of their athletic members becoming full members.

      6) Significant attendance by team members is expected at the All Sports Dinners, Athlete's Reception, and other special events. All athletes are expected to show support for other team's events whenever possible.