1971-72, 72-73 Men

1971-72, 72-72 Men's Team
Building on the success of a very strong rugby class of 1971, the 1971-72 version entered the fall season with few experienced seniors but a very large contingent of highly competitive yet free-spirited juniors (and one sophomore) who would propel the team to even greater heights. Lack of size was an issue. The plan called for a fast, wide-open game with emphasis on quick scrum play, more running, less kicking, possession through multiple phases — all skills learned in weekend clinics with a very experienced New York Met Union senior club, Manhattan RFC and reinforced by the Red Ruggers from previous classes. Captains Tim McEndy and Chris Galvin recognized the key to success was being faster and more fit and so instituted a two-mile run around campus before practice which paid dividends in speed and stamina in games throughout the year. You would not say this team looked formidable, but you might change your mind after spending 80 minutes on the field with them.

Although the fall season started with two losses to rivals Villanova and West Point, the team got on the winning track against Boston College and a very exciting last second victory over Columbia Business School before hundreds in Central Park. They then took down the New York RFC, another highly respected New York Met Union club side. Next was an epic showdown against Essex RFC. The well-taught students handled this one easily, surprising their former "teachers" 31-12. They kept the victory ball rolling with a decisive win over UConn, 44-6. Holy Cross was their next victim before battling to a standoff with Manhattan RFC, another group of their former instructors, ending season with a 6-2-1 record.

A rematch with Holy Cross to start the spring season proved victorious followed by another win over Columbia Business School, this time a 36-0 pasting. Essex then turned the tables in a close rematch, on top this time 21-15. Next up, to avenge their loss in the fall, an 11-6 hard fought win over arch-rival Villanova, with several from both teams ending up at St. Vincent's Hospital! A final victory over Springfield College made for a 4-1 spring record and 10-3-1 for the year, outscoring opponents 126-64.

Led by scrum Captain McEndy and new backfield Captain Pete Ferrara, the Red Ruggers started the 72-73 season undefeated in their last 15 home games. Make that 16 as they began with a win over UMass. After a 22-16 upset loss to Holy Cross, they traveled to perennially tough Army at West Point, former National Champions, and came away with a convincing 17-7 win. A win over the Niagara Wasps of Canada followed by a 4-3 loss to M.I.T. paved the way to the class of '73's greatest victory, a shocking 19-4 upset of powerful Old Blue in New York City. A loss to Essex ended the fall but the boys got back on track in the spring with two notable victories, beating New York Met Union senior club Old Maroon and then arch-rival Villanova again, 19-3. After a very satisfying tour of Wales, the tired, injury-riddled team came home to lose to Holy Cross. However, that was followed by two victories over White Plains and Yale. They ended their incredible two year run with a disappointing loss to Essex, a team many would soon be joining, but also with a very commendable 18-8-1 overall record.

The core of the A team for most of the 1971-72 year consisted mostly of juniors: hooker John "Q" Kinney, prop Tim McEndy, wing forwards the late Kevin Manley and Jim "Bomber" McCarthy, second rows Bill Beyer and Nick Peters, lock Jim McKettrick, scrumhalf Bob Deerin, centers Pete Ferrara and Tom Damato, and wing John Roche. Charlie "The Scrum" Morace was a sophomore prop using his golden toe to score the most points of the year. Flyhalf Chris Galvin, fullback Mike Gallagher, and wing Kevin Regan, all seniors, rounded out the regular squad. Ferrara also scored many points kicking but it was his breakaway running that led to a record-breaking number of tries. For the 1972-73 season, most of the now-seniors stayed put. Other players seeing A team action included seniors Tom Faranda at scrumhalf, Kevin McCormick at fullback, and Dave Iaccarino at wing as well as underclassmen Artie Franks, Jimmie Quinn, Billy DeCamp, and Al Consigli. Certainly, as important are the B team players who had almost identical season wins throughout the two seasons. B Team standouts, many of whom would become A team regulars, included the late Jack Barrett, Tommy Roland, Marty O'Connor, Vic Pino, John McGroarty, Frank O'Connor, Artie Lipani, John Donovan, Tom McDonough, John McDonough, Bill LaBrecque, Jim Houlihan, Chris Gregor, Bob Szewczyk, Ted O'Brien, Dan Sciarra, Mike Booth, Tom O'Connor, John Hughes, Rich Esperon, Matt Grasberger, Jim Kelly, Tom Dunn, Bill Kruse, Don Salomone, Bill Rogers, Kurt Raschi - to name a few. Their competitiveness in practices and their success in games without doubt made the A team better. No less is true of the C and D teams and sometimes E teams, whose players are valued as equally. The leadership off the field, led by the Presidents Gerald "Bear" Murphy, 1971-72 and John Roche, 1972-73, should be recognized as vital components of success as well.

The 40 seniors who left in 1973 formed the nucleus of a very special two years of rugby, always playing a schedule of the top collegiate and club teams in the East. The team elevated the level of rugby skills enormously, creating a standard for future Red Ruggers, and did so with as colorful and fun-loving a cast of characters as ever donned the red and white. That may explain why they attracted hundreds of fans and groupies to their matches, who were fortunate to witness some of the best rugby played in the 55-year history of FURFC.

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