Rugby

The New York Athletic Club Rugby team competes in the American Rugby Premiership, which is the highest level of rugby competition in the USA. We also have a B-side who competes against the B-sides of opposing teams or Division I teams.

The NYAC Rugby club was established in 1973 and has won the USA Rugby National Championships in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015. The Club has hosted a number of players throughout the years that have gone on to represent the USA men's National Team. Up to and including the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Mike Petri, Seamus Kelly, Alistair McFarland, Nate Brakeley, Troy Hall, Toby L'Estrange and Brian Doyle have all played for the US Eagles. Our Club continues to provide an excellent pathway for those players seeking to take their rugby to the next level.

Our coaching staff is top rated in USA rugby with a mix of international coaching talent anchored by former US Eagle Head Coach, Mike Tolkin.

Our home field facilities are located at Travers Island in Pelham, NY and is the top rated rugby facility on the east coast.

Our regular season starts in September of each year and runs through November. We reconvene in March, playoffs take place in late May and national finals are concluded by Memorial Day. We field a Rugby 7s team during the summer and have made numerous appearances in the National Tournament.

We train three times per week during the preseason and two times per week during the regular season. Training sessions are normally held at Randall's Island on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm to 9pm. We also hold indoor preseason training at the New York Athletic Club located on Central Park South and 7th Avenue.

We are an amateur club and abide by all of the rules of the New York Athletic Club. All are encouraged to try out for the team. Practice times, schedules and contact information is updated regularly on this site.

Team Schedule

Date and Time Location Opponent
September 7th - 1pm Travers Island Life University (W 23-22)
September 14th   Bye
September 21st - 2pm Malden, MA Mystic RFC (W 27-3)
September 28th - 1pm Travers Island Rugby ATL
October 5th - 1pm Travers Island Old Blue RFC (W 36-34)
October 12th - 5pm Marietta, GA Life University
October 19th   Bye
October 26th - 2:30pm Travers Island Mystic RFC
November 2nd - 6pm Marietta, GA Rugby ATL
November 9th - 6pm Aviator Field Old Blue RFC

Practice Information

Rugby practice is being held at Randalls Island, field 10, from 7pm to 9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Directions to Practice Field

Take the 4,5, or 6 train to 125 St. On Northwest corner, get M35 bus. Once on Randalls, get off near golf course. It's usually the 2nd stop on Randalls. We are on the big turf field under the lights.

Program Highlights

History of nyac rugby

It doesn't seem possible that twenty years have gone by since Bill Smith, Jack Delany and I were sitting in a bar discussing the possibility of forming a rugby club within the New York Athletic Club, but it was January of 1973. The Club had been approached by another group some fourteen years earlier but the time just was not ripe, and the club turned them down. This time though, the game had enjoyed a terrific growth, particularly around New York City, and Jack Delaney was very enthusiastic about supporting us and using his influence to gain support from the Board of Governors. They quickly assigned us a budget of $1000, which was mind boggling at the time to Billy and me. We had spent nearly 20 years playing with rugby clubs who existed through the Christmas raffle.

Once given permission to form the club we had to take inventory of the players we had available and make some decisions as to whom, when, and where we were going to play. There were in fact a number of very good players who were members of the New York Athletic Club but unfortunately, they were all committed to playing with other clubs and we were moderately successful at recruiting them in the first season. We then made the decision to get the program off the ground by forming a Sunday side. After a hurried call for the recruits we held our first practice on a Sunday afternoon in February of 1973 in the gym. We had something like seven or eight new recruits, people who were athletic and eager to try something new, but who had never played rugby before. Together with them and members of the A.C. who were playing with other clubs we filled 15 spots for our first side. In that first Spring season, many if us played each Saturday with our regular clubs and every Sunday with the NYAC team, to be known as Winged Foot.

Before the first game, George Mayer and I were assigned the task of going up to Travers Island and to survey the playing conditions. We found a 200 year old tree in the in-goal area, a baseball diamond on one end, and four shot putting rings, which were actually steel rings filled with seven inches of reinforced concrete, on our new playing field. Naturally, they strategically placed right at the half-way and inside the touch lines. We had to use great imagination to lay out the pitch in the form of a parallelogram so that the tree, which was at least 6 feet in diameter, would fall in the in goal area, rather than on the playing area.

