Posted Wednesday September 11, 2019
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Colton Kells has been selected by his peers to lead the 2019-2020 Buffalo Rugby Club as Team Captain. Colton joined in 2015 as a Buffalo devo, In 2017 Colton as an active member. Colton joined us by way of Fairport high school where he was coached by BRC alumni and current Rochester coach Joe Kirish. Colton went on to play at the University at Buffalo where he led the mad turtles in a very challenging Rugby East. Colton is currently a Law Student at UB. Colton has played 48 15s matches for BRC and 42 7s matches. Colton plays hooker and loose forward.  

Dave Piriano has been selected as the teams Vice Captain. Dave joined Buffalo as a Devo in 2012 by way of NU. In 2014 Dave joined Buffalo as a full time member. Dave perviously led the Niagara University Rugby side where he was coached by BRC alumni and Wall of fame member Gene Adams. Dave currently works in finance for an auto dealership in Rochester. Dave also coaches the Canisus College rugby team. Dave has played 52 matches for the BRC 15s side and another 25 for the 7s team. Dave plays 10 and 12 (aggressively)

Additionally we would like to make mention of Jon Garbin who led the team the last 3 years as captain. Jon was instrumental in the clubs rebuild of 2016 and 2017 and led the side to its 1st final 8 appearance in a over a decade. Thank you Jon.

Pay it Forward by Giving Back

I began playing rugby my first week at Niagara and fell in love immediately. The team provides a competitive environment along with companionship for all involved. Being involved with rugby has made my experience here truly unforgettable.

All club sports are expensive as only a certain amount of expenses are covered by the university or club dues and we have expenses like, tournament fees, transportation, equipment, turf time etc.  However, rugby has shaped my NU experience in the best possible way, and for that, I’m so thankful.

Brian Todora ’20
Club Rugby

Rugby builder earns spot on wall

By Bernie Puchalski – January 18, 2019

Gary MacDonald’s rugby coaching career was a labour of love.

Growing up, the 49-year-old Niagara Falls native was into judo, karate, wrestling and football before embracing rugby in high school and university.

“I love contact sports and rugby is an incredible blend of football and wrestling and their movements,” said MacDonald, who will be inducted as a rugby builder into the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame on Jan. 27.

“At the same time, the sense of family and being part of a club, and the camaraderie of being part of the greater rugby community is incredible.”

The high school teacher at A.N. Myer went to teacher’s college in McGill and knew no one in Montreal. His first night there, he ran into some Americans in  a bar who were wearing rugby jerseys.

“I asked them if there was rugby being played that weekend and told them I wanted to play.”

He was told to come with them and they introduced him to a member of the Montreal Irish club.

“I played that Saturday with the Irish and I played that season with them and made the Quebec team out of that,” he said. “I had a great time and instantly had a rugby family and friends by the end of that day.”

The same exact thing happened when he moved to England and knew no one. He called the Barking Rugby Club on Friday and ended up playing rugby for the club the next day. He even earned his first pay for playing rugby, finding 100 pounds in his cleats one day.

“It wasn’t much money but it was a little taste of pro rugby and it was fun,” he said.

MacDonald was a rugby coach before and after he returned to Niagara from England to coach at Stamford Collegiate.

Under mentor Fred Kovacs, MacDonald began coaching rugby at A.N. Myer in 1988. He went on to coach at Niagara University and University of Buffalo and those roles allowed him to recruit women to help start the Niagara Wasps women’s team in 1992.

With a goal of giving Niagara players a chance to compete against those from the GTA, he began coaching in the Niagara Rugby Union junior and senior women’s programs with the goal of promoting players into the Ontario program.

He coached the London Wasps Women’s Rugby Team and the Scottish Women’s National A Team through the Five Nations Championships. That tournament included Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and France and provided one of his career highlights.

“I’m of Scottish heritage and standing there singing the Scottish national anthem in Scotland before our first game with England was amazing,” he said. “That was really cool.”

