Fairfield Rugby “State of the Union”

Our 2016 wrap-up - and a look ahead to an exciting 2017

Dear Fairfield Rugby Alumni & Fans:

As we wrap up a terrific Fall season for Fairfield rugby, there’s much to tell you – not only regarding what has transpired in 2016, but with monumental news for 2017.  Below you'll read about:

  • Rugby Scholarships & Recruiting
  • Grauert Field Upgrades
  • Rugby Clubhouse at Grauert Field
  • Team Corporate Sponsorships
  • Men’s & Women’s Team Updates
  • 3rd Annual Rugby Fest Homecoming
  • New FOFR Merchandise
  • Capital Campaign in 2017

With your support, we’ve partnered with the University and the current team’s leaders & coaches to continue to build on our 50th Anniversary Celebration momentum as you’ll see from the news below. 

  • Rugby Scholarship.  We are proud to report that we’ve awarded our first men’s scholarship to a current freshman. The Ciacci-Pascale Rugby Scholarship Fund, was originally launched by Red Rugger Jeff Campbell ’65 and has grown to $250,000.  We can only use 4% of the endowment per year so we are asking for donations and pledges that will increase our scholarship awards to include both men & women - read more about this further on down.
  • Significant Improvements to Grauert Field.  We continue to build on the Grauert family’s great gift to Fairfield Rugby, upgrading all aspects of the pitch and surrounding area. For the fall season the North Benson Road sideline was regraded and significantly improved with new grass; it’s now level, safer, comfortable, and offers great close up views of play. Thank you to the university for making this happen; but there’s more.
  • Rugby Clubhouse at Grauert Field. Yes, that’s right. We are in discussions with senior members of the University Administration to design and build a dedicated rugby building; read more about this exciting development down below.
  • Sponsorships. Our generous alumni donors and corporate sponsors continue to provide essential funding for both teams resulting in a $20,000.00 donation this fall. CUMULATIVE DONATIONS NOW EXCEED $140,000.00. Current sponsors include Empire Wealth Strategies/Penn Mutual, Marion Equity Partners (Bill Egan ’67), O’Keefe Controls (Pat O’Keefe ’84), Ferrara Family Dental (Pete Ferrara ’73), WP& Co. CPAs (Rich Papscoe ’89). Please support our sponsors when given the opportunity. Visit their websites posted on the FOFR Home Page here. Interested in becoming a corporate sponsor?  Email and be part of our success while exposing your brand to a large alumni network!
  • Men’s Team.  In their second season since being elevated to Div. 1 in the highly competitive East Coast Rugby Conference (Div. 1AA), the men increased their win total to three and qualified for the ECRC/ERC playoffs in Saratoga where they defeated Colgate 59-5 for their 4th victory in a solid turnaround season.  As significant, they’ve elevated their skill, strength, and speed of play, essential to compete at this level and boosted the roster to over 50 players.  The ECRC brings with it national exposure playing against ranked teams like AIC and Boston College.  FOFR helps with the added expense this league entails (e.g., all matches must be videotaped and food provided to the visiting team).  Professional CrossFit training sessions are also provided by FOFR at BKAthletics, the training home of Fairfield University Rugby.
  • Women’s Team. Our women had a terrific season, with a 4-1 regular season record (outscoring opponents 122-39) in the Tri State Rugby Conference.  The women went 1-1 in the playoffs, including a first round 38-15 victory over SUNY-Binghamton.  The roster boasts over 30 players, with a dozen rookies attracted to the program.  The women ruggers also attend weekly CrossFit training sessions through the support of FOFR.
  • Coaches & Recruiting.  Our paid coaches continue to build team fitness, rugby skills, game savvy and confidence; it shows on the field and in the improving records of both programs. Men’s coaches are Marc Downes and head coach Ben Kelly, owner of BKAthletics. The women’s team is coached by head coach Jack Wallace and Eric Anahory.  We urge you to come meet them at games or practices.  You’ll love their enthusiasm, professionalism, and championship pedigree. Help bring more high school rugby players to Fairfield.  Check out the coaches’ bios, and download our recruiting brochure at this link.
  • Alumni Rugby Fest held Oct. 22.  We had a great turnout for our third annual Rugby Fest Homecoming on Sat. Oct. 22 and cheered our Red Ruggers to a hard fought victory over UCONN. This year we added a few new wrinkles. 

