You asked, “why rugby?” Dean Downey answered.

If you happen to catch a local rugby match you might find it odd to see a 50-something year old man running around with 20 to 30 year old players. The same man has been moving about our campus on crutches for the past few days. At the same time, campus has been abuzz with the new gossip that John Downey, the dean of students at Queens, plays recreational rugby. Can someone his age really play a sport like rugby? I sat down with Dean Downey for a one on one interview to find out the truth.

Queens Chronicle: A lot of people have seen you hobbling around and the rumor is that you play rugby from time to time, is that true?

Dean Downey: Yes, I’ve been playing rugby for many years.

Queens Chronicle: So it wasn’t an injury from street fighting or anything?

Dean Downey: No, if so I lost.

QC: How long have you been playing rugby?

Downey: Since I was 22, right after my undergraduate career, we were seniors in college

when somebody introduced it to me, but we couldn’t get ourselves organized [as] a

team, so I played on the club side after I graduated. I’ve been playing [for] 29 years.

QC: So you’ve developed a real passion for the game.

Downey: From the moment I touched the ball. I knew it was the sport I was destined to


QC: With all your responsibilities as the Dean of Students, when do you find time to


Downey: I always tell people that my priorities in life are to first, be a good husband,

second, a good father, and then third, a good Dean. My wife and children and I have an

agreement that every Wednesday evening, that’s my evening, and I go and I practice.

There’s no day called “Saturday,” it’s called “Rugbyday”… It’s a little weird being older

now; I’m definitely the oldest player on the club, but still they treat me the same. I just

don’t tend to socialize as much.

QC: Tell us more about starting a Rugby club here at Queens.

Downey: Well we haven’t started one yet; my best estimate is that it would take two to

three years to start a rugby club here at Queens, maybe longer. We first have to get a

core nucleus group of students who are here playing club side… the goal is to get

enough people to start playing on campus. If we do that we’ll be able to play other

colleges. If we don’t then it’ll just be nice to introduce young people to the game of

rugby. I do want to mention that there is also women’s rugby, and if women are

interested I would be happy to introduce them as well.

QC: If someone is interested in playing rugby how can they join?

Downey: Well they can contact me (, and as I mentioned we

practice on Wednesday from 6pm-8pm. I‘m happy to drive people there and back if

that’s what it takes. We have a brand new rugby athletic center about four miles from


QC: One last question: What about safety?

Downey: I’ve been playing all the time that students have known me, and they’ve not

seen me [walking on crutches until this year]. I’m still playing as a 51 year old man,

[after all].

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.