Organization Board Members

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Participant input from the American rugby tournaments and playing seasons, from teams in different divisions and experience levels, will help RRIPG to inform participants on how to better avoid, as well as prevent, injury and to continue playing the sport they love. Questionnaires on multiple topics have been designed for use during the various tournaments and matches to provide RRIPG with a player’s injury history and in addition, areas of nutrition, sports psychology, team administrative safety measures and player/coach welfare history.

The American rugby population consists of over 1.5 million members and greater than 400 U.S. university/college teams and a multitude of senior and colt clubs, across various divisions. This expansive membership data set will provide us with a chance to gather information through the RRIPG created questionnaires, on rugby players’ different experiences—from matches, training, and other physical activities to injury patterns encountered.

RRIPG has had success with these questionnaires at previous tournaments and expect future events will be even better. Participant cooperation is appreciated and needed to arrive at our goals, and we look forward to a competitive season. Revised and approved by RRIPG MAB on January 1, 2017 and approved by the RRIPG Advisory and Steering Committee in February 2017.

RRIPG Medical Advisory Board

Dr. Victor Lopez Jr

Founder & Executive Director

Dr. Victor Lopez, Jr., D.O., is a Clinical Research Associate, at Auckland University of Technology’s Sports Performance Research Institute NZ, is a Member of their Rugby Codes Interdisciplinary Research Group (RCRG) and a Clinical Investigator, at Hospital for Special Surgery.  Former Director of Medical Services, Northeast Academy, a USA Rugby sanctioned Olympic developmental program and the Community Olympic Developmental Program branch (CODP), and the Founder and Executive Director of the Rugby Research and Injury Prevention Group, Inc, affiliated with Hospital for Special Surgery (RRIPG/HSS).  Dr. Lopez has been raised, educated and trained in NYC, attending St Francis Preparatory HS (NYC), St. Francis College (NYC), graduate work at Hofstra University (NY) and attending New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Old Westbury, NY with a surgical residency through the affiliates of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish (NS-LIJ) Health System at Peninsula Hospital Center (rotating at multiple institutions in the New York Area (NS-LIJ -Franklin Hospital, Coney Island Hospital, Sloan Kettering-Memorial Hospital, New York Hospital-Downtown and the senior trauma year at Lincoln Hospital) and separate educational opportunities at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City, NY and Ulleval Hospital, Oslo, Norway. His current interest is in the new area of Sports Injury Prevention, including the Sporting Science of American Rugby, particularly the new Olympic code and format of Rugby Union Sevens.  He is currently focusing his efforts in understanding rugby and its growth and injury prevention in the American sporting landscape.  His guidance and direction comes from major names in sports medicine, he has been under the tutelage of Dr. Answorth A. Allen, Team Orthopaedist of the New York Knicks, USA Basketball; formerly of St. John’s University, New York Metropolitans (Mets), and the West Indies Cricket team; as well as Dr. Lars Engebretsen, the former scientific chair and now member of the Scientific Committee of the International Olympic Committee, and Olympic Team doctor of Norway.  Currently he is the Executive Director of the Rugby Research and Injury Prevention Group, Inc.(RRIPG) (  He is the current Senior Scientist/Injury Risk Analyst, for the Northeast Rugby Football Union (NRU) Rugby Sevens Program, made up of the Empire Geographic Union (GU) and the New England GU. As the Director of Medical Services to the USA Rugby sanctioned Northeast Rugby Olympic Development Academy, the New York City World Club 7s Squad (won the bowl at Twickenham, London) and The Kings College in NYC and formerly the Rugby Sevens Squad for Old Blue RFC.  He was the former Medical Director of the NYC Village Lions RFC, and a Medical Advisor to the Iona College RFC. He was the previous Medical Advisor and founder of the Metropolitan New York RFU (now known as the Empire GU), Medical Advisory position.  Through Victor’s leadership, Met-NY was the first Local Area Union in the nation to establish a Medical Advisory position and founded the Annual Rugby “Player Welfare Conference” which was conducted at Hospital for Special Surgery 2010 and 2011.

