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Mike Petri, Sr., Coach Al Whelan, and Unnamed

It would not be surprising to find American fathers and sons who played college or club rugby but a US high school rugby link is uncommon.  But not rare for the two generations of the Petri family from Brooklyn, New York. Mike Petri, Senior, played for St. Francis Prep in the early 1970s, and his son Mike, Junior, played at Xavier High School and is now the NYAC and Eagle scrum half.

Rugby at St. Francis Prep began in 1966 when the football coach realized the advantages of spring rugby and encouraged his football team to participate. New York RFC players Al Whelan (founder of the Village Lions) and John Barnes helped to train the newly founded team.

Petri, Senior, an outstanding football half back, started at fly-half. With few other high school rugby teams to play, St. Francis lined up spring games with nearby colleges and clubs. The well coached St. Francis XV (with two tours to Ireland and the UK by 1975) surprised the local competition with its knowledge of the game. Petri, Senior, always maintained that he enjoyed rugby more than football.    

Mike Petri, Junior, played only rugby in high school at rugger powerhouse Xavier and became an All-American at Penn State.

His father said, “When we went to Italy in 2005 to watch our son play international U-19 rugby, it was one of the highlights of my life.”  There were additional overseas rugby trips for the family as Mike Petri, Junior, played in the past two Rugby World Cups in France (2007) and New Zealand (2011). The Petri family will make a third international visit in 2015 for the next World Cup in England.

(Know of any other father-son, or father-daughter rugby histories? Write to afreeman@unitedworldsports.com.)