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.
He accepted a football scholarship at the University of California, where he starred in football and rugby for the Golden Bears.
Was a starting lock on the World Overseas XV team that played the Welsh National Team during its centennial celebration in Cardiff in 1980.
Has won 24 national collegiate championships since becoming the head coach at Cal in 1984.
Has produced 126 All-Americans, 36 players who have played for the U.S. National Team, five players who have earned 10 Varsity Blues competing for Oxford University against Cambridge as graduate students.
Exited the 2014 spring season with an all-time collegiate coaching record, all with Cal, of 577-74-5 (.879) in 15s and 65-13 (.833) in 7s.
A sixth-generation Californian and three-sport standout in football, basketball and track & field at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Jack Clark was an All-America tackle at Orange Coast Junior College before accepting a football scholarship at the University of California, where he starred in football and rugby for the Golden Bears. Clark was a lock on the U.S. National Team before embarking on a coaching career that has included more victories than any other head coach in the history of the USA Eagles in addition to 23 national collegiate championships since becoming the head coach at Cal in 1984.
Clark, who as of the end of summer 2014 has led the Bears to 22 national collegiate titles in 15s and two collegiate 7s titles, has produced 126 All-Americans, 36 players who have played for the U.S. National Team, five players who have earned 10 Varsity Blues competing for Oxford University against Cambridge as graduate students and three who have received residency contracts from the U.S. Olympic Committee. He exited the 2014 summer season with an all-time collegiate coaching record, all with Cal, of 577-74-5 (.879) in 15s and 65-13 (.833) in 7s.
Clark joined the Cal coaching staff in 1982 as an assistant to Ned Anderson and became the program’s sixth head coach in team history in 1984. Since that time, Clark’s Cal teams have achieved a 9-3 record against Brigham Young University, including five national collegiate championships vs. BYU since 2006; an impressive combined record of 34-1 against rugby powerhouses Army, Navy and Air Force in the 15-a-side game; and won 14 of the last 18 “World Cup” series, including eight of past 10, vs. University of British Columbia. The Bears under Clark went on a domestic winning streak of 98 games from 1990-96 and a 70-game tear that lasted until 2003. Cal then put together a winning streak over U.S. collegiate competition that lasted 115 matches between April 2004 and May 2009 and followed that with a streak in 15s of 63 straight matches that ran from opening day in 2010 through Feb. 18, 2012.
After his football and rugby career at Cal was followed in 1978 by a professional contract with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, Clark continued his rugby playing career with post-collegiate campaigns for the senior club national champion Old Blues RFC and the U.S. National Team, earning Most Valuable Player honors at the 1979 U.S. National Team Trials and Territorial Championships. Clark’s play as a U.S. international earned him a starting spot as a lock on the World Overseas XV team that played the Welsh National Team during its centennial celebration in Cardiff in 1980. An off-the-field injury ended Clark’s athletic career and he joined the Cal coaching staff two years later.
Clark is recognized as the founder of the U.S. Collegiate All-American Team, which he coached from 1987-92 and managed from 2001-03. He was also head coach of the U.S. National Team from 1993-99, during which time the United States won 16 international test matches, the most victories ever by a U.S. national team coach.
As the General Manager of the national team while head coach and continuing in that role until 2003, Clark oversaw all aspects of USA Rugby’s flagship program. Throughout his entire tenure as GM he also handled the dual role of Business Development Director, successfully originating landmark broadcasting and sponsorship agreements which established the national team as a self-sufficient entity that contributed significantly to the national governing body, USA Rugby. Clark represented the U.S. in the founding of both the Pacific Rim Championships in 1996 and Super Power Cup in 2003, and successfully negotiated many incoming and outgoing international tours.
In a singular honor, Clark delivered the keynote address at the International Rugby Board’s Conference on the Game 1998. In 2000, he was chosen one of Cal’s Ten Most Influential Sports Figures of the 20th Century, joining legendary Cal Hall of Fame coaches Carrol “Ky” Ebright, Brutus Hamilton, Pete Newell and Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf on the honor roll. Clark was also the recipient in 2001 of the Craig Sweeney Award, which is bestowed to former U.S. internationals for their “significant contribution to the game.
An unprecedented series of events in 2002 saw Clark courted by the iconic English professional rugby club Bath to become its head coach and Director of Rugby. The Daily Telegraph and Western Daily Mail reported that “an offer was on the table,” followed by a report on erugbynews.com that quoted Bath general manager Bob Calleja stating, “Jack Clark is an impressive candidate for the director of rugby post and arguably, given his background, he may be a better prospect as a chief executive.” Clark ultimately declined Bath’s offer and recommitted to his University and American rugby.
“We are extremely happy and relieved to learn of Jack’s decision,” said Cal’s then-Director of Athletics Steve Gladstone in an April 2002 statement. “One of our highest priorities for Cal Athletics is to attract and retain the best coaches in the country, and Jack Clark certainly is a prime example.”
Two years earlier, another former Director of Athletics at Cal, John Kasser, was quoted in a campus article titled “Master Craftsman,” saying, “Jack Clark could coach any Cal team to a national championship, he just happens to coach rugby.”
Clark was centrally involved in rallying the Cal faithful to fund the construction of Witter Rugby Field and the Doc Hudson Rugby Fieldhouse in Strawberry Canyon. Most importantly, he has been instrumental in largely endowing the sport of rugby on campus at the University.
In addition to his national-team and Cal coaching, Clark has also served as head coach of the All-Marine rugby team, which he led to the silver medal in 2006 at the Armed Forces Rugby Championship at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
With his entry into the U.S Rugby Hall of Fame, Clark joins former Golden Bears coach Miles “Doc” Hudson, who led the program from 1938-74; Pat Vincent, the New Zealand All Black who played for the Blue and Gold in 1957; Colby “Babe” Slater, a two-time Olympic gold medalist; and seven other Cal players – Charles Tilden, James Winston, Matt Hazeltine, George Fish, Charles Meehan, George Dixon and Ed Graff – whose 1920 and 1924 USA Olympic gold-medal teams were previously inducted.
Was a member of the U.S. Eagles at lock for a decade, from 1985-1994, including appearances in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups.
He served as Eagles Captain from 1991-1994; and was the captain of the Eagles side vs. New Zealand and England in the 1991 RWC.
His performance in the 1991 RWC led to an invitation to play with the prestigious Barbarians XV in 1992.
At the time of his retirement from Eagles play in 2000, after a singular 21-year American rugby career, he was the most capped (36) player in his country’s history.
Kevin Swords has conducted his life in a manner that has been an exemplary credit to his family and to his country. He served his country in the United States Air Force for a decade, from 1982 to 1992, attaining the rank of captain. And he especially has been a credit to the reputation and advancement of the sport of amateur rugby in the United States.
He represented his country in rugby as a member of the U.S. Eagles national team at lock for a decade, from 1985-1994, including tours of Japan (a 1985 victory over Japan in his inaugural Eagles match, and 1990), Wales (1987), USSR (1988), Uruguay and Argentina (1989 and 1994) and Australia (1990).
The highlight of Swords career included appearances for the United States in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups in, respectively, Australia and England. As testament to his character and leadership, Kevin was chosen and privileged to serve as the Eagles’ Captain from 1991-1994; and was the captain of the U.S.A. side vs. New Zealand and England in the 1991 RWC.
A renowned and respected American international, Kevin in the 1991 RWC was named Man of the Match vs the All Blacks by the Gloucester Journal; and his play vs RWC host England on the exalted pitch at Twickenham led one London newspaper to place him on their World XV. His performance at that 1991 RWC earned him an invitation to play with the prestigious Barbarians XV on their 1992 Easter tour of Wales, where he competed against the legendary Welsh sides of Cardiff and Swansea. He scored a try vs Swansea.
In a Fall 1993 issue, Sports Illustrated named Swords its Athlete of the Month, and noted, "… Kevin Swords is America's most accomplished rugby player, ever." At the time of his retirement from Eagles play, he was the most capped (36) player in his country’s history.
One of a family of rugby brothers (John (Holy Cross), Brendan (Holy Cross & Combined Services), Brian (Holy Cross, Beacon Hill & 3-time US Eagle), Kevin’s rugby career began with four years of collegiate rugby (1979-82) at Holy Cross, then club rugby with Washington RFC (1982-86) and Beacon Hill RFC (1987-94). He played for and captained the United States Combined Services (USCS) Select Rugby Side from 1984 to 1992, including their tours to England (1984 and 1986), Germany (1988), Australia (1990), and Wales (1992).
But it would be when he joined the Old Blue RFC in 1995 that he would embark upon the greatest success of his club rugby career, as he proved the precipitating force on the renowned New York City side that went on to a string of victories and men’s club D-I & Super League Finals over the remainder of the decade; and by which Swords was able to cap a singular 21-year American rugby career in 2000. He and his Old Blue teammates in that span of time reached the Elite Eight in 1996; both the Men’s D-I and Super League Finals in 1997 and again in 1998 (as the only side ever to reach both finals in the same year in consecutive years.); and the Men’s D-I Final Four in 1999.
Swords also played for the Eastern Rugby Union Territorial Select side (1984-1992), and won the U.S. All Star XVs Championship four times (1984, 1989-91). At one time or another, he also served as captain of the ERU and Northeast Rugby Union Territorial XVs; the MARFU, NERFU, and Met NY LAU Select XVs; and Beacon Hill RFC.
Among his many additional rugby honors are induction into the Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame (Rugby, 2002); Old Blue Foundation Hall of Fame (2009); Harp Super League All-Star Select (1997 and 1998); Harp Super League Leading Try Scorer (1998); Old Blue Best Forward (Spring 1998).
A graduate of Holy Cross College (BA, 1982) and the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School (MS in Management, 1994), he has been a municipal bond trader at Merrill Lynch (1994 - present). In addition to developing his career at Merrill, Kevin continues to promote amateur rugby, consistent with the stated mission of the USRF itself. He and wife Pam stay involved in coaching and managing rugby; and all four of their children, Megan, Jack, Grace and Michael, have played the sport. He is a volunteer and coach of the Ridgewood Area Youth Association, a local youth rugby program in the northern New Jersey area. It offers developmental programs for boys and girls from kindergarten through the 9th grade, with four progressively more advanced levels of rugby development by age group.
Just prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Swords was interviewed by Total Rugby on British TV to discuss the Eagle's 1991 RWC matches twenty years earlier. To view the entire interview of Kevin’s perspective as the American captain of that experience, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOU0ko1XAuk
Got his first actual taste of playing rugby in 1972 when he joined the Ft. Worth Rugby Club while attending Texas Christian University.
Was selected at flanker for the Eastern Rugby Union in the first match of France’s 1976 USA Tour, opposite the great Jean-Pierre Rives.
Was the hooker reserve in the U.S. Eagles second match of the modern era, against France in 1977, having never played hooker before.
Earned seven caps for the Eagles during his playing career and toured with the Eagles on their first three tours abroad to England (1977), Australia (1983) and Japan (1985).
Jay played with the San Francisco Rugby Club (now known as San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club) from 1976-1990.
Is a co-coach for the Sierra Foothills Collegiate rugby team and also served as an assistant coach for the Northern California Small College Select Side.
Jay Hanson was drawn to rugby while in high school at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, MD. Although Walter Johnson didn’t have a high school rugby program, neighboring high school Walt Whitman High School did. Jay was attracted to rugby by the "battle nature of the sport.” He liked the fact that “players stayed on the field all the time, no time outs, no squad changes for offense or defense. It was an Elegant Violence that called to me and I could see that the sport challenged an athlete's relentless pursuit for possession of the ball with the intent to score as a team from any place on the field.”
Jay finally got his first actual taste of playing rugby in 1972 when he joined the Ft. Worth Rugby Club while attending Texas Christian University. He enjoyed those early rugby days in Texas. “It was more of a cultural experience than just a sport when we traveled to play other teams in other cities and the social nature of the sport. Many of the teams, including Ft. Worth, had players from all over the world.”
By now, rugby was in Jay’s bloodstream. His goal was to find a job, but a job that allowed him the time to pursue his dream of being the best rugby player that he could be. He joined the Montgomery Rugby Club in Silver Spring, MD in the Spring of 1975. Later that year he joined the Washington Rugby Club in Washington, DC.
In 1976, France, fresh off a Five Nations Championship, toured the United States. Jay was selected at flanker for the Eastern Rugby Union in the first match of France’s USA Tour. Opposite him that day at the tail of the lineout was none other than Jean-Pierre Rives, one of the best flankers in the world and as Jay put it, “we played with open aggression from the opening whistle.”
Late in the first half, Jay snapped up a loose tap down from a French lineout, charged through a tackle attempt, and fed teammate Mike Sherlock. The loosehead prop charged down the blind side for the game’s first score. The score stood and at the halfway mark the scoreboard read ERU 6, France 0. Jay recalls the moment as if it happened yesterday.
“I clearly remember Ed Lee (Eastern Rugby Union Manager) running onto the field at the half with tears glistening in his eyes. He said, "This is the greatest day in American rugby I have ever seen. Do you know what you guys are doing? You are beating France! Simply amazing."