Dr. Lopez is avidly involved in American rugby research, and created the RRIPG.  He has applied his research of rugby throughout America.  This has led to the invitation by USA Sevens to their prestigious Las Vegas Invitational Rugby Tournament and their Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships since 2011.  His work was presented in 2012, on Shoulder injuries in the future Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens at the IOC World Conference: Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport held in the Kingdom of Monaco.  He has been invited to present recently at the USAR Medical Symposium and invited for the prestigious podium presentation of “the American Experience in Rugby Sevens” at the American Orthopaedic Society in Sports Medicine.  He is the recipient of the 2014 AUT PhD Fellowship Award, with Auckland University of Technology and their Sports Performance Research Institute of New Zealand.  His PhD supervisors will assist in my analysis, Dr. Answorth A. Allen of the NY Knicks, Hospital for Special Surgery, the recently appointed IRB Independent Concussion Expert, Dr Robert C Cantu of Emerson Hospital and the International Injury Prevention Specialist, Professor Patria Hume of AUT/SPRINZ.  This year he will be presenting at the ACSM, ISAKOS and the IOC.

The RRIPG is dedicated to ensuring the welfare of all rugby players.  The RRIPG is comprised of professionals from various backgrounds to guide appropriate safety strategies and overall welfare of the athletes.  Having been involved in rugby for twenty years as a player, he was a stand-out flanker for the New York Forest Hills RFC for 10 years. Dr. Lopez went on to play for the NYC Village Lions in 2001 (winning the bowl in the Kowloon Rugby Tournament, against many teams, HKRC, Guam, Scotland “B,” and has played all over the world; Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Spain and Portugal.  Dr. Lopez and his RRIPG have just completed a major study in collaboration with the Empire GU (formerly the Met NY RFU), of the Local Area Union Sevens Series and originally worked on the All-Star sevens championships in NYC and San Diego.  He is now completing projects with USA Rugby, USA Sevens and Hospital for Special Surgery, on the Northeast competitive region, Territorial Sevens series, USA Sevens Las Vegas Invitational and collegiate rugby championships, the USA Rugby National Club Sevens championships and multiple other events and analyses.  The unique combination of rugby science knowledge and sports medicine research with rugby playing experience enables Victor to understand the needs in safety and injury prevention.

Mr. Sean Horan

Director of Rugby

Mr. Sean Horan is the former Athletic Director of The Kings College in New York City and oversees the growth and expansion of their athletic department and player welfare. He is the current Executive Director of the USAR sanctioned Northeast Rugby Olympic Development Academy, the Head Coach of the New York City World Club 7s Squad (that played in Twickenham, London and brought home the plate, beating many major rugby nations).  He is the former Rugby Seven-a-side Head Coach for Old Blue RFC based in NYC.  He is the current Executive Director of the Empire GU and the Executive Director of the Northeast Rugby Football Union (NRU) Rugby Sevens Program, made up of the Empire Geographic Union (GU) and the New England GU, covering greater than 3000 athletes and 7 major Sevens tournaments annually in the Northeast of America. These tournaments provide qualifying athletes to the USAR National Club Sevens Tournament which is an event that chooses our potential National/Olympic Candidates.  He has been involved with rugby for over 25 years, and has played Super League and Division I and overseas in Australia.  Holding these positions he has valued the need to understand and impose the proper safety initiatives to help foster rugby’s growth in the Americas.  Furthermore, under Sean’s leadership as the current NRU Territorial Union Sevens coach he has taken a squad to the USA Rugby All-Stars for the past 4 years, to the USA Rugby National 7-a-side club championships with the Super-League and Division I Men’s club “Old Blue,” who often has USA Rugby National men’s players.

Dr. Shen-Ying (Richard) Ma

Co-Director – West

Dr. Richard Ma is an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute and the University of Missouri.  He specializes in sports medicine injuries and surgeries and is involved in the care of the Mizzou Tigers© athletes.

