Fairfield Yankees RFC
|Full name||Fairfield Yankees Rugby Football Club|
|Union||Empire Geographical Union|
Staples High School Football Field |
The Fairfield Yankees Rugby Football Club is a Division III Men's Rugby Club based in Fairfield, Connecticut. Founded in 1975, the club has fielded teams in the Metropolitan New York Rugby Union as well as the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU), and currently are members of the Empire Geographical Union (Empire GU). The Yankees won the USA Rugby Division II Men’s Club National Championship in 2004, and the Division III Men's Club National Championship in 2016.
The Fairfield Yankees RFC (initially named the Connecticut Yankees RFC), began their first season back in September 1975, when a number of players answered a newspaper advertisement. The advertisement read "Wanted: Rugby Players and Beer Drinkers", and was placed by club founder, Frank Sinnott (President 1976). That Fall the Club had one scrimmage against Yale University and lost 28-4. The Yankees officially joined the MetNY Union in the Spring of 1978 as an independent club with one side. The youthful and inexperienced Yankees posted a 10-2 record that Spring and a 6-5-1 record in the Fall. Due to life's impediments (age, careers, family responsibilities, etc.) this one group of dedicated ruggers dwindled & in the Fall of 1988, the Yankees merged with their cross Fairfield County rivals, the Stamford Wombats. The red stripe within the club shield represents the jersey color associated with the former Wombats RFC. In the fall season of 1992, the Yankees A and B sides combined for a 22-2 record, won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament, and qualified as one of the final four teams in the East Coast finals. In 1994, under the guidance of Coach Stephen Cain, the Yankees completed the season in first place in Division II of the Met Union.
The Dark Years
Between 1995 and 1999 the Yanks did not post a single winning season and despite establishing a clubhouse, numbers waned, interest fell and the club was in danger of folding. Sensing the danger, many old boys, including Tommy Kubic, Beave Kubic, Duncan Forsyth, Kevin Black, Kenny Seakas, Mark Holzner, Scott Pressler and others answered the call. These old boys, and others, recruited many new faces to fill the ranks of the 1st XV.
In that rebuilding year of 1999, the Yanks lost the first game to Monmouth by 10 points and many members had to play two matches because the team failed to travel with sufficient numbers. The second game of that season against Montauk, a longtime rival, saw only 17 players travel and the game started with just 14 players against Montauk's full side. Something happened at that game and the Yanks managed to win by 5 points. From that moment, the Yanks understood that they could accomplish anything and indeed they did, winning all of the remaining matches that season. With that turnaround, our finish in 1999 was sufficient for a bid to the USARFU Men's Div. II Sweet Sixteen in Fort Worth, TX. While falling to national powerhouse Fort Worth RFC in the first round at their home pitch, the Yanks learned that they could compete at the highest levels of Division II national rugby and that championship rugby was something they should take seriously. In 2000, capitalizing on three years of practice, teamwork, and sacrifice brought the Yankees to win Division II of the Met NY Union, undefeated in league play. The Yanks completely dominated Division II, beating longtime rivals Monmouth RFC, Montauk RFC and Long Island RFC. Returning to USARFU Men's Div. II Sweet Sixteen playoffs in Spring 2001, the Yanks received a berth in the playoffs which were held locally by New Haven "Old Black" RFC in New Haven, CT. After defeating Buffalo RFC in the first round, the 2001 championship series saw the Yanks enter the Elite Eight for the first time in club history. Unfortunately, the Yanks progressed no further, falling again to Fort Worth RFC. In the fall 2001, the Yankees remained focused on their winning ways, posting a 7-1 record in league play. Another tough regional playoffs turned the Yanks to face Springfield (MO) RFC in the first round of the playoffs. The Yanks fell to Springfield (MO) RFC in the Round of 16. However, this was the 3rd consecutive appearance in the "Sweet Sixteen".
Move to NERFU
In 2002,the Yanks changed their affiliation from the Met Union to the New England Rugby Union. Instead of travelling to New York, New Jersey and Long Island, the Yanks schedule moved to include Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. In the first season with NERFU, the Yanks announced their presence with authority, posting a 6-1-1 record. The Yanks earned the top seed in the National Playoffs, qualifying for the 4th consecutive year, but failed to advance beyond the round of 16.
2004 Men's D2 National Champions
5th time to the playoffs was the charm: in 2004, the Yanks entered the tournament as the 14th seed and went on to defeat Metropolis, Norfolk, Indianapolis and finally Nashville RFC to win the D2 National Championship hosted in Pittsburg, PA.
From 2005-2008, the Yanks competed in the NERFU D1 Men's league. In the Fall of 2009, the team returned to METNY D1 Men's league in an effort to headoff waning numbers. Under the direction of Richard "Patches" Leonard, the seemingly young and inexperienced, active player base put on a highly competitive performance. However, since the season's record did not reflect their ability and in the midst of METNY RFU restructuring, the Yankees moved down to division II to continue to rebuild their active member base and to improve their ability while gaining additional match experience. Throughout changes taking place within USA Rugby and the structure of the Unions across the nation, the Yankees decided to move to division III during their switch over to the Empire GU
40th Anniversary & Establishment of the Fairfield Yankees
In 2015, the Yankees would celebrate their 40th Anniversary and commemorate with yet another merging, this time with the Fairfield Rugby Club, officially changing the name to the Fairfield Yankees and adding the blue stripe to the shield. The Yankees have started their 2015 season with a large active player base with a wide array of ages. With such depth and so many strong players, the Yankees look forward to field a very competitive 15's team for this upcoming season.
2016 Men's D3 National Champions
Under the leadership of Head Coach David Lyme, and Coaches Richard "Patches" Leonard and Grant "Randy" Heller, the Yankees blazed to a 9-1 record, winning the Empire GU NY conference, with 587 points for, and 101 points against. Fairfield fended off Brooklyn, North Jersey, and Rockaway to take home the Empire GU Title; the Yankees then faced MIT, in the NERFU-EGU crossover game, to advance to the quarterfinals, despite losing long-time scrum half & play-maker, Austin Ryan, to a season-ending injury early in the game. Hosted in Pittsburgh, the Yanks put away Rocky Gorge in the quarterfinals, and then the Bremer County Bucks in the semifinals, to go on to the National Championship game. At Infinity Park in Denver, Fairfield met a much bigger, undefeated, Euless Texans side. Thanks to an absolutely dominant scrum, structured defense, and brilliant runs by the backs (capped off with perfect 7 for 7 kicking by Karl "Rambo" Rempe), the Yankees came away with a hard-fought 41-33 victory; Captain Myles McQuone hoisted the Cup, and Captain Matthew Leonard hoisted the MVP trophy.
Kevin Nealon, actor and comedian, played rugby with the club for several years.
- "Kevin Nealon Biography — TVGuide.com". Retrieved 2008-06-30.