France went ahead in the second half when they fed their tall, lanky, young winger, a guy named Serge Blanco, and ended up winning the game 12 to 6. But Jay will never forget the look on Ed Lee's face that day...simply joyful.
While the ERU lost the game, that match earned Jay his first look with the U.S. National Team as they prepared for their first test of the modern era. “Even though I was not selected for the Eagles to play against Australia I stayed around the whole week prior to the game and met all the players and coaches. It was at that time that the Eagles coach, Dennis Storer, suggested that I switch over to hooker.”
Soon after, Jay was asked to join the Eagles assembly in Chicago for the Eagles vs France game as reserve hooker behind Morris O'Donnell. “I had never played a game at hooker at that time. Undaunted, I was ready to go in if needed.”
Moving to hooker was not Jay’s only move in 1976. Motivated “to play rugby in the best rugby environment in America at that time, Northern California,” he moved to San Francisco and the San Francisco Rugby Club. There, he faced weekly “tough schoolings” playing against the BATS, Seahawks, Sacramento Capitals, Paxos, and of course, the Old Blues from Berkeley. “The Old Blues Jeff Hollings was a keen competitor at hooker and I had to learn and thrive in order to survive in the front row. I am thankful that I had such a skilled adversary in Jeff and we stayed respectful competitors for many years. Johnny Everett, who followed in his wake for the Old Blues, was just as talented and passionate. I was blessed with superior competitors.”
Jay played with the San Francisco Rugby Club (now known as San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club) from 1976-1990.
Jay earned seven caps for the Eagles during his playing career which went from 1976-1985. He toured with the Eagles on their first three tours abroad to England (1977), Australia (1983) and Japan (1985).
He played for the Northern California Pelicans select side from 1976 to 1985 and represented the Pacific Coast Grizzlies from 1977 to 1985.
While he continued to play club rugby until 1990, Jay retired from competitive select side rugby after the 1985 Eagles Tour to Japan.
Jay started coaching rugby while he was still an active player. He coached the Northern California High School champions, the Mission High School rugby team, from 1978 to 1980. In the early 1980s, Jay coached the newly formed San Francisco Women’s Rugby Club. He coached the San Francisco Rugby Club in 1986-87 and was the Pacific Coast Grizzlies assistant coach when they won the Inter-Territorial Tournament in 1988. Jay also coached the Northern California Pelicans in the late 1980s.
Jay most recently helped organize and coach various age-grade levels at the Sierra Foothills Rugby Club and is a co-coach for the Sierra Foothills Collegiate rugby team. This past year he also served as an assistant coach for the Northern California Small College Select Side.
He was the president of the Sacramento Valley Youth Rugby Organization from 2010-11 and sat on the Board of Directors of the Northern California Youth Rugby Association in 2010-11.
Jay has been in the Hearth Products industry (fireplaces, wood stoves, gas logs and Barbeques) since 1980. He created and operates his own sales agency and distribution company, Sierra Marketing Associates Inc., and has served on the Board of Directors for both the Western Regional Trade Association and the National Trade Association of the Hearth Products and Barbeque Association (HPBA) for over 30 years.
Was a three-sport star at the Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio, excelling in football, basketball and track and was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Played fullback for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats.
Played for the Eastern Rugby Union and later served as the ERU’s president.
Played in a total of five test matches for the Eagles, including the first three games the Eagles ever played, against Australia, France and Canada.
Founded the Windhover Rugby Football Club in 1982 and created Windhover Park in Rexford, NY, developing 110 acres with 10 full-size rugby fields.
Little did Tom Selfridge know that a trip to the hardware store to buy paint in the summer of 1969 would alter the rest of his life. It was there that Tom met George Stephenson, who was a member of the Cleveland Blues Rugby Club. Tom accepted George’s offer to come try out for the Blues, and over the course of the next 35 years, Tom became an integral part of rugby in America.
Tom was always athletic. He was a three-sport star at the Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio, excelling in football, basketball and track and was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. He graduated in 1968 from the University of Cincinnati where he also played fullback for the Bearcats football team.
Tom moved between wing and center on the very strong Cleveland Blues team of the late 1960s and early 70s, winning 95% of all their games. In 1971, Tom was elected president of the Blues, his first in a long line of administrative positions.
In 1973 Tom moved to Schenectady, New York, and played for the Schenectady Reds. With higher levels of competition from the Upstate New York, New England and Met New York Clubs, Tom’s game continued to improve. The Reds moved him to the #8 position and named him captain of a side that could compete with the best in the Northeast. Under Tom, the Reds went on a 24-game winning streak, capturing several tournament titles along the way.
With the formation of the Eastern Rugby Union in 1975, Tom not only soon found his way into the Colonials side but he was also elected to the ERU Board of Directors, helping organize the rapidly growing sport of rugby in Upstate New York. In 1980, he was elected president of the ERU and would oversee a continued growth of rugby in the East, with budgets going from under $20,000 for each of the 12 sub-unions of the ERU to over $200,000 annually. While president of the ERU, and amid much controversy, Tom also oversaw and organized the South Africa Springboks matches against the ERU and United States in 1981.
The United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) was also formed in 1975 and along with it, the National Rugby Team, known as the Eagles, was also created. The following year, the first Inter-Territorial Tournament (ITT) was held, matching the best players from the four USARFU territories to compete for selections to the Eagles.
After a week of evaluations, the first USA team of the modern era was named and Tom was not only on the list but was named as the starting #8 against Australia. Tom was one of only three ERU players, the others being Rob Bordley and Gary Brackett, to break into the side dominated by the exceptional players from the Pacific Coast.
Tom would play in a total of five test matches for the Eagles, including the first three games the Eagles ever played, against Australia, France and Canada. He also won caps against Wales XV and a second against Canada.
He captained the Albany Knicks in 1979 before Founding the Windhover RFC in 1982, where he was also captain and coach. Tom created Windhover Park in Rexford, NY, developing 110 acres with 10 full-size rugby fields that played host to a number of major U.S. rugby events, including the U.S. National Club Championships, the ITTs, and ERU and Upstate Rugby Union Tournaments.
Tom was part of several U.S. Eagles, U.S. Cougars and ERU touring sides. When his distinguished and long playing career came to an end, his last match playing for the Albany Knicks vs Boston in an Over 40s match, he had played in 732 matches in 19 states and 10 countries.
Dick Donelli, at the time of his passing, age 73, had given more than half a century of his life to the advancement of the game. His was a profound influence, as a leader, innovator, coach and administrator. One of the greatest American rugby players of his era and arguably the best scrumhalf in the country, Donelli was the face of an Old Blue that developed an almost mythic reputation in the 1960s. Before there was a US Eagles, he was the scrumhalf in three matches in NYC vs international powers: the stunning 12-11 upset against Fiji (’70), against Australia (’71), and New Zealand (’72).
Dick Donelli, at the time of his passing on July 11, 2011 at the age of 73, had given more than half a century of his life to the advancement of the game. His was a profound influence, as one of America’s premier ruggers, and as a leader, innovator, coach and administrator.
A graduate of the College of Columbia University (’59) and of Columbia Dental School (’63), the worthy son of Aldo “Buff” Donelli (who coached Columbia University to its only Ivy football championship in 1961) would become acquainted with the members of that championship team as their senior quarterback in their freshman season, as a residence dorm counselor and subsequently as their backs coach. Their shared passion for winning and total commitment in football would come to define the unprecedented success of a newly founded Columbia University RFC (est. 1961). Donelli served as both the President and Captain of the CURFC (1962-63); and, as their scrumhalf, led the Lions to an undefeated 12-0 season in the Spring of 1963. He is unquestionably the greatest CURFC player of its first half-century.
Donelli, along with five other former Columbia football alumni, was a co-founder of the Old Blue RFC in the fall of 1963. A member of the Old Blue Hall of Fame, he was the club’s inaugural President (1963-64) and its second Captain (1964-65).
For the next 48 years, his identity and that of the renowned Old Blue were virtually indistinguishable. His was a personality larger than life. His character was such as to make him a force of nature. To the Old Blue family he seemed indestructible, immortal; and his loss thus all the more incomprehensible to all who knew him. Donelli was possessed of the greatest competitive spirit – he viscerally hated to lose, with a devotion to the sport that had almost religious overtones.
His supreme confidence, determination, psychological strength, physical ability, fitness, abandon and unrelenting aggressiveness on the pitch made him the immediate star and imperial leader of the OBRFC. One of the greatest American rugby players of his era and arguably the best scrumhalf in the country, Donelli was the face of an OBRFC that developed an almost mythic reputation in the 1960s. He personified the uniquely American and intense style of play that came to characterize the club and which placed it at the forefront of American rugby.
In 1963, there was no USA Rugby. There was no US Eagles national team. It was in this period that Donelli led his teammates in their unforgiving efforts on the pitch and defined the Old Blue tradition. In this period they established for the OBRFC a standard of exceptionalism informed by their combined Columbia-Old Blue experience in formal spring league competition. In the continuum of those early winning streaks from collegiate to club rugby (1962-65), Donelli and his co-Founders did not know loss. They were undefeated in 54 games, with a 52-0-2 record. In those 54 matches, Dick and his teammates shut out the opposition no less than 32 times, and yielded but a single score in 13 more.
In an era when there were no substitutions whatsoever, in a game that was brutally elemental, and no national club championships, Donelli’s Old Blue embraced the elegant violence like a breath of fresh air; and clubs focused on winning LAU titles and prestigious regional tournaments. After their extraordinary undefeated inaugural 1964 season and first ERU championship, Donelli led them to three more ERU Championships in six years, undefeated five times in 11 seasons, and won the Met NY Union LAU title six times, including the inaugural Met NY Union Championship in 1967.
In 1969 Dick scored the game’s only try in an epic Old Blue 11-6 upset victory over a touring London Saracens side; and his Old Blue beat foreign touring sides, including the Montreal Barbarians, Toronto Nomads, Clifton (Eng), Llandaff (Wales), when it was a rarity for an American club to do so. They also won every prestigious Eastern tournament, five in all, as the decade came to a close.
Dick was an exceptional 7s player and a ferocious defender. In November 1963, in their inaugural competition as a club, he and Old Blue swept through the field to go 5-0 and win the New York 7s championship. They shut out all five opponents in a display of relentless defense, then went on to repeat the feat with five more shutouts to win the 1964 NY 7s a second straight time, an accomplishment of unthinkable proportions. Ultimately, with another title in 1966, Old Blue won three NY 7s championships in four years, with fourteen shutouts in fifteen matches, yielding a single try.
He was a big scrumhalf for his era and played defense more like a flanker. But it was his skills on offense and his method of passing that first gained him international recognition on the historic OBRFC 6-3 tour of Great Britain in 1966. Dick had developed a one-handed spin pass to put the ball into play faster, farther and more accurately, when it was gospel worldwide to use solely a two-handed flat or dive pass. He was able to get the ball out more quickly to the backline and to the centers, if he wished. Donelli was the star of the tour and every team that saw his pass and play recruited him to play for them. All Blacks coach Jack Sullivan coached the club for their tour, and on his suggestion, the All Blacks visited the Old Blue the next year on their way to the UK. Donelli displayed his pass for Kiwi coach Fred Allen and his famous scrumhalf, Chris Laidlaw, who switched to the spin pass subsequently, and it soon became universally employed worldwide.
On a club with no shortage of very tough men, over fifty years, he was the toughest. After a collegiate football career and nine years of rugby at the highest levels in the United States, he discovered in 1969 that he had been competing with a congenital heart condition: a hole between two chambers of his heart. Eight weeks later he was wearing a Teflon patch in his heart. He was playing rugby within four months of that diagnosis; and, just 18 months after open heart surgery, played for the NY Met Union All Stars in the stunning 12-11 upset against Fiji. The man ultimately played rugby with a pacemaker for over a decade.
Donelli subsequently played against the best teams in the world: He played for, and coached, an ERU side the next year against the Australian Wallabies, and in October 1972 played for and coached the NY Met Union side against the great New Zealand All Blacks, in a 9-41 result that compares favorably to the result of any US side to date. In the Rugby Magazine October 1984 issue, Kiwi coach Jack Sullivan was quoted by Bill Smith, NY Times Financial and Business writer, as saying: "If Dick Donelli had moved to New Zealand, he would have taken Chris Laidlaw's job in six months." Laidlaw, the All Blacks scrumhalf at the time, was considered the best in the world. No American scrumhalf - and no American player ever - has yet had such an endorsement; Donelli’s health challenges notwithstanding.
As an administrator, Donelli served as the Vice President of the NY Met Union (1976-77). He served as Chairman of the Old Blue Rugby Foundation, which was created to support the OBRFC and rugby, and when there was an organizational restructuring, became the first Chairman of the Board of the Old Blue. He made the club solvent through its Endowment and created the Foundation’s Annual Hall of Fame Dinner/Fundraiser. He insured financial support for the Columbia rugby program, and for youth rugby through Play Rugby USA. It was his support that led to specific sponsorship of the E.A. Reynolds West Side High School, a last-chance school for students who dropped out of the system multiple times. Old Blue adopted the team; and the impact of their rugby experience and formal identification with Old Blue has been nothing short of life changing for these teens, according to PRUSA founder and former OB Eagle hooker Mark Griffin.
