Ellis Rugby were commissioned to design a small capsule range for the USA Major League Rugby club Rugby United New York (RUNY) by owner James Kennedy. Ellis Rugby began this project by researching the history of rugby in the USA and New York particularly and a design proposal was created for RUNY incorporating historical concepts. It was decided to run a small Rugby United New York capsule jersey collection. The launch video features the interesting story of rugby in the USA and the city of New York.


The first ever recorded Rugby match in the US was when Harvard Crimson played the McGill Redmen on May 15th, 1874 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The game used three periods or “games” and ended in a scoreless tie. The ball used by the McGills was of oval shape, made of leather, and twice the size of that of the Harvards. The principal point of difference in this game is that the ball must be kicked over a cross-bar placed ten feet from the ground between two upright, fifteen feet high, and that the party catching the ball on a bound can run with it and retain it until he kicks it or it is forced from him. There was an immense crowd of spectators to witness the games.


The first New York club was formed in 1929 as the New York Nomads. Thirteen men, including J.O.J. Malfroy met at James Hunter & Co. Inc., at 34 Water Street, New York to register the club. It was Malfroy (the clubs first Captain) who proposed that the “club play in light blue polo shirts, or, if these were unobtainable, dark blue polo shirts”. Light blue shirts were to be the official colours of the club for a number of seasons when they were changed to alternating horizontal stripes of light blue and dark blue. The ‘Nomads’ were dissolved at the outbreak of the World War and the name lost in history. Interestingly, at the club meeting on the 27th March, 1930 at 53 Broadway, New York – the members voted to change the club colours to the official colours of New York (City) – dark blue, white and orange in horizontal stripes. Despite the oratory, the Club never played in the NYC Colours, but did change to horizontal stripes of Light Blue and Dark Blue, 3” wide.

During the early 1930s a number of clubs were formed in the City, including French R.C. a team as the title suggests run by migrants from France working in the restaurant trade. They had a strong team captained by former Nomads player Roger Dumestre and including Armand Korta, Eugene St. Cricq and the outstanding kicker Cazenave. The rivalry with the Nomads continued until 1939, when they became Queens Rugby Club. Long Island U. R.C. Hofstra, Nassau and Pilgrims were teams competing against the Nomads.


These clubs along with Universities like Harvard, Yale and Princeton provided stiff opposition and local rivalries. In 1933, the Cambridge University Vandals Club (cricket and rugby players) decided to tour Canada and take in Chicago’s Century Progress Exhibition. The Vandals made up of Cambridge and Oxford alumni and included, several of the finest Rugby players from Britain. The team contacted the Nomads, stating it would come to east if $500 could be found for the trip. The New York club conducted an impromptu whip-a-round and raised the money in a week.

In early September, at Innisfail Park at the most northern tip of Manhattan, the Vandals played a team called the All American Eastern Stars comprised of ruggers from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and NYRFC, the only clubs then in the east. The visitors prevailed 14-11, not surprisingly, since it boasted three internationals. The arrival of the celebrated English university generated some good press in the New York newspapers. The Cambridge team was housed at Columbia University where it practiced daily in front of an interested crowd. The curious Brits also watched a Lions’ football practice and participated in some blocking machines drills. The Sportsmanship Brotherhood offered a dinner at the Racquet and Tennis Club that featured an official welcome from President Franklin Roosevelt that the tour would “…afford an unusually sound basis for mutual understanding and good will.”

The finale against an All-Eastern Union fifteen included players from the three colleges, and the NYRFC and French Rugby Club. The final game witnessed Cambridge victorious 25-9.