In addition to club and alumni matches, we honored our sponsors, as well as Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. and Director of Recreation & Club Sports John Paladino for their service to Fairfield and support of rugby.  We heard from Rob King ’80, Past President of the FURFC and current Vice Chairman of USA Rugby; and recognized Paul Sheehy ’85, FU Athletic Hall of Fame 2016 and USA Rugby Eagle. We welcomed Pete Fallon ’65, FURFC Founder and our first Captain, along with Frank Quinn ’66, our first President.

We also recognized the birth of COBRA (City of Bridgeport Rugby Alliance) for youth touch rugby clinics at Grauert Field, under the leadership of Red Rugger Bob Ehlers, ‘79 and Men’s coach Marc Downes. COBRA is supported by the FOFR, the town of Fairfield Rugby Club, and Fairfield University.  What a day! Check out these great photos at

And here’s some really big news for 2017
FOFR to Launch Capital Campaign Funding for
Our Clubhouse and Scholarship Endowment

For over two years, our executive committee* has worked with a two-pronged approach: to meet near-term program needs while formulating a long-term plan to bring Fairfield Rugby to an entirely new level of success.

In 2017 we will launch this extraordinary endeavor, featuring a multifaceted effort to create an elite and nationally recognized rugby program for our men’s and women’s teams.  While the formal plan is still being finalized, initial goals include:

  • Increased rugby endowment means more scholarships.  Through the generosity of Red Rugger Jeff Campbell ’65, an original member of the FURFC in 1963, we’re off to a great start. Jeff started the scholarship fund in 1986 in honor of his late classmate Joe Pascale; Jeff and others from the classes of ’65-‘67 contributed over $86,000.00 in principal that has grown to $250,000.00 and is now dedicated to rugby scholarships in memory of late Rugger Doug Ciacci ’65. We can only spend the earned interest equal to 4% of the endowment. Our plan is to quickly increase the scholarship fund from its current level to at least $1 million in order to recruit and grant multiple scholarships each year. View our recruiting brochure here.
  • Rugby clubhouse at Grauert Field.  Imagine a first-class clubhouse facility at Grauert Field.  In 2017 we’ll stop imagining and start working together to build a facility that will immediately elevate Fairfield Rugby to a level of prominence enjoyed by only a handful of nationally recognized, elite programs.  FU is on board, and preliminary building site evaluations are already underway with University Campus Planning & Design. We will have more to tell you in 2017, and will need your support to pay for this legacy project.

 It’s incredibly exciting.  And it will happen, if we all “bind on”, push forward together, and contribute whatever we can to the Capital Campaign when asked.  Look for details in the first half of 2017.  In the meantime...

Let’s end 2016 on a high note - donate now to help fund recruiting, our spring sevens season, and preparation for next fall!

It’s quick and easy online with this link.  Get it done now before the holidays steal your attention.  Here are more reasons to give:

  • We have a great team of alumni & coaches * working to build the program so your investment will be leveraged for an excellent, visible return.
  • If you’d like more detail on recent financials, you’re welcome to view our Financial Statement online.
  • Lock in your tax deduction for 2016, too.  We are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
  • You can donate via check, credit card, corporate matching gifts, or contribute marketable securities. Full details in our Donation & Store Menu on the FOFR website.

You can also…

  • Purchase FOFR Merchandise online right now.  Our online store has a great selection of items available for shipping right to your door.  FOFR and the program benefit from the proceeds so shop early and often for Christmas.
  • Spread the word.  Make sure your teammates and any fans of Fairfield Rugby get connected with us; go to our website and join the mailing list, look for your name – if it’s not there you can add it on line. Sign up for our private group on Facebook.
  • Forward this letter to friends & family NOW! If you know ruggers who are not in our data base, or on our Facebook page, they’re missing out. We continue to work on turning out fans for away games at our Ruck & Roll Tailgates, hosting happy hours and other social events.  Our rugby network has been put to work extensively, connecting current players and alumni regarding career advice, internships, and many full-time jobs.
These are exciting times, another new chapter in the 53 year story of Fairfield Rugby.  Join us, support us and you’ll love what you see. On behalf of our entire board, thanks for your past support and I hope to see many new donors give to the game and the club that has given us friends and memories for a lifetime.