Dr. Donelli was preeminent in his profession, with over 3,000 hours of postgraduate education course time, and with innumerable certifications and dental association memberships. The passion Dr. Dick Donelli carried to all things he touched was evidenced in his practice: he was beloved by his devoted long-serving staff and his patients alike. For all of his larger than life and often intimidating expressiveness, he was in truth a most sensitive, considerate and loyal man, firstly to his family and then to the Old Blue RFC and his teammates.
Dr. Donelli fiercely opposed self promotion and always understated his achievements; and, in a private endeavor unknown to most of his rugby friends until after his passing, he provided pro bono professional services and financial support to the Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, NY, a specialty children’s hospital dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with complex medical illnesses. He absolutely loathed any talk of credit and attention to his efforts; and, as wife Kathleen noted, he played rugby and lived for the moment, not for such opinions. Dick is survived as well by his five children, Tiffani, Jacqueline, Kerry, Nicole and Charles.
To view a Memorial Tribute Video to Dr. Dick Donelli, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-ucCCIwJ4c
Was part of a group that founded the Quad City Rugby Club in Davenport, Iowa in 1964 and another group that founded the Denver Barbarians RFC in 1967.
Was elected as the first president of the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union.
Was co-founder of the Aspen Ruggerfest in 1968 and served as the Tournament Chairman for the first 4 years.
Was elected to the first ever Board of Directors of the USARFU. He stayed on the Board until 1999 and while on the Board he served as Treasurer from 1983 to 1987 and as President from 1987 to 1989.
Terry Fleener was introduced to the sport of rugby in 1964 when he and a group of fellow aerospace engineers founded the Quad City Rugby Club in Davenport, IA. It was the need to stay fit and the social aspect of the game that initially drew Terry to rugby. There was plenty of local opposition for the Quad City club as Davenport is the home of Palmer College and they were the best in the Midwest at the time.
As a player, every away game in the Midwest was a tour. With the exception of Palmer College, Quad City’s nearest competition was Chicago (200 miles); Madison, WI (250 miles); St Louis, MO (300 miles).
Terry played with Quad City until he relocated to Colorado. The first thing he did upon setting foot on Colorado soil was to look for a rugby club. He hooked up with one of the only two rugby teams in the state, the University of Colorado rugby team.
He played a couple of rugby matches with the University of Colorado before some lacrosse players with the Denver Lacrosse Club, along with a few interested rugby players in the area, wanted to create a third Colorado rugby club. And seeing as they needed players, Terry started playing with them. In the Fall of 1967, the band of rugby players formally organized the club as the Denver Barbarians.
Terry had represented the Quad City Club at the Midwest Rugby Union Meeting in Chicago in 1967 so he had some knowledge of how rugby organizations were set up. That experience would come in handy for in December of 1967, a meeting was arranged to organize rugby in Colorado.
Two significant things came about as a result of the meeting; the organization would be known as the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union and Terry Fleener was elected as the first president of the ERRFU, an office he held for four years.
In the winter of 1967-1968, Terry and another rugby fanatic, Al Osur, were on a ski trip in Aspen, CO. During a long week of skiing, the two determined that Aspen would be an ideal place to have a rugby tournament. The two, with the help of the Aspen Chamber of Commerce, set the date for the first Aspen Ruggerfest in October of 1968. Terry served as the Tournament Chairman for the first 4 years.
With Terry representing the Eastern Rockies, he and representatives from Texas, Utah, the Heart of America (Western Missouri and OK), the Ozarks, and the Missouri RFU met in Kansas City in early 1975 and formed the Western Rugby Union. Terry was on the first Board of Directors for the newly formed Western Rugby Union.
Later, in June of 1975, representatives of the four regional organizations (Eastern Rugby Union, Midwest Rugby Union, Western Rugby Union and the Pacific Coast Rugby Union) gathered in Chicago to form the USA Rugby Football Union. Terry represented the Western RFU and was elected to the first ever Board of Directors of the USARFU. He stayed on the Board until 1999. While on the Board he served as Treasurer from 1983 to 1987 and as President from 1987 to 1989.
Although he was no longer President of USARFU, Terry was still heavily involved with the game. In 1992, Terry was elected president of the newly formed Pan American Rugby Association. In 1996, Terry was appointed the USA Rugby representative to the Pacific Rim Championship and in 1999 he was on the founding Board of Directors for the North American West Indies Rugby Association.
In 2004, Terry joined the Board of Directors of the United States Rugby Foundation, a position he continues to hold today. Terry also continues to serve as a Trustee of the Green and White Rugby Trust, the non-profit arm of the Denver Barbarians Rugby Football Club. And he’s also been to every Rugby World Cup as a spectator.
Terry knows that the game he has been heavily involved in for 50 years will continue to grow.
“Seeing little kids playing the game from Hong Kong to the valleys of Wales and in the United States assures me the sport will carry on for many years. The lessons the sport teaches are very important, but the most unique thing about rugby is the people that are involved. I have made many wonderful lifelong friends and those friendships transcend geography, nationality, race, age, gender, and all of the other characteristics that define a human.”
Outside of rugby, Terry is also a member of Engineers Without Borders and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
In 1999 Terry retired as Director of Marketing for Ball Aerospace, a company in Colorado developing products for the civilian and military Space Programs.
His playing career ended at the age of 22 when he damaged his knee and had both cartilages removed. That’s when he turned to coaching.
Came to the United States in 1972 on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Coached the Old Blues of Berkeley, California to the first five U.S. National Club Championship titles.
Was appointed head coach of the United States National Team, the Eagles, in 1982. He held that role thru the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.
Was on USA Rugby’s first National Technical and Development Committee and the National Technical Panel.
Ron Mayes rugby playing career began with age group rugby (6 through12) with the Waitemata rugby club in Henderson, New Zealand. His high school rugby was with Kelston Boy’s High School culminating with two years on the 1st XV. He played three years for the University Engineering School team in the Counties competition in New Zealand with the last year playing for the 1st division team. His playing career ended at the end of that season at the age of 22 when he damaged his knee and had both cartilages removed.
Ron Mayes coached 2nd grade rugby for two years in the Auckland competition before coming to the United States in 1972 on a Fulbright Scholarship to perform post-doctoral research at the Earthquake Engineering Research Center at UC Berkeley.
In 1974, two years after the formation of the Berkeley Old Blues by Tom Trutner, Ned Anderson and John Hanson, Ron was asked to help coach the team with Steve Finau. In 1975, he was appointed the coach and held that position through 1983, working with Jeff Hollings as captain and co-coach. During that time the Old Blues gradually got better and won their first Northern California Club Championship in 1977 and their first Monterey tournament in 1978. They embarked on several Canadian trips beating James Bay, Canada’s top club team, twice in three years. In 1979 the first U.S. National Club Championship was held and the Old Blues were the inaugural champions after two overtime victories. The Old Blues went on to win five National Club Championships while Ron was their coach. In 1980 the Old Blues toured New Zealand playing the top club in each city on the tour. The only loss of the tour was to Takapuna during a cyclone that hit Auckland that day.
In 1976, Ron was appointed coach of the Northern California representative team, the Pelicans, and in 1978 was appointed the coach of Pacific Coast representative team, the Grizzlies, and held both positions through 1982. Ron’s assistant coach for both the Pelican’s and Grizzlies was Rod Sears. In late 1982, Ron was appointed head coach of the United States National Team, the Eagles, a position he held through the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. George Betzler was Ron’s assistant coach throughout his five year tenure as Eagles coach.
The Eagles had two overseas tours during Ron’s tenure, one to Australia in 1983 and the other to Japan in 1985. The Australian Tour was a success despite the large loss to Australia, who had just returned from an unbeaten Tour of the British Isles. The Eagles narrowly lost to both NSW (13-9) and Queensland (14-10) but won three other games (Western Australia, Victoria and NSW Country) before losing to Australia (49-3).
The Japan tour was also a success as the Eagles won all six of their matches on tour, including the Eagles first test match against Japan (16-15).
The first Rugby World Cup in Australia in 1987 had the Eagles grouped with England, Australia and Japan. The Eagles beat Japan (21-18) but lost to both Australia (47-12) and England (33-9). Ron was 12-9-1 as the Eagles head coach.
Ron was one of many that were involved in the technical development side of U.S.A. Rugby in two different time periods. The first was when he was appointed coach of the Eagles. He, along with Jim Perkins and 24 others, formed the first National Technical and Development Committee (NTDC). This included all four of the territorial coaches and selectors plus many others. It was responsible for the first U.S. coaching clinics and certifications, and player development programs. It included significant co-ordination between the four territorial teams and the Eagles with each going on an overseas tour every 2nd year. This effort lost steam in the late 1980s.
Ian Nixon, became President of USARFU in 1992, and charged Ron with resurrecting the National Technical Panel (NTP) in 1993. Ron convinced many of the reluctant early pioneers of the NTDC committee to return and serve again. The NTP committee became quite active and productive from 1993 through 1999. It raised funds to employ George Hook as the first National Technical Director and later added Eddie O’Sullivan as an assistant to both George Hook and Jack Clark, the U.S. National Team head coach at the time.
The NTP organized over 120 Coaching Accreditation clinics with in excess of 1,375 attendees. The NTP also created several major player development programs that were ready to be launched in 2000 but Ron and most of the panel ended their involvement with the NTP in late 1999.
Ron’s involvement with U.S. Rugby (1974 – 1999) was throughout the amateur period of the sport. He believed it was a player’s game and the coaches, managers, selectors and administrators were there to let the players reach their potential and to make the playing experience as enjoyable as possible considering the sacrifices the players made in terms of time and financial commitments. To that end, there were many people that Ron had the pleasure of working with. These included his assistant coaches, Jeff Hollings – Old Blues; Rod Sears – Pelicans and Grizzlies; and George Betzler – Eagles. The team captains – Jeff Hollings and Whit Everett – Old Blues; Jeff Hollings, Ed Burlingham, Skip Neibauer, Whit Everett, Floyd McGaughy – Pelicans and Grizzlies; and Ed Burlingham, Whit Everett and Brian Vizard – Eagles. The team managers included Tom Trutner – Old Blues; Dan Hickey – Pelicans and Grizzlies; Sid Batt, Bob Watkins – Grizzlies; Ken Wood, Bob Watkins and Jeff Lombard – Eagles. Selectors included the ever tireless and most organized Hutch Turner, Keith Seaber, Joe Reagan, Ross Turnbull, Rod Sears, Brad Andrews, Ron Nesbitt, Jim Perkins, Austin Brewin and many others.
Off the rugby pitch, Ron has 40 years of management and technical expertise in earthquake and structural engineering. His technical experience includes working with many of the world’s leading authorities in earthquake and structural engineering and he is highly respected by his peers. He recently served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California and is a past Vice-President of The Masonry Society.
Played on the Minnesota Select Side from 1985-1993 and on the Midwest Selects from 1986-1992.
President of the Minnesota Rugby Union from 1990-2011. Has been the Minnesota Rugby Union treasurer from 2011 and a board member of Minnesota Youth Rugby since 1992, and the association’s president since 2012.
Member of the Midwest Rugby Board of Directors from 1990-2005 and was the Midwest Board Member to USA Rugby from 1992-2005.
Served USA Rugby as its president from 1998-2002 and as treasurer from 1990-1998 and continued on the USA Rugby Board until 2005.
On the Governing Council of the Women’s Premier League.
There are a variety of reasons that rugby players give as to what drew them to the sport in the beginning. For some, they liked the action that rugby provided. For others, friends got them involved, while others still got their first taste of rugby at their high school or college. But it was one of the most uncommon reasons that drew 2014 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Anne Barry to rugby.
“My then husband was the coach of the Twin Cities Amazons when we first got married. He also played for one of the local club teams. So between his coaching and playing on the weekends the only way to see him was to start playing.”
Anne joined the Amazons in 1983 and was a key member of their club for the next 15 years. She has fond memories of those early years with the Amazons.
“We had very few images of the game. There were no games on video, nothing on TV. I’m still not certain to this day how we ever learned to play as individuals or as a team. One of our early teammates decided to move to London where she started playing and she would send us tapes that we would need to convert to watch how that game was supposed to be played. It was enlightening and made a huge difference in our game.”
Anne played most of her rugby at flanker but towards the end of her playing career she was moved to the back of the scrum to become “the shortest #8 that ever played for the Amazons.”
She was an accomplished flanker and just two years after picking up the game was selected for the Minnesota Select Side. She represented Minnesota from 1985-1993. She also caught the attention of the Midwest selectors and played for the Midwest from 1986-1992.
She went on one tour as a player, with the Amazons to England in 1990. She played her last competitive game of rugby in 1997 and finally hung up the boots for good after playing two matches in 2001, accomplishing her goal of “playing rugby in two centuries.”
As good a player as Anne was on the field, she made an even greater impact on the sport in the boardroom. She was the president of the Minnesota Rugby Union from 1990-2011. She was a member of the Midwest Rugby Board of Directors from 1990-2005 and was the Midwest Board Member to USA Rugby from 1992-2005. As a Board Member for USA Rugby, she was a part of the growth of rugby including the acceptance of the game as a recognized sport by the US Olympic Committee, the creation of the Club and Individual Participation Program (CIPP), the start of national youth rugby development program and the creation of the then North American Caribbean Rugby Association.
