About the club

 

The Fort Lauderdale Knights Rugby Football Club was founded in January 1977 by a small core of former college players and has grown to become one of the premiere clubs in South Florida by consistently fielding quality teams and serving as an international ambassador of the sport. Since that first year, the club has hosted a springtime tournament — now called the Fort Lauderdale Ruggerfest — which has attracted teams from across the U.S. as well as Canada, the Bahamas and South America. We have also hosted international touring teams from around the globe, including Argentina, the Bahamas and Caribbean, Canada, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Venezuela and Wales. Meanwhile, the Knights have traveled extensively, including tours to Ireland, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Canada and numerous places around the U.S.

Through the years, the club has made many contributions to charity, including the Broward County Dynamo Club, which provides assistance to special needs children. Other community activities include the Easter Seals and Broward County School System Physical Education Youth Rugby Program. Several former and current players now coach youth teams in our ever-expanding effort to promote the game we love.

Today, the Fort Lauderdale RFC has a membership of more than 150 people, including 60 active men’s players and scores of old boys who are not only active in the management of the club but also continue to play, some into their 60s. As always, Fort Lauderdale remains committed to enhance the reputation of the sport of rugby in the state of Florida and beyond through our spirited play on the field and charitable work off of it.

The Knights have won multiple state championships and most recently finished runner-up in the 2013-2014 season.

Hall of Fame

Ken Simmons: For nearly two decades, Ken was the heart and soul of the Fort Lauderdale RFC. A utility man, he could play any position on the field. He earned the nickname “Ironman” because he was always up for playing on both the A and B sides and still managed to be among the last men standing at the party. He was also named “President for Life,” though he served only 15 years in that role. A student of the game, Ken coached the team to several state championships, an extraordinary achievement considering the oft-defiant nature of his players. He currently lives in the Gainesville area and coaches the University of Florida team.

Matt Rowe: A speedy and strong winger, Matt was the team’s first Eastern Rugby Union select side player. On the field, you could always count on him being in the right place at the right time to stop an opponent’s charge or score a try. Off the field, he used his superior management skills to help run the club, and he served as chair of the Ruggerfest for several years. Matt still plays as an old boy, filling in at any position, and continues to be an asset to any side he graces with his presence.

Paul Mallon: This young Aussie stud became the captain and spiritual leader of the team at the tender age of 16! A fantastic scrumhalf with a great vision for where to attack, he helped design early backfield plays and drove men twice his age to work harder and run faster at practice. Paul took one of our girls back to Australia with him. Tragically, he lost his life in an accident at an early age, leaving behind three beautiful girls and a son.

Mike “Littleman” Resta: An irrepressible character, Littleman was a fiery competitor on the field of play. Fleet of foot and a sure tackler, he typically took on the opposition’s toughest back and came out on top more often than not. He was one of the club’s pioneers and, incredibly, has been an active, full-dues-paying member for 35 years. He single-handedly ran the team’s 2nd annual tournament. Since then, he’s held many positions with the club and, along with his beautiful wife Sharon, has been a top fund-raiser. Nowadays, Littleman is best known for his entertaining, informative and creatively punctuated old boy newsletter.

Scott “Huey” Garrity: A big man who could really run and handle the ball, Huey joined Fort Lauderdale in 1981 and played in more A side games than anyone in club history. He also competed in 11 state championship games. Huey played second row and served as primary jumper in lineouts. In the days before lifting was legalized, he used his wide body like a rebounder to nab throw-ins with incredible consistency. Seemingly indestructible, Huey also acted as a field enforcer, and his teammates always knew he had their backs. He’s stayed active by coaching high school rugby and playing on old boy sides as well as in the club’s summertime touch games on the beach, where he still leads with a forearm.

Bill Johnstone: Bill took up rugby at the University of Florida when his baseball career and scholarship ended. After two years, he moved to Fort Lauderdale for work, and in the fall of 1976, he began playing in a local softball league, where he met team sponsor Norman Thompson, another former rugby player. They decided to start a rugby club in Fort Lauderdale, with Bill paying for a newspaper ad to attract other players and Norman dishing out for team jerseys. Six guys showed up for the first practice at Holiday Park – and the rest is history! Bill played wing in college but had to adapt to several other positions, including Number 8 and flanker. He eventually settled in as scrumhalf and captained the team in its infancy. He picked up the nickname “Whiteshoes” due to his then flashy white footwear in an era when everyone wore black cleats. He was also instrumental in establishing the team’s nickname, “Knights,” after the Miller brewing company gave the club flak over its original one “Lites.” Bill is still actively involved with the club he helped found and remains an inspiration to us all.

Mike Hayden: Mike started playing rugby at Colgate University in 1975 and joined the Fort Lauderdale Knights in 1982. He was the heart and soul of the club in its glory days of the late-’80s and early-’90s, helping to lift team from the cellar to champions in just a few years with basically the same group of players. Mike captained Fort Lauderdale to several state championships. He always led example, demanding the most out of himself and inspiring his teammates. He played scrumhalf but was also like a third wing forward as he had a lust for tackling and no qualms about charging hell-bent into a ruck. He says his fondest memories on the pitch include beating powerhouse Bethlehem to win our own Ruggerfest tournament for the first time in 1988. Another highlight came when the Knights scored four tries in the final seven minutes to overcome a 16-point deficit and defeat arch-rival Boca Raton for one of our state championship titles. From the time he was in college, Mike has also served as a coach. Most recently, he co-coached the Fort Miami Women’s Rugby Club, leading them to a final four berth in the D2 Nationals.

Sharon Resta: Sharon was brought into the Fort Lauderdale rugby family after she met Littleman at a red light near Holiday Park. She was heading home following a run and he’d just finished rugby practice. Since then, Sharon has been the Knights’ biggest fan and cheerleader. Even her wedding included the entire team, and she was a good sport when her new husband led a rousing rendition of “Alouette” in her honor. Sharon took on the task of collecting match fees from players, a job no one else wanted but had to be done. She’s also been the team travel agent through the years, including arranging international tours in which she donated her commissions to reduce cost to the players. This alone makes her one of the biggest single contributors to the club. She’s survived more than 20 pajama parties at her house and hosted entire teams from France and England. Sharon is truly the matriarch of the Fort Lauderdale Knights.

Tim Ford: (bio coming soon)

Matt Perez: (bio coming soon)

© Fort Lauderdale Rugby