When he returned to Canada, he also became the St. Catharines Tigers Rugby Club head coach. In 2002 and 2003, MacDonald was a member of the coaching staff of the Ontario senior women’s team. That team was second in 2002 and national champions in 2003.

In 2004, MacDonald began to focus on men’s rugby and coached Stoney Creek in the Ontario Premier League, the Niagara Thunder senior men’s team and Niagara Lightning U21 Representative Rugby in the National Super-Leagues. He was also an assistant coach with the under-21 Ontario men’s team. In 2008, he led the Niagara Lightning to a national championship victory against British Columbia

That moment also stands out as a high point for MacDonald.

Niagara had no national team members while B.C. had 11 under-21 national team members and one senior for national team player.

“It was great to make that statement that our athletes were being under-represented at the next level,” he said. “You can basically bring the Canadian team here and it doesn’t matter. We will still beat you even though you won’t pick them.”

MacDonald has always been pushed to get his athletes a chance play at the national and international levels

“That had been a real motivator for me with rep rugby in the Niagara Rugby Union is getting those kids from small Niagara towns an opportunity,” he said. “Back then it was very biased, but that has changed. It is way better now.”

In 2009, he won a third national championship with the Ontario under-21 team.

The father of one is thrilled to be inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame.

“I am on the committee so it was weird to get nominated and be inducted because it has been a real pleasure finding out about other inductees and how it works,” he said. “A lot goes into selecting nominees and I was initially going to say no because it felt wrong.”

He was convinced to accept the induction.

“It’s a incredible honour.”

Year End Awards

Friday, Jan 25, 2019, NU Men’s Rugby hold their teams year-end awards dinner, I was invited, and enjoyed the night, which had the club proven to be in great hands, as they celebrated, and congratulated each other for the overall great season they had reaching playoffs, and playing awesome rugby. They had fun, thanked the coaches, and promised to continue to work hard at winning and being good students, the NU way. Check out this video

NU Men;s Rugby head coach Gene Adams, with his 3 assistants, Matt McGovern, Zach Rutkowski, Matt Agugliario, handing out somes awards to Evan Castellani, Trevor Wasik, James Bell, Chris Sherman, pictured.

NU 2019 Career Expo

Looking for full-time, part-time, internship and summer employment opportunities? This is the event for you!

Students and alumni of all majors are invited to attend our Career Expo. This event is an excellent opportunity to meet with recruiters from various organizations regarding part-time, full-time and internship opportunities.

The 2 try scorers today

Evan Castellani, Dead Pheasant Rugby try scoring machine, holding the cup from 2 weeks ago win at Hamilton, that led NU to Albany today. The 2 try scorers today were super athlete Keon Peterkin and of course Evan Castellani, with All Star Ryan Schwinn connecting on 1 conversion today vs UMass-Dartmouth.

Congratulations personally and from all NURFC Alumni to Evan for an awesome Collegiate career at NU and best wishes for his future. NSCRO awarded Evan their “Heart and Soul Award,” which everyone knows to be true,

thank you all.






Buffalo Night in New York City!

NU Alumni,

Join us on Thursday, November 8th for “Buffalo Night” at the new Anchor Bar in New York City! We’ll be enjoying Buffalo’s original chicken wings while watching the Sabres game and catching up with new and old friends. The alumni engagement team will be getting things started at 5 p.m. A $10 registration fee gets you started with an order of wings, while any additional food and beverage is at your own expense. For planning purposes, please RSVP by clicking here (no additional donation is required, but welcome). The Anchor Bar is located at 327 West 57th St., New York, N.Y.

This event serves as the first in our reboot of the Niagara University NYC Metro alumni chapter, which has gone silent in recent years. Our hopes will be to hold 3-4 events/year with growing attendance across New York, Northern New Jersey and Long Island. With such a strong alumni network in such a great city we hope to build the Purple Eagle pride as we’ve done in other areas. We invite you to join us on Facebook at  NYC Metro Alumni Chapter of Niagara University – Home   where we are also trying to build a bigger presence. Please be sure to pass this along to fellow alumni as we try to reengage and ensure the message is received by all.