She served USA Rugby as its president from 1998-2002 and as treasurer from 1990-1998 and continued on the USA Rugby Board until 2005.
Anne continues to serve the sport wearing many hats. She has been the Minnesota Rugby Union treasurer from 2011. She has been a board member of Minnesota Youth Rugby since 1992 and the association’s president since 2012. She recently completed a four-year term as a Governor’s appointed board member of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Foundation.
Since 2009, Anne has also been on the Governing Council of the Women’s Premier League, a league dedicated to the high performance and improvement of rugby for women in the United States.
Anne’s daughter plays high school rugby in the Minnesota Youth League.
Anne has many lasting memories of her involvement with rugby to date, but those etched in her mind include: the Amazons first Midwest title in 1986; meeting with the United States Olympic Committee along with Gene Roberts, Barb Fugate, Jack Clark and Bob Latham and gaining acceptance as an affiliate sport; paying off all outstanding USA Rugby debt when she took over the Treasurer position and started to build a reserve into the budget for future.
She also has fond memories of: traveling with the U.S. Men’s National Team to Wales and credits Jack Clark with allowing her to be first woman to sit with team at that after-match dinner; the first convention of the North American West Indies Rugby Association and approving the charter and constitution on behalf of USA Rugby; the Amazons winning the National Championship 2013; and being the First Commissioner appointed in Minnesota because she “could explain the game of rugby to the newly elected Governor.”
Outside of rugby, Anne’s professional accomplishments are equally impressive.
Anne has almost 30 years of state public service, with a career that includes gubernatorial appointment to high-level leadership positions in four separate administrations. She currently serves as the Deputy Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), where she provides leadership and operational direction to all of the programs and divisions of the agency.
Anne earned her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law and her Master’s in Public Health Administration from the University of Minnesota. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Occupational Therapy from the College of St. Catherine. She is currently working to complete her work for a Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota.
Started playing rugby at St. Mary’s College under the guidance of the legendary Pat Vincent.
Was part of one of the strongest clubs in America at that time, the Santa Monica Rugby Club, for nine years.
He represented the Los Angeles County select side, Southern California Griffins and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
Played for the United States National Team, the Eagles, in 1977, 1978, and in 1979 was the captain of the squad.
He was part of the first victorious Eagles’ team that defeated Canada 12-7 in Baltimore on May 28, 1978.
Brad Andrews started his rugby journey at St. Mary’s College under the guidance of the legendary Pat Vincent. He spent one year after school with the Olde Gaels RFC, then moved south to join the newly formed Santa Monica RFC. After nine years and many victories with one of the strongest clubs in America at that time, he retired from playing.
It was a very short-lived retirement however, as the Belmont Shore RFC asked him to coach and soon after, he started playing once again.
Moving to Florida brought two more coaching and playing opportunities with the Iron Horse and Orlando RFCs.
He represented the Los Angeles County select side, Southern California Griffins and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies. Brad was selected to play for the United States National Team, the Eagles, in 1977, 1978, and in 1979 was the captain of the squad. He was part of the first victorious Eagles’ team that defeated Canada 12-7 in Baltimore on May 28, 1978.
Brad was a member of many overseas touring sides and was a Pacific Coast selector and Convenor of the National Team Selectors after his playing days were over.
Was voted the Monterey Rugby Tournament’s Most valuable Player in 1983.
Was a representative player in the second row before moving to tighthead prop on the recommendation from then U.S. head coach Dennis Storer.
John also represented the U.S. Cougars that faced England in 1982 and represented the combined USA side called “America’s Team,” who played against the club champions of the 5 Nations and South Africa (The Military Defense) in South Africa.
Played in two test matches for the United States Eagles. His debut was in a tie game against Canada in Albany, NY and his second cap coming against England the following week in Hartford, CT.
John Jelaco started his rugby career in 1973 for the Sacramento Capitols while playing semi-professional football for the then undefeated (11-0-1) Sacramento Statesman (1973-1978), the football club then later changed to the Sacramento Buffaloes of the California Football League. While playing rugby for the Capitols, John was later selected to play for the Valley representative side and then with the combined Northern California Pelicans representative side (1976-83).
In 1976, John joined the Bay Area Touring Side in San Francisco, more commonly known as the B.A.T.S rugby club. While playing for the BATS, he had the opportunity to play against several high level representative clubs throughout the world, traveling on the BATS tour to Russia, Italy, England and Wales in 1978. The BATS won numerous tournaments during John’s time with them, including two tournament titles at the prestigious Monterey Tournament with John being voted the tournament’s MVP when the BATS were victorious in 1983.
John went on the play for other select sides such as the California Poppies (1977-83) against Ponypool & Manawatu and was also selected as a US trialist for the Pacific Coast Grizzlies from 1978-1986.
John started out playing in the second row for the Grizzlies and Pelicans but in 1979, after the recommendation from then U.S. head coach Dennis Storer, he changed his position to that of tight head prop. While representing the Pacific Coast Grizzlies, John toured to New Zealand in 1984 and Argentina in 1986.
John also represented the U.S. Cougars that faced England in 1982 and represented the combined USA side called “America’s Team,” who played against the club champions of the 5 Nations and South Africa (The Military Defense) in South Africa.
In 1982, John played in two test matches for the United States Eagles. His debut was in a tie game against Canada in Albany, NY and his second cap coming against England the following week in Hartford, CT.
In 1984, John moved to Southern California where he joined a very strong Los Angeles Rugby Club team that made it to the United States Club Championship final in 1984, playing against the Dallas Harlequins led by former South African Springbok Naas Botha. John also played for the Southern California Griffins select side from 1984-86. John retired from Division I club rugby in 1986.
While at the 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand John formed a mission statement and plan to build a Past-Eagles alumni group to develop and foster youth rugby throughout America. Shortly after his return from New Zealand, John founded the Eagles Alumni Players Association, known later as Team America, and today as the Classic Eagles.
The first tour was to the Mardi Gras tournament in Baton Rouge, LA in 1987. The following year, the Bermuda World Rugby Classic was created and John led as both the team captain (1986-94) and president (1986-2007) of the Team America/Classic Eagles to a successful start in Bermuda.
While continuing to play legends rugby, John was named manager of the U.S. 7s team in 1992 and held that role until the 1997 7s World Cup in Hong Kong, while winning its first ever placing in the World Cup as the Bowl Division winner.
In 1991 the Classic Eagles supported the first ever USA Woman’s Rugby World Cup event in Wales. The USA women won the title. The Classic Eagles then provided support for a combined collegiate all-star rugby team to Australia. The Classic Eagles also supported and organized the 1992 test match between the Eagles and Hong Kong, and Eagle evaluation camps. During this time, the Classic Eagles continued to provide support for developmental squads for both 15s and 7s to various tournaments to grow and foster younger players.
For his service to rugby and having been a capped player for the United States, John received the prestigious Craig Sweeney Award in 2007. He continues to support the game as first a Director and now a Trustee for the United States Rugby Foundation and provided support for the development of the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame.
John is actively involved with his church and enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Denise, and his daughter Leah Jelaco.
Was a linebacker on the Virginia Tech football team before he turned to rugby.
With just one year of rugby experience under his belt, Clarence started the Conestoga High School Rugby Club in 1971.
Although having only played the sport a short while, he was selected for the Eastern Rugby Union (ERU) All-Star squad beginning in 1971.
Played two matches for the United States National Team, the Eagles, including captaining the Eagles in their first win of the modern era, over Canada 12-7.
Was the first Eagle player to go on to coach the United States National Team as he coached the Eagles against Japan B on the Eagles 1990 Japan Tour.
Clarence Culpepper was a linebacker on the Virginia Tech football team before he turned to rugby after graduating. Clarence struck up a conversation with a bartender at a Philadelphia watering hole. The barkeep, a member of the Philadelphia RFC, noticed the athletic build of his customer and convinced him that rugby would be the perfect sport for him. Clarence went out for the next training session and he and the bartender, George Betzler, who would go onto be a United States National Team head coach, would be teammates on the Philadelphia team for the next five years.
With just one year of rugby experience under his belt, Clarence started the Conestoga High School Rugby Club in 1971. He developed a number of talented players during his time at Conestoga, many joining the Philadelphia RFC. It was his first, but certainly not last, foray into coaching.
Although having only played the sport a short while, Clarence made the local Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union Select Side in 1971 and continued to be a member of the squad until 1974. He was also selected for the Eastern Rugby Union (ERU) All-Star squad beginning in 1971.
In 1974, he moved to Roanoke, VA and became player/coach for the Roanoke Rugby Club. Led by Clarence throughout the 1970s, the Roanoke RFC continually turned out representative players for the state, ERU and the U.S. National Team. Clarence continued to make representative sides, as he played for the Virginia Rugby Union Select Side from 1975-79 and was just about an automatic choice for the ERU until 1979.
Clarence played two matches for the United States National Team, the Eagles. He made his debut against an England XV at Twickenham in 1977. The following May he captained the United States to their first win of the modern era, as the Eagles defeated Canada 12-7 in Baltimore.
Clarence retired from playing altogether in the early 1980s. It was then that he devoted all his passion for rugby into coaching. He moved to New York in 1985 and coached both the Schenectady Reds and Albany Knicks during the 1985-86 seasons. He coached the Windhover RFC in 1987-88, then the Hartford Wanderers in 1989, before coaching the Chesapeake Rugby Club in Maryland in 1990.
On the representative level, Clarence coached the Virginia Rugby Union side in 1980-81, the North Carolina Rugby Union team and the ERU South in 1982-83, the ERU from 1983-89 and the Potomac Rugby Union in 1991.
In 1990, Clarence was also the first Eagle player to go on to coach the United States National Team as he coached the Eagles against Japan B on the Eagles 1990 Japan Tour.
For his long contributions to rugby in Virginia and the Philadelphia area, Clarence was enshrined as a member of both the Virginia Rugby Union and Philadelphia-Whitemarsh RFC’s Halls of Fame.
Began his rugby playing career for the Bay Area Touring Side (BATS) in San Francisco.
Won his first United States Eagles’ cap and scored his first international try against the Welsh Centenary XV in Long Beach, CA in May of 1980.
Played on the first U.S. 7s team at the Hong Kong 7s Tournament and scored the first ever try for the USA at that historic event.
Captained the U.S. 7s team to the plate championship title at the 1986 Hong Kong 7s.
Played for the Eagles at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 1987, scoring the Eagles first ever try in RWC play as the Eagles defeated Japan in their opener.
Mike began playing Rugby for the Newport Beach Sharks while in junior college in Huntington Beach, Ca. He was awarded a football scholarship to University of the Pacific and also began playing Rugby for the Bay Area Touring Side (BATS) in San Francisco and continued playing with them through the 1988 season.
He rose rapidly through local representative Rugby and won his first cap against the Welsh Centenary XV in Long Beach, Ca. in May of 1980, a game in which he scored his first international try. He also played in the curious game against South Africa, returning from their controversial New Zealand tour in 1981, on a farmer’s field in upstate New York.
He played on the first US 7’s team in 1981 and scored the first try for the USA at the Hong Kong 7s. He also captained the US 7’s team to their first plate championship at the 1986 Hong Kong 7’s. At the inaugural Rugby World Cup, he played in the opening victory against Japan and also scored the first try for the USA in a Rugby World Cup. In addition, he scored a try against England in the USA’s final game at the World Cup.
In 1986, along with Kevin Higgins, he was selected to play for a World XV team in Johannesburg, South Africa against Transvaal at Ellis Park. He scored a long range try in the first half of that game and the World XV were victorious 24-17. He was fortunate to have played on several Cougars tours to Scotland and the UK and played for and captained the Public School Wanders on a tour through the south of England.
He has coached several representative teams after retiring from playing in 1988 and then began coaching the Davis high school team in 2000, and coached the team through 2009. His beloved wife Susan died of cancer in 2009 and he stopped coaching until this year. He is now the head coach at University of California, Davis. Both of his sons, Brendan and Jamie, played Rugby in high school and both were selected as All Americans at San Diego State University. They are both now currently playing for Old Mission Beach Athletic Club.
Started as a flanker but injury forced his move to hooker on the Pacific Coast Grizzlies tour to New Zealand in 1972. He played hooker the rest of his career.
Played for the very successful and strong Santa Monica Rugby Club in the 1970s.
Two weeks after starting in the Eagles first game of the modern era, against Australia, Fred required knee surgery and putting an end to his international career.
Has coached the Jesuit High School Rugby team to seven National Championships, four California State Championships, and 10 NorCal Championships.
Harry Alfred (Fred) Khasigian’s rugby career began at USC in 1968 when several of the football players, including LA Rams tight end Bob Klein, encouraged him to play this new game suited for all-around football players. They played a 10-man style of rugby and Fred was able to letter in rugby in 1968 and 1969. The team was disbanded in 1970 after one of the Trojan football running backs was hurt and Coach John Mackay decided no more rugby.
