The mission of the US Rugby Hall of Fame and Museum is to celebrate the history, honor the heroes, inspire the youth and preserve the legacy of rugby in the United States.
It is a private, nonprofit institution created and operated by the United States Rugby Football Foundation.
Since 1963 the USRFF has operated under the mission to support and promote amateur rugby in the United States. The Foundation's goals are to cultivate leadership, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for competition at all levels of amateur rugby, as well as drive for academic excellence among America's youth. Its greatest focus is to build the sport of rugby at the youth level.
Over the years the foundation has grown from a three-man operation based out of Boston, MA, nearly 50 years ago, to its current status of six trustees, 35 directors and three international directors, with headquarters in San Diego, CA. The USRFF has maintained a 501c3 status since 1965.
The Hall of Fame is a private, nonprofit institution created and operated by the USRFF.
The Foundation sends out a solicitation to the general rugby population for Hall of Fame nominations. All nominations must be received by early Fall so that a committee of Foundation Trustees and Directors can then review all nominations and vote, narrowing the pool, until 5-6 candidates are chosen as the following years induction class. Induction classes are announced each January.
Please send all nominations to:
United States Rugby Football Foundation
2131 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
The Foundation will be broadening its selection process in the future.
If you would like more information about the Hall of Fame, or if you have any suggestions or comments regarding our website, we’d enjoy hearing from you!
Learn more about the US Rugby Football Foundation at our website: www.usrugbyfoundation.org
To reach us by mail, please send all enquiries to USRFF Foundation Executive Director Brian Vizard at:
United States Rugby Football Foundation
2131 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
Mr. Vizard can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 619-233-0765.
UCLA Rugby Coach and First USA Eagles Coach
YEAR OF INDUCTION:
Center for Blackheath and Leicester
University of California, Los Angeles 1966-1982; First Eagles Coach 1976-1982
PLACE OF BIRTH:
Dennis Storer was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He taught American power-houses to play rugby with great spirit and within the laws of the game.
A native of Birmingham, England, Dennis Storer studied history at London University and Sports and Physical Education at Loughborough College. In rugby, he played center for Blackheath and Leicester, and even had a trial with the English national team. He served in the British Army’s Royal Engineers and emerged at the rank of captain. From there, he taught history and PE in a number of colleges and schools in England, before moving on to be a sports commentator.
Continuing his education, Storer moved to California, where he pursued his master’s degree from the University of Southern California and then his doctorate degree from UCLA. He studied the way body types contributed to success in contact sports and his master’s thesis explained how to convert American football players to rugby.
He put his academic endeavors to the test as the head coach of the UCLA rugby team, often recruiting football players and following the strict philosophy that certain positions in rugby required specific physiques. His methods were incredibly successful, for his UCLA coaching record from 1966-82 was 362-46-2. Those games were against collegiate teams, skilled club teams and while on international tours, notably to England and Australia. Storer’s Bruins took every All-Cal title and sixteen Southern California Division Championships during his coaching tenure. They also won three National Championships- 1968, 1972 and 1975.
Beyond UCLA, he served as the Eagles’ first coach, from 1976-82. He remained firm in the coaching techniques that he had honed at UCLA, at times turning away exceptional athletes who did not physically fit their positions.
Their first match was on January 31, 1976, in Anaheim, California, against rugby world-power Australia. According to former USA Rugby President, Ann Barry, “The Eagles played valiantly in a 24-12 defeat […], but more important than a win or loss, was the fact that the USA fielded a side that played with pride and dedication.”
The Eagle’s second match was Jun 12, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois. This was the first time in forty-two years, since the US won the gold medal in the 1924 Olympic Games, that a US national team faced France on the pitch. The result was a 14-33 loss for the Eagles.
In total, Storer coached the Eagles through thirteen matches. Opponents included Canada, England, Wales, South Africa and New Zealand. Twenty-five years after that first game against Australia, Storer was asked what was his best memory of coaching the Eagles. His answer: “The moments before the game versus England at Twickenham, October 1977.”
Storer’s coaching success was not limited to the Rugby pitch. From 1967-73 he was also the head coach for UCLA’s soccer team. They became an NCAA varsity sport in his first year as their coach, and together they won five All-Cal Titles, three West Coast Championships and finished three years as the NCAA Championship runners-up.
Upon retirement from the UCLA faculty, Storer was the British Olympic Executive Director, 1982-84, and served as the attaché for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was a founding member of the British Community Advisory Board and the British Academy of Film and TV Arts/Los Angeles, as well as the Executive Director of the British American Business Counsel.
After the 1992 LA riots, Storer became the founding President and Chairman of the Spirit of Youth Foundation, which continues to “Foster learning, leadership and global understanding among disadvantaged American and British youth through educational activities and cultural exchange.”
In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II named Storer an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to British American education, sports and commerce. He then went on to be elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1999.
Storer passed away in September of 2007, survived by his wife Dorothy and children Gareth, Anna Kristina and Maria.
Saint Mary's College Coach, All Black
YEAR OF INDUCTION:
Fullback, Captain of Canterbury Province, Captain of NZ All Blacks
Saint Mary's College of California 1968-1983
PLACE OF BIRTH:
Christchurch, New Zealand
Pat Vincent was truly a renaissance man. Not only was he an athlete, but he was a favored educator, professional musician and a constant comic relief.
Born in New Zealand on January 6, 1926 as the youngest of nine children, Vincent's asthma was present even in his earliest years, and it forced his family to move to the dryer climate of Christchurch. There he attended Christchurch Boys' High School (CBHS), a place that held a substantial role in his life. Upon graduation from Christchurch Teachers' College and then Canterbury University, Vincent returned to CBHS, where he was a beloved history and geography master for twenty years.
Outside of the classroom, Vincent was the Captain of the Canterbury Province rugby team that took possession of the coveted Ranfurly Shield in 1953. This is the greatest prize in NZ provincial rugby. Once won, every match is a sudden-death defense of the shield, and Vincent captained twenty-three of twenty-five challenge games, holding onto the “Log ‘o Wood” for an impressive three years.
Vincent had been overlooked by the All Black selectors on multiple occasions, but he was extremely popular with players and the public, largely because he was a team man. After he captained the 1956 South Island Team to a win over the All Blacks, Vincent was finally selected, to not only be an All Black, but to be their Captain.
He played as the All Black's fullback for two tests against the South African Springboks. The first match was won by NZ, but the Springboks hadn't lost two tests in a row since 1896, and their streak would continue.
Unfortunately Vincent was the fall man for the loss, and he was dropped from the team. Though his All Black career was brief, he is one of four men to hold the distinction of captaining every All Black game in which he played.
At the end of the 1956 season, Vincent hung up his boots and retired as a NZ player. He was the first man to play in 100 games for Canterbury, ending his career at 102. A member of the press wrote: "Because of the comparative brevity of the game, and because of its hurly-burly atmosphere, Rugby football does not thrust up characters as cricket does, but Vincent is an exception. The game has gained as much from his personality as from his play: both are exceptional." (p.41)
Since childhood Vincent had been fascinated with America. Upon his retirement from playing, Vincent received a scholarship to complete his master's degree in American history at the University of Cal Berkeley in 1957. This was his first time to the US, and it was a long awaited journey.
He played on the Cal rugby team during the 1957 season. The game he knew so well was different in America. In a letter to friend Robin Stubbersfield, Vincent commented on American rugby: “The rugby is ragged- forwards are all hard- the gridiron influence. The back play is not as clever but determined” (106).
After completing his master's, Vincent traveled back to NZ. Though he no longer played there, he remained heavily involved in the game, first as a selector and coach for Canterbury, 1959-1962, and then as the 1966 and '67 President of Christchurch Secondary Schools' RFU.
Away from the pitch, Vincent continued teaching, but he had always carried a passion for music. He loved to sing, and would do so for hours on tour busses or upon any invitation at a party or bar. A former student approached him to become a professional jazz singer, and he released several successful albums, and held regular appearances at a cabaret.
He was a NZ rugby favorite, a provincial icon, a beloved teacher and a successful jazz singer. Vincent left it all behind to return to the Bay Area in 1967, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Soon he began to coach for Saint Mary's College of California (SMC). It was a small school with a small rugby program- just able to field one team. Under Vincent's leadership the sport exploded, and soon the Gales had six teams. People had to be turned away from rugby because it was affecting other sports programs at the small college. Everyone wanted to play rugby, and everyone wanted to play for Vincent.
Annual Easter-time tours, either international or domestic, became an SMC rugby tradition that continues to this day. Vincent promoted the tours for the camaraderie they built and for the educational and cultural experiences that they brought to the participants. He believed that you had to meet people in their own environments to broaden your horizons.
Perhaps Vincent's favorite tour was the 1980 tour he brought to NZ. The group was huge, with 108 participants. They played nine games, many against universities, but he made sure to include a game with his alma matter, CBHS. The Gales had a 2-6-1 record for the tour. A loosing record was of little concern to Vincent, because he wanted the boys to play against great teams so that they would in turn learn to play great rugby. He was markedly annoyed when CBHS fielded their second side and the Gales easily won the game. They were there to learn.
After five years of coaching for SMC, Vincent was appointed to the Athletic Department in 1973. He became a member of the faculty and held many roles besides the one of coach. He was heavily involved in student life, as a director of the Student Union and a counselor in the residence halls. His sense of humor endeared him to both staff and students.
Outside of the College, he was the President of the Northern California Rugby Union, 1973-76, a charter signer and Founder of USA Rugby, 1975, and a Governor of the US Union, 1975-77. He also coached and then managed the combined Northern and Southern California team, called the Grizzlies, that represented the state on tours in Canada and New Zealand.
In addition to the important roles he played in the US national rugby scene, he also wrote coaching manuals that were of great assistance to the sport, e.g. “Rugby Football for Americans.” A look at his “How To Make A Half Back From Nothing' illustrates his famous sense of humor and interesting perspective, while giving a little insight into his coaching philosophy.