Best wishes for Thanksgiving and soon enough, Christmas.

H. Bart Franey ‘67

Bart Franey

Friends of Fairfield Rugby

P.S.  We’ve come a long way in the past few years.  But what’s ahead is even more exciting.  Your support is needed to make this new vision a reality.  Please donate before year end to help us meet our current short term funding needs, and give some thought to your plans for the 2017 Capital Campaign; we’ll have more on that early next year.


  • Bart Franey ’67                President
  • Bill Connolly ’69             Chair, Hall of Fame Committee
  • John O’Neill ’71              Chair, Scholarship Committee
  • Tom O’Connor ’75          Men’s Team Liaison
  • Robert Ehlers ’79            Chair, Rugby Fest Homecoming; COBRA Leader
  • Rob King ’80                  Vice Chair, USA Rugby Board of Directors
  • Patrick O’Keefe ’84        Vice President & Treasurer; Chair, Grauert Field
  • Tom White ’84                Chair, Marketing & Communications
  • Colleen Grinnell ’00       Alumni Women Liaison
  • Dave Smith ’00               Secretary; Alumni Social Activities
  • Rory O’Connor ’12        FOFR Store Leader
  • Nicole Fede ’16              Women’s Team Liaison
  • Ben Kelly                       Men’s Team Head Coach; owner of BKAthletics
  • Marc Downes                 Men’s Team Coach; COBRA Co-Leader
  • Jack Wallace                  Women’s Team Head Coach

November 23, 2015

Fairfield Rugby 2015 "State of the Union"
What's happening and what it means for you.

Dear Fairfield Rugby Fans:

What a year it's been. There's a great deal to share with you and a lot to do, so let's dive right in to the maul. (Forwards will understand this, for many backs it's a foreign concept).

We have tremendous momentum as you'll see from the news below. And yes, we need your support. Read on and you'll see why this is one of the most exciting times and greatest opportunities in our 50+ year history... including an exciting donation and challenge from one of our alums.

  • Men's team moves to Div. I. After capturing the Tri-State Conference Championship in the fall of 2014, the men’s team accepted an invitation to move up to the East Coast Rugby Conference, Division 1AA where they just completed their inaugural fall season.  This elevation brings a much higher level of competition and national exposure playing against ranked teams like BC & AIC.  FOFR has helped with the added expense such an elevation entails, including professional fitness training sessions, and we have plans to support more recruiting in order to raise our level of play.
  • Women's team. The current roster of 30 players includes a healthy influx of newcomers.  Five seniors lead the team which plays in the Division II Tri-State Rugby Conference.  The team trains in the early mornings in the form of CrossFit at BK Athletics (same as the men’s team, supported by FOFR).  Team practices are held in the evenings. 
  • Coaches. The "coach ourselves" days of rugby are over. To compete and build a credible program, teams need top coaching - and we have it. The many alumni who have met our coaches have been extremely impressed. Men’s head coach Ben Kelly is an Aussie professional rugby player & coach with world cup credentials, a CrossFit competitor, and organizes training programs for both teams; men’s coach Marc Downes is an English rugger and former England colleges national champion with international experience throughout Europe & Australia in 7s and 15s, he is also
    a coach at the Fairfield Rugby Club; women’s team coach Jack Wallace is a graduate of Fairfield Prep and Providence College where he played rugby and is currently on the Prep faculty and coaches varsity rugby, Jack also plays for the Fairfield Rugby Club/CT Yankees.
  • Sponsors for both teams have come on board. Our roster of generous sponsors includes Empire Wealth Strategies/Penn Mutual, Marion Equity Partners (Bill Egan '67), O'Keefe Controls (Pat O'Keefe '84), Ferrara Family Dental (Pete Ferrara '73), WP& Co. CPAs (Rich Papscoe '89). We have room for others if you are interested.
  • Rugby Scholarship. We are in the planning stages of offering scholarships for rugby players. Our target is the class of 2020, next year's freshmen. The fund, The Ciacci-Pascale Rugby Scholarship Fund, was formed to honor two outstanding class of 1965 athletes: Fairfield U. Hall of Fame rugger Doug Ciacci, and varsity baseball and basketball player Joe Pascale. The fund was set up by their classmate and Red Rugger Jeff Campbell. Look for more announcements in 2016.
  • Successful "Rugby Summit." On October 23, members of our Executive Board met at Alumni House on campus for a comprehensive assessment of current and future goals for rugby. We were joined by university staff from club sports, alumni relations, development and the President's senior leadership team as we shared our vision and concerns for the program going forward. Subcommittee work was assigned with significant announcements planned for early next year. Stay tuned.
  • Alumni Rugby Fest held Oct. 24. We had a great turnout for our Rugby Fest Homecoming on Sat. Oct. 24. Alumni matches started the day, with a ceremony honoring Hall of Fame induction of the late Doug Ciacci '65. A food tent added to the festivities as the men's team took on Boston College (the women were off that week), followed by the local Fairfield Men's Club taking on Montauk Rugby. The apparel tent was busy all day, almost as busy as the bar at Anna Liffey's Pub in town where dozens went to watch Rugby World Cup matches. Yes, you DID miss a great day. So mark your calendar now for next year's: Oct. 22, 2016.
  • 1st Annual "Ruck & Roll FOFR Rugby Tailgate" held in Brookline, MA. Dozens of alumni, friends and families of current players joined together in our first Road Tailgate supported by FOFR. You couldn't miss our Fairfield Rugby 12-foot flag as the Red Ruggers took on Northeastern. Look for future away games where we'll have the opportunity to gather, support the team and win the damn tailgate.
  • FOFR Happy Hours. We hosted one in NYC last February and another in Boston in October. We have hundreds of alumni men & women in the northeast so we're looking for more "captains" to head one up. Just contact Dave Smith '00 to set one up; email

