Coaches of the UCONN Rugby Team
Coach Merola began his rugby playing career at the University of Connecticut and now returns full circle as Head Coach. After graduating from UConn he joined the Hartford Wanderers Men’s Club where he held various team positions such President/Treasure/Captain and Coach until through the mid-90s. As player he was also selected to New England Rugby Union (NERFU) and NERFU Northeast All Stars teams.
Coach Merola started his collegiate coaching career at Trinity College Hartford (1995-2015) during which he organized and coordinated three international tours to England/Wales (1998) and Ireland (2001, 2005).
Coach is a USA Rugby Certified Level 200 Coach which includes safety and health training (concussion recognition/treatment), practice and game skills planning. He is also CPR certified and member New England Rugby Referee Society.
Additional Coaching duties include Head Rugby Coach for Connecticut High School U-19 All Star Team (2010-2013) and Assistant CT U19 Coach (2015-2016).
Worcester RFC 1979-1981 Charter Member. I played Flanker.
Hartford Wanderers RFC 1981-2000 I played Flanker & #8.
HWRFC President 1997-1999
New England Rugby Referees Society 2000-Present, Attained B3 Grade
I’m currently a member of the Worcester Old Boys and the Wanderers and play as time and body permits.
As far as coaching goes, this is my first experience coaching rugby. I have coached Basketball and Lacrosse at the youth level. I feel honored to be working with Coach Merola and the student athletes at UConn. I’m currently working on my level 1 coaching certification and should have that in hand in the next couple weeks.
Played lock for Southern CT State University, New Haven Old Black and the Connecticut Grey RFC from 1981-2005. Toured in Scotland, Ireland, Barbados.
Rob began his rugby career in 1987 at the University of Connecticut (UConn), and it was during his undergraduate studies that he participated in an internship in Perth, Western Australia, where he worked for both the Golden Oldies Rugby Festival Organizing Committee and the West Australian Rugby Union (now RugbyWA).
On the field, Rob played at UConn and then the Hartford Wanderers RFC, with brief stints at Cottesloe RFC while living in Perth, and at OMBAC in San Diego. Rob represented the Northeast Rugby Union at the USA All-Star 7’s Tournament, and was invited to the USA Eagles 7’s Selection Camp in 1999.
In 2007-08, Rob was appointed Manager of the USA U-19 team, managing all aspects of administration and logistics. In 2015, Rob assisted with video analysis for the USA Eagles 7s, doing opposition analysis, and in 2016 assisted with opposition analysis of pool opponents in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is also is on the staff at the Northeast Academy, a National Development Academy, where he has held multiple roles in video analysis, team management, operations, and marketing/communications.
Rob has served as backs coach for the Hartford Wanderers, and has served as a backs coach and 7s coach for UConn over several periods since 2004. He also coaches the Wethersfield Youth Rugby side.
Coach Joe Nollet played for Beacon Hill Rugby Club from 1979 – 87 mixed with years away at grad school playing for University of Florida and Princeton Athletic Club. Played for Hartford Wanderers 1988-91. With BHRFC selected to NERFU All Stars and played on international tours to England/Wales and New Zealand/Australia. Coach previously was an NATA Certified Athletic Trainer and NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist; he now is pastor of a church on the UConn campus.
Coach Bob Huscher began his rugby playing career at Southern Connecticut State University. After graduating he played with the New Haven Old Black Men’s Club from 1989-2004, winning a National Championship in 2002. As player, he was also selected to New England Rugby Union (NERFU) and NERFU Northeast All Stars team playing against the Canadian National Development side and the Bermuda National Team.
Coach Huscher started his collegiate coaching career at SCSU in 2002 and the New Haven Men’s Rugby Club (2013-2015) and is a USA Rugby Certified Level 200 Coach.
Additional Rugby duties include Coach- Cheshire Rugby U-14’s, and New Haven Rugby and Cheshire Rugby Board of Directors.
