FAIRFIELD—In describing the international sport of rugby, Pope Francis has said, “It makes us think of life, because our whole life we are heading for a goal. We need to run together, pass the ball from hand to hand, until we get to it. Playing rugby is hard; it is no walk in the park. I think that makes it useful to toughen the spirit, the will.”
Taking inspiration from the Holy Father’s words, rugby teams from around Fairfield County came together on June 23 at Fairfield University’s Rafferty Stadium for the first annual “Charity Cup,” a fundraiser in support of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC). Organized by Fairfield Yankee rugby player and St. Joseph High School theology teacher Michael Pappa, in tandem with CCFC board member Pete Maloney, the day brought in over $3,500 for the agency.
“The first ever Charity Cup was a win all around. Local players volunteered their time playing in a healthy competition to support a great cause,” Pappa summarized.
Over one hundred rugby players, from middle schoolers to seasoned veterans, competed in multiple matches throughout the day. For the youth teams, Fairfield Rugby Club defeated Aspetuck Rugby in three consecutive matches. On the adult side, the Fairfield Yankees, Danbury Madhatters, Greenwich Rugby, Fairfield Lady Yankees, and Danbury Women’s Rugby battled it out in a round-robin format.
With support from agile college players and hometown-hero-turned-professional player Myles McQuone, the Fairfield Yankees men’s team overwhelmed their competition with relentless fast-paced play. In the women’s division, the experience, skill and depth of the Danbury Women’s Rugby team led them to victory, despite a valiant effort by their opponents, the Lady Yankees.
Dr. Mark Nemec, president of Fairfield University and a hard-nosed rugby player, participated in the touch rugby matches and presented trophies to the winning teams. Rugby United New York, the metropolitan area’s first professional rugby team, was a sponsor of the event and had representatives on site in support of the day. Additional sponsors and supporters included Grace O’Malley’s, Yankee Social, Jr’s Deli and Grille and American Medical Response.
The Fairfield Yankees team donated their tournament winnings to CCFC’s Thomas Merton Center, while Danbury Women’s Rugby donated their purse to CCFC’s Morning Glory Breakfast Program.
(To support Catholic Charities, contact Bob Donahue at 203.416.1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)