A Brief History of Northeastern Rugby

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Humble Beginnings

As Alumni of Northeastern University surely know, Huntington Avenue bisects the school’s urban campus, and in many ways serves as a vital artery for transportation, recreation, and campus life. Thus, it is no surprise that the birth of this esteemed Club took place on the fields adjacent to Huntington Avenue in 1984. With a group of likeminded students, headed by Bob Hubbard the Club’s founding member, an informal group began facing off against any and all takers, be it men’s clubs or collegiate sides. A shared desire for competition, love of rugby and team camaraderie ignited the spark which would soon light the Maddog fire.

Birth of The Maddog

By 1985 the then bourgeoning team, was holding regular practices across from the Museum of Fine Arts on Huntington Ave. The pitch in those days was no more than a patch of dirt, rocks and weeds, but it was all the boys needed to scrum down and practice. Due to the hazardous condition of the practice grounds, the infamous pitch was lovingly nicknamed “The Triangle of Death”. It was on this scrap of land that Tony “Kal” Kalaijakis took the reigns as the Club’s unofficial leader. Soon thereafter Club leadership was elected and a constitution was drafted. The Club was truly beginning to take shape.

Given the Club’s unorthodox beginning and rough and tumble identity, the Club under the behest of Tony “Kal” decided to take on an identity unique to NURFC and set apart from the from the traditional NU Husky. Hence, the “The Maddog” was born.

The Formative Years

In the coming years The Maddogs would come to call Madison Park in Roxbury home. The field provided a distinct home field advantage due to its intimidating location, raucous local superfans and dirt and rock pitch. It would be here that over the next two decades The Maddogs would make a name for themselves as a no nonsense hardnosed rugby club. Claiming numerous Bean Pot, Beast of The East and League titles, Northeastern was a perennial force. During this time the Club also had the good fortune of that of a touring side, playing international matches in Ireland, Paraguay and Brazil.

A New Era

As a sign of the growing bond between the University and Club the Maddogs began playing home games at the flagship athletic field of the University, Parsons Field in Brookline in 2005. This was a monumental step in the Club solidifying itself as a legitimate organization with institutional backing, not to mention the increase in student-body draw to matches.

In 2011 an exciting reworking of the collegiate rugby landscape took place. Teams at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools were mandated to play D1 rugby in order to be eligible for postseason play. This new formatting solidified an upper echelon level of collegiate rugby clubs for years to come in what is now known as D1-AA. Comprised of 14 conferences D1-AA is the new Division home for the Northeastern Maddogs. Playing out of the East Coast Conference they annually face off against Albany, American International College, Boston College, UConn, UMass, Middlebury, and Southern Connecticut. This realignment ensures the Maddogs will continue to play in a Conference comprised of the highest level institutions and competition for decades to come.

As Northeastern Rugby continues to rise in national recognition and prominence, the relationship with the NU administrative and governing body grows ever stronger. Through impassioned fundraising, community activism, and aggressive networking with the Alumni body, the Club continues to grow in stature in both the eyes of the University and the Greater Boston community. The Club is committed to maintaining the highest levels of academic and athletic excellence as a distinguished and proud representative of Northeastern University.

Where We Go From Here

It is an exciting time for the Club as the hard work and vision of our founding members has resulted in a healthy endowment, a visionary Alumni Board and a Club on a trajectory of National prominence for years to come. All Maddogs, current and past acknowledge the sacrifices of those who came before us and owe them a debt of gratitude. We look forward to continued success on the pitch as well as furthering our stature as a pre-eminent sport and institution at Northeastern University.