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Cancer Takes Gonzaga Director of Rugby Lee Kelly

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Cancer Takes Gonzaga Director of Rugby Lee Kelly

Lee Kelly in 2021.

Lee Kelly, who helped drive Gonzaga HS Rugby to national prominence, died Wednesday, August 31 after a long battle with cancer.

Kelly, who was active in the game almost up until his death, was hugely influential in making Gonzaga Rugby a major power and repeat national champion. As the Director of Rugby for the program he oversaw its continued success while also working closely within the Boys HS Rugby National Championships Committee.

As part of that Committee, Kelly was present virtually at the organization's last meeting despite being in the middle of his latest round of cancer treatments. His gravel voice and clear opinions took a back seat to no one as he championed the sport he loved until his last breath.

Honoring Gonzaga's Lee Kelly (2020) from Gonzaga College High School on Vimeo.

"Lee Kelly left an incredible legacy at Gonzaga Rugby," said Gonzaga Head Coach Peter Baggetta. "He helped establish many of what are now the key elements of the rugby program—yearly spring break tours overseas; the Gonzaga Rugby Classic tournament, which has become one of the premier high school tournaments in the country; traveling to play the best teams in the country during the season; the creation of a JV team for the younger players to learn the game. However, Lee’s greatest gift was more than just creating rugby programs—it was his ability to make everyone feel welcome and special."

Program Spotlight: Lee Kelly and Gonzaga Rugby

"Lee will be greatly missed."

For this writer Lee Kelly was a friend, a supporter, and a hugely important rugby resource. Whether shooting the breeze for a couple of hours at the Carolina Ruggerfest, or facilitating decision-making within the National tournament, or jut being a fan of what we do, Lee Kelly did not stop doing what he loved.