Canisius Rugby Still Going Strong
Buffalo, NY - The connections made through rugby can last a lifetime. Canisius Rugby has fostered a legacy of friendship, commitment, competition, and success that is still going strong thirty years later. Much of this success is a credit to the dedication of former coaches Ron Astridge and Pat Giles. Many of us have fond memories of playing games in Delaware Park, road trips to St. Bonaventure, and of course the postgame victory celebrations. You may have been on the trip to the Bahamas in 1993 or the ones to Clemson in the late 90s. We all have our own special memories of what Canisius Rugby means to us. It provided an outlet for all of us and led to lots of friendships, good times and a connection to a special organization.
The club began in spring 1987 and now has more than 500 alumni who have played in the program. A few years into the program’s existence and into the 1990s, the Golden Age of Rugby at Canisius began with an increasing number of wins, successful seasons, three state championships, multiple trips to the Northeast Playoffs and national recognition. No small feat considering the size of the college compared to other larger schools the team competed against.
Traditionally a college club sport in the U.S., Rugby is starting to see growth with new Olympic, professional, high school and youth leagues in the last several years. It is one of the fastest growing team sports in America. There is also a rich Jesuit high school rugby tradition in the U.S. Five out of the top 10 and seven out of the top 17 ranked programs are Jesuit institutions in Sacramento, NYC, Dallas, New Orleans and Washington. Canisius High School recently elevated rugby to a varsity sport. The Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan region has the highest USA Rugby membership per capita in the country! By increasing the profile of the rugby program, we believe we can attract top high school players to Canisius. We want to help strengthen a successful program and launch a new “golden age” that will live on for years to come. We are passionate about supporting the growth and development of the current Canisius College rugby team so they can continue to be competitive and grow the program.
Canisius College Rugby Alumni Association (“CCRAA”)
We want to serve Canisius College rugby and help the program thrive in a way that;
- Attracts well-rounded students and good athletes emerging at high school level rugby;
- Provides significant supplemental funding for the club to be competitive on local, regional (years 1-2) and national level (year 3 and beyond);
- Engages alumni, family and friends in support of the teams and the college and to connect with rugby networks and high schools with solid rugby programs and talent.
A few of our fellow Canisius rugby alumni have spent the last year creating the Canisius College Rugby Alumni Association (CCRAA). We recently assembled our Board of Directors and elected officers. The Board exists to:
- Help sustain and promote excellence in rugby football at Canisius College by providing organized and expanding our fund-raising efforts;
- Provide financial and personal support for club activities;
- Maintain active involvement in long-term club governance;
- Advise annually elected collegiate officers; and
- Volunteer CCRFC alumni from every era; and help with other affairs related to rugby at Canisius College.
The elected officers are:
Paul Yemma '89 – President
Justin Metcalf '10 – Vice President
Lou Gerona '94 – Treasurer
Drummond Smith '95 – Secretary
They serve on the Board of Directors alongside Ron Astridge, John Carty '94, Tim Moran '96, Paul Keeler '94 and James Sweeney '92.
Over the last year, we have had quarterly conference calls to outline our goals and mission. The recurring theme of these calls was that we have a large network of talented alumni that we have to connect and a willingness to help the current program any way we can. We all have a passion for the program and want it to succeed. Our goal is to meet in person at least once a year at the annual alumni game that typically takes place the first weekend of May. The bylaws will be posted on the CCRAA website. We have a vast network of over 500 members, many of whom are successful and knowledgeable players, coaches and contributors to high school, college and men’s rugby teams. This network and knowledge source can greatly assist the current team with structure and overall strategy on running a successful rugby program. We encourage you to visit the alumni website
(https://canisiusrugby.org/) to connect with former players, update your contact information, check out some old pictures, and make a donation.
About Our Alumni
Our alumni are successful officers, business development professionals and directors in major corporations, attorney’s in public and private sector, CPA’s, educators and business owners. Many of our players had significant success in their rugby careers playing for highly ranked men’s teams, regional select sides, All-Americans, and coaching at the collegiate level. Some of our distinguished alumni include Jeff Calabrese (Winner of the 1992 Distinguished Senior Award), Chris Kowalski (Buffalo Rugby Hall of Fame), Dr. Greg Tillou (General Surgeon), Dr. Eric Mcdade (Neurologist), Dr. Robert Ramsdell (Anesthesiologist), Dr. Lawrence Jenkins (Urologist), Dr. Kyle Haniszewski (UB School of Medicine), Dr. Clancy Seymour (Director of the Physical and Health Education Teacher Education Program), Jim D’Anza (Attorney, NYS Court of Claims and Supreme Court), David Gannon (Attorney, Faust, Goetz, Schenter, Blee), Mike Buonopane (Athletic Trainer – Tufts), Dave Castro (Deputy Chief, Montana Dept. of Corrections), David Haak (Captain Lockport Police Dept.), John Moran (FDNY), Martin Tubridy(FDNY).
Most important, our alumni across the state and throughout the country are living out the Jesuit principle of serving the people and communities in which they work, play and live.
What we need most right now is to continue solidifying our network through all forms of communication and your involvement and support. If you are rugby team alum, please go to https://canisiusrugby.org/register to provide us with your current contact information.
For those of you looking to make a tax-deductible donation or get a company match we have established the alumni association as a non-profit 501c3 entity. Please send your check made out to
Canisius College Rugby Alumni Association
21 Maple Ave
Mendham, NJ 07945
Or use PayPal on the website at https://canisiusrugby.org/contributions
Canisius Rugby appreciates and thanks you for your support!
Please visit the website…we promise it will put a smile on your face.