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Rough Around the Edges

British rugby football gets play here



Fairfield Yankees player Dylan Thomas scores a “try” in the corner of the field.

Photo by Pat Philpott

“Nice try” has an entirely different meaning in rugby. On many occasions, the phrase denotes a significant play that results in a goal—or “try,” as scores are known in the sport that has its origins in the United Kingdom and is gaining popularity in the U.S.

Off many people’s radar, yet on the local scene for 40 years, the Fairfield Yankees Rugby Football Club competes in the Empire Geographical Union (EGU), encompassing teams from New York, New Jersey, and the Nutmeg State. The Yankees play at such a high level that they won the EGU Division III title with a 9-1 record last fall and are scheduled to host the Union County (N.J.) Mudturtles in the opening round of the playoffs on April 16, 2016.

“We have a very strong, close-knit team,” says the Yankees’ coach, David Lyme, 46, a native Australian who emigrated to the U.S. a decade ago. “I’ve tried to implement a style of running rugby. We’ve molded these young men into good players, good sons, good husbands and fathers, good boyfriends, good teammates.”

Lyme’s fascination with rugby began at age five in his native Sydney and he played the sport until he was nearly 40. He has chosen to remain in the game “because I love it. They’re a great group of guys.” Since Lyme took over the coaching duties—on a volunteer basis—toward the end of the 2014 season, the Yankees have won 16 of 19 matches.

Some rugby basics: The game is played in two 40-minute halves, high score wins. Each team places 15 players on the field. Forward passing is not allowed, only backward or laterally. A goal or a “try” is worth five points. A conversion following each try counts as two points; a penalty goal following a foul is three points.

A typical game-day roster for the Yankees consists of 23 players, primarily drawn from the ranks of former collegiate athletes and ranging in age from 20 to 38. Home matches are played at Fairfield Ludlowe’s Taft Field or at Staples High School in Westport. 

Joe Bonano, 24, is one of the Yankees’ finest flankers. He played football in high school and for one season at Springfield College; he picked up rugby while spending a semester abroad in Australia. “It’s a fun sport to play,” he says, “and it has fewer injuries than other contact sports.”

Bonano works as a physical trainer at Fitness Edge, the ballroom-sized health club on Kings Highway Cutoff. During the off-season, the Yankees conduct fitness and weight training at the facility two evenings a week.

For years, the Yankees have taken an active role in making rugby an important part of the youth scene. On one Sunday this winter, Lyme says, they conducted a clinic for some 80 youngsters at Fairfield Woods Middle School. There are two junior teams in Fairfield: mini, for ages six to eight, and middle, for ages nine to 14 (Lyme’s younger son, Jack, plays in the latter group).

Lyme, who operates childcare centers in Bridgeport and Southbury, also serves as an assistant coach at Staples High. (Harry, his older son, is a member of the Wreckers’ squad.) Fairfield Prep, coached by Frank Decker, competes at the varsity level, while a combination Ludlowe-Warde team, coached by Bob Ehlers, plays at the club level.

Sacred Heart University introduced women’s varsity rugby last fall and also fields a men’s club team. Fairfield University offers club teams for both men and women.

Lyme points out the gentlemanly quality of the Fairfield Yankees and, indeed, of the sport in this region. “We’re very respectful of the opponents and the referees,” he says. “After the match we shake hands with the opposing players and we invite them to eat with us.”

The Yankees generally host the opposing club at Anna Liffey’s, an Irish pub in downtown Fairfield. When the Yankees are playing away, the home teams reciprocate with appropriate fare.

Who says rugby is a rough and tumble sport?


NOT A FOOTBALL
The rugby ball, with its flat ends, has more drag as it is passed from player to player through the air.

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Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
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Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
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On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Laura from Olive My Skin will be joining us to talk about her lovely natural soaps, wood wick soy candles and skin care line, all proudly made in Connecticut. All Fair Trade, paraben free,...

Cost: free

Where:
The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: susan
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
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Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Formed in 1963 in Stamford, CT, The Fifth Estate was a central part of the garage rock movement. Remember NBC's 'Hullabaloo'? They performed their crackin' song 'I Just...

Cost: $28

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company at StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
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Evocation of light is ever present in the romantic and experiential landscapes of Ira Barkoff. His recent works convey the spontaneity and the maturity of the artist’s hand and dedication to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: 1953
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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