He is the Co-Director – Midwest Representative of Rugby Research Injury Prevention Group (RRIPG).  Dr. Ma received his sports medicine training as a part of the Clinician Scientist Training Program at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  Prior to his time in New York, Dr. Ma completed his undergraduate studies, medical school, and orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Virginia.   Dr. Ma has provided medical coverage for many sporting events and teams including in the NBA with the New York Knicks, the NCAA at the St. John’s University in Queens, New York.  Dr. Ma has also been actively involved with research involving USAR and the Northeast Rugby Sevens Qualifier Series, the 2012 HSBC Sevens Series-Las Vegas, and the USA Sevens Las Vegas Invitational and Collegiate Rugby Championships. Dr. Ma has been actively involved in rugby injury research since joining the Rugby Research Injury Prevention Group in 2011.  He has traveled to various U.S. regional and national tournaments and served as coinvestigators in several of the tournaments.  He has been actively involved in raising injury and safety awareness in Rugby.  Along with RRIPG, Dr. Ma has shared their study findings within the U.S. Rugby community including the USA Rugby Medical Symposium.  His work has also been presented in national and international meetings including the American College of Sports Medicine and the International Olympic Committee’s World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sports.  Dr. is also currently involved in the prospective national Rugby-7s study funded by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Beyond his clinical practice and rugby research, Dr. Ma is also actively involved in basic science research aimed at developing novel treatments for musculoskeletal injuries.  He was also the recipient of a NIH grant that sponsored a Musculoskeletal Tissue Repair and Regeneration Research Fellowship during his clinical training at the University of Virginia.  He has received grants and awards from various organizations including the Orthopaedic Research Education Foundation, National Football League, and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Dr. Ma’s specific areas of focus includes anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and the mechanobiology of ACL healing after surgical reconstruction; 3) Application of novel orthobiologics (cartilage grafts, platelet-rich plasma, stem cells) for musculoskeletal repair.  As a Clinician Scientist, Dr. Ma conducts his basic science research with investigators at the University of Missouri’s Thompson Laboratory for Regenerative Orthopaedics

Dr. James L Chen

Medical Advisor – West Coast

Dr. James L. Chen is an Orthopaedic Surgeon in San Francisco. He is the Director of The San Francisco Sports Medicine Fellowship.  Dr. Chen completed his medical education at University of California – Davis, Orthopaedic residency at University of Hawaii, and he completed his specialty fellowship at UCSF in Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy.

Dr. Chen is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques for the knee, shoulder, elbow, hip, and ankle. He has expertise in anatomic ACL reconstruction, bone-sparing all-inside ACL reconstruction, meniscus surgery, rotator cuff repair, shoulder instability, and superior capsular reconstruction for irreparable rotator cuff tears. His sports arthroplasty practice focuses on minimally invasive joint replacement of the knee, shoulder, hip, and elbow. He has published numerous articles on ACL reconstruction and has received the Thompson Award. He instructs residents at the San Francisco Orthopaedic Residency Program and medical students at UCSF School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in both Orthopaedic Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.

Dr. Chen enjoys helping his patients return to activity and has worked as a team doctor for college and professional athletes. During his time at UCSF and in Hawaii, he worked with the Cal Berkeley Basketball and Soccer teams, the University of Hawaii Football team and Kamehameha Schools athletics. He is currently the team physician for several local schools and organizations. He has worked with the USA Rugby National Club Sevens Series, HSBC Sevens Series, USA Sevens Las Vegas Invitational and the USAR All-Stars at the United States Olympic Center in San Diego. He has also worked with the Oracle Team USA, winner of the 33rd and 34th America’s Cup. He is currently a neutral evaluator for professional athletes. He is the team physician for the semi-professional San Francisco City Football Club.

