Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Navy Veteran Revives Rugby Program
Christopher FordIf you are trying to locate Christopher Ford '14 at Manhattanville College, the best place to look is on the rugby field. With his arrival on campus 18 months ago, the captain, star player, and frequent coach of the rugby club has revived a long-time tradition at Manhattanville.

Christopher worked with former Dean of Students, Brandon Dawson and Athletic Director, Keith Levinthal to raise funds so that Manhattanville could host visiting schools and send its own team to away games. Despite a disappointing opening season, a team comprised of only 16 players –- 15 of them required on the field at all times, and many players at the beginner level, the new rugby team was quite an achievement.

"He came in very excited, very gung-ho about starting a rugby program," Rob Gilmore, Director of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs, said. "He has shown enthusiasm and a drive that I rarely see in anybody to get that program going and off the ground."

In the 70's, 80's and 90's, Manhattanville had one of the top rugby club teams in the area. Ford is working on regaining that status. The rugby team is registered with US Rugby for this spring season and will play other college club teams, including Iona, Vassar, Albany, Fordham, and Stony Brook.

"Rugby is the one sport on campus where you will see guys who play NCAA sports and guys who don't play NCAA sports working and enjoying a sport together," he said.

Ford started playing rugby in the Navy. He captained his Naval fleet's rugby team for a year and a half and earned them a reputation for being one of the best.

"I petitioned that our team be flown off the ship, like put on a cargo plane and be flown to the Philippines, to go play in several tournaments," he said. "And our team actually won some of the largest tournaments in South East Asia."

Aside from being one of the best rugby players on his ship, Ford was an outstanding active member of the USS George Washington. Trained as an electrician, his work was unparalleled and helped the Navy and his crew save time and money. In less than a year, Ford was honored with two Naval Achievement Medals.

"I was one of the best electricians in the engineering department," Ford said. "I was actually the only electrician, during my time on board, to receive two Navy Achievement Medals in under a year period. It's really hard to accomplish, no matter what you are doing in any branch of the service."

Ford has taken everything he learned in the Navy and applied it to his daily life. He is ambitious, hardworking and dedicated to getting his degree and to making the rugby program at Manhattanville College the venue that unites students, faculty, parents and the community. He continues to take on challenges, including the rigorous coursework of a physics degree, to set a strong leadership example for those around him.