How To Make A Halfback From Nothing
By Pat B. Vincent, St. Mary's College
Vincent's advice on making a halfback should be heeded, because he was one- he was a great NZ halfback. In fact, upon the century of the Canterbury Rugby Union, the newspaper, The Christchurch Star, conducted a competition to select the best players from the province since 1945. Chosen by the judging panel and the readers, Vincent was honored by being named the Canterbury halfback of the century.
Having been afflicted with asthma his entire life, Vincent accomplished an astounding amount that required the strength of his lungs. Unfortunately, on a flight returning from an SMC Easter tour in Europe, Vincent suffered an asthma attack. He passed away at the untimely age of 57.
His funeral was the largest SMC had seen, and he is remembered to this day by the Gales. Their coach gathers the team at the beginning of every new year and talks about the legacy of Pat Vincent. They honor him by playing up to standards by which he would be proud on the Patrick Vincent Memorial Field.
President of the Midwest Union, Vice President of the US Union, Eagles Team Manager
YEAR OF INDUCTION:
Midwest Team, 1972-1978
PLACE OF BIRTH:
Keith Seaber first played rugby in 1940 at the Cambridge School for Boys, and he continued playing during his service in the Royal Navy.
When Seaber immigrated to Canada in 1953, he began playing with the Bytown Beavers (now the Ottawa Beavers) and then in 1958 with the Toronto Saracens. It was at that time that he began to referee. A normal Saturday would include Seaber playing a 1st XV game, then refereeing a 2nd XV match, and often again playing with a 3rd XV team.
It was in Toronto that Seaber began his involvement with rugby administration. He was a Director of the Ontario Union, later becoming Vice-President. In addition, he was the Vice-Chairman of the Rugby Tours Committee of Canada, now known as the CRU.
Seaber remembers his days involved with Canadian rugby fondly. His best memory of Canada was while he was the Chairman of the Ontario selection Committee. He managed and coached the Ontario side that played Scotland, only loosing 16-10. Scotland had been a powerhouse that year as the grand slam winners of 1963/4. That game made lifelong friendships that he still maintains with players from Melrose, Scotland.
In 1956 Seaber moved to St. Louis, MO. There he joined the Ramblers and continued both playing and refereeing. This lead him to join the Midwest Union, where he filled many positions, including: Chairman of selectors; Chair of the Referees Committee; President of the Midwest Union 1971-2 and June 1980- January 1981; and Coach of the Midwest team from 1972-1978. Likely the greatest match he coached during that time was in 1976 against the English Champions, the London Welsh. Seaber's Midwest team won 17-16.
Seaber represented the Midwest Union at the 1975 formation of the US National Rugby Union. He served for 15 years on the US Union's Board of Directors, and at times he held the positions of Secretary and Vice-president.
He managed the first Eagles team in 1976 when they played against Australia and coached the Eagles in the first Can-Am match in 1977.
Because of his relationship with Canadian rugby, Seaber attended all of the first 25 Can-Am games, at times serving as the only US official present at the match.
Seaber was also very involved with the Cougars, a team that played internationally and was compiled of players from across the US. He managed the 1978 team that toured in South Africa and subsequently organized matches against Northampton and Melrose during their tours to the US.
He again took the Cougars on tour in 1985. They traveled the Southwest of England after playing the Harlequins/Lords Taverners' Sevens. To end the tour they traveled to Scotland to play in the Kelso Sevens. Though they lost in the semi-finals, they were immediately invited to the following year's Melrose Sevens.
In the 1986 Melrose Sevens the Cougars lost to the Racing Club of France during the semi-final. At the end of the match, as player Brian Vizard was leaving the field, he raised his arm to the stands. The crowd responded with a standing ovation for the Cougars. They saluted the high caliber of players, both on and off the field, and the selection of such players was something that Seaber took great pride in. He considers this one of his greatest moments in rugby.
In 1996, upon the request of National Team coach, Jack Clark, Seaber became the Director of Sevens for the National Teams. He took those teams to Mar de Plata, Argentina, Punta del Este, Uruguay, Paris, Dubai, and Hong Kong.
During the Punta del Este and Paris tournaments, he attended talks to form a World Series of Sevens. At the Paris meeting the IRB announced their intention to form an international series of Sevens tournaments. A committee was formed and Seaber was chosen to represent all of the non-IRB member countries. In Malaysia, 1988, Seaber, Stephen Baines (IRB Secretary), Lee Smith (IRB), Fraser Neil (NZ & Australia) and Allen Payne (Hong Kong RFU) formed the IRB Sevens World Series.
After a serious car accident and subsequent health problems, Seaber retired from active rugby administration in 2002. He remains a dedicated member and supporter of the Bend Roughriders Club in Bend, Oregon.
UC Berkeley Coach, Winningest Coach in US Rugby History
YEAR OF INDUCTION:
University of California, Berkeley 1938-1974
PLACE OF BIRTH:
Hudson was born November 15, 1909 in New Zealand. At age 19 he traveled to the United States to attend the University of California Berkeley. He met his wife, Ladene, while at Berkeley and they were married in 1937. Upon graduation, he attended dental school in San Francisco. It was at this time that Hudson got involved with Cal Rugby, first as a player, and then as their freshman coach.
He went on to be the head coach of the Cal Golden Bears for 36 seasons, 1938-1974. His record was unprecedented and remains unrivaled, with 339 wins, 84 losses and 23 ties. Hudson is the ‘winningest’ rugby coach in the history of US rugby.
In addition to competing against domestic clubs and collegiate teams, Hudson led the bears to competed against some of the greatest international competition. This included such rugby powerhouses as the New Zealand All Blacks, the Australian Wallabies and the Oxford-Cambridge combined team.
During his tenure as head coach, Hudson led the Bears on a number of international tours. The team he assembled for the 1965 tour to Australia and New Zealand is thought to be the greatest Cal rugby team to ever hit the pitch. Their most notable games included a 25-14 victory over Auckland University and an 8-8 draw against Queensland. The Bears ended the tour with a record of 5-2-2.
When reflecting back on Hudson, Jack Clark, current Cal and US National Team coach said, “Doc is one of the forefathers of the sport of rugby in this country…He is one of just a small handful of people who made the sport popular in this country, and his record of success is absolutely unprecedented.”
Outside of coaching, Hudson was also a successful Bay Area dentist. During his 62 year marriage he lived in Oakland and went on to settle down just through the Berkeley hills, in Lafayette, CA. He and wife Ladene had four children, Bob, Doug, Ron and Shelly, and they went on to have a number of grandchildren. Hudson passed away in late 1999.
Today you will be reminded of Hudson every time you attend a Cal rugby home game. Standing on Witter Field is the Doc Hudson Memorial Field House. The building honors Hudson as arguably the greatest rugby coach in US history.
In 1912, he and brother Norman led the Berkeley High School rugby team to county, regional, and state rugby titles.
Starred in rugby, football, basketball, and baseball while at the University Farm School in Davis (now the University of California, Davis).
Was one of the first players chosen for the 1920 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning rugby team.
Was the first player chosen for the 1924 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning rugby team and was subsequently elected team captain by his teammates.
The annual Colby E. "Babe" Slater Memorial Athletic Award and the "Babe" Slater Perpetual Athletic Trophy goes each spring to the Davis student selected as Athlete of the Year.
Colby E. "Babe" Slater was born on April 30, 1896 in Berkeley, California. He had two older brothers and an older sister.
Babe and his brother Norman attended Berkeley High School, played on the school's athletic teams, and participated in sporting events on the University of California campus in Berkeley. In 1912, Babe and Norman led the Berkeley High School rugby team to county, regional, and state titles.
In 1914, Babe became a student at the University Farm School in Davis (now the University of California, Davis). The University Farm School, a branch of the University of California's College of Agriculture, offered a three-year course in the principles and practices of agriculture. While at the University Farm, Slater starred in rugby, football, basketball, and baseball. He served as Basketball Team Captain, Junior Class President, House Manager for the Calpha Fraternity, Thanksgiving Day Special Chairman, Picnic Day Parade Chairman, and Picnic Day General Chairman.
When Slater graduated from the University Farm School in May 1917, the First World War was underway. Slater registered for the newly instated draft in June 1917, enlisted in the United States Army in September, and was promoted to Corporal in November.
Slater's company arrived in Southampton, England on July 19, 1918. He served with the Medical Corps and he and his company were "on the move" from July to November in France and Belgium, tending to wounded soldiers, evacuating them from battlefields to hospitals, and setting up dressing stations. Often they came under fire from German aircraft and shelling since they had to work near the front lines. On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, and the fighting stopped. Slater's company remained in France until April 1919, when they were able to sail back to America. From New York, Slater and other returning soldiers traveled by rail to California. On May 9, 1919, they received a heroes' welcome in San Francisco. Slater's military service ended May 23, 1919.
After Slater returned from the war, he raised sheep, hogs, and feed in Woodland, California. Still an outstanding athlete, Slater played and coached for the Woodland, Yolo Post No. 77, American Legion's football and basketball teams. Slater led Woodland's American Legion football team to the Northern California Championship in 1927.
Due to the soaring popularity of American football, rugby had virtually disappeared from the United States except in California. In 1920, when the Olympic Games Committee allowed the formation of a United States Olympic Rugby Team, it was no surprise that every team member was a Californian. Slater was one of the first players chosen for the team. The 1920 Olympic Games were held in Antwerp, Belgium. The U.S. Olympic Rugby Team was the only team that dared to challenge the powerful French team, and the French eventually condescended to play the inexperienced Americans. On September 5, 1920, the Americans won the gold medal by unexpectedly beating the French, 8-0.
In 1924, the U.S. Olympic Rugby Team was again made up of Californians, with the exception of one player from the eastern U.S. Babe Slater was the first player chosen for the team and was subsequently elected team captain by his teammates. His brother Norman was also on the team. At the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, only three teams entered the rugby competition: France, Romania, and the United States. Although the Americans had been well received in London, where they had played three exhibition games against English rugby teams, the French public was hostile toward the U.S. team. The French rugby team, regarded as the most skilled in the world, easily beat the Romanians, 61-3 on May 4, 1924.
