It’s official! The Rye Rugby Club played its first inter-school match against another start-up team, Jersey City’s Hudson Catholic, May 19 at Abendroth Park in Port Chester.
By Melanie Cane
It’s official! The Rye Rugby Club played its first inter-school match against another start-up team, Jersey City’s Hudson Catholic, May 19 at Abendroth Park in Port Chester. In a tight game of three 20-minute periods, Rye lost on a last minute penalty attempt. The final score was 20-15.
Rye’s coaches awarded Paul Devlin “Man of the Match” for his great play before leaving the field injured late in the second period. Other honorable mentions include: Santi Mascolo for hard tackling and smart kicking from full back, Ryan Yaeger for his total commitment in his first rugby experience, Alessa Raiford and Kate Bird for taking the field and braving the melee to be Rye Rugby’s first female players, and Cameron Kamer for leading the pack to many successful rucks against the bigger and very physical Hudson Catholic team.
The Rye Rugby Club is the brainchild of Rye High School brothers Michael and Cameron Kamer, a junior and freshman respectively. It is an outgrowth of Rye Youth Rugby, which also started this spring, thanks to the effort of local dad Ryan Fitzpatrick in connection with Rye Recreation and Play Rugby USA.
Through a combination of social media, word-of-mouth, and fliers, the Kamer men, including dad Evan, generated interest in a full rugby program among Rye High School students. Since the school has not yet agreed to be affiliated with the club, the brothers had to create buzz and pass on information on their own time and off school property.
The Kamer men (dad is the team executive and administrator) started Rye Rugby to introduce young people to the sport and in order to have a program for ages 16 and older. (Most travel teams only go up to U16.)
Currently, the club is comprised of 20 students, from eighth graders to high school seniors, including the two girls, with an even split of novices and experienced players. They practice twice a week (at Playland field and Abendroth Park) and will continue through mid-June.
Head coaches James McMorris and Fitzpatrick hail from the Lansdowne Rugby Club in New York City. Fitzpatrick, a Rye resident, arranged for the coaching and helped establish the team, as well as the Rye Youth Rugby program. Tim Walsh is an assistant coach.
Early in 2014, the Kamer brothers met with several school officials to discuss a potential school sponsoring of the club. However, at the time, the school did not embrace them. As such, the club is self-funded. Funding comes from a modest per-player registration fee (scholarships are available), as well as from local Rye residents/rugby supporters via the Rye Youth Rugby booster club.
They are currently soliciting donor/sponsor support from local area businesses. Piazza Pizza is a non-financial partner who provides food for their post-game socials at the field with the visiting team. They also receive some benefits from USA RUGBY (the national rugby governing body) and Rugby NY, with which all of their players are registered. Benefits include insurance and administrative support (registration, league play, referees, and equipment).
The Kamers and other club families hope to gain approval from Rye Board of Education and RHS Athletic Department to sanction Rye Rugby next spring.