Club History

The Binghamton University Rugby Football Club was founded in 1979 as the State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton Tasmanian Devils Rugby Football Club (RFC).

A foreign exchange student, Mike Sweetnam, who had arrived in Binghamton in the fall of 1978 from London, England began promoting the idea of founding a college club in the spring of 1979 and began organizing and establishing the Club in earnest in the fall of 1979.

SUNY - Binghamton Tasmanian Devils Rugby
Patch on the first set of jerseys for SUNY – Binghamton Tasmanian Devils Rugby

Several SUNY Binghamton students who would later become mainstays of the early Club played as a B side for the local Men’s Club, the Binghamton Barbarians, in the spring of 1979, however, by the fall of 1979 as the SUNY Binghamton Tasmanian Devils RFC.

Among the players involved in the establishment of the Club besides Sweetnam, were Roddy Kopera and Joe Longo. SUNY Binghamton played its first match as an independent side wearing green and white hooped jerseys against Syracuse University in the fall of 1979. The Club’s first full season as an independent club with its own schedule of matches was in the spring of 1980.

Sweetnam, who had come from a very competitive rugby background playing in Europe and on the Pacific coast of Canada as well as in the US, knew the route to rapid improvement was through scheduling tough opposition and that is what was done for the fledgling SUNY Binghamton club. Among SUNY Binghamton’s earliest opponents were Army whose B side proved far too strong for the inexperienced SUNY Binghamton side. The Club did not win a game during its first two seasons.

Nonetheless, by 1981 SUNY Binghamton had developed into a competitive club and began winning matches while providing stern challenges in losses to the likes of SUNY Brockport, SUNY Cortland and other Upstate New York clubs whose programs had existed for many years.

Those early years of playing tough competition laid the foundation for the success that was to follow for the SUNY Binghamton Tasmanian Devils Rugby after 1982.