SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Frustrated by a growth spurt that deterred him from becoming a collegiate wrestler, Mechanicsburg resident Steve Finkel played his first rugby game at Ohio University in 1972. In his four years of play, he earned the reputation as one of the fastest, hardest-hitting flankers in the Midwest. He caught the attention of the Midwest Territorial Team coaching staff and was invited to try out for the team. The young rugger subsequently found a home in the Scioto Valley Rugby Football Club where he honed his skills and continued to learn the game.
Finkel was recently inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame.
After refining his skills, Finkel quickly became a fixture on the Ohio Sub Union Team and the Midwest Territorial Team. In 1980, he tried out for the U.S.A. Eagles and embraced a reserve position throughout the 1980s. He appeared in multiple international matches, including the inaugural Hong Kong 7s Tournament and was capped 23 times in international 7s matches for the Eagles. As an Eagles 15s member, he was capped six times and was a member of the first Rugby World Cup team in 1987. Finkel also played 7s in Scotland, England, Canada and Australia.
After his retirement from international play, Finkel embarked on a new phase of his rugby career and began to coach for The Ohio State University. In 1988, he led OSU to two final four spots, posting 3rd place finishes in 1990 and 1991. Finkel was highly sought by the Midwest Union and Ohio Rugby Union and later began coaching for the Midwest Under 23 team, the Ohio Sub Union team and the Midwest 7s team. The ultimate request came from fellow Eagle and U.S. National coach, Jack Clark, who asked Finkel to coach the U.S. 7s team, an honor that Finkel accepted and held onto for five years.
Finkel would go on to coach the Eagles 7s team at tournaments in Australia, Sicily, Spain, England, Portugal, Fiji, Uruguay, Argentina, Taiwan and Hawaii and was the coach of the Eagles 7s team that took part in the first-ever Sevens Rugby World Cup, in Scotland, in 1993. In 2005, Steve began to give back to his hometown team of Scioto Valley and led them to Division I prominence through 2014.
Off the pitch, he started a metal fabrication and construction company in 1987 called Unifacs Steel Works.
Currently, Finkel is coaching the Wittenberg University Men’s and Women’s Rugby Clubs.