Notre Dame Rugby Football Club

Notre Dame Rugby Football Club
Notre Dame Rugby
NDRFC crest.png
Full name Notre Dame Rugby Football Club
Founded 1961
Motto Faugh A Ballagh! (Irish: Clear the way!)
Union Midwest Rugby Football Union/Mid-South Division of DI-A
Grounds West Quad Fields
President United States Daniel Palmer
Coach Republic of Ireland Sean O'Leary
Website Home Page
First Side Kit
Second Side Kit
Sevens Side Kit

The Notre Dame Rugby Football Club is the official rugby football club at the University of Notre Dame. It is the oldest collegiate rugby club in the Midwest and currently plays in the Collegiate Premier Division, the highest level of college rugby in the US.[1]



Founding and Early Years

The Notre Dame Rugby Football Club was founded in 1961 as one of the first collegiate rugby clubs in the Midwest. In the spring of 1962, Notre Dame narrowly defeated Wisconsin in the first club rugby match played in the Midwest.[2]

In 1963, the Notre Dame Rugby Football Club was officially founded as a club sport. The team was founded by Bob Mier, a student who participated in the Wisconsin game the previous spring. With supervising faculty member and acting head coach Kenneth Featherstone, the team formed and competed in the Midwest Conference.[3]

In April 1968, the Fighting Irish, chaperoned by Professor Peter Brady, traveled to Ireland for several exhibition matches. They went 2-3 against Irish teams, including losses to the Dublin League Champions, Navan, and runner-up, Delvin. Notre Dame was also defeated by University College Cork but gained victories over the Limerick Rovers and Thurles.[4] The Fighting Irish traveled to Ireland again in March 1974. On this trip, Notre Dame went 2-2, losing to Tralee and again to University College Cork while defeating another Limerick team, the Bohemians, and University College Dublin.[5]

National Prominence

After suffering a losing record their first season, the A-side went on to have 3 winning seasons obtaining a 53-12 record. Likewise, the B-side also dominated its opposition obtaining a 40-1 record that included a 33 game winning streak which was finally ended by current SuperLeague side, the Chicago Lions.[6]

During the 1965-1966 year, the Fighting Irish won the Commonwealth Cup, Nassau Invitational, Midwest Tournament, Irish Challenge Cup, and the All-College Tournament. These wins resulted in the Fighting Irish being name Collegiate Rugby National Champions by Sports Illustrated. After this season, Notre Dame offered the rugby team the chance to become a varsity sport, but this was turned down via players' vote.[7] Notre Dame was even named a "national rugby power" by the Washington Post.[8]

In the fall season of 1972, the Fighting Irish defeated longtime rival, the Chicago Lions 15-12, upsetting the 1972 Midwest Champs. The game has been considered one of the most brutal matches in recent years. One player was knocked unconscious in the first minute of play with two others being removed at half-time, one with a broken jaw and the other with a broken leg. An English official said afterwards, "I've seen teams play in Holland, England, and on the continent (Europe), but I've never seen a team hit like Notre Dame did that day.[9]" The next week, Notre Dame won a hard fought victory over rival and defending National Champions Palmer College of Chiropractic 16-15. The Irish finished the fall season at 11-2. During the spring season of 1973, Notre Dame beat rival Ohio State and reclaimed the Silver Cup, a trophy passed to the victor of that game.[10] The Fighting Irish finished the spring at 12-1, winning the Midwest Championship over the Chicago Lions, but losing the National Championship to repeat champions, Palmer.[11] The 1975 B-Team went undefeated included a 3-0 victory over the Lions in their final game on Mark Keown's 30 yard penalty kick from the right sideline.

From 1987 to 1992 the Irish returned to regional prowess, under the coaching of Art Maerlender. The team re-joined the Chicago Area Rugby Football Union and made it to the Midwest final round in each year from 1990 through 1994. The late Col. John Stephens was the long-serving faculty advisor who died in 1996. Incidents the next year invoked the "double-secret probation," that resulted in the club's banishment from campus.

Behavioral Incidents

The University placed the rugby club on probation twice in the '80s as a result of bad behavior. The combined weight of these events and inexcusable misconduct during the '95 spring season ultimately led to the club's disbandment on August 3, 1995. [12]

South Bend Old Boys RFC

Tom McGinty and Dave Bishop deserve credit for their efforts to start a club team in the fall of 2000, eventually dubbed the South Bend Old Boys RFC, after playing for the South Bend blues the previous year and longing for a University-affiliated team [1]. This club was quite successful over the next three years at scheduling matches with high-profile teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and Tennessee, surviving and competing (and racking up an impressive record) as a self-supporting club carpooling to away games.

Out Side Irish

The Out Side Irish line up during the 2007 Spring season.