Our mission to support and grow rugby at Fairfield and preserve its legacy has made great strides, but we have more to do. This includes team development, improvements to Grauert Field and much more. But we need you to act to do it.


Donate now. It's quick and easy online with this link. Get it done now before the holidays steal your attention.

Alumni Donor Challenge to Earn a $5000 Matching Gift
One of our rugby alums has issued a challenge: they will donate $5,000 if our Board will match it. The good news is our Board has risen to the challenge, and issued one of their own: we're looking for your participation to more than double that and bring our total to $25,000. What a great way to close out 2015. Use our website store to donate on line or mail a check to the FOFR; details are posted here on our website.

Consider Employer Matching Funds

Corporate Matching gifts can be made by check payable to THE PID FUND FOR FAIRFIELD
RUGBY INC. Mail to FOFR Treasurer Patrick O’Keefe, 21 Bridle Path Trail, Monroe CT 06468

Here are more reasons to give now:
  • We have a great team of alumni working to build the program so your investment will be leveraged for an excellent, visible return. Since the FOFR was formed we have donated more than $115,000.00
  • If you'd like more detail on recent financials, you're welcome to view our Financial Statement online.
  • Lock in your tax deduction for 2015, too. We are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. View our credentials here.
You can also...
  • Spread the word. Make sure your teammates and any fans of Fairfield Rugby get connected with us (website, mailing list).
  • Attend an event. Keep an eye out for our growing list of events throughout the region as rugby friends connect and enjoy. Recent gatherings have included pub get-togethers in NYC and Boston, as well as our new Ruck & Roll Road Tailgates.
  • Save October 22, 2016. Our Third Annual Rugby Fest Homecoming at Grauert Field
  • Help recruit qualified men & women high school rugby players

These are exciting times, a new chapter for the FURFC. Join us and support us; you’ll love what you see and you’ll continue to be proud of Fairfield Rugby for generations to come.

On behalf of our entire board, thanks for your past support and best wishes for Thanksgiving and soon enough, Christmas.

Bart Franey

Friends of Fairfield Rugby

P.S. These are exciting times for Fairfield Rugby, a unique opportunity in our history to build on our legacy. Your support is needed to make this new vision a reality. Please donate before year end, help us meet our funding challenge, and stay tuned for what's next.

Read about the Fairfield Red Ruggers 50th anniversary celebration in the Winter 2013 issue of Fairfield University Magazine. View or download the PDF version at this link.