On Friday, April 8, the Sacred Heart University men’s club rugby team beat Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) 49-30 at Campus Field in the first annual Peter DeSalvo Memorial Rugby Match.
In conjunction with Alpha Delta Pi and the Student Nurses Association, the club rugby team held this match to raise money and support for Suicide Awareness Initiatives. The event raised a total of $680 through food and raffles sold once the game concluded.
“To be able to finally hold this match after two years have gone by and to do something in commemoration of Peter meant a lot,” said junior Christian Appel. “I knew everyone on our team did not want to lose that game because of what it meant to us and how special the cause is to this team.”
Peter DeSalvo was a freshman on the SHU club rugby team when he tragically took his own life on Feb. 1, 2020. The Basking Ridge, N.J. native was 19.
Appel and fellow junior Anthony Alliegro were freshmen on the club rugby team at the same time as DeSalvo.
“It was really meaningful to be able to put on this game for Peter,” said Alliegro. “My class is one of the last ones to have personally known him and to have played with him and we just want to keep his name alive within the team.”
Despite obtaining a quick 28-0 lead, Sacred Heart penalties allowed ECSU to take advantage and the X-Men saw their lead slowly diminish to just 3 points.
The Pioneers were able to rally back by increasing their point total by 21 while only allowing ECSU to gain five more points for the remainder of the game.
“We did not have our best scrums, but we were dominant in them and we were able to win most of them,” said Alliegro. “There were a couple great runs by a few of our players that allowed us to take advantage and make use of their gaps and eventually score.”
While captain and senior Bryan Calton did not play in the game, he was there on the sidelines to support his team and the cause near and dear to his team’s hearts.
“As a leader on the team I have tried to show my teammates what it means to play this sport with respect,” said Calton. “Being one of the few guys that did know Peter, it is also part of my job to make sure his legacy remains with the team for many years to come.”
This may have been the inaugural match honoring the life of Peter DeSalvo, but the club rugby team hopes to make this a part of their culture and a tradition for many years to come.
“I think this cause has built an identity for our team, ” said Appel. “This is something that we are going to associate ourselves with for a very long time and teach new incoming players what it means to the program.”
The club rugby team wrapped up their spring season by competing in the Beast of the East Tournament at the Gardner Seveney Sports Complex in Portsmouth, R.I..
After wins against The University of Massachusetts and the University of New Hampshire in the first round, the X-Men fell to the University of Rhode Island in the semifinals on April 24.
Sacred Heart Club Sports Contributed to this Article.