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(With Evie Hansen)
New York City rugby enjoys a long and storied past that dates back to the turn of the last century when ex-Pats played the game. Of note, around 1901, Amos Alonzo Stagg, famous U. Chicago football coach (and All-American end at Yale), viewed a rugby contest in the city to determine whether gridiron football should revert back to rugby union. The answer proved negative.
In 1929, the New York Rugby Club was founded, the oldest continuing US rugby only organization. (The Olympic Club in San Francisco played rugby among its many other sports, starting in 1905.)
During the 1930s, the city's metropolitan areas hosted five clubs in the thriving, ten-team Eastern Rugby Union. In the 1960s, the city's clubs numbered NYRFC, Manhattan, Old Blue, Westchester, Old Maroon, and, the Village Lions joined years later.
But for all those decades, no club existed in Brooklyn, the city's largest borough. With a population of 2.7 million, if Brooklyn were a stand alone metropolis, it would rank third in the country behind Chicago and Los Angeles. Blame the efficient subway system for inhibiting rugby clubs from starting in the four, outer boroughs of Manhattan.
Finally, in 2007, Brooklyn birthed its first rugby club. First, Men, and then Women.
In the 2018/2019 season, Brooklyn Women play in the Empire League. In the fall qualifiers, the team went 4-2, the two losses coming at the start and end of the season to the Village Lions. Wins came against Monmouth, Uticuse, Long Island, and Suffolk.
But in the D-II playoffs against the experienced Village Lions, Brooklyn prevailed 22-10, earning their most important win in the team's brief history. The victory advanced Brooklyn into the next round against Uticuse where the team was victorious 41-7. Next up would be Providence in the Atlantic North Women’s Division II Playoff. Played in Pawtucket, RI, last Saturday, the hosts defeated the plucky Brooklynites 58-0.
In the upcoming spring season, Brooklyn Women will play friendlies. The highlight will be a match against D-1 NYRFC (Combined A and B players) as the opening match of New York's Major League Rugby club, RUNY, in the Brooklyn Cyclones Minor League Baseball stadium.