On May 11th, the United States defeated Romania 37-0. The U.S. Olympic Rugby Team was mainly made up of basketball and American football players who did not have much experience playing rugby, yet their size, fitness, and athletic ability made them formidable opponents. On May 18, 1924, the U.S. Olympic Rugby Team won gold medals by defeating France 17-3 at Colombes Stadium. Angry French fans rioted in the stands, assaulted American supporters, and jeered the U.S. Olympic Rugby Team during the medal ceremony. After the American victory, the French government apologized for the behavior of the French fans. Due in part to the fans' violence, rugby was not included in future Olympic games.
Circa 1927, Slater moved from Woodland to Clarksburg, California and bought rich farming land located in the Holland Land Company subdivision. Slater farmed there for close to thirty years. Slater married Virginia Cave (1909-1991) in 1932, and they had one daughter, Marilyn. In 1955, Marilyn graduated from the University of California, Davis. She married Richard McCapes in August 1955. Soon after his daughter married, Slater retired from farming.
Slater was active in many University of California, Davis organizations including the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, Friends of the Davis Campus, the UC Davis Alumni Agricultural Advisory Committee, the UC Davis Alumni Scholarship Foundation, and the then secret campus society Sword and Sandals. He and Mrs. Slater were often honored guests for Picnic Day at UC Davis. Slater was a Picnic Day parade judge in 1956. In 1956 and 1957, he arranged for reunions of the classes of 1916 and 1917 to be held on the UC Davis campus during Picnic Day.
Also active in the local community, Slater was a member of the Woodland, Yolo Post No. 77, American Legion and the Woodland Elks Lodge, No. 1299. He was elected president of the Yolo County Farm Bureau in 1951 and 1952, and, over the years, he and Mrs. Slater went on many Farm Bureau trips including travel to Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Mexico.
Colby E. “Babe” Slater died on January 30, 1965. Later that year, the Calpha agricultural fraternity established the Colby E. "Babe" Slater Memorial Athletic Award at the University of California, Davis. This annual award and the "Babe" Slater Perpetual Athletic Trophy went each spring to the Davis student selected as Athlete of the Year. In addition, Slater was posthumously inducted into the Woodland Athletic Hall of Fame (1973) and the Cal Aggies Athletic Hall of Fame (1980) at the University of California, Davis.
Excerpted biography from the description of the Colby E. "Babe" Slater Collection D-394 at Special Collections, Library, University of California, Davis. For further information contact:
For a full listing of the Colby E. "Babe" Slater Collection see: http://findaid.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt5p3020w9/
Co-founded the Missouri Rugby Football Union in 1933.
Served as Secretary of the Missouri Rugby Football Union from 1933-1983.
Co-founded the Rambler Rugby Club in St. Louis, MO in 1933.
Served as Secretary for the Rambler Rugby Club for over 50 years.
Organized and promoted the first Missouri Rugby Football Union Ruggerfest Invitational Rugby Tournament in 1948. The tournament is still going strong today.
In 1991, participated in his last rugby match, at Princeton University Rugby Team's 60th anniversary. He was 82 years old.
Harry F. Langenberg was born May 20, 1909 in St. Louis, MO. He entered Princeton University as a freshman in the fall of 1927 and graduated with the class of 1931. While at Princeton, Langenberg was introduced to the sport of rugby. At that time, competition was limited to teams representing Ivy League colleges in the Northeast, and a few clubs based in Chicago and California. During his college years Langenberg developed into an avid player and fan of rugby, as well as an assistant coach of the Princeton team.
Upon his return to St. Louis in 1931, Langenberg began a life-long career as a securities broker and economic analyst. He maintained his interest in amateur athletics and in 1933 he joined forces with two others who shared his passion for rugby, Edmond St. John Hoogewerf, a St. Louis University professor from England, and Hugo Walther, a young lawyer and recent Yale graduate. Together, guided by Langenberg’s inspiration and leadership, the three organized the Missouri Rugby Football Union (MRFU) with the intent of introducing and promoting the game of rugby in St. Louis and environs. They patterned the new organization after that of the governing body of the game in England, the Rugby Football Union, Twickenham. The MRFU was the first organization of its kind and purpose in the United States.
Langenberg became the first Secretary of the MRFU at its inception in 1933, and continued in that key role for 50 years. In that capacity Langenberg assumed responsibility and leadership, coordination and administration of all MRFU activities, communications and record keeping. His unfailing dedication and commitment to the game, and especially to those who played it, sustained the Union throughout those five decades and laid the foundation for its ongoing viability as a Territorial Union within the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU).
The first club to be organized under the MRFU was the Rambler Rugby Club, also in 1933. The Ramblers first game was played in Forest Park in the spring of 1934 against a Chicago-based team comprised largely of immigrants from Lancashire, England. Langenberg not only participated in that game, but he also played a key role in founding the Rambler Club and recruiting players from all walks of life. He became the first Secretary of the Rambler Rugby Club, providing the same lifeblood for the club as he did for the MRFU, and continued in that role until the late 1980s when he retired from regular play. He participated in his final game at his 60th college reunion at Princeton University in 1991, at the age of 82.
As a direct result of Langenberg’s dedication over the years, historical records and memorabilia have been preserved dating to the beginning of the Rambler Rugby Club. He also wrote and financed a Rambler newsletter, organized countless social functions and underwrote numerous other activities for both the Rambler Club and the MRFU.
Among Langenberg’s many accomplishments throughout his more than 50 years of active involvement in the game, the following stood out:
Although he had retired from playing, Langenberg continued to serve the game as an Emeritus Member of the MRFU.
In addition to his rugby accomplishments, Langenberg was a founder of the Octopus Club (an amateur ice hockey club), the Claytonshire Coaching Club and the Discussion Club, an economic discussion group which he served as president since 1960.
Over the years Langenberg consistently proclaimed the virtues of amateurism in sports. His steadfast belief that “the game is always greater than the score” is best illustrated by these guiding principles, which he has both espoused and lived by:
1. Player rather than watch
2. Respect the referee
3. Demonstrate sportsmanship and respect for opponents, rather than “win at all costs”
4. Interact socially and develop friendships with opponents and officials
5. Play as an amateur, for love of the game
In the modern era of select sides, corporate sponsorships and paid players, Harry Langenberg’s philosophy remains that rugby is not an occupation, but is an enjoyable form of competition on the field, followed by socializing with friends, new and old. Thanks to his vision and dedication, the MRFU today includes 25 clubs and 542 registered players, testimony to his incalculable contributions to the game spanning 70 years.
Harry Langenberg died on September 15, 2005, of complications from pneumonia. He is survived by three children and five grandchildren.
Captain of the 1934 Princeton University championship team.
Founding member of the Eastern Rugby Union and served as an officer, director and attorney with the ERU for nearly 40 years.
Founding member of the United States of America Rugby Football Union.
Ed Lee's entire life was dedicated to the sport of rugby in America. He captained and played on Princeton University's championship rugby team in 1934. The only loss that year was to a touring Cambridge University side. After graduating from Princeton, Ed continued to play rugby while attending Yale Law School. After graduating from Yale, he played for and captained the New York Rugby Football Club.
Ed was a founding member of the Eastern Rugby Union and served as an officer, director and attorney with the ERU for nearly 40 years. He was also a founding member of the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) in 1975.
Ed Lee was truly America's Ambassador of Rugby for more than 50 years. Through his leadership, Ed help found more than a dozen Unions and foster growth of the sport through planing, coaching and youth development to establish rugby in America.
No request of help to Ed was too small or too big to be fullfilled. His expertise and care of every detail helped nuture many young men and women to carry the game forward at local, club, college, national, and international levels.
He loved the game and he embodied all of the principles of sportsmanship and fellowship to every person in the game, on and off the field. His lifelong passion for Rugby in America earned Ed his place in the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame.
Helped lead UCLA and then the Santa Monica Rugby Club to back to back Monterey Tournament titles in 1972 and 1973.
Co-founding member of the Santa Monica Rugby Club.
Played in the first four tests for the United States Eagles, captaining the team in the third and fourth tests.
Enshrined in the UCLA and Santa Monica Rugby Club's Halls of Fame.
The USA Classic Eagles created the Craig Sweeney Award, presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to rugby in the United States.
Craig B. Sweeney was born on May 8, 1947. He was introduced to the sport of rugby in 1969 while attending Stanford University, class of 1970. Later that year, he enrolled at UCLA to earn his MBA. At that time UCLA was not only one of the top universities in the country but was also home to one of the best rugby teams in the United States. Sweeney played second row for the Bruins from 1970-72 and was a member of the 1972 UCLA team that won the prestigious Monterey International Rugby Tournament and hence the title of unofficial national champions.
That same year Sweeney toured with the Pacific Coast Grizzlies representative side to New Zealand. He would go on to represent the Grizzlies until 1977 and played against Wales, Ireland and Fiji. Sweeney also played for and captained the Southern California Griffins All-Star team from 1972-77.
Having earned his MBA from UCLA in 1972, he and a number of former UCLA teammates wanted to keep a good thing going so they, along with some USC and Saint Mary’s grads, founded the Santa Monica Rugby Club in 1973. Sweeney’s Santa Monica club won the Monterey Tournament title in 1973 earning back to back national championships. Sweeney was a member of the SMRC team that toured Wales in 1973 and Scotland and Ireland in 1977.
Sweeney showed his dedication to the sport and his new club by driving 120 miles round trip twice a week from his home in Newport Beach to training sessions in Santa Monica. Santa Monica was a feared team up and down the Pacific Coast and in addition to winning the Monterey title in 1973, SMRC won San Diego’s OMBAC Rugby Tournament title five years in a row with Sweeney anchoring the SMRC engine room.
With the formation of the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) in 1975, it wasn’t long before discussions began about forming the United States National Rugby Team, the Eagles. And one of the names on every selector’s list was Sweeney’s. He played second row in the very first test match the Eagles ever played, against Australia, in Los Angles on January 31, 1976.
