Michael E. Diffily
Michael E. Diffily
Hometown: Yonkers, NY
Team: Rugby

Michael E. Diffily '67
Hometown:
 Yonkers, NY
Sport:
Rugby
Year Inducted:
1985
Other Sports Played:
Football

Like many of the United State’s finest rugby players,Michael E. Diffily ’67 started out in football. Theall-Catholic-league end from Yonkers, New York, was recruited byfootball coach John McLaughry and played two seasons for thegridiron Bruins. But the course of a college athletic career waspermanently altered in the spring of Diffily’s freshman year.“I went to an organizational meeting for rugby oneday,” he recalls. “A few weeks later, I was walkingthrough Faunce House and was surprised to see my name on a rugbyplaying list.” He started that weekend on the Brown“C” team and by mid-season was a regular at wingforward on the “A” team. Diffily went on to play thepopular club sport at Brown for seven years (including severalpostgraduate years of play), and in the process, left an enduringmark as a great offensive player in a position that is often viewedas primarily a defensive one. He set an Eastern Rugby Union andBrown single-season scoring record in the spring of 1965 with 17tries (a try is the equivalent of a football touchdown). That markstill stands as the most tries scored in a single season by aforward. Diffily also set Brown records for most tries in a game(5), most career tries by a forward (113), and longest try (105yards). In the spring of 1968 he was selected for the collegeAll-American rugby team. Diffily’s favorite memories,however, are of team triumphs – the Brown Rugby Club has oneof the best winning records of any University athletic team and isa perennial tournament champion. “The most exciting point ofmy playing days,” Diffily says, “was winning theEastern Rugby Union championships in 1966. We were undefeated thatseason, and in our final game we beat the perennial Eastern power,Old Blue of New York, 16-6.” Diffily scored one ofBrown’s tries in that victory. “Mike was the mostdevastating wing forward of his era,” says David J. Zucconi’55, founder of Brown rugby and a fellow Hall-of-Famer.“He dominated the game. Not only was he a fast, aggressivedefensive player, but he also created offensive opportunities forhimself and others. My memory of a typical Diffily play is that theother team has won the ball in a scrum and the ball is going out totheir fly-half. But Mike is already slashing towards them. Hecrushes their player to the ground, picks up the ball, and runsdown the field for a Brown score. He created havoc in theopponent’s backfield. I think he had perhaps the greatestseason a forward has ever had in 1965 when he scored 17tries.” Diffily continued to play rugby after leaving theBrown club. He was a founder of the Providence Rugby Club in 1970,served as its captain and president, and helped lead the PRFC tothe New England Championship in 1975. Diffily was chosen for theNew England Select Side (all-star team) in the spring of 1977.Several months later he injured his knee in an exhibition game andwas forced to retire from the sport. He now works as a collegevice-president in Boston and lives in Little Compton, RhodeIsland.