More than 300 current and former players, friends, wives, and others gathered in the Soda Center on March 11 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "refounding" of rugby as a sport at Saint Mary's College by the late Brother Kyran Aviani in 1956. They came from as far as Alaska (Coach Art Robson) and Florida (Eagle Brad Andrews) to socialize and pay homage to those who have coached and mentored the players.
Over the years, rugby has become a highly popular spectator sport, and the Gaels' reputation has grown not only in the United States, where the team is highly ranked, but also internationally. Gaels have played matches in many countries and have hosted many international matches in Moraga.
One remarkable fact is that six Gaels have been named "Eagle" (USA national team) over the years, quite an accomplishment for a school this size.
The celebration also kicked off a new fund drive to renovate the Pat Vincent Rugby Field, named for the venerable coach from New Zealand who was at the helm at SMC from 1968-1983. Several speakers, including former Cal and Oakland Raider football coach Mike White, stressed the importance of having such a program for active student participation.
"Upgrading the field will show the sport's importance on campus," says White.
Jim Datrice '74 expressed the most oft-heard sentiments of the evening: "I would not have missed this party for anything. I have not been back to campus very often since I left school, but just being here for this function brings back so much fraternity and good memories."
— Brother Martin Ash, FSC