He followed that up with playing in the Eagles second test match against France in Chicago on June 12, 1976. He then captained the Eagles in their next, and Sweeney’s last, two matches; against Canada in Burnaby, British Columbia on May 21, 1977 and against England at Twickenham on October 15, 1977.
On March 31, 1978, while on a training run preparing for the Boston Marathon, Sweeney died of congestive heart failure.
Sweeney was one of UCLA’s, Santa Monica’s and the United States finest rugby players and is fondly remembered by UCLA, the Santa Monica Rugby Club and by the USA Classic Eagles. Sweeney was enshrined in the UCLA Rugby Hall of Fame and the Santa Monica Rugby Club Hall of Fame. In addition, the SMRC established the Craig Sweeney Fund to honor its former captain. The Classic Eagles created the Craig Sweeney Award, presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to rugby in the United States.
Sweeney’s sister, Nancy Jo Lindus, endowed the Craig Sweeney Award at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California in 1983. The honor is awarded annually to the high school athlete who demonstrates exemplary enthusiasm, integrity, respect for others and leadership on the field of play. Sweeney’s nephew, Scott Lindus, is a past recipient of the Craig Sweeney Award.
Starred for the United States in both 7s and 15s. Played in 28 test matches for the Eagles and was captain in three of those matches. Played 16 matches for the U.S. 7s team.
Played his first game for the United States while still a junior in college.
Led the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC), in San Diego, California to national championships in 1988 and 1989.
Played for the United States in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups.
In 1991, was the first Eagle of the modern era to be invited on the Barbarians Easter Tour. He was also selected for the Teljoy World XV, playing with a group of international all-stars in South Africa.
Former United States National Team captain Kevin Higgins was born on November 8, 1962 in Buffalo, New York. He had established himself as a superior athlete and one of the fastest guys on his teams by the time he was in high school. He started making a name for himself as a junior tailback for California football powerhouse Mater Dei High School. In his senior year, Higgins carried the football 187 times for 1,100 yards and with no fumbles, an early sign of his sure handedness with a rugby ball. He also returned punts and kickoffs. In his senior year he was All Angeles League, All Orange County, and was selected as Mater Dei's Offensive Player of the Year.
He was also outstanding on the track, as he went undefeated in the 300 low hurdles in both his junior and senior years, won the Angeles League's 400 meters and was anchor on the league champion 400 meter and mile relay teams, all on the same day in his senior season. He was voted Mater Dei’s and the Angeles League’s Most Valuable Track Athlete.
Higgins was recruited by a number of universities but he decided on Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. He was the leading rusher and scorer on the undefeated Cal Poly freshman football team. When the Cal Poly head coach and his staff left that first year for Arizona, Kevin and several of his football teammates left football and joined the SLO Rugby Team.
But one sport’s loss was another sport’s gain as Higgins touched a rugby ball for the first time in his sophomore year and fell in love with the sport immediately. His rise in rugby was meteoric. He played four seasons at Cal Poly and was chosen as a Collegiate All-American his last three years. His prowess on the rugby field soon caught the eyes of U.S. National Team selectors and Higgins played in his first of 28 test matches while a junior in college, in a victory over Japan in Tokyo on April 21, 1985.
Higgins went on to become a star for the USA in both XVs and 7s. He played for the USA at both center and wing and in both the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups. Higgins was the first player in the USA to reach 25 caps, earning 7 at wing and 21 at centre, while scoring four tries for the Eagles. He also played for the USA 7s team 16 times. Higgins captained the USA during the 1989 tour to Argentina and Uruguay and against Argentina at home, also in 1989. He appeared for the USA in the Hong Kong 7s in 1988, 1990, and 1991.
“Higgy”, as he was known, was an inventive and exciting player. His red hair making him easily identifiable on the field, Higgins redefined the position of center with his agile moves, speed, and ability to crash up the middle. He set the standard for both aspiring Eagles as well as competitive weekend players.
Off the field, Higgy was an inspiring leader and a true friend. He was always ready to lighten a moment with his quick wit and on most tours, he was charged with keeping the team loose. He did just that on one bus trip to a training session in Grenfell, Australia. Higgy sold Bingo cards to all the players and coaches on the bus and cleverly figured out how everyone on the bus would hit Bingo on the exact same number. The most difficult part of the whole ordeal was Higgy actually being able to get the “O 72” out of his mouth before he collapsed in laughter in the aisle.
In 1991, Higgins was the first Eagle of the modern era to be invited on the Barbarians Easter Tour. He was also selected for the Teljoy World XV, teaming with the likes of Alan and Gary Whetton, Grant Fox, Bernie Fraser, Stan Pilecki, Buck Shelford and fellow American, Mike Purcell.
Higgins played the majority of his club rugby for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) in San Diego, California. He helped lead OMBAC to two national championships in 1988 and 1989. He finished his club rugby with the Old Blues of Northern California.
While his records may no longer stand, Higgy's influence on USA rugby is still felt throughout the country. He defined larger than life for players, fans, coaches and friends with his aggressive play, exemplary leadership & off-field lust for life. He remains the player kids today hear about and aspire to emulate. Higgins left an indelible mark on USA Rugby before retiring for medical reasons immediately following the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
After Higgy retired from international play, he was an assistant coach with the National Champion University of California collegiate rugby team from 1993-96. Working with USA National Team Coach and Cal Head Coach Jack Clark, Higgins was primarily responsible for the backs. He molded several future USA Eagles including centre Ray Green and scrumhalf Andre Bachelet.
Green remembers Higgy’s passion for the game and life. “He would have given anything to lace up his boots again to have a run with us. You could always see the fire in his eyes and his enthusiasm was contagious. His pre-game pep talks were legendary - full of inspiration, sound advice and spittle shooting from his lips. He convinced us that we could beat anyone around the corner with a straight 'hands' call and made 'jinking and linking' part of our everyday vocabulary. Needless to say his after match hijinks lived up to the expectations all of us had for a world traveled, rugby legend. We knew he was the real deal and would have followed him anywhere.”
As a tribute to one of the greats of U.S. Rugby, the United States Rugby Football Foundation created the Kevin Higgins Scholarship Program in 2008. As of 2012, 41 deserving high school graduates received $1,000 to further their rugby and education at the collegiate level.
Kevin Higgins passed away on October 30, 1996.
Founded Scrumdown in 1968. The publication's name was changed to Rugby Magazine in 1972. In 2010, the magazine went from print to digital format.
In 1974, wrote one of the first U.S. rugby coaching books, Rugby: A Guide for Players, Coaches and Spectators.
In 2005, purchased the North American stop on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit. The 2013 USA 7s Tournament in Las Vegas drew a three-day attendance of over 67,000.
In 2010, created the Collegiate Rugby Championships (CRC).
An accomplished artist, he has painted several rugby works.
Prior his introduction to rugby, Jon Prusmack was a gifted football player. Good enough, in fact, to attend the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship from 1960 to 1962, where he also studied architecture and art. Apparently not finding this schedule demanding enough, he joined the United States Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class program, completing basic training in 1961.
Prusmack transferred to the United States Naval Academy, and was a member of the varsity football team, switching between halfback and tailback, in 1964. While at the Academy, Prusmack was Art Editor of the LOG Magazine. He resigned from the USNA in the spring of 1965 and transferred to New York University for his senior year.
At NYU, Prusmack was the MVP on the varsity football team. He graduated in 1966 with a BA in Mathematics and Art. He also completed his military obligation as a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He went on to get his MBA from CUNY Bernard Baruch College as well as an MS in Design/Industrial Engineering from NYU Polytechnic Institute. He truly is a man of many letters.
Prusmack was introduced to rugby while at NYU in 1965. He started playing out on the wing, but soon found himself at flanker and ultimately hooker, where he played for 10 years. As he drily notes, “As I lost speed I kept moving farther inside.”
Upon graduating from NYU, Prusmack began a 15 year career with the Westchester Rugby Club. He played for a combined Westchester RC/Old Blue All Star team that hosted the English touring side, Richmond RFC, in 1968. He was President of the Westchester RC from 1968 to 1974. He also played on and off for the New York Athletic Club from 1973 to 1978.
Other highlights of Prusmack’s career as a player were his selection at hooker for the Metropolitan New York All Star team, as well as tours to England in 1973 and Ireland in 1974, with Westchester, and with the Manhattan Rugby Club to France in 1975. He was named captain of the USA Owls team on their inaugural tour to England in 1977.
Prusmack retired as a player in 1980 due to a neck injury, but his involvement with the game was by no means over. He coached the New York AC from 1980 to 1984, and he was a C Level Met New York referee from 1994 to 2000.
It is off the pitch, however, that Prusmack’s impact on rugby has been most significant. One of his early contributions to U.S. rugby was the initial publication of “Scrumdown” which, in its earliest format, in 1968, was produced in newsprint. Prusmack teamed with Ed Hagerty on this project, which served as almost the only regular source of rugby news in America for decades. The publication’s name was changed to “Rugby Magazine” in 1972, and in a further evolution to suit the times, the magazine went from print to its current digital format, RUGBYMag.com, in 2010. Prusmack also wrote one of the first U.S. rugby coaching books, Rugby: A Guide for Players, Coaches and Spectators, in 1974.
In 2005, Prusmack formed American International Media LLC, through which he purchased, from USA Rugby, the U.S. stop on the IRB 7s World Series of tournaments. The tournament has since been renamed the USA 7s; the three-day event is the only North American stop for the Sevens World Series, and is the largest rugby tournament in North America. From its first venue in Carson, California, where the attendance was less than 5,000, the event moved first to San Diego, and has moved since to its current home in Las Vegas, where, in 2013, the three-day attendance total was over 67,000.
Building on a succesful model, Prusmack’s company then partnered with NBC in 2010 to start the 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC). The first CRC event took place at the Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, but the tournament has since moved to PPL Park in Philadelphia. Attendance for the 2012 CRC was 20,000; attendance for the 2013 event is expected to be closer to 25,000. The tournament features 20 of the top college teams competing in 47 matches across two-days as they vie for the coveted Pete Dawkins trophy.