Having been bitten by the rugby bug, Fred then played club rugby for Cisco’s. He tried out for the California Grizzlies in 1972 and secured a spot on the Grizzlies team that toured New Zealand for six weeks in 1972. He was a flanker up until then but when a tour ending injury claimed the regular hooker, Fred was asked to shift to the hooker position. He remained there for the rest of his career. That tour was very successful in creating a positive image of USA rugby and the Grizzlies defeated New Zealand Universities at Eden Park in their final match of the tour.
On his return to the States after that tour, Fred joined the newly formed Santa Monica Rugby Football Club and was fortunate to play with the inaugural teams that were very successful. Those years featured championships at the Monterey Tournament and ferocious battles with UCLA and their coach and the USA head coach, Dennis Storer. In 1973, Fred toured with Santa Monica to England and Wales.
Despite time constraints due to Medical School and Orthopedic Residency, Fred was selected to the USA Eagles team for the 1976 test against the visiting Australian Wallabies. The USA had a strong showing against a tour hardened Australian team. Two weeks after that game, Fred required knee surgery for an injury suffered against New Zealand Universities in a match played in San Francisco. He was given the ultimatum to choose between his orthopedic career or his rugby playing career. The injury put a close to Chapter 1 of his rugby life.
In 1989, Fred was asked to leave co-ed soccer because of his overly aggressive play. But that gave him the inspiration to try out for the Sacramento RFC, “just as a shot in the dark as I was 41 years old and was a total unknown to the team.” Fred played hooker and prop on the first and second team until 1996 and eventually became team president. He called an end to his rugby playing career “when I watched a video of a game and was appalled at the lack of speed I exhibited.”
In 1996, Fred became coach of Ashton RFC. He wanted a team for his youngest son to play on and therefore opted to continue the Ashton Club team, a combination of Rio, Jesuit, and El Camino High School players. In 1997, he approached the Jesuit Athletic Director to form a Jesuit only team and the Jesuit Rugby program was formed.
Now in their 18th season, the Jesuit High School Rugby team has won seven National Championships, four California State Championships, and 10 NorCal Championships. In addition, many Jesuit graduates went on to contribute at their respective collegiate rugby programs. The team is very popular on the school’s campus and regularly involves over 150 players per season.
In addition to rugby, Fred attended USC on an academic/athletic scholarship from 1966 to 1970 graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He attended USC Medical School, graduating in 1974 and then finished his Orthopedic Surgery residency training in 1979.
He started private practice in Sacramento, CA in 1979 and still practices full time, with a specialization in complex total joints. He has been married 39 years to Lynda (coincidentally meeting after a UCLA- Santa Monica rugby game) and has three sons. Kirk played and captained the Cal Rugby team, won the Woodley Award, and won 38 caps for the USA playing for the Eagles from 1996-2003. Kevin played varsity football for Brown University. Kyle was an Under 19 Junior Eagle and won 3 National Championships with Cal.
Founding Director of the USARFU in 1975 and served consistently as Director from 1975-1991, and as a three-term President from 1983-87 and 1989-1991.
Bob was instrumental in the formation of the Rugby Super League and served as its Chairman for the first five years.
Was past president of the Southern California and Pacific Coast Rugby Football Unions.
Currently serves as the Chairman of the United States Rugby Foundation.
Played rugby for San Diego State University, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, and the Southern California Griffins.
Bob Watkins is a Founding Director of the U.S.A. Rugby Football Union in 1975 and served consistently as Director from 1975-1991 and as its President from 1983-1987 and again from 1989-1991. He has managed the U.S. National team (Eagles) against Canada, the USSR, South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales and Hong Kong. Bob played for San Diego State University, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, and Southern California XV. Bob was responsible for raising over $10 million from sponsorships, grants and gifts during his tenure as President of USA Rugby.
Bob was instrumental in the establishment of the Rugby Super League, the country’s first nationally competitive semi-professional league and “Championship Rugby”, the USA’s first television Rugby network. He initiated efforts to get USA Rugby included in the International Board and with his colleague Terry Fleener set the foundation for Rugby to be part of the United States Olympic Committee. He was also President of the PCRFU and SCRFU. Bob has served as a Trustee and Chairman of US Rugby Foundation.
Bob is a founding member and Trustee of the San Diego National Sports Foundation, the organizer and builder of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego. He served on the Board of Directors for San Diego International Sports Council, Hall of Champions Sports Museum, San Diego History Center and the YMCA of San Diego County; was Chairman of the Board of the San Diego County American Red Cross; and was the President of the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Board of Trustees.
Bob is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Played loosehead prop for the Washington Rugby Club from 1966-83.
He was a past match secretary and two-term Washington Rugby Club President and grew the club from a sometimes less than one full 15 side, to field as many as seven sides each weekend.
He Founded the Washington 7s and Cherry Blossom Tournaments; the Baltimore-Washington Rugby Association; and later, the Potomac Rugby Union; the Potomac Referees Society; and C-Founded the old boy's side, The Poltroons.
He was a Director/Treasurer for the Eastern Rugby Union and served on the ERU's Executive Committee for many years.
Richard “Dick” Poulson played loose head prop and second row for the Washington Rugby Club from 1966-1983, where he helped develop the club into one of the East’s powerhouses. From a sometimes less than one full 15 side, he grew Washington to as many as 7 sides with 2 “A” sides playing each weekend. A number of players were later spun off to establish and augment rugby programs at George Mason, NOVA, Sud Americano, George Washington and Turkey Thicket.
He was a two-term club president and match secretary for Washington and was the Co-Founder of the old boy’s side, The Poltroons. Dick Founded the Washington’s 7’s and annual Cherry Blossom (15s) Tournaments, the Baltimore-Washington Rugby Association and, later, the Potomac Rugby Union, which served along with the New York Metropolitan Union, as the predecessor to the Eastern Rugby Union. He also Founded the Potomac Referees Society.
He was a Director/Treasurer of Eastern Rugby Union and served on ERU’s Executive Committee for many years. Dick was also a Trustee of the United States Rugby Foundation in the early years of its formation and later its Chairman, guiding and shaping its mission of supporting amateur rugby.
Dick retired in 2010 as the Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Smithfield Food (NYSE: SFD) He currently serves as a strategic advisor on mergers and acquisitions to a number of investment banks and private equity funds to include inter alia
Societe Generale, Magnetar Fund, Ares Fund, and Oaktree Capital.
He has served as a board member to several public companies such as Stimsonite, Campofrio, (Madrid), and Groupe Smithfield (Paris).
He began his professional career as a Trust Investment Officer at a predecessor to the Bank of America. He became a partner and then Senior Corporate Partner and Managing Partner International at Hogan & Hartson now (Hogan Lovells) one the world’s largest law firms.
Following graduation from the Georgetown University Law Center he became a member of the faculty and taught tax, contracts, and corporate finance.
He is a former Chairman of the The Montpelier Steeplechase and Equestrian Foundation, The Foggy Bottom Youth Baseball Foundation and is currently Chairman of the Mary and Daniel Loughran Foundation. He has also served as a Board member of The National Steeplechase Association (Secretary, member of the Executive Committee) and Pro-Football, Inc. the former owner of the Washington Redskins.
He served two terms on The University of Virginia Board of Managers and was Chairman in 1994 - 1995. He was also President of the UVA Alumni Association, and chaired the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and the UVA Investment Fund. He is a member of the Dean’s Council at The University of Virginia Law School.
Dick and his wife Anne own and operate Hare Forest Farm in Virginia, a thoroughbred horse breeding and sales nursery. The farm has produced a number of prominent race horses including two who have run in the Kentucky Derby – Go For Gin (winner 1994) and General A Rod in 2014.
He is married to the former Anne Dare Wrenn of Richmond and they have two children – Hundley 18, a freshman at Princeton, and Anna Blair 16, a junior at Georgetown Visitation in D.C.
Head Coach of U.S. National Team 2001-2006 and U.S. National 7s Team 2005
44 international appearances in 15s, 25 international appearances in 7s for U.S. National Team
Former professional player for London Harlequins and Pontypridd, Wales
Coach at University of California for 13 national collegiate championships – 10 in 15s and three in 7s – entering 2015-16
A former U.S. international player, captain and head coach of the United States National Team, Tom Billups entered the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame after completing his 16th season at the University of California, Berkeley, where, as of the autumn of 2015, he has helped to guide the Golden Bears to 10 national collegiate championships in 15s and three national 7s titles since joining the program in the 1999-2000 season.
Billups was head coach of the U.S. National Team from 2001-2005, including the record-setting seven-win campaign that culminated with the 2003 Rugby World Cup; head coach of the Collegiate All-American Team in 2001; and head coach of the U.S. National Sevens team at the 2005 World Games in Germany. As a player, Billups made 44 international appearances on the U.S. National Team in 15s, serving as captain for the 1998 season and playing in the 1999 Rugby World Cup; and 25 international appearances as a player for the U.S. National Sevens team.
He was one of the first Americans to become a professional player when he joined the London Harlequins, and was named Supporters’ Club Player of the Year for the 1997-98 season before finishing his professional playing career with Pontypridd, Wales.
“We are all bursting with pride for Tom,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “This is such a well-earned distinction and acknowledgement. I believe Tom is the first inductee into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame who has the credentials for inclusion as both an athlete and a coach.”
In addition to their national collegiate championships, Billups has worked with Clark on the All Marine Rugby Team in 2006 and 2007, and on multiple tours with the United States Collegiate All-Americans.
Billups’ early years at Cal overlapped with his tenure as head coach of U.S. National 15s Team, which he helmed from December 2001-2005. His appointment as head coach of the USA Eagles followed his leadership of the Collegiate All-American team, for which he was head coach in 2001; the 2003 Rugby World Cup; and his role as head coach of the U.S. National 7s Team, which he led at the 2005 World Games.
Billups’ coaching tenure on the U.S. National 15s Team ended with 12 international test victories, including a record-setting seven wins in 2003, a campaign which included what was at that time the USA’s biggest win ever over rival Canada. At the Rugby World Cup that year, Billups’ team beat Japan for the USA’s first win at the RWC since 1987.
“The pride and passion he felt, both in the honor and responsibility of representing our country, resonated with everyone,” said Matt Sherman, the Army head coach and former Cal All-American and U.S. international who was coached by Billups at both levels.
“Coach Billups embodies everything U.S. rugby and the game of rugby stands for: hard work, grit, professionalism and an undying commitment to improvement,” said Kort Schubert, the 2002 Cal Athlete of the Year and a Bear for five consecutive national collegiate championship seasons, during which time he embarked on a 49-match U.S. National Team career.
Born in Burlington, Iowa, Billups was a gridiron football player at Burlington Community High School who went on to compete in football and wrestling at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., where he was a two-way lineman for the Vikings as they went undefeated for 50 straight games and won four NCAA National Championships from 1983-86. Billups received the Jerry Freck Award as Augustana’s Most Inspirational Player on the gridiron in 1986. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Augustana in 1987.
Billups began his rugby player career in 1984, during the spring of his sophomore year in college, on the Quad City Irish in Davenport, Iowa. One year later, he helped Quad City Irish to the national club 7s championship title. He went on to play for the Whakatane Marist club in New Zealand and the Old Blues in Northern California, where he was a part of the 1993 national champion club side and captain of the club in 1995 and ‘96.
In 1996, Billups became one of the first Americans to earn an overseas professional playing contract when he joined the London Harlequins, where he was named Supporters’ Club Player of the Year for the 1997-98 campaign. He followed that tenure with a season in Wales on the Pontypridd club in 1998-99.
Jason Leonard OBE, a former Harlequin and British Lion whose 119 international appearances as a prop for England included its 2003 Rugby World Cup championship, said, “Billups had all the attributes to play as a modern-day hooker: strength, speed and a huge stamina. He was the fittest player on the team.” The president of England Rugby (RFU), Leonard shared Billups’ advice to younger teammates when they competed together on the Harlequins: “He told them that just because they were being paid, that doesn’t mean you are a professional. A professional, he said, wants to improve as a player and a person every day of his life. To be better every day than the day before, that’s what being a professional meant to Tom.”
At the representative level, Billups played for All Iowa, the Midwest U-23s, Midwest Thunderbirds, Northern California Pelicans, Pacific Coast Grizzlies, U.S. Cougars and the Major Stanley XV (an international all-star team) in addition to his selections to the U.S. national teams.
As a national-team player, Billups made 25 appearances on the U.S. 7s team at eight international tournaments, including the Hong Kong Sevens, between 1989-94, captaining the squad at the Sicily Sevens in 1993; and made 44 international appearances as a hooker on the U.S. 15s team, captaining the side for 12 matches in the 1998 season and playing at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
“Tom has proven at every level what we want and, more importantly, need to be great as a country,” said Dan Lyle, also a former U.S. international player and trailblazer for Americans earning international recognition as rugby professionals. Now an executive at United World Sports, Lyle said, “Tom Billups continues to be the consummate pro and asset to American rugby.”
Paul Emerick, a fellow Iowan whom Billups selected in 2003 to the first of his 53 matches on the U.S. National Team, said he is forever thankful to Billups “for identifying and developing a young man plucked from the cornfields. His passion, enthusiasm, attention to detail and dedication to the game of rugby is contagious.”
Billups became the 12th member of the Cal rugby program to enter the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame with his induction, joining Clark, who was inducted in 2014.