We organized a party to go up there the following Saturday armed with sledge hammers and crow bars to break up the shot putting rings. This was hell of a lot easier said than done and we had only partly completed the job when our first scheduled home match came up. It was held on a Sunday in April 1973 against the Old Blue Thirds and luck would have it there was a heavy down pour all day long. In the morning, I had gone to the nursery and purchased 60 to 70 square feet of sod. The owner was somewhat incredulous when he was standing in the pouring rain loading it into the station wagon and he asked "what on earth are you doing to do with sod on a day like this?" I said, "I'm just going to fix my rugby pitch". He simply stood there scratching his head as we went off to Travers Island and immediately set about covering the concrete with a carpet of sod, figuring that the Old Blue would be the none wiser. Sure enough, early in the game I tackled someone who landed on top of the soil who cursed" damn, this pitch feels like concrete".

Eventually we completed the job, had the baseball infield sodded in and continued to play on our parallelogram field for the next five years, much to the dismay of the referees, who could never sort out a forward pass.

We became a regular side in the fall of 1973 and about two years later when the Metropolitan Rugby Union was formed we were assigned to the third division. We won the third division that year and moved up to second division the following season. We won that also, and competed in the first division until 2001. During that time we had two Sweet Sixteen National Tournament appearances and in 2001,after losing in the finals of the Division 1 National Championship, we were asked to join the Rugby Super League and have been there ever since.

Winged Foot has grown from those early days of scratching for 15 men, to a point where we are now the most successful member of the elite USA Rugby Super League. We field two sides every weekend and an Old Boys side several times each season. The addition of Mike Tolkin and his Xavier High Alumni, along with some key player acquisitions, and as a result of consolidation in the Met Union has emerged an even stronger Winged Foot Rugby Club. The Winged Foot now regularly plays matches all over the US. We have won Rugby Super League National Championships in 2005, 2008 and 2010 and hold the most national titles of any current member of the Rugby Super League.

For anyone who lives and works in the New York area, there is no finer place to play rugby than with the Winged Foot. The financial support, the marvelous athletic facilities of the Parent Club, and perhaps most important, the caliber of the individuals who belong to it are second to none. - Robert Cullum Sr.-1993

Latest News and Results

October 5th


A cold day welcomed Old Blue to Travers Island for what turned out to be an interesting game on John Ryan Tribute Day. The first half saw NYAC take control, establishing a 29-14 lead at halftime, obtaining the vital bonus point with four tries. Old Blue's two first half tries were a result of 2 mistakes by NYAC and this kept them in the game.

The second half saw a complete form reversal by Old Blue. They made an early strategic replacement just after the break and this led to a territorial dominance and with that, they were able to put points on the board and chip into NYAC's lead. To their credit, NYAC defended stoutly given the weight of possession that Old Blue had. The visitors forged ahead 34-29 with ten minutes left. However, NYAC regained its composure as it marched down field and set up a controlled maul close to the Old Blue line. With under two minutes on the clock, hooker Mike Brown was able to score a great team try. The score was tied at this stage, and with 90 seconds remaining Chris Mattina calmly slotted the conversion to give the lead back to the home team, 36-34. A hectic minute followed, but NYAC prevailed with a dramatic victory against its cross-town rivals.

Both teams played well in patches, with each side showing their dominance at different times. It was certainly an entertaining affair on a very special day.

After the match, a BBQ was held to honor John Ryan and a presentation was made to John's finance Anne. John's brother Tom and sister Christine were also in attendance. The recent loss of John highlighted the fact that rugby is more than a game - we are a world-wide family who enjoy the game and make life-long friends. At the end of the day this is what rugby is about.

It's onwards and upwards for NYAC with a game in Atlanta next weekend. We are sure that John will be with us all the way!
 


 

September 21st


On a very hot day in North Boston, NYAC defeated Mystic River RFC 27-3 in a physical contest between the northeast rivals. The visitors displayed a strong set piece and determined defense throughout the match to pressure the home team and gain victory. NYAC took an early lead on fly half and captain Chris Mattina's penalty at seven minutes. After taking the ensuing kick-off and drawing penalty, NYAC put together a good string of play which eventually opened space for Dave Smerdon to touch down and increase the lead to 8-0 as the conversion was not made.

NYAC continued to play deep in Mystic's territory but missed a penalty attempt and several good scoring opportunities, while Mystic slotted a 40m penalty kick to cut the lead to 8-3.

Just before the half ended, however, a strong NYAC tackle caused a turnover, which the backline quickly moved through the hands and was ultimately touched down by fullback Mike Dalton. The half ended with NYAC leading 13-3.