Prusmack’s work with NBC has also provided the sport much-needed national television exposure. Through partnerships with NBC Sports Group, the CRC, the USA Sevens Tournament and all nine HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments are broadcast nationally on NBC, NBC Sports Network or Universal Sports Network. In total, NBC Sports Group broadcasts nearly 60 hours of live rugby programming annually, by far the largest amount of live rugby coverage in the United States.
Beyond rugby, Prusmack is a professional artist, designer and inventor. Most notably, from an idea and a prototype built in his garage, Prusmack invented the DRASH, or Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter, a quick erect/strike shelter system, serving medical, military, government and civilian needs. From its early days in 1984, his DHS Systems (now DHS Technologies LLC) has evolved to become recognized around the world as the leader in soft-walled shelter technology and support equipment.As of January 2009, more than 17,000 DRASH shelters and over 7,500 DRASH trailers were in service across the globe with the U.S. Military and NATO. Company sales have ranged from $100 million to well over $220 million over the last five years and DRASH employs approximately 400 men and women worldwide. Prusmack holds 22 patents for the shelter and multiple other products.
Both rugby and the military have been constants in his life; both have challenged him and given him great satisfaction. In recognition of that, Prusmack has given back generously to both the sport and to the military. He funded the U.S. Naval Academy Rugby Complex, called, fittingly, the Prusmack Rugby Complex. In addition, he helped fund the rugby pitch at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, known, also fittingly, as Warrior Field.
Prusmack was inducted into the New York Athletic Club Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011 and the U.S. Naval Academy Rugby Hall of Fame in 2012.
Ray Cornbill was an assistant coach for the U.S. Eagles in their first test match ever, against Australia in Anaheim, California on January 31, 1976.
Cornbill was the head coach for the Eagles for eight test matches.
Cornbill was the head coach of the U.S. Cougars on their tour to South Africa and Rhodesia in 1978.
He coached the U.S. Maccabiah team at the 1985, 1989 and 1993 World Maccabiah Games in Israel.
From 2000-2002 Cornbill coached the USA All-Marines Corps team at the U.S. Inter-Services Competition.
Through 2013, Cornbill has played or coached rugby for 60 consecutive years.
Ray Cornbill believes “simple things done well” make a good rugby player great. This philosophy, and a lifetime of efforts on behalf of U.S. rugby, has brought him to the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame.
Cornbill was born in 1937 in Birmingham, England, the same city that Dennis Storer, one of the original inductees of the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame, was born. His rugby career began at age 11, at the famous “Public School,” King Edwards School. At 13, Cornbill’s family left England for Toronto, Canada. There was no high school rugby at York Memorial, so when Cornbill was 16 he joined the Toronto Barbarians men’s team.
Small compared to the rest of the Barbarians, Cornbill started out on the wing. Eventually though, he grew in stature and returned to his favored position, open-side flanker. After high school, Cornbill enrolled at the University of Toronto and became a fixture on the rugby team, while continuing to play for the Barbarians. He earned Ontario Provincial honors in 1960 and played in the 7 jersey against a touring Yawata team from Japan. Coincidentally, Keith Seaber, another of the original U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame inductees, was a selector for this Ontario team.
Cornbill played a total of seven years with the Toronto Barbarians before moving to Quebec in 1962. He hooked up with another Barbarians team there, this time the Montreal Barbarians. He played with the Barbarians from 1962-65, captaining the team in 1964 and helping them win two Eastern Canada Championships. Cornbill also played for the Quebec Provincial All-Stars in matches against Scotland, the Eastern Rugby Union, and Ontario. While playing, he also served as Secretary of the Quebec Rugby Union.
Cornbill moved to New York in 1965 and soon became player/coach of the Manhattan Rugby Football Club. He was named captain of the team in 1967, a position he held through 1969. In addition to captaining the side in league matches, Cornbill led them on tours to the Bahamas, in 1967, and South America in 1968. In 1967, he was awarded an Honorary Life Vice President of the Manhattan RFC.
Cornbill began coaching representative rugby and in 1970 coached the New York Metropolitan Union All-Stars to a narrow win over Fiji. That same year he became the head coach of the Manhattan RFC. He continued to climb the coaching ranks and in 1971 became the head coach of the Eastern Rugby Union representative side. Cornbill also coached the Eastern RFU U23s to a territorial championship.
Cornbill made the jump up to the United States National Team program in 1976. He was on a panel of four national team selectors from 1976-83. Additionally, he was an assistant coach for the U. S. National Team, the Eagles, in 1976, for their historic first international match, against Australia, in Anaheim, California, and head coach against France, in Chicago, Illinois in the Eagles second test.
In 1978 Cornbill was the head coach of the U.S. Cougars, an invitational all-star team that toured South Africa and Rhodesia.
He was head coach of the Eagles in 1979 for their match against Canada in Toronto. In 1980 he coached the Eagles in matches vs. New Zealand in San Diego, California, Wales B in Long Beach, California, and Canada in Saranac Lake, New York. In 1981, Cornbill was in charge when the Eagles faced Canada and South Africa. His last two matches as head coach of the Eagles were in 1982 against Canada in Calgary, and England in Hartford, Connecticut.
Cornbill continued to coach and in 1985 was named head coach of the USA Maccabiah team for the World Maccabiah Games played in Israel. The USA enjoyed such a successful run in the tournament, coming away with a bronze medal, that Cornbill was asked to coach the team again at the 1989 and 1993 Maccabiah Games.
Cornbill was an assistant coach for New York Old Blue in 1986, and served as their head coach from 1988-90. In the late 1990s, he was, once again, working with the U.S. National Team program. He served a two year stint as Convenor of Selectors, and served as an assistant coach for several matches and tours to Asia, the Pacific Islands, Canada, and the U.K.
From 2000-2002 Cornbill coached the USA All-Marines Corps team at the U.S. Inter-Services Competition. In 2009, Cornbill became involved with the Columbia University rugby team, first as an assistant, and then as head coach in 2012. He was also an assistant coach for the Atlantis 7s teams that toured Cuba in 2011 and Laos in 2013.
In July 2012, the University of Toronto created the Ray Cornbill Award, awarded to the U of T player who contributes the most to the club, both on and off the field. The first recipient was Dave Balcomb.
As of 2013, Cornbill has spent 60 consecutive years playing or coaching rugby.
Founding member and Director of the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) in 1975.
Founding member and 7-term president of Chicago Lions in Chicago, Illinois.
Past president of the Midwest Rugby Football Union.
Two-term president of the Old Puget Sound Beach Rugby Club in Seattle, Washington.
Founding member and past president of the Pacific Northwest Union.
Past United States Eagles 15s and 7s Manager.
Dick Smith’s first exposure to rugby was on a famous football field - Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. It was March, 1964, and thanks to an ad in the Chicago Tribune sports section, inviting interested parties to check out the then-unfamiliar sport of rugby, Smith, a 25 year-old stockbroker recently relocated from the east coast, decided to spend that Saturday at a rugby match. It was to be the first of many.
Born in 1939 in Jersey City, NJ, Smith grew up in humble circumstances on the New Jersey shore. His father, “Big” Ed, was an ironworker, his mother Rita, a homemaker; Dick was the eldest of three siblings. Possessed of all-American good looks, he was poster boy for the Ocean County Boy Scouts, as well as a fine athlete who excelled in multiple sports in high school, including football and track. A graduate at 17, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps; by the time he had served his three year commitment, he was husband to Madalenne, and father to a baby girl named Kim.
After four years commuting two hours each way to Wall Street during the week, and running his light hauling business every weekend, Smith moved the family to Chicago, where he would work on LaSalle Street for the next fourteen years. A second daughter, Paige, was born in 1964, around the same time that her father was being introduced to rugby. As Paige likes to tell it, two legends were born that year.
After that first fateful rugby match, during which he was pressed into service at halftime with the sage advice to “Follow that big guy, and tackle anyone with the ball,” Smith was smitten. The speed, the fluidity, the controlled violence, and the post-game cameraderie made rugby the ideal sport for him, and he would spend the next decade building one of the great clubs in American rugby, the Chicago Lions.
As one of the founders of the club, and as Player/President for seven years, Smith led the Lions to a dominant position in Midwest rugby. Many others would build on this foundation, most notably Tyke Nollman, Ed Kane, and Keith Brown, guiding the Lions to their current position as one of the premier clubs in the country, but no one loomed larger in the early history of the Chicago Lions than Dick Smith. Whether lining the fields, playing on the first XV, hosting their first international tourists, (Richmond RFC), or winging their way to Europe for their own first tour, he was a driving force, always working to make the Lions a first-class organization.
In 1970, he was the first recipient of the Club’s “Lowry Lion,” awarded annually to the team member selected by the Club as having made the greatest contribution both on and off the playing field. During his tenure as Lions President, Smith also made time to help organize the second Special Olympics, held in Chicago in 1970. Needless to say, many Lions were pressed into service for the event. Both the Lowry Lion, and a letter from Special Olympics founder, Eunice Shriver, thanking him for his service on behalf of Special Olympians, remain treasured posessions.
When his only son, Richard, was born in 1974, there was much jubilation, and the team joined Dick at Durkins Tavern to celebrate the occasion. Rumor has it that a future president of the club arrived to the party wearing a diaper and little else, but no photographic evidence has been presented to support this (admittedly delightful) tale.
Smith served two terms as President of the Midwest Union and, in that capacity, facilitated the formation of the United States Rugby Football Union (USARFU), now known as USA Rugby, proudly affixing his signature to the Union’s Charter on June 7th, 1975. A year later, he served as Manager for the second international played by the Eagles, against France, devoting countless hours to the planning and organization of the match. So many hours, in fact, that it became necessary to find new employment when all was said and done. A small price to pay for a first-class test match, most ruggers would agree. Ten years later, he managed the Eagles 7’s team that won the Plate in the 1986 Hong Kong Sevens – the best showing by a North American team to that date.
