Springfield Rifles Rugby Club celebrates 50 years

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Rifles Rugby Club players of past and present filled the Munich Haus banquet hall Sunday evening.

They had much to celebrate and to remember. It was 1969, the year the Springfield Rifles began their rugby era at Van Horn Park, where the team has played many of its games over the years.

Bob Crowley, co-founder of the Springfield Rifles, said the Rifles continue to endure as a part of Springfield today, 50 years after the team’s founding.

“It’s gone on to colleges, there’s still an existing club fifty years later that travels throughout New England, plays games against other clubs,” he told 22News.

Because of certain similarities, rugby is often compared to football. But according to the Rifles co-founder, John Del Negro, rugby has certain advantages over football.

“It’s an endurance sport. It’s played the whole game, and it’s wonderful for the athlete,” Del Negro explained. “Unlike football, which is five seconds of action, 30 seconds of rest, this is a continuous action game.”

Crowley and Del Negro told 22News they can’t wait until the spring when the Springfield Rifles begin their 51st season of competition.

Many who shared in the team’s glory over the years wouldn’t have missed Sunday night’s reunion for the world, celebrating the camaraderie that’s been at the heart of their beloved sport of rugby for over half a century.

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