Coach Huda began his rugby playing career at Plymouth State College in 1984 before transferring to Southern Connecticut State University where he played for three years. While serving as captain of the team his senior year, he was selected to the New England Rugby Football Union Collegiate Select Side. After graduating SCSU, he played with the New Haven Old Black Men’s Club from 1988-1998. Huda was part of the early years of the team and helped build Old Black Rugby to a competitive side. Eventually, the organization won a D II Eastern Conference Championship and continued to move forward to play in DI. As a lock, he was selected to the New England Rugby Union (NERFU) All Stars team, playing against the Dutch Touring side and the Bermuda National Team.
Mike Huda coached the Southern Connecticut State University Men’s Rugby club in 1996. As a teacher and parent he enjoyed coaching youth sports. Coach Huda is excited to get back into rugby and be a part of a strong organization at UCONN.
Fall 2021 Roster
|Adam Kajzer||Second-row||So||Berlin, CT||Berlin High School|
|Adam Stine||Wing||SO||Simsbury, CT||Simsbury High School|
|Aidan Foley||Wing, Scrum-Half||So||West Hartford, CT||Conard High School|
|Andrew Nanai||Eight, Flanker||Jr||Greenwich, CT||Greenwich High school|
|Arjun Bhamidipati||Second-row, Flanker||So||Simsbury, CT||Simsbury High School|
|Aston Foley||Prop||Sr||Groton, CT||-|
|Ben Klau (C)||Center||JR||Westport, CT||Staples High School|
|Carter Gavin||Wing, Center||So||Canton, CT||Canton High School|
|Eli Moskowitz||Wing, Center||Fr||-||-|
|Ethan Beri (C)||Center, Scrum-Half||Sr||Fairfield, CT||Fairfield Ludlowe High School|
|Finbar Doyle (C)||Fullback||Sr||Greenwich, CT||Greenwich high school|
|Greg Aniolek||Lock, Flanker||-||-||-|
|John Pienkos||Fr||North Haven, CT||Notre Dame High School|
|Juan Colberg-Martinez||Wing||Jr||Guilford, CT||Guilford High school|
|Justin Wu||Wing||So||Taipei, Taiwan||Reitz Memorial High School|
|Kyle Jampole||Prop||Fr||Greenwich, CT||Greenwich High School|
|Lam Le||Prop||Fr||East Hartford, CT||East Hartford High School|
|Lukas Skoczen||Eight, Lock||Sr||Fairfield, CT||-|
|Luke Fehily||Flanker||Jr||Dublin, Ireland||St. Michaels College|
|Malakai Maher||Wing||So||Haddam, CT||Haddam Killingworth High School|
|Mason Hale||Hooker, Flanker||Fr||-||-|
|Matt Fitzsimons||Prop||Jr||Portland, CT||Portland High School|
|Mike DeGloria||Second-row||So||Canton, MA||Xaverian High School|
|Nate Sweeney||Hooker, Prop||So||Canterbury, CT||Norwich Free Academy|
|Nicky Pesci||Flanker||Jr||Fairfield, CT||Fairfield Warde High School|
|Nico Matejak||Lock, Flanker||Sr||Greenwich, CT||Greenwich High School|
|Peter McDowell||Wing, Scrum-Half||So||West Newbury, MA||St. Johns Prep|
|Peter Stokes||Fullback, Fly-Half||Sr||Ridgefield, CT||Ridgefield High School|
|Ryan Bastidas||Center||Sr||Norwalk||Brien McMahon High School|
|Ryan Bosak||Lock, Flanker||So||Kings Park, NY||Kings Park High School|
|Ryan O’Connell||Fullback, Wing||Fr||West Hartford, CT||Conard High School|
|Sakthi Saravanan||Center||Sr||South Brunswick, CT||South Brunswick High School|
|Steven Leuci||Flanker||Fr||Newtown, CT||Newtown High School|
|Tiernan Bentley||Prop||Fr||Amesbury, MA||Amesbury High School|
|Trey Alercio||Wing||Fr||St. Johnsbury, VT||St. Johnsbury Academy|
|Yimeng Liu (Simon)||So||Inner Mongolia, China||Chifeng No. 4 High School|