After relocating to Seattle in 1977, Smith served two terms as President of the Old Puget Sound Beach RFC; he also helped form the Pacific Northwest Union, and was a selector for their representative side, the Loggers. As the glory days of his playing career faded into memory, he put together a touring side of old boys, the USA Owls; the team played social matches while supporting the US Eagles on their international tours. The first Owls tour, to London in ‘77, lives on in oral history and song (or at least it should) – future media mogul Jon Prusmack was captain of that Owls team, and several members of the squad made international news by rescuing a handful of Londoners from a restaurant fire. When the Owls played domestically, they called themselves the “Olde Peculiars,” a name that was perhaps more apt than one might imagine.
In 1985, Dick married Carolie, and became a father for a fourth time, welcoming daughter Callan in 1986. She would one day, quite fittingly, work for the USRFF, proving that the love of rugby runs deep in the Smith family.
As a US rugby supporter, few can rival Smith’s mileage and passport stamps. Be it the old Inter-Territorial Tournaments, Golden Oldies, Rugby World Cup, Hong Kong Sevens, USA Sevens, or the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda, he was, and is, a constant presence at the sport’s preeminent events. But time and energy were not the only things he contributed to the sport; he has made significant financial investments as well. A longtime sponsor of Team America (now the Classic Eagles), Smith also provided much of the seed money for the development of the IRB-sanctioned pitch in Seattle. He continues to contribute financially to both the Chicago Lions and Seattle/OPSB to assist in their continued growth and success, as well as to USA Rugby and the USRFF. He has personally hosted countless itinerant rugby players, providing food, shelter, employment, and the occasional libation.
While seemingly all rugby, all the time, Smith has, in fact, spent over fifty years in the securities industry, starting on Wall Street in 1959. He opened his own firm, R.W. Smith & Associates, in 1985, a municipal bond inter-dealer broker, now with 7 offices across the country. He currently serves as Chairman of the company now known simply as RW Smith. Dick also has four grandchildren who bring him almost as much joy as rugby.
As is the case with so many of his co-inductees, this profile barely scratches the surface of his influence on US rugby. Suffice it to say that to peruse the list of Dick Smith’s accomplishments is to know the story of US rugby in the latter half of the 20th century, but, as he would tell you, it was not for the accolades or recognition that he did what he did, but simply for love of the game. Rugby has been the great joy and passion of his life; the friendships formed and the memories made over a lifetime in the sport are his true rewards. As he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he takes with him every one of those mates, “souls,” as Tennyson wrote, “That ever with a frolic welcome took the thunder and the sunshine,” whose fierceness on the pitch, and bonhomie off, made these last fifty years the best of times.
Was the third U.S. based referee to referee a test match, making his debut in San Diego, California on October 8, 1980 when the United States hosted New Zealand.
He has been a guest referee of the New Zealand, England and Australia Rugby Football Unions.
He retired as the highest ranking U.S. referee, a ranking he held from 1980-1987.
Served in many capacities within the United States of America Rugby Football Union, including USARFU's 6th president from 1991-1995.
Ian Nixon was born in Hyde, England in 1940. He caught his first rugby pass when he was eight years old and it wasn’t long before he was an accomplished player. In addition to rugby, Ian excelled at cricket and lettered in both sports throughout his prep, junior and senior high school years at St. Joseph’s College in Blackpool. His skill in cricket earned him County Schoolboy Representative selection.
In 1959, he attended the University of Manchester in England, where he earned Full Maroon honors in rugby and cricket. After graduating in 1965, Nixon played with the Heaton Moor Rugby Football Club. He captained the side from his scrumhalf position during the successful 1967-68 season, when the first team won twenty-five and drew one of their thirty-four matches.
Nixon moved to the United States in 1972, and joined the Boston Rugby Football Club. He played there for two seasons before work transferred him to Dallas, Texas; he played for the Dallas Harlequins from 1974-76.
With his playing days behind him, Nixon turned to refereeing in 1976 as a member of the Society of Texas Referees. He made immediate strides with the whistle in hand, and in 1978 became a member of the Western Rugby Football Union Referee Territorial Panel. In 1980, Nixon was selected to the USA Rugby Referee Panel. That year saw Nixon in charge of the British Columbia vs. Wales match in Vancouver, and three weeks later he officiated the Pacific Coast vs. Italy match in Long Beach, CA. This banner year was topped off by Nixon’s first international test match, as he was in charge when the United States Eagles hosted the New Zealand All Blacks in San Diego, CA on October 8, 1980.
Nixon continued to be called upon for big games, calling the USA National Club Championship Finals in 1981 and 1982. Also in 1982, he refereed his second test, Canada vs. England in Vancouver on May 29. In 1983, he added the Canadian Provincial Final from Victoria to his resume. In addition, he was the man in charge of the Canada vs. Italy match in Vancouver. He topped off the year as a guest referee of the New Zealand Rugby Union for two weeks.
In 1984, Nixon once again called the US Club and Canadian Provincial Finals, and was a guest referee of the England RFU for two weeks. He received yet another international appointment in 1985 when he called the Canada vs. England U19 match in Vancouver.
Nixon’s busiest year with the whistle was perhaps 1986, as he was appointed to referee at the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens Tournament, after which he oversaw his usual fixture at the US Club Championships. He moved on to the USA East vs. Japan match in New York City, followed by Canada vs. Japan in Vancouver. The year ended with Nixon calling Canada’s match against Wales U19 from Victoria.
1987 was Nixon’s last year with the whistle in hand. He closed out his career calling the USA National Club Championship Final for the seventh straight year. He then spent two weeks sharing his experience and knowledge as a guest referee of the Australian RFU. He retired as the highest ranking U.S. referee, a ranking he held from 1980-1987.
Nixon continued to serve U.S. rugby as an East Representative on USA Rugby’s Board of Directors from 1987-1997, where he also functioned in the role of Secretary from 1987-1991. Nixon served as the sixth President of USA Rugby in a term lasting from 1991-1995.
Nixon has earned many accolades for his outstanding service and contributions to the sport. He accorded a Life Membership from the Dallas Harlequins RFC in 1981, and the Golden Eagle Award for services to USA Rugby in 1985. He was the Denis Shanagher Memorial Award winner for services to USA Rugby Refereeing in 1994, and he was also inducted into the University of Manchester XXI Club (their Hall of Fame) for services to rugby.
Today, Nixon is an esteemed cardiologist and resides in Richmond, Virginia where he teaches and practices at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and the VCU Medical Center.
Began his career with Rugby Magazine on a part-time basis in 1975. Became Editor in Chief in 1977 and held that position for the next 32 years.
His roles were many with the magazine. He edited, wrote newsbriefs, tournament stories, match reports, feature articles player, coach and referee profiles.
His two most memorable subjects covered over the course of his 32 year Rugby Magazine career both involved South Africa.
He reported from four Rugby World Cups.
He has amassed thousands of rugby photographs over the course of his career.
A decent club-level player, self-described as having “more enthusiasm than talent”, Ed Hagerty began his 14-year rugby-playing career in 1962, during the fall of his junior year at Holy Cross College (Worcester, MA). Playing as a loose forward, he served as captain of the Holy Cross XV during his senior year.
Following graduation from Holy Cross (June-1964), Hagerty moved to New York City. Shortly thereafter, he fulfilled his military obligation by joining the Army National Guard, serving the first six months on active duty, with five year’s of weekend reserve duty to serve.
Returning to New York City after his six month active duty stint, Ed embarked upon a 12 year, post-college, rugby playing career. He played spirited but rather undisciplined first side rugby for the majority of his twelve year club tenure; first with the New York RFC (1964-67) and then, for a much longer period, with Old Blue (1967-75).
Career-wise, he spent his first two post-college years (1965-67) working as a media planner/analyst for Benton and Bowles, a major New York City ad agency.
His publishing career began in 1967 when he was hired as the Sales Development Manager for Ladies Home Journal, a large women’s service magazine.
Moving on to Times Mirror Magazines a year later (1968), Hagerty spent the next five years (1968-73) as Editorial and Marketing Research Director for Popular Science and Outdoor Life Magazines. He served as Publisher of Popular Science, a 100 year old publication with a circulation of 1,800,000, from October of 1973 until October of 1975.
Hagerty took a hiatus from the publishing business between November of 1975 and June of 1977. During this period he moved to Beverly Hills, California. There he went to work for Patrick Frawley, a friend and wealthy industrialist who, among other things, had started Schick Safety Razor, Schick Electric and Paper-Mate Pens.
During his two years in California, Hagerty served as an administrator for Schick Hospitals in Fort Worth and Seattle, did market research for Schick Smoking Centers and served as Director for the Twin Circle Publishing Company.
While his playing career had ended, Hagerty’s interest in rugby remained. During his tenure in California, he became involved, on a part-time basis (1975), in the publication of Rugby Magazine, which had been started by Jon Prusmack. Hagerty’s interest in Rugby Magazine, as a vehicle to grow the US game, increased as the months went by and in January of 1977 he was listed on the masthead as Editor in Chief.
Unburdening himself of his well-paying job with Schick, Hagerty returned from California to New York City at the end of June 1977. There, for many years in an office the size of a broom closet (but with a Madison Avenue address), he devoted his energies to writing, photographing, editing and publishing Rugby Magazine.
Ed Hagerty served as Editor in Chief of Rugby Magazine for a total of 32 years: from 1977 up to until June of 2009. He continued as Executive Editor until the summer of 2010, and remains a contributor and photographer today.
Hagerty edited, wrote newsbriefs, tournament stories, match reports, feature articles player, coach and referee profiles. In addition, he solicited copy for a variety of feature articles and regular departments from an eager, talented and well educated US rugby community.
He covered and photographed a large number of domestic and overseas tests, played by both the US Men’s and Women’s National 15s and 7s teams, from early 1976 until midway through 2010.
His test coverage began with the US Men’s first international test match: a 24-12 loss to Australia in Anaheim, California on January 31, 1976.
The two most memorable subjects that Ed Hagerty covered over the course of his 32 year Rugby Magazine career both involved South Africa. This was due to the racial policies that South Africa was involved in at the time.
