This past Saturday, the Boston University men’s rugby program celebrated its 45th year as a club. The current team was joined by over 100 former players and coaches for the festivities, which included a scrimmage between the old and current players at Nickerson Field.
Founded in 1973, the club has a long history of victories and accomplishments, all of which were celebrated over the weekend.
The main event was the inauguration of the first class into the Boston University Rugby Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Among the 11 alumni who were inducted was Eric Seiler, who graduated from BU’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1981.
“It’s actually an amazing honor,” Seiler said. “I’m blessed to be receiving this. It was a big part of my life while I was here at school and I’m very grateful to … the selectors for honoring me this way. It’s great to be back in Boston.”
Nickerson Field, the well-known turf field of Boston University’s west campus, was once a football field, making it difficult for Seiler’s team to reserve the space for practices and games.
“It’s exciting to see rugby played on this field. To see the team playing here right on campus right underneath my old dorm room is really pretty awesome,” Seiler said, gesturing toward Sleeper Hall.
Mike Skiotis, another former player who graduated from BU’s College of Communication in 1984, noted the importance of the event.
“We’re trying to reach out to the younger guys that are new to the game so they can experience rugby like we did,” Skiotis said. “All my best friends are guys I either played with, played against or coached. It’s a fraternity.”
It was evident that BU’s rugby club is indeed a fraternity, as the alumni huddled together in the middle of the field during halftime of the alumni game for a picture, laughing and joking amongst themselves.
While the outcome of the game certainly was not the most important part of the weekend, the alumni earned the win by the score of 51-27.
On Friday night, the club held an event on campus honoring its former coach Tom Arthur.
When Skiotis attended BU, he was coached by Arthur during his senior year. Arthur’s son, David, was a transfer student and had asked his father if he would be willing to coach the team.
Arthur obliged, and subsequently became one of the most influential coaches in the club’s history. He coached the team to its first victory in the New England Division I championship in 1984.
He left the program at the end of that year, but the team won yet again in the following season. This weekend’s festivities honored the 35th anniversary of those back-to-back championships.
“Coach Arthur really pulled us together,” Skiotis said. “We had a lot of talent, but we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing, and he transformed the program.”
The weekend was a special experience for the current players as well, as the club and its alumni will not meet again until the team’s 50th anniversary in five years.
Current fly-half and co-captain Matt Stringer noted that the event honored the club’s legacy and accomplishments.
“This past weekend showed all of us active BU rugby players the immense support our alumni network has for our program, which I know blew all of us away,” Stringer wrote in an email. “As much of a bummer as it was that the old boys brought home the win on Saturday, we all had a blast meeting new people and sharing our experiences as rugby players at Boston University.”
Stringer wrote that he enjoyed the experience, and was able to meet alumni from many generations of the program.
Alumni returned from six different countries to honor the program’s history over the weekend.
“I loved listening to their fond memories of their time as BU ruggers,” Stringer wrote, “and hearing just how much our program means to so many different people across our 45-year history.”