The OIRFC was a rugby club that was unaffiliated with the University of Notre Dame but was composed of Notre Dame and Indiana University of South Bend students. The club was founded in the fall of 2004 by junior, Mike Schmitt and sophomore, Don Greiwe as an attempt to take the team in a more serious direction. In their first season the Out Side Irish only managed to schedule a few games due to low numbers and accessibility. They practiced only once per week and barely could scrap together fifteen live bodies to play matches, however they were able to recruit a strong freshman class and the next spring managed a record of 3-4. At the end of this season John Gallagher, Christopher Liedl, and Chris Harrington decided to put together a formal application for club status with the University. After drafting a club constitution and with the support of president Don Greiwe and vice president Brian Fallon the club filed for official recognition. Practicing three times a week and posting a record of 9-1-1 the rugby club made a strong case for itself. With the support of numerous alumni and donors and after an application period of over six months the team was finally recognized in May 2007 and became the Notre Dame Rugby Football Club.


On May 18, 2007, 12 years after being banished, the University officially reinstated the Notre Dame Rugby Football Club. As an official club, the NDRFC's stated goals are to field a rugby team representing the University of Notre Dame, to compete with other club teams while abiding by the rules of the University of Notre Dame, USA Rugby, and the International Rugby Board (IRB), and to promote the physical education, mental and social well-being, and sportsmanship of members of the club through participation in and the playing of this internationally recognized sport. Following their reinstatement, the club rose rapidly through the Midwest RFU ranks after hiring Coach Sean O'Leary. O'Leary transferred from Northeastern University and acts as coach of the USA U17 national team. In the fall of their first season the Irish finished 8-1-1 against Division II competition sparking a move up to Division I in the spring and an inclusion in the Eastern Division of the Midwestern Division I league.



The NDRFC crest was designed by Jaime Urquijo and Don Whitley following the club's reinstatement in 2007. In the center of the crest is a stylized Celtic cross, reminiscent of both Notre Dame’s Irish heritage and its status as a Catholic university. Atop the arms of the cross is the club’s original 1961 date of establishment. 1961 is listed instead of 2007 so as to stress the continuity between the old club and the new club and to recognize the three decades of successful history that existed prior to the club’s disbandment.

At the bottom of the crest are the Notre Dame monogram and a shamrock similar to the one used on Notre Dame’s basketball jerseys. These symbols reaffirm the club’s strong desire to be affiliated with the University. The use of a pre-existing Notre Dame shamrock instead of the IRFU design (which was used as the club’s logo when they were the Out Side Irish) or the London Irish variant (which appeared in the first versions of the crest) is particularly significant in this regard. It is also referencing the NDRFC's logo from the 1970s.

1973 - The Notre Dame Rugby team wearing green jerseys with the shamrock logo reclaiming the Silver Cup from Ohio State.


While the A-Side jerseys bear the Notre Dame colors of blue and gold, the B-Side jerseys are almost identical to those used by the Out Side Irish (which were imitations of the jerseys worn by the Irish national team). The kelly green of the B-Side jersey is a tribute to both the pre-1995 Notre Dame Rugby club as well as the Out Side Irish, whose tireless dedication and perseverance led to the club’s reinstatement. Additionally, it recalls the famous green jerseys used on occasion by the football team.

The two different jersey designs are intended to remind club members that it is a privilege and an honor to wear the Blue and Gold of Notre Dame - one that is only granted to someone who has earned a place on the A-Side.

Historic Rivals

Chicago Lions

John Carroll University

Indiana University (Bloomington)

Ohio State

Palmer College of Chiropractic

Michiana Moose

2007-08 Season


Fall 2007 Schedule

Date Time Opponent Site Result
9/1/2007 10:30 a.m. vs. Old Boys*dagger West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN  (Exh.)  
9/2/2007 11:00 a.m. vs. UW–Parkside* Waukesha Expo Center • Waukesha, WI W 19-10  
9/2/2007 3:00 p.m. vs. Illinois* Waukesha Expo Center • Waukesha, WI T 14-14  
9/2/2007 5:30 p.m. vs. Marquette* Waukesha Expo Center • Waukesha, WI L 0-29  
9/22/2007 9:00 a.m. Northern Illinois West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 38-0  
9/22/2007 11:00 a.m. Illinois-Chicago West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 33-0  
9/30/2007 12:00 p.m. at Northwestern Lakeside Fields • Evanston, IL W 65-3  
10/6/2007 9:30 a.m. Calvin* West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 46-7  
10/6/2007 10:30 a.m. St. Joseph's* West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 52-17  
10/20/2007 10:30 a.m. DePaul West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 85-0  
11/17/2007 10:30 a.m. Loyola West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 22-0  
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Eastern Time.

Spring 2008 Schedule

Date Time Opponent Site Result
03/15/2008 10:00 a.m. UW–Whitewater* West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 34-20  
03/22/2008 1:00 p.m. at Indiana* Indiana University • Bloomington, IN L 14-48  
03/29/2008 1:00 p.m. at Loyola* Loyola University Chicago • Chicago, IL W 66-0  
04/12/2008 1:00 p.m. vs. Michiana* Moose Rugby Grounds • Elkhart, IN L 7-24  
04/19/2008 12:00 p.m. Ohio State*dagger West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN L 22-36  
04/26/2008 2:00 p.m. at Bowling Green* Bowling Green State University • Bowling Green, OH L 24-56  
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Eastern Time.