The first was the highly controversial, seven match tour by the US Men’s National Team to South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in August of 1978. On this tour the Eagles travelled as the US Cougars.
8/9 Natal 16, US Cougars 10
8/12 SA Country Districts, US Cougars 12
8/16 Combined Universities 16, US Cougars 7
8/19 US Cougars 18, N Transvaal 15
8/22 Griqualand 13, US Cougars 4
8/26 SA Gazelles 20, US Cougars 16
8/28 Rhodesia 32, US Cougars 15
A second memorable episode involved the equally controversial, three-match return tour of an integrated South African Springbok side to Wisconsin and Upstate New York in the fall of 1981.
9/19 Racine, WI South Africa 46, Midwest RFU 12
9/22 Albany, NY South Africa 41, Eastern RFU 0
9/25 Glenville, NY South Africa 38, United States 7
In addition to providing coverage for numerous other domestic and overseas test matches, Hagerty also covered the following Rugby World Cups:
1987 Australia & New Zealand
Rugby Magazine went from print to its current digital format, RugbyMag.com, in 2010 and Hagerty continues as a contributor.
Commenting on his tenure with Rugby, Hagerty noted: “It’s been a great ride!”
The first captain for the United States Eagles when they played their first test match ever, against Australia in Anaheim, California on January 31, 1976.
Captained the United States in the Eagles first two tests they played.
Played a total of five matches with the United States, including their first win ever, over Canada in Baltimore, Maryland on May 28, 1978.
Was invited to play for an international all-star team to open the newly renovated Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa in 1977.
Was an All Ivy League football and lacrosse player at Princeton University.
Robinson “Rob” Bordley was a talented football and lacrosse player long before he played his first rugby match. Bordley was All Ivy League selection in both sports while attending Princeton University. In football, Bordley lined up as a wide receiver and also fielded punts and kickoffs.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving time of his senior year at Princeton that Bordley got introduced to rugby. It was then that some of his friends from the University of Virginia convinced him to give rugby a try at the Washington Rugby Football Club’s 7s Tournament. His evasive skills learned from returning punts and kickoffs certainly helped as he scored a number of tries in his debut tournament.
After graduating from Princeton with a BA in political science, Bordley joined the one and only club team he ever played for, the Washington Rugby Football Club, where he would play from 1970 until the mid 1980s.
During his playing career with Washington, Bordley was selected to represent his local union side, the Potomac Rugby Union, and then made the Eastern Rugby Union select side on numerous occasions. He captained all three of these teams at different times throughout his career.
In 1976 Bordley toured South Africa with the ERU All Stars. He was so impressive on that tour that he was invited back a year later to play for an international all star team that would play in the newly renovated Loftus Versfeld. The team would play three matches on tour: against a South African XV in Pretoria; against Western Province in Cape Town; and against Northern Transvaal in Pretoria.
Bordley received the highest honor of not only being selected for the first international test match for the United States but he was also named captain of the Eagles. That first test was in Anaheim on January 31, 1976 against Australia and Bordley captained the side from his flyhalf position. Bordley also captained the Eagles in their second test, this time at fullback, against France in Chicago on June 12, 1976.
Bordley would go on to play for the Eagles in their next three matches. Back at flyhalf, the Eagles lost to Canada at Burnaby, British Columbia on May 21, 1977. Bordley, playing in the number 15 jersey, was part of the first Eagles tour abroad as they faced England at Twickenham on October 15, 1977. He finished his international career on a high note as he was part of the first victorious United States side as the Eagles defeated Canada 12-7 in Baltimore, Maryland on May 28, 1978.
While he was competing for a spot on the national team, Bordley was earning a Master’s degree in history from American University. He was hired on as a history teacher at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland in the fall of 1970, right after he graduated from Princeton, and 43 years later he continues to teach history at Landon.
He is the offensive coordinator on the varsity football team and the varsity lacrosse coach at Landon. Under Bordley, Landon’s lacrosse team has captured 28 league titles since 1981 and was recognized as the best team in the nation in 1999, 2001 and 2002. Bordley is a year or two away from registering his 600th win as Landon’s lacrosse coach. He is a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame (Potomac Chapter) and has been nominated the U.S. National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
In his private life, Bordley has been married to Donna Bordley since 1977. The couple have three children: Austin, John and Claire. John won All-ACC honors in lacrosse for the University of Maryland while Claire was a first team All-American lacrosse player at the University of Virginia.
A founding member of the United States Rugby Football Union (USARFU) in 1975.
Served as USARFU's first president.
A founding member of the Midwest Rugby Football Union in 1964.
Served as the Midwest Rugby Union's first president.
Founded the University of Wisconsin Rugby Football Club in 1962.
Founded the Milwaukee Rugby Football Club in 1967.
Created the Inter-Territorial Tournament (ITTs) in 1976.
Vic Hilarov was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 26, 1932, to immigrant parents. He’s the son of a Costa Rican mother and a Russian father. He had a brother and sister, both of whom died in their 20s. Hilarov attended Evanston High School, just north of Chicago, where he played football, baseball, track and tennis. After high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated with advanced degrees. He then served as a medical liaison officer during the Korean Conflict. He was assigned to the Far East Command and was stationed in Tokyo, Japan, where he worked out of the Headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the Allied Forces during WW II. In Hilarov’s time in Japan, the building had become the 406th Medical General Laboratory.
By day he supervised an all-Japanese laboratory staff and by night he taught English to college students and business executives. During the weekends he divided his time between traveling with his Japanese friends and running for the Army track team in events throughout Japan.
Returning to the University of Wisconsin as an Instructor, Hilarov received a fellowship to attend the Université de Paris, to do research for his PhD in Comparative Literature. It was here that he was introduced to the sport of rugby, playing for the Paris University Club (le PUC). The introduction was fortuitous because the sport of rugby became an intrinsic part of his life.
Thanks to his new-found passion for rugby, Hilarov was determined to increase awareness of the sport in Wisconsin. In the spring of 1961, Hilarov and a team of University of Wisconsin athletes played the first game of rugby in the Midwest against a club from the University of Notre Dame. Wisconsin lost that first match when fullback, Jim Bakken, missed two penalty kicks from close range. This detail is significant only because Bakken went on to play a record 234 consecutive NFL games for the St. Louis Cardinals, making a record 7 field goals in one game in 1967.
The following fall of 1962 Hilarov founded the Wisconsin Rugby Club. He was president and captain of the team and with his English friend, Mike Frost, who played at Cambridge and the RAF, hunted out football players, track stars, and British ex-patriot rugby players on campus. He and Mike would travel on weekends to encourage other Big Ten Universities and city clubs to form teams and increase competition in the Midwest. Universities at Indiana, Illinois, Chicago and Chicago City (later the Chicago Lions) along with Notre Dame, Palmer College and Minnesota RFU would form the core of Wisconsin’s opponents.
In 1964 Hilarov founded the first Midwest Rugby Tournament in Chicago and in 1965 played with his Wisconsin team against Illinois at halftime of a Green Bay Packer game in Milwaukee.
Deciding that academics were too quiet, Hilarov moved on from the University of Wisconsin and started a series of successful travel companies. There was, however, always time for rugby. He founded the Milwaukee Rugby Football Club in 1967 and captained the side in their early years. The club would go on to be one of the top teams in the Midwest during the 70s and 80s and were crowned National Champions in 1985 and runners-up in 1988.
While Hilarov was respected off the playing field for his organizational skills and vision, he was also respected on the pitch for his powerful running, tackling prowess and a formidable right leg that could make conversions, penalties and drop goals from anywhere inside the halfway line.
Hilarov was a founding member and the first president of both the Midwest Rugby Football Union in 1964 and the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) in 1975. As USARFU President, Hilarov created the Inter-Territorial Tournament (ITTs) in 1976, which for years was used as the selection vehicle for the United States National Team, the Eagles. The Eagles would play their first four test matches during his term as President. With no money in the USARFU treasury, Hilarov was able to secure a six-figure sponsorship with Budweiser. This allowed the Union to pay for the ITTs and the first Eagle team to assemble in California to play against Australia.
On July 8, 1976, Hilarov represented the sport of rugby at a U.S. Bicentennial Dinner hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. Also in attendance were President and Betty Ford, Bob and Dolores Hope, Elizabeth Taylor and Secretary of the Navy, John Warner (later Taylor’s husband), Nelson and Happy Rockefeller, Muhammad Ali, along with diplomats, business leaders and other celebrities.
In 2006 the USA Rugby Board disbanded itself in order to create an independent Board of Directors made up of prominent business executives. There were 94 applicants from around the world and Hilarov was one of six chosen by a separate group of professional headhunters.
Hilarov’s professional life saw him travel the world as the head of several travel and management consulting companies. His clients were countries such as Japan, Canada and South Africa and major cities such as Cape Town, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Chicago and Minneapolis.
During his travel years Hilarov served as the Wisconsin President of American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), and Midwest Chairman of ASTA’s ethics committee. In addition, he was a Congressional Committee Board Member in Washington DC, and a Board Member for New York City Performing Arts groups from 2000-2012.
From 1990 to 1993 Hilarov lived on and off in South Africa to create a national professional basketball league in a sport that was unknown in South Africa except for four private clubs in the country. Hilarov hired a "commissioner", sold franchises and built scores of outdoor basketball courts, from abandoned tennis courts, in the townships. Today, 20 years later, thousands of kids and adults play basketball and a basketball league flourishes.
Hilarov continues to work on projects as a management consultant but during the last 13 years he created a second job where he researches, plans and escorts business relevant “adventures” for an international organization of CEOs to countries such as Cuba (twice), South Africa, China, Australia/New Zealand, India/Nepal/Tibet, Egypt/Oman/Dubai/Qatar, Vietnam/Cambodia/South Korea, Brazil and in 2013, Eastern Europe to the Czech Republic/Poland/Hungary.