Myself, the NYC Metro Leadership Team and Alumni Engagement are excited to see everyone at the event.





Joe Tonnos (’10) – NYC Metro Area Chapter Leader

Lockport RFC recruiting

The club is now registered and cipped under USA rugby. We are a division 4 social side this year as we are in the rebuilding stage. Recruitment is key!

Athletes wanted for Lockport Rugby Club. Practices on Wednesdays @6pm. No experience necessary! 

What’s Happening?

Plenty of rugby for all ages, check these out, and join in if able, tell them Animal sent you;

1. Saranac Lake, (Can-Am Rugby), 27 – 29 Jul 18: several teammates have expressed interest in playing at Saranac Lake: Chris Carr, Tim Dankanich, Mike Dowgin, Peter Newfield, Mac Robertson. Adding those the folks who have essentially said “anytime, anyplace:” Dan Carter, Dennis Frisch, Billy Goodell, Tom Prigmore and me bring us to 10 players. We’re still short of enough players to enter a team as the FOBs, and that’s if everyone who has expressed interest actually travels. The entry fee is $750 and is non-refundable. Absent more players, it seems unwise to pay the entry fee to enter a team. If you are committed to go and play, please respond to this email. I’ll share the results by email.

2. Aspen Ruggerfest, 13 – 16 Sep 18: several teammates have also expressed interest in playing again at Aspen: Chris Carr, Tim Dankanich, Bill Dillard, Charlie Jones, Peter Newfield, Jerry Razer, Mark Sund, Steve Timmons. Adding the “anytime, anyplace” folks from above, and we appear to be at 13 players, again short of enough players to enter a team as the FOBs. If you are committed to go and play, please respond to this email. I’ll share the results.

3. New Orleans (NOLA Old Boys Tournament), 13 Oct 18: Billy Goodell is trying to pull together a 55s team to play a two match round robin in New Orleans with NOLS Old Boys and Mystic River/Wild Geese (Massachusetts and D.C.). We can participate as the FOBs or we can go as individuals and pick up matches with Billy’s motley crew. As with the other events, if you are committed to go and play, please respond to this email. I’ll share the results.

4. Chicago for 3 International matches, 03 Nov 18: USA v. Maori All Blacks (5:15 PM), Ireland v. Italy (3:00 PM), and USA Women v. New Zealand Black Ferns (12:00 PM), all at Soldier Field. For all who wish to attend, let me know and we’ll find a place for dinner the night before or dinner after the matches.

5. Gainesville, Florida, for the 50th Anniversary of UFRFC, 15 – 17 Feb 19: planning is well under way for this big event, with reps from each 10 year era of UF Rugby comprising the organizing committee. Follow the effort on Facebook and watch for email newsletters from George Luttrell (to a list combining our FOBs list, plus the Master Gators list, plus other known UF rugby alumni). If you know of a UF alum, or anyone who has ever played for the FOBs or been a part of the FOB family, or anyone who may have played at UF in an era other than that reasonably consistent with the FOB age cohort (1969 – ~ 1982), who is not receiving emails, let me or George know and we’ll add them to the combined list.

6. Memorabilia: If you have photos from UF or FOB rugby, please consider sharing some or all of them with me for presentation at the 50th Anniversary celebration. I’m not sure yet what form the presentation will take, although I can envision a continuous video stream running during the (presumed) reception Friday and dinner Saturday. Part of the answer will be driven by how much material I receive and when, that is, how close to the event, I receive it. A flash or thumb drive or CD of your favorite photos would be ideal, and please include the date range of the photos. Send them to the address below, as soon as possible, please, and consider October 1st as the deadline.

Scholarship Funds

Niagara University wanted to thank all those who generously donate to their scholarship funds, including NU Rugby for our 2 annual $1,000.00 scholastic rugby scholarships, The Lt Col Terry Crowe Award and the Founders Award. I sat with Terry’s father and sister, they said hello to all Dead Pheasants, they are seen in the picture with Fr. Maher speaking, anyway THANK YOU Dead Pheasants, see you next weekend.