Rugby is a sport not native to the United States, let alone the Stony Brook campus, but this year both clubs on campus have found their recipe for success and are making a name for themselves.
The Men’s and Women’s Rugby teams at Stony Brook had brilliant first semesters dominating on field play, but this came as no surprise to the men’s program.
“We were clicking on all cylinders during the first semester and hope to continue that going forward here this spring,” Mike Tretola, senior president of the men’s club, said.
As a result of resting their starters the team suffered their only loss of the semester after they clinched first place in the Empire Conference, which they went on to win.
The spring semester has a lot in store for the men’s squad, including a national championship tournament, the American Collegiate Rugby Championships, which they have already received a bid for.
The men’s team competes at the highest collegiate level of play that they can. Although they participate in Division I AA both Division I A and AA are ranked together nationally by Rugby Magazine. The men have been ranked as high as 21st this year.
Men’s Rugby is not sanctioned under the NCAA at any university in the United States, but some schools do support a varsity women’s team although that is not the case at Stony Brook.
The women compete as a Division II club rugby team in the Tri-State Conference, where they lost in the conference finals. Although their outcome was not the one they wished for, the girls were pleased with how far they have come and owe it all to one person —coach Reggie Ferraro.
“She made us train harder than we ever had, growing stronger, faster, gaining more knowledge of the game,” Nicole Heuer, president and senior women’s rugby player, said.
This was Ferraro’s first year coaching the team. Coming from a military background, she has attended coaching programs held by the US Eagles (the US National Rugby Team) and took the girls here from 2-5 to an undefeated regular season, in a year where the conference expanded.
“She gave us her all, unlike our coaches in the past, and in turn we gave her our all,” Heuer added.
Ferraro was not the only coaching change the rugby program saw this season. Former men’s assistant coach, Jerry Mirro, was promoted to head coach this fall. Mirro has a long rugby background, but most recently as been observing under the wing of current Men’s US National team coach, Mike Tolkin.
“Coach [Mirro] has changed the culture of the program, making it way more upbeat and high paced,” Joe Farneti, a first year men’s rugby player, said.
The men are aiming to snag one of two remaining spots to get a bid to the Collegiate Rugby Championships in June, but right now are not looking past their next tournament at Rutgers University.
The women tend to use the spring semester as a rebuilding stage. They train, recruit and prepare for the upcoming fall season. Both teams look to continue their success into the latter part of the season.
“This has by far been the best season for men’s and women’s rugby that Stony Brook has ever seen,” Tretola said.