Hilarov’s wife, Michele, died of cancer in 2004. As a lasting tribute to her, Hilarov travels internationally with his two daughters, two sons-in-law and seven grandchildren for two weeks every June to Costa Rica, Russia, Germany, South Africa, China, Morocco, Italy, Switzerland, England and France. Hilarov continues to golf, lift weights and play racquetball. He has stopped his 35 years of running, 1,000 to 1,500 miles per year, because of a replaced right knee in 2013. Knee replacement requires that running is no longer an option, however, Hilarov vows he’ll run again.
Hilarov hasn’t played rugby since ‘77 but his memories of this great sport and of his band of brothers will never be forgotten.
1. Played against France according to www.rugbyfootballhistory.com
2. Played against France according to Rudy Scholz correspondence.
DANIEL B. "DANNY" CARROLL (Playing Coach), Australia / Stanford University, Member of the gold medal 1908 Australia / New Zealand (combined) Olympic rugby team 1,2
GEORGE W. FISH, University of California 1,2
JAMES FITZPATRICK, Santa Clara University 2
JOHN MULDOON, Santa Clara University / Olympic Club 1,2
JOHN T. O'NEIL, Santa Clara University 1,2
JOHN C. "JACK" PATRICK, Stanford University 1,2
CORNELIUS E. "SWEDE" RIGHTER, Stanford University 1,2
RUDY SCHOLZ, Santa Clara University 1,2
ROBERT "DINK" TEMPLETON, Stanford University / Member US Track Team 1,2
CHARLES TILDEN, JR. (Captain), University of California 1,2
MORRIS KIRKSEY, Stanford University, Member US Track Team 1,2
CHARLES W. DOE, Stanford University 1,2
MATTHEW HAZELTINE, Stanford University / University of California, Played on the University of California 1912 and 1913 rugby teams, also played Stanford'also played Stanford's 1920-21 and 1921-22 rugby teams
JOSEPH GARVIN HUNTER, Beliston Club 1,2
COLBY "BABE" SLATER, UC Davis Farm / Olympic Club 1,2
HEATON WRENN, Stanford University 1
CHARLES T. "RED" MEEHAN, University of California 1,2
It was 1920, less than two years had passed since the end of WWI. A team of Californians, some of who had only recently returned from the war, set sail for Europe. Their destination was Antwerp, Belgium; the host of the 1920 Olympic Games, picked because of the devastation it had experienced in the war. The team’s mission, though most considered it futile, was to return as Rugby Olympic champions and bring home a gold medal.
The US would have to beat one team, France, in the final 80-minute game, set for Sunday, September 5th, 5:00pm. The favor laid with France. One year earlier, at the Inter-Allied Cup, France had won over the US with a score of 8-3.
A crowd of 20,000 spectators filled the Antwerp Stadium despite the rain; weather that caused a soggy field and slippery ball. Both sides showed discipline and patience in the first half, with little advancement by either team. The play remained bogged down, resulting in a halftime score of 0-0. With the start of the second half, the French team began to fumble the wet ball while the US was able to maintain their disciplined play. Weather, in addition to the American forwards easily out weighing their opponents, turned the play against France.
Recounting the second half of that hard-fought game, US player Rudy Scholz said: “Our backfield didn’t have one passing rush, but our defense was superb and Templeton [the last line of that defense at fullback] did not have one tackle to make.” In the middle of the half, with the US forwards powering to gain ground, Dink Templeton made a drop-kick from fifty-five yards. Score: 3-0.
In order to maintain their lead, the US had to continue to stifle France’s play. Kicking to advance the ball was not only safer in the wet conditions, but also seemed to panic the French. In the latter part of the half, through a disciplined and steady increase of pressure by the Americans, France fumbled the ball on their five-yard line. Joseph Hunter was there to retrieve it and score the only try of the game. Dink Templeton converted from a difficult angle and brought the score to 8-0*. In the remaining minutes of the match, the US continued to shut down France, resulting in victory and Olympic gold for the Americans.
*Rugby has evolved throughout the years, and in 1920 the scoring system was different than it is today. Three points were awarded for a drop goal, three points for a try and two points for a conversion.
1. Played in 1924 Games final vs France
2. Member of the 1920 Olympic Rugby Team
COLBY "BABE" SLATER (CAPTAIN), UC Davis Farm / Olympic Club 1
CHARLES DOE (VICE CAPTAIN), Stanford University 1,2
JOHN T. O'NEILL, Santa Clara University 1,2
JOSEPH GARVIN HUNTER, San Mateo High School / Beliston Club 2
JOHN C. "JACK" PATRICK, Stanford University 1,2
WILLIAM S. MULDOON, Santa Clara University 2
RUDY SCHOLZ, Santa Clara University 1,2
NORMAN CLEAVELAND, Stanford University 1
DUDLEY DE GROOT, Stanford University 1
LINN FARISH, Stanford University 1
WILLIAM "LEFTY" ROGERS, Stanford University 1
RICHARD "DICK" HYLAND, Stanford University 1
ROBERT H. DEVEREUX, Stanford University 1
CAESAR MANELLI, Santa Clara University 1
GEORGE DIXON, University of California 1
EDWARD GRAFF, University of California 1
ALAN VALENTINE, Swarthmore College / Oxford 1
The France vs. Romania rugby match was the opening event for the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. France was by far the favorite to take the gold metal, and they easily exerted their superiority over Romania with a win of 61-3. The US then played and beat Romania, 37-0. Reminiscent of the 1920 Olympics, France and the US would again face-off for the gold medal.
On the 18th of May, the atmosphere in Colombes stadium was hostile and unsettled. Hot rainy weather must have only increased the crowd's sour attitude, not to mention making the field and ball slippery for the match. A fence to keep the crowd from the pitch had been doubled in height since the last time the US team had seen the field, a disconcerting alteration that saved them from an all out riot.
For the coin toss, both team captains joined the Welsh referee, Albert Freethy. Slater suggested the game's halves be increased to 45 minutes, instead of the traditional 40 minutes. This was a psychological play to tell the French that his US team was confident in their superior fitness. Despite the French Captain's objection, Freethy ruled to extend the halves.
From the first play, the French crowd was unsportsmanlike. They hissed and booed any progress made by the US, cheered when an American was down or bleeding and their behavior only continued to escalate. It wasn't long before they were throwing debris at US players who approached the perimeter and even beating the few American spectators bloody and unconscious. It ultimately became a riot and by the end of the match, the Americans feared for their lives.
The US team chose to respond on the field. They would play clean and hard. Early in the first half, the American's size advantage allowed them to dominate line-outs. If it weren't for the slippery conditions, the US would have scored very early. Instead they struck when a French player fumbled just yards from their try line, and Linn Farish was there to retrieve it and dive over the line. No conversion was made due to the tricky angle, and the underdogs were ahead early 3-0*.
There was a key difference in the way Frenchmen and Americans played rugby, and that was their style of tackling. The US came from a culture of gridiron football, where hard tackles were commonplace and desirable. Bringing such hard hits to rugby was in direct conflict with the French perspective, who “believed that the art of bringing an opponent down was something to be executed with fitness, a defensive necessity which ought to result in as little pain as possible for both parties. Tooth-rattling tackles were deemed to be against the spirit of the game.”
“Lefty” Rogers, against the French superstar Adolphe Jaureguy, made the first big hit of the game. Jaureguy was seen as untouchable in the French rugby community, and seeing him writhing on the field incensed the crowd and the rest of the French team. After a few minutes, he recovered, but the play took a turn at that point. US player, De Groot described it:
“They turned to downright dirty playing. In the scrum they kicked us while we were down; when they tackled us they added nasty twists and pulls after we were fairly down and rid of the ball. But worst of all, the very thing which their newspapers had ‘roasted' us about before the games they were now guilty of, time and again; and that was use of fists and feet…”
US hooker, John O'Neil, only weighed 156lbs. He was surrounded by giants in the scrum and he relied more on spirit than strength when France's dirty play caused him substantial injuries. Through rough play, his shoulder was dislocated. When he returned a Frenchman stomped on his ankle, and when he still continued, O'Neil took a deliberate kick to the stomach. He had recently undergone an appendectomy, and the kick easily ripped open his fresh scar, leaving a seeping stomach wound. He was vital to the team and, after being quickly bandaged, returned to the pitch. The French crowd's cheers at the sight of his blood only further enraged his fighting spirit.
Showing discipline and tremendous composure, the American team held back from retaliating, but they continued their style of hard tackling. Rogers again took down Jaureguy with a rattling hit, and again he stayed down for a while before returning to the game.
Ten minutes before halftime, Jaureguy was preparing for a fast break. He was known for his speed, and had he managed to reach his full stride, would have likely scored, but Valentine was able to make a diving tackle. Hit with such force, the Frenchman was knocked out and his upper lip was split. Carried off the field in a stretcher, the French superstar did not return for the rest of the game. His team was forced to play with only fourteen men.
At halftime the score was 3-0.
Second half play was initially dominated by the Americans, with nearly all of the action occurring in France's territory. Play was interrupted by a fistfight on the field, and when it resumed, there was a near try by France. A hard US tackle knocked the ball free, allowing Doe to kick it down field. Through heavy pressure, the US gained possession and Jack Patrick made the second try of the match, directly between the posts. The score became 8-0.
There were two more near US tries in quick succession. Both were disallowed, seen as a likely attempt to keep the unruly spectators for exploding into even greater violence. Then, with a forty-yard twisting run, Farrish scored again, making it 11-0.
In what may have been an American-football-like block, a French player dislocated his knee-cap. The French team was down another man, playing with just thirteen. Enraged, some French players chose to favor openly foul play. The US Captain, ‘Babe' Slater, was the target of blatant punches on several occasions. The referee threw the transgressing Frenchmen off the field, but in all three cases, due to Slater's pleas, they were allowed to return. Slater was trying to preserve France's numbers, otherwise they would have had just eleven men on the field.
US defense temporarily cracked, and France scored their only try without converting.
Rogers and Manelli each scored tries for the US, and when the last whistle was blown, the final score was 17-3. The US was again able to overcome the odds and win gold medals.
*Rugby has evolved throughout the years, and in 1924 the scoring system was different than it is today. Three points were awarded for a drop goal, three points for a try and two points for a conversion.