A native of Northern California, Dr. Chen was raised in Sacramento where he played soccer at Jesuit High School and for the Olympic Development program. He went on to play soccer for Swarthmore College and served as the team captain. He enjoys spending time with his wife and four children, playing soccer, running and skiing.

Dr. Arun T Gupta

Medical Advisor - North

Dr. Arun T. Gupta is a specialist in Interventional Spine and Sports Medicine and is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Calgary.  He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  He is a Diplomate in Electromyography (EMG) for the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologist (CSCN).  Additionally, he acts as a Trauma Physiatrist, with a special interest in peripheral nerve injuries.  Dr. Gupta has completed his training at many prominent academic centers in Canada and the United States.  He completed an Honors Double Major during his Bachelors of Science at McMaster University.  His medical training was at the University of Alberta, where he obtained an Honors in Research.  He completed his residency at the University of Calgary.  Most recently, he completed his fellowship in Interventional Spine and Sports Medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.  He has provided medical coverage for many sporting events and was the team physician for the Canadian Paralympic Nordic Ski Team.  Dr. Gupta has assisted with medical coverage in the NCAA at St. John’s and St. Peter’s Universities.  Clinical academic research in musculoskeletal heath is a special interest for Dr. Gupta.  He is the author of many academics papers and involved with many research endeavors focusing on interventional spine procedures and sports medicine.    However, he has a particular interest in improving the health of rugby players.  Currently, he is acting Medical Advisor for RRIPG and was on the Medical Advisory Board for the Metropolitan NY Rugby Football Union.  He has presented at the Annual Rugby “Player Welfare Conference,” which is conducted at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  He has helped conduct research on the “Summer Sevens Incidence of Injuries.”  Dr. Gupta is a strong advocate of the “Preventive Concussion Initiative,” where every young player is evaluated with any mild traumatic head injury/concussion. He has covered various tournaments including the Met-NY Summer Sevens Series, Emirates Airlines USA Rugby All-Star Sevens Championships and the Men’s Northeast Regional Fifteens championships, Four-leaf fifteens tournament (one of the largest 15’s tournament on the East coast), the Hell Gates Sevens Tournament.

Dr. Answorth A. Allen

Orthopedic Consultant

A leading practitioner in the field of Sports Medicine, Dr. Answorth A. Allen, MD is an Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery and an Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. Since 2005, Dr. Allen has served as the Head Team Orthopedist for the New York Knicks, former Chief Orthopedic Consultant for St. John’s University, Head Team Physician for the New York Mets and West Indies Cricket Team. He was also the NYC Village Lions Team Orthopedist (2002-2012). He was the Special Orthopaedic Advisor for the Metropolitan NY Rugby Football Union (currently the Empire GU RFU). His primary areas of focus and interest are sports-related injuries of the knee, shoulder and elbow. His specialties include Arthroscopic surgery of the Knee and Shoulder, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction and Revision surgery, Meniscal and Cartilage injuries, Shoulder Instability, Labral injuries, Rotator Cuff Tears, Elbow Arthroscopy, and Total Knee and Shoulder Replacement. While completing his fellowship in Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Allen was Assistant Team Physician for the University of Pittsburgh and Assistant Company Physician for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Dr. Allen is a graduate of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the New York Orthopedic Hospital-Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Allen is the author of over one hundred international and domestic articles, book chapters, and scientific presentations on shoulder, knee and elbow injuries.

