New York State
A Brief History
In 1970, a few fledgling clubs in upstate New York met on the campus of Brockport State College to form what became the UPSTATE RUGBY UNION. The earliest concerns about the formation, expressed strongly by the representatives from Syracuse University, were to remain a union loosely configured in order to coexist with other regional unions, provide services to clubs, inaugurate an annual tournament, and to finance the maintenance of such, while remaining strongly independent from "the system". After all, rugby in those days was highly counter-culture and disdained a restrictive central rule.
This loose confederation of clubs (collegiate and city based clubs) continued until it was clear that the more mature men's clubs were on the most part, no match on a Saturday for most college sides. Two divisions emerged, a men's (city club) division and a collegiate division. Some of these lines of distinction, based on quality of play, were not always so clear; the Rochester Aardvarks of the 70s, top dogs among clubs, had their tough games against colleges sides from Syracuse, Cornell, and Brockport or Cortland. Eventually, however, as clubs maturated further, developed coaching strategies and personnel, recruited top college players, etc., the division became more evident. In fact, there began to be a clear difference between certain college sides apart from others, again depending on coaching, institution support, men's club support (coaching/recruiting), and solid traditions maintained by alumni (old boys). Brockport State is one of the finest examples of a quality program supported over many years by its "old boy" network.
From time to time, Cornell, Albany State, Syracuse, SUNY @ Buffalo, Cortland State, Brockport State, Sienna College ,and more recently, Canisius College have had very strong competitive collegiate rugby clubs and have sent many outstanding players into men's clubs throughout the country wherever the best rugby is played.
Likewise, the clubs began to separate into traditional powers. After the Aardvarks reign through the 70s, the Albany Knicks proved superior, with a challenge here and there from strong Syracuse Rogues/Charger and Buffalo Old Boys sides. This remained steadfast until the Knicks migrated to New England for greener pitches. About this time Buffalo Emerged as the clear dominant club, having to prove its ability to beat Albany in the newly developed (intra league play) Premier League. Soon thereafter, the Buffalo Old Boys went west, looking for greener/nearer pitches. This left the Chargers and Aardvarks to battle it out for homey top honors. Rochester has emerged; the Chargers will be back, no doubt.
Along the way, the Upstate Union changed its name to the New York State Rugby Conference, perhaps to americanize the union, perhaps to shed the long tradition of a loosely organized, non-central administration.
Geographically, the union/conference is almost unmanageable. As a consequence, centrally located clubs in Rochester and Syracuse have suffered from not playing tough competition from outside the union/conference. Albany had the opportunity to be tested by strong east coast competition, Buffalo experienced fine, skilled Ontario rugby, as well as the rugged style of play by clubs from Ohio and Pittsburgh. Both The Knicks and Old Boys fare well against their new rivals in new found homes. There are still good memories of tough games between all of these clubs throughout the union/conference's short history.
Recently, with coaching assistance coming to a few collegiate clubs from the above mentioned clubs and others, college rugby in NYSRC can hold its own with other powers in the east. Canisius, Cornell, Suny@Buffalo, Brockport State, Syracuse can all play with the best of them. Brockport State has proven at Saranac every August that its old boys teams can win at all levels consistently.