Sebastian DeFrancesco - 1.0, Administrator - 2017
Class: 1.0 Player
Hall Of Fame Induction: 2017
Sebastian was first introduced to quad rugby while participating at The 1984 Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville in Ayesbury, England. He brought the game back to Boston and officially started The Boston Pitbulls, the first US team in the East. In subsequent years he helped form teams from Washington DC up to Maine. The most competitive teams he helped out getting started were Connecticut, New York and Philadelphia.
Sebastian was instrumental in getting rugby organized on the East Coast and he instituted the first referee and coaches clinic in Boston, inviting all the coaches and referees on the East Coast to participate in these clinics. He brought in HOFers Terry Vineyard and Tres Smith from Tampa, FL to do coaching and refereeing. After talking with the other teams in the area Sebastian organized the
Colonial League. Sebastian was president of what is believed the first organized league in the country; prior to USQRA. There were 6 teams all along the East Coast, including Quebec and Montreal.
The following year Sebastian's Pitbulls participated in the 1989 National Championships in Dallas, Texas where Sebastian was a standout class 1.0 and The Pitbulls, which included HOFers Nils Jorgensen and Joe Soares, took second place to Champions Dallas; including HOFer Steve Scott.
Sebastian served on the Board of Directors for New England PVA Chapter for sports and he was asked to stop by the National Board for the Paralyzed Veterans of America on the sports committee to develop The Veterans Wheelchair Games.
Among his duties was to start a Quad Rugby program at the Veterans Games and to introduce more veterans to the game of rugby. Quad Rugby has been a thriving component of Vets Games ever since. That following year, Sebastian would help PVA Sports Director Bruce Smith and The PVA began to have sponsored training camps for developing Quad Rugby in United States.
After hosting several Regional / Sectionals Championships in New England Sebastian organized the Nationals in 1994 in Boston, MA. After that he spear headed development of annual international rugby, which led to Stoke Mandeville 1993, 1994 and the first World Championships in Notwill, Switzerland 1995. Also in 1993 Sebastian was elected to the first Board of Directors of the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation serving initially as Vice President and later as Secretary.
Pawell Zebernowski (IWRF President) and Sebastian contacted Andy Flemon to initiate bringing Quad Rugby to the 1996 Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport in Atlanta, GA. Rugby was such a big hit in 1996 that it became a full medal sport in Sydney, Aus. in 2000 and has been a top draw ever since.
Perhaps one of Sebastian's biggest accomplishments benefiting the USQRA and Wheelchair Rugby worldwide was connections with Cliff Crase and the monthly magazine Sports and Spokes. After giving Cliff and the people at S and S a hard time about not putting any Rugby on the front cover of S n S we began to get consistent coverage, numerous covers and a regular monthly section called Rugby Corner.
Sebastian served as Assistant Coach to Team USA that won the Gold Medal in 1990 and he helped write the first handbook on Quad Rugby Defense.
Sebastian's strengths were in pioneering and organizing the East Coast in the early years of rugby in the United States before the USQRA. Also his tireless hard work, persuasive efforts along with his connections with the PVA to develop The Veterans Games, International Competition which led to Paralympic inclusion. His consistent efforts helped to gain our sport respect and consistent positive exposure in the media, primarily through Sports and Spokes.