2014 Men's Team

2014 Men's Team

The tides began to turn for the Red Ruggers coming into 2014. After years of competitive play, winning a few divisions along the way, the team had seemed to hit a ceiling of how far they could advance up the collegiate rugby ladder. With an experienced team and a flurry of promising new players, the team seem poised for another successful fall season under the captaincies of upperclassmen Ryan Forgione and Patrick Kueny. But a culture shift, spearheaded by the appointment of two new coaches, set the trajectory for the season far beyond what had previously been expected.

Ben Kelley and Marc Downes came in to take over as head coaches of the team. Both with vast knowledge and experience, they looked to groom an already good team to be great. This started with early morning gym sessions paired with afternoon practices. As the club hooker and team President Anif Macdonald put it, "Although getting up at 5:30am to get prepared to work our butts off in the gym while others were sleeping didn't seem like the most fun, we truly became so much more of a cohesive team."

This cohesion was apparent right from the beginning of the season. With score lines like 62-14, 72-10, 99-3, and 88-5, the team came storming out of the gates on the way to an undefeated regular season. It was clear that the early morning gym sessions were paying off. Though fitness played a big part in the early season blowouts, it was also due to the team buying into the demanding new system. A senior at the time, Alex Cucchi, among other upper classmen, had to forget about the more lax approach to the game from yester years and invest in the new game plan. "Myself, along with the rest of the senior and junior classes wanted this to be different than in years past. We were sick of losing when the games mattered most. We fully bought into the program and made it clear to the entire team that this was how we were going to be operating going forward and there would be no exceptions. We were here to not only win, but dominate every single team that we played."

After cruising to an undefeated regular season, beating divisional opponents by an average of more than 50 points, the Red Ruggers got set to make a deep run into the playoffs. They felt little resistance in the first two rounds, thrashing Siena 102-17 and throttling RPI 53-10. They were riding high into the Tri-State Conference Championship where they would go up against a familiar foe, Vassar College. There had been no love lost between the two teams over the previous decade. Usually a contentious regular season battle, Fairfield was conveniently left off Vassar's regular season schedule. But there was no escaping the Red Ruggers. After starting the match pinned down within their own 22, Fairfield was able to hold off an attacking Vassar and counter after turning the ball over, with Ben Carlisle breaking off a big run deep from within Fairfield territory before offloading it to winger Joe DiRico for the try. The rout was on as the Red Ruggers demolished Vassar 50-14 and were crowned Tri-State Conference Champions.

At 8-0 and marching towards Nationals, the Red Ruggers came up against their most formidable opponent of the season, Rowan. In a match deemed an absolute thriller by those who witnessed it, Fairfield was narrowly bested by a score of 38-43. Their first loss and the end of their season, it meant the Red Ruggers just missed out on a chance to progress to Nationals.

An 8-1 Tri-Conference winning team is quite the accomplishment. The year readjusted the expectations for the team both on and off the pitch. This was the first side to lay the groundwork for the years that followed that has seen the team have great success, providing several opportunities for the team to jam out to their newly-adopted victory song, "A little Party Never Killed Anyone"(by the venerable Fergie). A sentiment that for 55 years the Red Ruggers have definitely tested.

Summing up the 2014-15 season, Anif Macdonald said, "The 2014-15 Fairfield University Rugby Club was a brotherhood who had a commitment to win for all those who came before them."

The Team included: Ryan Forgione, Hunter Boesch, Justin Alan Paton, Matt Welter, Richard Park, Jamison Wellman, Joe DiRico, Jared Lanzi, Aaron Bates, Tom Leigh, Jake Boudreau, Evan Tuozzoli, Anthony Joseph, Alex Cucchi, Joe DeMeo, Tim Johnston, Kyle Duffy, Max Doherty, Joaquin Moraiz, Jack Downes, Christopher Andrew, Chris Grinder, Mike Riordan and Chase Castle.

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