2007-08 B-Side Schedule

Date Time Opponent Site Result
9/22/2007 1:00 p.m. Illinois-Chicago B West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 34-0  
9/30/2007 2:00 p.m. at Northwestern B Lakeside Fields • Evanston, IL W 10-0  
10/20/2007 12:00 p.m. DePaul B West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 53-0  
03/15/2008 12:00 p.m. Northwestern A* West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN L 7-15  
03/22/2008 3:00 p.m. at Indiana* Indiana University • Bloomington, IN L 22-29  
03/29/2008 3:00 p.m. at Loyola B* Loyola University Chicago • Chicago, IL W 55-0  
04/19/2008 2:00 p.m. Ohio State B* West Quad Fields • Notre Dame, IN W 12-3  
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Eastern Time.


Position Year Hall
Connecticut Karun Ahuja Flanker Senior Stanford
Ohio Dan Blakely Lock Senior Alumni
Florida Noah Bradon Flanker Sophomore Morrissey
California David Bray Flanker Sophomore O'Neill
New York Nick Civetta Lock Sophomore Knott
Indiana Cory Dombrowski Lock Senior Alumni
Pennsylvania Tom Foley Hooker Senior Morrissey
Louisiana Ben Frost Prop Junior Dillon
California Chris Hapak Flanker Graduate Off Campus
California Pat Hernandez Hooker Junior Dillon
Illinois Bob Huguelet Number eight Junior Stanford
Kentucky Tony Klausing Lock Junior Keenan
Pennsylvania John Lalor Prop Sophomore O'Neill
Michigan Ben LaPres Prop Sophomore Siegfried
Texas Tim Latham Hooker Junior Knott
Michigan Joe Lonick Lock Sophomore HCC
New York Riyath Mallahi Prop Junior Dillon
New Hampshire Brendan McQueeney Prop Junior Dillon
Texas Kyle Mitchell Lock Sophomore Stanford
Pennsylvania David Seibel Hooker Senior O'Neill
Pennsylvania Ryan Shestak Flanker Junior Dillon
New York Steven Szalay Hooker Junior Dillon
Connecticut Patrick Toole III Flanker Sophomore Knott
Pennsylvania Justin Wang Hooker Senior Knott
Indiana Derek Woznicki Flanker Senior Knott
Position Year Hall
Ohio Justin Betz Centre Senior Knott
Connecticut Tim Bossidy Centre Sophomore St. Ed's
Illinois Chris Brown Fullback Senior Keenan
Michigan Brian Cash Centre Sophomore Stanford
Hawaii Inoh Choe Wing Sophomore St. Ed's
Florida Coleman Collins Wing Sophomore Keenan
Florida Kennedy Collins Wing Sophomore Fisher
Illinois Jack Dillon Wing Junior Stanford
Nebraska Mike Doran Centre Sophomore O'Neill
Illinois Alex Duffy Centre Senior Dillon
Colorado Tomas Gallegos Wing Sophomore St. Ed's
Colorado Nicholas Geraci Scrum-half Sophomore Knott
Indiana Patrick Griffin Fly-half Sophomore Alumni
Republic of Ireland Dave Johnson Centre Graduate Off Campus
New York Ed Keenan Wing Sophomore Fisher
Minnesota Jonathan Liedl Centre Freshman Dillon
Hawaii James Miller Wing Senior Keenan
Illinois Sean Mitchell Fullback Sophomore Sorin
Florida Rob Morgan Wing Sophomore O'Neill
California Andrew Mullen Centre Sophomore Zahm
California Andrew O'Connor Scrum-half Sophomore St. Ed's
Illinois Kurt Riester Centre Sophomore O'Neill
Maryland Tom Riley Wing Sophomore Morrissey
Tennessee Kevin Ritt Centre Sophomore Stanford
Illinois Nick Severyn Centre Sophomore O'Neill
Spain Jaime Urquijo Centre Junior Stanford
Virginia Chris White Wing Sophomore Dillon


  1. ^
  2. ^ Wisconsin Rugby Club
  3. ^ The Observer Vol. II No. L pg. 8, March 8, 1968
  4. ^ The Observer Vol. II No. LXVIII pg. 8, April 29, 1968
  5. ^ The Observer Vol. VIII No. 98 pg. 8, March 26, 1974
  6. ^ The Observer Vol. II No. L pg. 8, March 8, 1968
  7. ^ The Observer Vol. II No. IX pg. 8, October 7, 1967
  8. ^ The Observer Vol. II No. XXV pg. 7, November 6, 1967
  9. ^ The Observer Vol. VII No. 43 pg. 8, November 7, 1972
  10. ^ The Observer Vol. VII No. 106 pg. 12, April 3, 1973
  11. ^ The Observer Vol. VIII No. 98 pg. 8, March 26, 1974
  12. ^ Observer Newspaper - Sports

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