Brandon Chabot

Equinox Staff


The Keene State College men’s and women’s rugby clubs celebrate 40 years of dedication and hard work this fall. The two clubs have had numerous successful seasons.

Both men’s and women’s head coaches previously played rugby for KSC back in the 1990s, so the legacies continue to live on.

Current men’s rugby coach John Johannesen started his career at KSC as a student and as a rugby player in 1992. “I’ve been here for a couple of anniversaries now, and my coach when I was in college here was Bruce Stephenson, and he started the club in 1972,” Johannesen said.

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Women’s rugby coach Karen Johannesen also played rugby for KSC in the 1990s. “[The anniversary] just feels historical, it’s not something that has just come and gone, it’s not a club that has been here for a couple of years, and then goes away and comes back,” she said.

She added, “It’s even better because I played here back in the ‘90s, so to know that I am a part of something that’s been going on for so long.”

President of men’s rugby Teddy Bell says the fortieth anniversary is really exciting. “Even before it was our fortieth, since I’ve been here, the alumni have always been really active with us. They always get a team together to come play us once a year,” Bell said.

“So you can see the history and the tradition every year, and with it being the fortieth, we are expecting almost 200 people who played rugby in the past 40 years come up to Keene for the weekend.”

Senior captain on the women’s rugby team Leann Lam has been a captain since fall 2011. Lam studied abroad in New Zealand, playing rugby there too. “It’s a long time for a sport to last this long, especially not as a varsity sport,” Lam said. “ It just shows the persistence over the years that people have really pushed for this club to succeed, and that we’ve come this far.”

Another captain of women’s rugby, Caroline Hall, said, “It feels pretty incredible to be a part of something that has been around for 40 years. Every year the alumni come back, and it’s instant family. I essentially have 40 years of people that I can turn to for advice.”

Lam said, “I think the fortieth anniversary will be really good for us. It will be like a very big pump up ceremony, and it will be good for the new people to meet all the alumni because they haven’t met any yet. Hear their stories about Keene State rugby, and hear them pass on whatever memories they have, and then we can share ours, so it’s like one big kind of rugby networking event.”

Bell said, “If anything the fortieth anniversary will be a morale booster because it will show a lot of the younger guys, and even some older guys just how much of a brotherhood the rugby program really is.”

Bell added, “Rugby is sort of the only sports you can play at a high level outside of college, and they will be able to see that as well, so hopefully they will realize if they train hard here, play hard here, they can also continue this throughout their adult lives.”

John Johannesen said his goals were to keep the club going, try to win, and go to nationals. “Three years ago, we made it to nationals at Virginia Beach and came in second place. Our medal is hanging in the gym, which is a great honor,” Johannesen noted.

“The student body has really stepped up over the years to accept rugby and to help us gain our training grounds and our equipment and to help fund us to go to nationals. The school has helped by funneling in on the budget,” he said.

He added, “When I was in school we had like $1,200. You can’t even get to our games with that much money now.”

Women’s coach Karen Johannesen said the women are in a new conference. Johannesen said her goals for the season are to keep the freshmen interested enough to stick around.

Johannesen added, “I think the small group of old players that we have, have been around long enough. They’re going to keep the new players going.”


Brandon Chabot can be contacted at


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