Coached rugby since 1974: men and women, boys and girls, 15s and 7s; his teams – club and select side - won 14 national championships.
Founded Atlantis, the first 7s club to regularly tour with co-ed sides, thereby helping bring the men's and women's rugby communities together.
Coached both US men’s and women’s national sevens teams.
Championed, helped inaugurate, and developed, international women’s sevens. Through these efforts has been credited with being an integral part of setting the stage for rugby’s entry into the Olympics.
Coached more than 25 players that became US national level coaches and several that became coaches of other national teams.
Men: Emil began his coaching career with the newly created Bethlehem (PA) Hooligans in 1974 (15s), adding sevens in 1977. Inspired by his first mentor, Welsh coach John Ryan, he coached Bethlehem until 1992: in 15s they won 4 East Penn (EPRU) and 1 Mid-Atlantic championship. They made the USA Round of 16 in 1981 and were undefeated in Spring 1990. They won dozens of sevens tournaments. Bethlehem came in 3rd in the first-ever USA Rugby National Club Sevens in 1985 and 5th in 1987.
He was Head Coach (7s) at Philadelphia-Whitemarsh (PW) from 1996 to 2001, and Assistant (15s) Coach to George Betzler from 1997-99; in 1999 PW were 15s Super League quarterfinalists and National Club Sevens champions.
He assisted Joe Morrison from 2006-09 (Lehigh Valley 2006-07 and Schuylkill River 2008-09). In 3 of those 4 years, their club made the national 7s tournament.
From 2010 to 2013 he helped Dave Sitton and Chris Kron with the U. of Arizona men. They were finalists, semifinalists, and twice quarterfinalists of the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC).
Other clubs he helped coach include Lafayette College, Lehigh University, and North Penn High School.
Women: Emil supported the Maulie Maguires WRFC of Bethlehem from their inception in 1976, and was their sevens coach for several years between 1982 and 1995. They earned a berth as one of the 8 teams in the first unofficial national club sevens in 1993.
Emil was Head Coach, Princeton U. women from 2004 to 2013 and since then assistant to current coach Chris Ryan; they were national finalists (15s) in 2004 and in the Round of 16 five times. Princeton was 3rd in the USA in sevens in 2013 and 2015. In the 2015 CRC he assisted Adam Dick with the Arizona women.
Men: From 1977 to 1982 Emil was Assistant (15s) Coach (to George Betzler), and from 1982 to 1987 Head Coach, of the EPRU. From 1985 to 1989 he was Head Coach of the ERU (Eastern Rugby Union) U-23. He was Assistant ERU Coach to Clarence Culpepper in 1986.
From 1984 to 1995 Emil was Head Coach, ERU Sevens. The ERU won 8 national championships.
From 1996 to 1999 he was Head Coach of the Collegiate All Star Sevens, who competed against 7 senior All-Star teams. In 1998 the Collegiate All Stars won the championship.
Women: From 1990 to 1995 Emil was assistant to Joe Kelly with the ERU Women’s 15s (4 championships in 6 events).
From 2001 to 2006 Emil coached the USA U-23 Women Sevens, competing against 7 senior All-Star teams. They were finalists in 2002.
Men: From 1987 to 1990 Emil was US Men’s National Sevens Head Coach. They had a winning record, reaching the Cup Round once in Hong Kong and won the Hong Kong Plate – against Canada – in 1988.
He managed the USA Men’s National Sevens from 1991 to 1993 (including the first RWC 7s in Edinburgh), supporting coach Steve Finkel.
He returned to the US Men’s National Sevens as Video Analyst between 2007 and 2009, working with coach Al Caravelli.
Women: Emil founded the US Women’s National Sevens team after helping provide the impetus for international women’s sevens; he coached the team from 1997 to 2005, during which time they were 57-19-4.
He was backs’ coach of the USA Women’s National 15s team from 1991-93 (assistant to George Henderson) and in 1999 (to Joe Kelly).
Other national 7s teams: Emil assisted with the national men’s sevens teams of Germany (1992), Portugal (1996) and Trinidad & Tobago (2000, 2004). He spent time with the Cuban women in an unofficial capacity in 2011.
Emil, coach of coaches
Emil has coached more than 25 players that became head or assistant coaches of one of the US national team or national age/grade programs. In addition he has coached several players that went on to coach other nations’ national programs.
Atlantis / Cougars
Emil created the invitational sevens side Atlantis in 1986; the Atlantis women first played in 1992. To date (and still counting), Atlantis has fielded 221 squads (1126 players) in 31 countries. 208 US Eagles (120 men and 88 women) have played for Atlantis; more than half represented Atlantis prior to the US. Atlantis players have represented national teams of 14 countries other than the US.
At Keith Seaber’s invitation, Emil coached the US invitational side Cougars at the Melrose (Scotland) Sevens from 1986 to 1988.
Emil and the Olympics / Boys and Girls Together
Alex Goff published a Rugby Magazine article in October 2009, "Why Should we Thank This Man for Rugby Getting in the Olympics," in which he stated “Rugby would not be an Olympic sport without the women, and women would not have an international 7s presence were it not for one man – Emil Signes.”
Explanation: in 1995, while coaching Atlantis (men) in Dubai, Emil met a Hong Kong women’s team and urged them to include women at “the” Hong Kong Sevens. They listened, and it happened … in steps. In 1996 Hong Kong created a club tourney; Atlantis’ performance spurred the Hong Kong Women to create an international tournament in 1997, a week before the men’s tournament. Starting in 1999, the women’s final was integrated within the men’s event in Hong Kong Stadium. This women’s presence paved the way to women’s inclusion in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009, and following this tournament, at which many IOC selectors were present, rugby sevens was chosen as an Olympic Sport. For details and documentation, see
These accomplishments were in line with Emil’s long-standing attempt to enhance the mutual appreciation of men and women rugby players for the other’s dedication, skills, achievements, and love of the game. Much of this was done via co-ed Atlantis tours (see above link).
Emil has been married to Heide for 50 years; they have 4 children and 12 grandchildren. He earned an S.B. and an S.M. from MIT and a Ph.D. from Rutgers.
Captain USA Eagles - 1st Rugby World Cup - Australia / New Zealand 1987
Selected for North American Barbarian Tour to South Africa - 1982
Named Assistant Coach - USA Eagles - 1991 Rugby World Cup - England
University of California Irvine Basketball - 1967 - 1972 - Two NCAA
Div. II Tournament Appearances
Ed Burlingham came to Rugby like many American athletes, after completing a collegiate career in another sport. Ed started his lifetime rugby involvement in 1974 at Irvine Coast RFC in Newport Beach, California following a successful four years of college basketball at the University of California Irvine. He worked his way quickly through Southern California and Pacific Coast Grizzly selections leading up to the awarding of his first cap against the New Zealand All Blacks in 1980.
Ed went on to earn 14 caps for the US National Team and captained the Eagles during the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. He captained the Eagles 9 times during his 7 year campaign with the USA Rugby team in games against Canada, England, Australia, Japan, and throughout the 1983 tour of Australia. Ed also captained the Southern California Griffins and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies numerous times from 1979 until 1987. He led the Grizzlies during their 1984 tour of New Zealand and in 1982 he was named to the prestigious North American Barbarian team to tour South Africa.
Ed has been active with USA Rugby since his playing days ended and was chosen as an Assistant Coach of the 1991 Eagle Rugby World Cup squad. He was also an integral part of the National Technical Panel and helped create and implement competitions for our Territorial and National Teams as well as vehicles for player, coach and referee development. He is now involved with Back Bay RFC in his hometown of Newport Beach and has served as club president and head coach as well as assisting in many other club responsibilities.
Off the rugby pitch, Ed has been President and Chief Operating Officer of a family business, Burlingham International, since 1982. Burlingham International services the metal finishing industry and Ed has been directly involved in the various organizations leading that industry beginning in 1990. From 1972 until 1982, Ed was a teacher and basketball coach at Laguna Beach High School in Southern California. Ed has been married to Diana for 40 years and has two daughters, Devon and Amy, and three grandchildren, Payton, Ashlyn and Jameson.
Played representative rugby for British Columbia, the Washington State Ravens, Pacific N.W. Loggers and Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
Played in three test matches for the Eagles, making his debut in the USA’s first international against Canada.
Started International Athletic, a sporting goods company serving the rugby market in both the United States and Canada.
In 1984 Jeff received the distinction of becoming the first U.S. Eagle player to manage the United States National Team. He was the team manager at the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup.
Managed Team America (today known as the Classic Eagles) for 20 years from 1988 to 2008.
Jeff Lombard was born and raised in Wenatchee, WA. He played football at Wenatchee Jr. College before joining the Army National Guard. While serving the Guard, Jeff enrolled at Western Washington State College in 1969. It was at WWSC that Jeff was introduced to rugby.
Jeff joined the Chuckanut Bay Rugby Club (CBAA) in Bellingham, WA in 1974. CBAA competed in the Fraser Valley R.F.U. in British Columbia where he distinguished himself as a representative player, as well as representing the Washington State Ravens, Pacific N.W. Loggers and Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
In 1977, Jeff made his debut for the USA Eagles and represented the USARFU in its first international test match against Canada. Later that year, Jeff was a member of the USARFU’s first international tour as the Eagles, with Jeff in the lineup faced an England XV at Twickenham to earn his second cap. In 1978 was part of a U.S. Cougars contingent that traveled to South Africa and Rhodesia on a USA development tour. He received his third and final cap against Canada in 1979 in Toronto.
In 1980, Jeff started International Athletic, a sporting goods company serving the rugby market in both the United States and Canada and manufacture custom canvas sport bags.
2015 Jeff celebrated 33 year of marriage with his wife Dee Dee, they produced two wonderful children John Cooper and Taylor Louse.
In 1984 Jeff received the distinction of becoming the first U.S. Eagle player to manage the United States National Team. He took the first Eagle tour to Japan in 1985 as well as the first Jr. Eagles squad to Europe in 1985. He was appointed manager of the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup squad to Australia and New Zealand. He served on the USA Rugby board of directors from 1984-1987 and was honored with the Craig Sweeney Award in 1984. In 1988 he managed the Eagle 7's team to the Hong Kong 7's, where they won the plate competition.
Following his career with the U.S. National Team program as a player, director and manager, he continued to contribute to his territorial, sub unions and club level in many capacities. He managed Team America (today known as the Classic Eagles) for 20 years for 1988 to 2008. He finds it an honor to serve the great sport of rugby whenever possible. Jeff currently coaches men’s rugby program at Western Washington University located in Bellingham, WA.
Attended the University of Oregon on a football scholarship and finished his career there as a 1962 All-American guard.
His long club rugby career saw him play with the Olympic Club rugby team (1963-72) and the XO Rugby Club (1973-82).
Played with the West Bay Select Side, Northern California Pelicans and Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
Started at tighthead prop in the Eagles first game of the modern era, against Australia, in Los Angeles, on January 31, 1976. He would go on to play in three of the next four Eagles matches.
Was a high school and college teacher and football coach from 1965-2001.
Robert Michael “Mickey” Ording was an All-Catholic pick in both baseball and football at St. Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, California. He was selected to the National All Catholic team, All Northern California and Wigwam Wisemen All-American team for the football season of 1958. He attended the University of Oregon on a football scholarship and was selected on the Pac-10 All Coast team in 1960, 1961 and 1962. Mickey finished his career there as a 1962 All-American guard and capped off his senior year by playing in the 1963 Hula Bowl. After graduating, he played for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League in 1962-63.
While at Oregon, Mickey was introduced to the sport of rugby. He played rugby for the Ducks from 1960-62. After his stint with the Eskimos, he moved to San Francisco to obtain a graduate degree and coach football at UCSF. While in San Francisco, he joined the Olympic Club rugby team, playing with the O Club from 1963-72. He then played with the XO Rugby Club from 1973-82, touring with them to Ireland, Wales, England and France. He also toured with the California Poppies on their tour to the U.K.
In 1973, Mickey was selected for the Pacific Coast Grizzlies Select Side. He also played with the West Bay Select Side and with the Northern California Pelicans and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies from 1965 through 1978.
He was also garnering attention from the newly created U.S. National Team. Mickey was selected to start at the tight-head prop position in the United States’ first game of the modern era, against Australia, in Los Angeles on January 31, 1976. He would go on to play in three of the next four Eagles matches, his last in a win against Canada in Baltimore. His national career also included the U.S. Cougars tour of South Africa and Rhodesia in 1979 (an Eagles team which was not recognized as a national team due to South Africa’s national apartheid policies). He was also selected to an All World team to play South Africa in 1977 but the game was cancelled due to the apartheid policies of South Africa.
He also coached the Santa Clara University Men’s rugby team from 1967-85 and was the President of the Northern California Rugby Union from 1977-85. In 1979, Mickey was the first recipient of the Craig Sweeney Award, given to past Eagle players who gave back to the sport.
Mickey was a high school and college teacher and football coach from 1965-2001. He married Molly in 1969. The couple has four children and 12 grandchildren. When not doting on them, Mickey enjoys coaching his grandsons’ baseball teams (Red Sox and Giants), traveling and playing golf.