The unseasonably hot weather was a challenge for both teams as cramping and other heat-related problems came into play. Mystic River mounted early pressure in NYAC territory, with the visitors committing multiple penalties near the goal line and ultimately earning a yellow card. Mystic continued to play inside NYAC's 22, but the defense held strong and denied waves of attack. After a strong tackle and attempted counter ruck, NYAC was called for another penalty and a second yellow card. Down to 13 men, the visitors scrambled to defend their line and once again denied Mystic any scoring. The turning point in the match came when NYAC, scrummaging with 6 men, drove Mystic off the ball and drew a penalty to relieve pressure and ultimately play out the yellow cards with no scoring allowed. 

The final quarter of the match was dominated by NYAC, and after several threats to Mystic's line and a disallowed try, the visitors finally touched down after sustained forward pressure, with Bruce Williamson getting the try and Chris Mattina converting. 

Good attacking play by NY's back line brought the ball deep into Mystic's end one final time, and after several forward drives to the line, number eight Rob Irimescu scored the try to secure the bonus point and Mattina converted the conversion to end the match.


 

September 7th


On September 7th, the New York Athletic Club Rugby team hosted Life College at Travers Island under excellent playing conditions.

The opening 20 minutes saw very physical play as both teams came out of the gates with clear intent and the energy of opening day. Early on, the NYAC played a little too much ball from their own end against a Life team that was clearly looking to pressure each ruck with strong counter rucking, which it effectively did for throughout the opening stanza.

Life and the NYAC exchanged penalty kicks (Fly Half Harry Bennett) in the first 10 minutes, and both teams turned the ball over through defensive pressure, but also due to some opening rust. With another penalty kick, the NYAC held a 6-3 in the last quarter of the half, when Life scored a converted try from a well-executed chip kick. However, the NYAC answered back with a try by #8 Rob Iremescu and converted by Bennett just before the half through strong scrum pressure deep in Life's end. Another NYAC penalty ended the half with a 16-10 NYAC lead.

The pace slowed down a bit to start the second half, and 12 minutes in, the NYAC 's Ryan McTeirnan received a yellow card. However, the NYAC managed a shorthanded try as Harry Bennett chipped a smart kick to wing Quinten Pradere to score under the post to extend the lead to 23-10. Life squandered some very good opportunities to score through some handling errors while exerting heavy pressure towards the final quarter of the match, but they were soon able to convert that pressure to points with 2 well-executed tries by - one being converted - and closed the gap to 23-22. The final few minutes of the match presented some good drama for the spectators as the game was in the balance with one point between the team, but the NYAC held on to get the win. Harry Bennet's haul of 13 points and shrewd tactical play led the way for the NYAC.
Final Score: NYAC 23 Life 22

The match was dedicated to the late John Ryan, a stalwart and beloved NYAC man for 30 years.

The second XV defeated a strong and well-organized Fordham University side 34-21 in the day's finale.

Contacts

Chairman
Jeff Heidelberger
jeffrey.p.heidelberger@gmail.com

President
Darren King
kingdma@gmail.com

Coaches
Mike Petri
risforrugby@gmail.com

Director of Rugby
Mike Tolkin
tolmik@hotmail.com

Recruiting
Please e-mail rugbynyac@gmail.com

Competitions Chairperson
Tony Nash
anashawaty@bloomberg.net

Director of 7's
Paul Enright
paul@krainoscapital.com

Team Physical Therapist
Michael Fox, PT, SCS
mfox@motionptg.com

Medical Director
Gregory DiFelice
http://www.hss.edu/physicians_difelice-gregory.asp

Mailing Address
NYAC
Rugby Club
180 Central Park South
Box #433
New York, NY 10019

Club Rules

All players must adhere to the following NYAC rules:

  1. All players must have status, of either full member, athletic member, or privilege card status. No player is to represent NYAC without status. Any deviation from this can result in the suspension of the sport.
  2. PC cards are good for one year; upon expiration, the athletes are expected to become athletic members. All conditions of a Privilege Card must be adhered to.
  3. All requests for field or facility use must be approved by the Athletic Department and Travers Island management.
  4. All receipts must be compiled and forwarded to the Chairman. No one is to receive any funding whatsoever from the Club if they are not a member or PC registered. All funding must be cleared through club appropriation and approved by the chairman.
  5. All sports must have an acceptable ratio of full and athletic members to privilege card holders. All sports will be judged by the amount of their athletic members becoming full members.
  6. Significant attendance by team members is expected at the All Sports Dinners, Athlete's Reception and other special events. All athletes are expected to show support for other team's events whenever possible.