Dr. Paul Calat

Oral-Maxillofacial Advisor

Dr. Paul Calat is a Maxillofacial Surgeon with advanced training and experience in the fields of bone grafting and Dental Implants. Dr. Calat lectures nationally on all phases of implantology and bone regeneration. Dr. Calat is an attending Oral Surgeon at the prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. There, he is involved in educating future Oral Surgeons. He has covered various tournaments, Met-NY Summer Sevens Series, Emirates Airlines USA Rugby All-Star Sevens Championships and Northeast Rugby Championships the Men’s Northeast Regional Fifteens championships, Four-leaf fifteens tournament (one of the largest 15’s tournament on the East coast), the Hell Gates Sevens Tournament and continues to remain heavily involved in the medical treatment and direction of both the 2010 Northeast Division II Champions, New York Village Lions Men’s Rugby team, 2010 Regional Division I Women’s Champion New York Village Lions Women’s Team. He is the Dental Advisor for the Metropolitan NY RFU- Medical Advisory Board. He has presented at the Annual Rugby “Player Welfare Conference” which is conducted at Hospital for Special Surgery, on general rugby dental injuries, he is currently involved in research on dental trauma in rugby tournaments and player welfare and an advocate of the “Mouth-guard initiative,” where every player should wear a mouth-guard at all levels.

Prof. Meryle G. Weinstein

Statistical Advisor

Dr. Meryle G. Weinstein, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development and the Executive Director of the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University, in New York City. She received her PhD in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Policy at NYU and has continued to contribute to the university since.  Her particular interests are school reform, school finance and the relationship between neighborhood conditions and academic achievement.  Her unique contribution in our work has been to provide the analysis of the national incidence of injury in American rugby.  She has been the Statistician of the RRIPG for the past two years where she has been working with our group to understand injury rates in rugby starting with the Northeast and now analyzing the growth of the sport in the United States as a whole.

Mr. Michael Crafton

RRIPG Chair Of Steering Committee

Mr. Michael Crafton, Esq. has been the Chair of RRIPG’s Advisory Committee since 2014. He is a licensed attorney in the states of New York and New Jersey. He currently serves as a Senior Manager – International Tax and Transaction Services for EY, where he serves U.S.-based and foreign-based multinationals by providing U.S. tax planning advice and project management experience for a wide range of tax issues related to business planning, restructuring and other cross border transactional services. Mr. Crafton’s practice focuses on international corporate taxation of both U.S. based multinationals and non-U.S. based multinationals. He provides strategic tax consulting advice and has managed client engagements for a wide variety of companies including pre-revenue to Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Crafton previously worked as Senior Director at the global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal Taxand, LLC (2016-2018), Deloitte Tax (2010-2016) and KPMG (2007-2010) in their international tax group. Mr. Crafton graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law (2007) and received his Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science and history from the University of San Diego (2004). Mr. Crafton has been involved in rugby administration and leadership for over six years at the local level (former MetNY Rugby Union and current Empire GU) and national level. He was the former Vice President of Finance and President of Empire GU and currently serves as a USA Rugby Congress Representative and sits on several USA Rugby committees, including the Club Strategic Committee, Club Eligibility Committee and Committee Review Committee. To date, Mr. Crafton has provided RRIPG with internal business and strategic relationship advice.

Christian Victoria

Assistant Director Operations

Mr. Christian_Victoria, MPH, has been involved with the RRIPG since its inception and fledgling enterprises. He is an accomplished sports injury epidemiology and detailed data analyst. Completing his Masters of Public Health from the College of Public Health at New York University with a concentration in Epidemiology.  He has been the Lead Research intern and assistant analyst for the Rugby Research and Injury Prevention Group (RRIPG), since the beginning.  He is the recent recipient of ICAP’s 2017 Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Fellowship at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A unique opportunity to travel and work in South Africa on HIV and its impact in social and public concerns. He has been under the tutelage of Dr. Victor Lopez Jr, Dr. Richard Ma, Prof. Meryle G. Weinstein, and Dr. Answorth A. Allen, Christian has been exposed to all aspects of research including initiating studies, data collection, management and analysis. As the RRIPG’s lead intern, Christian has undertaken multiple roles including: Research study coordinator (including the North America RISERugby study), assistant to the director, assistant grant editor, assistant analyst, and student/intern mentor/advisor.  His preferred statistical package is currently Stata, although he has experience with SPSS and R. He has worked with the RRIPG to analyze a national injury data on the U.S Rugby playing population with the purpose of creating an injury prevention strategy that would minimize risk and/or severity of injury across all demographics.