Played on the first U.S. 7s team at the Hong Kong 7s Tournament and scored the first ever try for the USA at that historic event.
Captained the U.S. 7s team to the plate championship title at the 1986 Hong Kong 7s.
Played for the Eagles at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 1987, scoring the Eagles first ever try in RWC play as the Eagles defeated Japan in their opener.
Selected to play for a victorious World XV team in Johannesburg, South Africa, scoring a long- range try in the first half against Transvaal.
Mike Purcell began playing rugby for the Newport Beach Sharks while in junior college in Huntington Beach, CA. He was awarded a football scholarship to University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA and also began playing rugby for the Bay Area Touring Side (BATS) in San Francisco and continued playing with them through the 1988 season.
He rose rapidly through local representative rugby and won his first United States Eagles’ cap and scored his first international try against the Welsh Centenary XV in Long Beach, CA in May of 1980.
The following year, Mike played in the unusual match against South Africa on a farmer’s field in upstate New York. Also in 1981, he played on the first U.S. 7s team at the Hong Kong 7s Tournament and scored the first ever try for the USA at that historic event. He captained the U.S. 7s team to the plate championship title at the 1986 Hong Kong 7s.
Mike played for the Eagles at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 1987. He played in the opening match victory against Japan and also scored the first try for the USA in a Rugby World Cup match. He also scored a try against England in the USA’s final game at the 1987 World Cup, which was also the last of Mike’s 14 international appearances for the U.S.
In 1986, along with U.S. Eagle teammate Kevin Higgins, Mike was selected to play for a World XV team in Johannesburg, South Africa and played against Transvaal at Ellis Park. He scored a long range try in the first half of that game and the World XV were victorious 24-17.
Mike also played on several U.S. Cougars tours to Scotland and the U.K., and also played for and captained the Public School Wanders on a tour through the south of England.
Mike has coached several representative teams after retiring from playing. He coached the Davis High School team from 2002-2009 and both of Mike’s sons, Brendan and Jaime, played under him at Davis High School. Both were selected as U.S. Collegiate All-Americans at San Diego State University and are now playing for Old Mission Beach Athletic Club in San Diego.
Was an international referee from 1981-1990.
Was the first American referee to represent USA Rugby on appointment to the national rugby unions of England (1982), New Zealand (1983) and Wales (1987).
Co-Founded the New England Rugby Referees Society in 1967 and between 1967-1981, had assumed at one time or another, every administrative role of that organization.
Was Chairman of USA Rugby's Referee and Laws Committe from 1990-1998, and concurrently he was Chairman of the Evaluation Committe from 1990-2002.
Received numerous prestigious awards and honors, including: the Denis Shanagher Award (2000), the creation of the Morrison Referee Development Fund (2012), and the induction into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame (2015).
Don was an outstanding rugby referee at every level of play. However, the first few years of his refereeing career were developmental, not high performance. During this developmental time he relied exclusively on feedback from players and coaches.
“I got involved in refereeing as a way to stay fit. I had ruined my knees in another sport (black belt in judo) and had my first knee surgery in 1966. I got to know some of the guys on the MIT Rugby Club while I was running around their pitch to get my legs back into shape after the knee surgery. When I joined the club in 1967 I immediately took up the whistle. With my bad knees I didn’t care to play the game and have my body carried off the pitch, nor did the team want this (back then they would not have been allowed a substitute).
“When I joined the MIT Rugby Club I didn’t know a scrum from a lineout. I began by refereeing practice scrimmages. Then I graduated to the pick up game that ended the day for those who hadn’t played earlier in the day and for those who filled in by playing one more time.
“My fondest memory of refereeing is the camaraderie experienced before and after the game. During the game was a different story! To be fair, I stunk as a referee for many years. As an example, I can recall at least two games that I had to abandon simply because I was not up to the task of refereeing serious rugby.
“I am living proof that you haven’t arrived as a referee until you have refereed a game in which each and every club will claim you (as the referee) cost them the victory. Naturally, through time, this game will become the most significant loss in their club’s history.
“In the late 60s and early 70s there were no assessors, referee coaches or opportunities for peers to watch my games. I relied completely on feedback from players and coaches. In view of my successful progression to International Referee, my reliance on player feedback established an appreciation of the game that worked out well for me.”
Don was an International Referee from 1981 until 1990. It is believed, but not with 100% confidence, that he is the only International Referee who has never played a game, not even a practice session.
While Don was an International Referee he refereed numerous national club championship matches, national collegiate championship matches, regional select side matches (e.g., Canadian Provincial Championships matches and USA Interterritorial matches), international select side matches (e.g., Canada East versus Italy and USA West versus Japan) and international test matches. Perhaps the most notable test match he refereed was the politically controversial game between USA and South Africa in 1981. He was also the first American referee to represent USA Rugby on appointment to the national rugby unions of England (1982), New Zealand (1983) and Wales (1987).
Throughout his career Don has always been involved in the administrative aspects of rugby refereeing. In 1967 he was one of the co-founders of the New England Rugby Referees Society (nee the Boston Rugby Referees Society). From 1967 to 1981 Don assumed, at one time or another, every administrative role of the New England Rugby Referees Society.
Don retired from being an International referee in 1990 and immediately began serving USA Rugby in various administrative roles. He was Chairman of the Referee & Laws Committee from 1990 to 1998, and concurrently he was Chairman of the Evaluation Committee from 1990 to 2002. During this time Don led the effort to make the Referee & Laws Committee a revenue generating operation to assist in the funding of referee travel. He developed and implemented certification courses for referees and for evaluators. These courses predated the current courses offered by World Rugby (nee the International Rugby Board). The World Rugby courses and the USA Rugby Referee & Laws Committee courses stole the same good ideas from the all over the world, which meant the two sets of courses were very similar. USA Rugby adopted the World Rugby courses once they became available in order to be aligned with World Rugby.
Don was a certified Match Official Performance Reviewer for the International Rugby Board (IRB) from 2002 until 2005. During that time the IRB assigned him to assess referees of international test matches. Some of the test matches that he assessed for the IRB included the following:
Canada v. Uruguay (2001),
Argentina v. Uruguay (2001),
Canada v. Scotland (2002),
USA v. Spain (2003) and
USA v. Japan (2003)
Don also assessed other international matches for the IRB, such as the Churchill Cup matches in 2004 to 2005.
In 2005 Don was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable but treatable blood cancer. After his diagnosis of having multiple myeloma he gradually discontinued some of his administrative activities, including the IRB certified roles of Match Official Performance Reviewer and Referee Trainer/Educator. He also discontinued writing articles for Referees Corner in Rugby Magazine. Over the course of 15 years he had written a total of 145 articles. He is still a member of the USA National Panel of Performance Reviewers, a position he has held from 1990 until now (2015), and he is also very active as a referee evaluator for the New England Rugby Referees Society.
Throughout his career Don has been honored with numerous awards, including a very memorable banquet arranged in his honor by the New England Rugby Referees Society. The three awards that are the most significant to him are the following:
• Denis Shanagher Award (2000) – This award is given by the Referees & Laws Committee of USA Rugby to those individuals who have achieved exceptionally significant results for USA Rugby refereeing. The award was established in 1991 and only 10 individuals have received the award since that time.
• Morrison Referee Developmental Fund (2012) – In 2012 USA Rugby established a trust fund in Don’s name to develop young referees who show promise to become elite referees. Each year two referees are sent overseas for several months to undergo extensive education and training as rugby referees. The fund is now called the Shanagher Morrison Referee Developmental Fund.
• Hall of Fame (2015) – The U. S. Rugby Hall of Fame is a private, nonprofit institution created in 2011 and operated by the U. S. Rugby Football Foundation. Don has been honored to be one of the inductees this year (2015).
Don received both his B.S degree (1966) and his PhD degree (1970) from MIT. His education served him well throughout his professional career. He was a senior manager for three large companies: Polaroid (1970s), Kendall/Colgate Palmolive (1980s) and International Paper (1990s). He was particularly successful in heading up the manufacturing and research operations for a global venture start up in the 1980s. He retired at the ripe old age of 54 in 1998 and never looked back.
There is not a grain of doubt that the most significant event in Don’s life is his marriage to Trudy on June 7, 1966. Trudy and Don are looking forward to a festive golden wedding anniversary celebration next year (2016).
She finished her career with 40 caps, a number not surpassed until 2013.
Scored 38 tries during her international career and still holds the international points record for the U.S. Women's National Team with 178.
Member of the victorious USA Women's 1991 Rugby World Cup team. She went onto play in four more Rugby World Cups becoming the first women to play in five RWCs.
In 2014, was part of the first class of women to be inducted into the IRB/World Rugby Hall of Fame. She is the only individual American to have ever been so honored.
In 2012, at age 48, she led her Atlanta Harlequins team to a national championship.
Patty Jervey’s rugby career began in 1982, at the age of 18. Convinced by Laura Jarrell, a high school mate, to give it a try, she began playing with the University of South Carolina. Following her graduation from SC she helped initiate the inaugural season of the Atlanta Harlequins.
She was then recruited to Florida State, at the time one of the top two women’s clubs in the country, to join top US Eagles Kathy Flores and Candi Orsini. She learned what was needed to become an Eagle and got her first cap in 1989. She finished with 40, a number not surpassed until Jamie Burke did it two years ago.
Patty and several of her FSU teammates – Kathy, Candi, Colleen Fahey, Val Sullivan and Claire Godwin - played in the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup, won by the USA, in 1991. Despite the fact that she was already 27 at the time of that first World Cup, she went on to play in the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 Women’s Word Cups, the last one at age 42. The US made two finals and two 5th place finishes in that time period. She was the first player to play in five Women’s Rugby World Cups; New Zealand’s legendary Anna Richards equaled that record in 2010. Only one man - Brian Lima- has played in 5 World Cups. But Patty did it first. In her international career she scored 38 tries, and still holds the international points record for the US Women’s National Team with 178 points.
Patty was also one of the keys in the successes of the Eastern Rugby Union in the Women’s ITTs during the six years she played for them (1989-1994), during which they won four national All-Star championships. In 1990 the ERU defeated the USA in a domestic competition. Patty feels that these ERU appearances were great preparation for international competitions.
In 1996 Patty played for Atlantis at the Hong Kong Women's Club Sevens, an event that was responsible for the initiation of the Hong Kong International Women's Sevens. The Hong Kong International Women’s tournament was in turn credited with facilitating the admission of rugby into the Olympics.
While all this was going on, Patty returned to the club she started with, the Atlanta Harlequins, where she led them to a national championship in 2012 at age 48 and a 4th place in the Women’s Premiere League at 50, in 2014.
In 2014 Patty was part of the first class of women to be selected to the IRB/World Rugby Hall of Fame. She is the only individual American – male or female – to have ever been so honored.
At age 51, she continues to play, coach and mentor the Harlequins. She is, according to teammate Rosalind Chou, “the glue that holds the club together and each new generation of women’s rugby players that comes into contact with her becomes inspired with her passion for the sport.”
Patty has no doubt that she was meant to play this game; “being on the pitch,” she says, “and having the ball in my hand, makes my soul sing.” Among the people she thanks for her great rugby career are “my better half, Heather Hale, my Jervey and Hale family for their support, my Harlequin teammates for keeping the fire burning, the opposition for making me rise up, and all the coaches for the challenges and opportunities. What a ride!"
In 1913, as a 17 year old attending classes at Santa Clara University's Preparatory School, Rudy played parts of two matches against the touring New Zealand All Blacks.
During his initial four years of college, Rudy lettered every year in rugby, baseball and basketball (at 5'5 3/4"). In 1964, Rudy was elected into Santa Clara University's Athletic Hall of Fame.
On August 26, 1918, Rudy received his U.S. Army Commission as a Second Lieutenant, beginning 30 years of uninterupted active military commitment (including active reserve) until his retirement as a Colonel in 1948.
Rudy was heavily involved as a player and organizer on both the 1920 and 1924 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning rugby teams.
He played his last game of rugby in 1979 at age 83.
Rudolph John Scholz, Jr. (“Rudy”) came into this world on June 17, 1896, in Kewanee, Illinois, following his brother by 5 years. His parents were German immigrants who came to America in the early 1880s. The family eventually moved to Medford, Oregon when Rudy was a teenager. This was the time he began to exhibit his emerging athleticism, playing sports at Mt. Angel Academy, a college prep boarding school.
Just prior to the start of his senior year (1913), the decision was made to accept a “scholarship” to Santa Clara University’s Preparatory School, the on-campus high school program. And while baseball was the basis for his free ride, Rudy quickly caught on to the challenges of rugby football, which the school had played since American football was abandoned in 1906. This was an era of few, if any, athletic eligibility standards, so the Varsity coach, in recognition of Rudy’s potential, put him on the school’s Varsity rugby team. This was also the year the New Zealand All Blacks toured the San Francisco Bay Area, including two matches against Santa Clara. Substitutes were allowed for these contests, so in the second half of both games “Scholz” (at 17) got an early introduction to the highest level of international rugby at wing. During his initial four years of college, Rudy lettered every year in baseball, rugby, and basketball (at 5’5 ¾”).
On January 20, 1918, an Army ROTC program was officially inaugurated at Santa Clara and the University became “a strictly military institution.” Rudy discovered a natural affinity for the military and rose to the highest student officer rank of Cadet Major. Rudy received his U.S. Army commission as a Second Lieutenant, Infantry, on August 26, 1918. Thus began an uninterrupted 30 year active military commitment (including active reserve) until his retirement as a Colonel in 1948. In June, 1918, Rudy was awarded Santa Clara’s prestigious Nobili Medal, established in 1876 for “the student who shall be deemed First in Morals, Obedience and Application to Study.”
Soon after receiving his military commission, Rudy reported to Camp Fremont, Menlo Park, for officer orientation training. His second duty assignment was to the 12th Infantry Regiment, Norfolk, Virginia, where he gained notoriety as a baseball and basketball player, coach and athletic director for his unit. De-activated in April, 1919, Rudy returned to Santa Clara to complete his law degree courses and quarterback the University’s American football team.
When the U.S. Olympic Committee sanctioned a rugby team for the 1920 Olympic Games, Rudy joined a selected group of former rugby players in San Francisco to try to recapture dormant rugby skills. Surviving the final cut, he immediately joined the 21 other team members to raise the funds needed to get to New York because the USOC wasn’t about to fund a “lost cause.” The day before the team’s train departure from Oakland, he wrote in his diary: “Finished drive in afternoon – a thousand dollars over.”
The team’s surprising 8 – 0 gold medal victory over France (Rudy played wing) did not end the team’s rugby play as France insisted on a four game post-Olympic tour. Rudy pitched in to coordinate passports, side trips and write press release cables and letters for the team. He played scrum-half and wing during the tour, where a reduced squad of sixteen players won three out of four games.
Four years later, the task required to put together a team for the ’24 Games in Paris was more challenging, and more expensive. The old rugby skills were beyond dormant and the required funds had more than doubled. Nevertheless, at age 27, Rudy took an active organizing role as Secretary of the newly formed Northern California Rugby Association and, according to one newspaper account, was “in temporary charge of arrangements for the selection of a team.” Paradoxically, due to greatly increased press coverage, there was an increase in the competition for the 23 team slots, as current and former college American football players were eager to show how they could translate their skills to the English version. The selection committee waited until the very end of the tryouts to agree that Scholz still had his rugby smarts. Thus began a historic international sports adventure that has been well chronicled in Mark Ryan’s book “Try for the Gold” (www.tryforthegold.com).
After the ’24 Olympics, rugby took a timeout in the San Francisco area, giving Rudy some additional time to finally find his soul mate. He was visiting his mother in Santa Rosa in 1927 when he actually heard his future wife before he met her. He was attending Mass at St. Rose Catholic Church and Mildred Sophey was the choir’s soloist and, as the folklore has it, he just had to meet the person who could sing that well. They wed on January 22, 1928, and their lifelong union produced four sons and thirteen grandchildren. And Milly never lost her fabulous voice.
Back in 1921 Rudy had joined the San Francisco Olympic Club and when rugby returned in 1933 he played on, and briefly coached, their rugby team until 1943 (age 47). On active duty since February 1941, his promotion to Lt. Colonel required relocation from San Francisco’s Presidio to command the Army’s First Replacement Depot in Banning, California. In January, 1945, he was posted overseas to the Asiatic Pacific Theater as a member of General MacArthur’s Staff. Rudy saw intense combat action in the Okinawa invasion, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.
On October 24, 1964, Rudy was elected into Santa Clara University’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rudy’s passion for his favorite sport never waned, and in 1978 (age 82) he became President of the recently formed San Francisco over-40 rugby team, the Bald Eagles. This afforded him opportunities to put on his kit and get back onto the pitch during Monterey Rugby Tournament games and tours to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Rudy was laid to rest December 9, 1981, ending a grand life lived to the fullest.
Bill Fraumann started playing rugby in the early 1970s after playing four years of basketball for the University of Michigan. He played his club rugby with the Harvard Rugby Football Club, the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club and Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. He played on numerous rep sides in California. He was selected as a reserve for the first Eagles game against Australia in Long Beach in 1976. He played Number Eight against France in the Eagle’s second game in May, 1977. He scored two tries against the Five Nations champions led by their captain, Jean-Pierre Rives. They were the first two tries scored by the United States in the modern era. He again played Number Eight in all six games of the Eagles first international tour to England in September 1997. He was capped for the second time against an England XV at Twickenham in the final game of the tour. After the game at Twickenham, he received but had to decline an invitation to play for the President's World XV against a French Select XV in Paris.
Mr. Fraumann received an AB from the University of Michigan in 1970 and a JD from Harvard Law School in 1973. He joined Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago in 1973. He served as a Lieutenant in United States Navy from 1974 to 1977 stationed in San Diego, California. After his Navy service, he returned to Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago where he practiced corporate and securities law. He is now Of Counsel to the Firm. Bill also serves as the chairman of the Chicago Humanities Festival.
He has been married to Anne since 1971 and they live in Deerfield, Illinois. They have three children and five grandsons.
Founded the Gray Wolves rugby team, a team comprised of minority players who crossed the country playing rugby and interacting with local youths and educating them on rugby, education, drugs, violence, teen parenthood and more while visiting some of the toughest detention centers in the nation.
At age 42, Ram walked from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. He made the 2600 mile trek in 90 days, getting rugby balls signed along the way.
Ram has coached the Idaho State University Men's and women's rugby teams for the past 19 years.
He has served as president of the Utah Rugby Union Collegiate Division, the USA Rugby Board of Directors, and is currently the Commissioner of the Mountain States Collegiate Rugby Conference.
Ram started playing rugby in 1974 in Pocatello, Idaho. He played 10 years in Pocatello and was a threat as a winger, fly half, and inside center, and one season he scored 22 tries. His talent was noticed by others as well as Ram was selected to the All Idaho Select side. He became a player-coach for Pocatello before moving to Portland, Oregon where he played three years as a winger with the Portland Pigs. One year the team advanced to the West Coast Playoffs.
Ram moved to Savannah, Georgia where he played with the Savannah Shamrocks as a starting winger and inside center. While in Savannah, he was elected President of the club and began his journey on the road to being an administrator. One of the biggest concerns Ram had about rugby was the lack of minority players in the game. Often he would be the only player of color at games or tournaments. He was constantly trying to talk men of color into playing rugby.
The lack of minority players in rugby led him to organize the Grey Wolves rugby team. He chose the name “Grey Wolves” because he felt that wolves signified rugby; running in a pack, team work, always going forward, and pressuring the enemy. In the spring of 1991, the first Grey Wolves team came together at the Savannah Shamrocks Saint Paddy’s Day tournament, winning their first game as a team. Ram was the player coach.
During their time in Savannah, the Grey Wolves came up with the idea of interacting with youth in the schools and thus started their Honorary Captain’s program for youth. They would ask teachers to select two students, one male and one female, who were not the greatest students, but ones who had been a challenge, but had made a change and were doing well. They would hold a semi-formal dinner and honor these students with awards. As the program grew, the team realized they could not go into a school and talk to young people and not have any follow up. They began to require local teams hosting tournaments to follow up in the schools after the Grey Wolves visited.
For 10 years the Grey Wolves travelled the nation playing and interacting with youth and sending positive messages about rugby, education, drugs, violence, teen parenthood and more while visiting some of the toughest detention centers in the nation. One of their greatest rewards came from the State of Kansas Legislators who honored them with a state proclamation.
Ram retired from playing at the age of forty and following this his coaching career began to take off. He was an assistant coach with Denver University and helped to start an inner city team in Denver. Ram coached at Colorado College and then coached the Black Ice Women’s Rugby Club in Denver, taking them to a National Qualifier in 1994. It was while coaching the Black Ice team that he learned to respect the women’s game and has remained a great advocate of women’s rugby and helped to promote women’s rugby nationwide.
With the Grey Wolves, Ram developed his coaching philosophy and style of play. He learned how to work with groups of great athletes, each with their own personalities. He learned how to get the best from his players and how to help them take their play to the next level. He believed all of his players could improve and that encompassed his coaching philosophy.
At the age of forty-two, Ram left Los Angeles, California heading for Washington D.C. on a walk across America to promote youth rugby. It took ninety days to make the 2600 mile trip. Ram carried rugby balls for people to sign as he was walking. These were later sent to President Clinton. One of the people Ram met while going across America was Utah Jazz great, Karl Malone. Ram recalls the walk was tough and at times he wanted to quit, but each time he considered quitting, he would meet young people at just the right time who would encourage him to keep going.
Ram returned to Idaho where he coached a men’s club team, the Boise Lions and for a short time with Boise State University. He was offered a job at Idaho State University and moved to Pocatello, Idaho where he started coaching the local women’s team the Pocatello Goddesses.
In 1995, he was asked to coach the Idaho State University men’s team and later the ISU women’s team, often coaching them both at the same time. He believed that men and women practicing together could help both develop and it was successful. Ram has coached for 19 years building the Idaho State Program into a nationally and internationally recognized program. He successfully negotiated with the university administration to get a rugby field for the ISU program and eventually out-of-state fee waivers for recruitment. He organized a run from Northern Idaho to Pocatello (788 miles) and helped his team raise $8,000 for equipment. He has taken the men’s team to the playoffs three times and the Elite 8 once. He has served as President of the Utah Rugby Union Collegiate Division, the USA Rugby Board of Directors, and is currently the Commissioner of the Mountain States Collegiate Rugby conference.
Ram understands that rugby and education must work together and as the coach at ISU he has amassed an 80% graduation rate. Ram and his teams have been involved with various community organizations including the Human Rights Commission in Oregon, the Idaho Food Bank, Aid for Friends homeless shelter, the NAACP, diabetes camps for kids, and the Native American Club. In 2015, the Idaho State University rugby program is celebrating their 20th anniversary which has all been under Ram’s leadership.
Rugby has built amazing friendships for Ram and he has seen young people grow as players and human beings from playing the game. As William Webb Ellis would say, he has given to rugby “with a fine disregard.”
Joined USA Rugby's Board in 1994.
Bob is a two-time Chairman of USA Rugby and is the longest serving board member in USA Rugby history.
Led USA Rugby's efforts to become a member of the United States Olympic Committee in 1998 and was a member of the USOC Board of Directors from 2000-2004.
Bob is currently on the World Rugby Council (formerly the International Rugby Board) and the World Rugby Executive Committee, the first American to be elected to such a position.
Chairman of the World Rugby Regulations Committee and was a strong advocate for the inclusion of Rugby 7s into the Olympic program.
Bob Latham began his rugby career as a student at Stanford University in 1978. He continued to play while in law school with the Virginia Rugby Club, then played for 13 years with the Dallas Harlequins. He was selected to play for various representative sides during his playing career, including the Texas Rugby Union.
As his playing career wound down, he became active in rugby administration, joining the USA Rugby Board in 1994. He is a two time Chairman of USA Rugby and is the longest serving board member in USA Rugby history. He led USA Rugby’s efforts to become a member of the United States Olympic Committee in 1998 and was a member of the USOC Board of Directors from 2000-2004. He also led the restructuring of USA Rugby to a nine member board in 2006.
Bob is currently on the World Rugby Council (formerly International Rugby Board) and on the World Rugby Executive Committee, the first American to be elected to such a position. He is the Chairman of the World Rugby Regulations Committee and was a strong advocate for the admission of Rugby 7’s into the Olympic program. From 2009 to 2013, he was the President of the North American Caribbean Rugby Association, and he is currently the Vice Chairman of the Pan American Rugby Association.
He has practiced law with Jackson Walker L.L.P. in Dallas for 32 years.
Founded the Dallas Harlequins Rugby Club in 1971.
Past President of the Texas Rugby Football Union.
Past Secretary and President of the Western Rugby Union.
Represented the Western Rugby Union on the Board of the USARFU.
Co-Founder of the old boys's sides Wildebeestes, Old Hat and The Texas XXXs.
Nelson Spencer was introduced to rugby while a freshman at Cornell during the spring of 1958 but was lured away with the prospect of playing indoor club polo with the school's elite team. He earned a gold medal but lost out on a golden opportunity to get an earlier start on what would be a lifetime interest.
He played college and club soccer for a number of years and in the mid-60's took up cricket for something altogether different. An English teammate was also a keen rugger and devoted much of his spare time in trying to find others interested in forming a rugby club in the city. In the late fall of 1968, he called Nelson and invited him to join the newly hatched Dallas (Reds) RFC. Nelson immediately jumped in and is credited with having scored the second try (then worth three points) in the club's history. He was a charter member, officer and regular First XV player until in the late fall of 1970 decided that Dallas needed a second club and left to form Dallas Harlequins in January of 1971. The English Rugby Football Union was celebrating its centennial anniversary in 1971 and Nelson selected the name Harlequins from the original list of founding members.
In 1972 he was elected president of the Texas Rugby Football Union, a post he held until 1976. During the period he, along with his close friend and predecessor Gail Tennant, became an active participant in the formation of the Western United States Rugby Football Union and then in 1975, the United States of America Rugby Football Union. He was on hand for the Eagles' match with Australia in 1976 in Anaheim and in Chicago for the contest with France later that year. He followed the Eagles to England in 1977 and was greatly pleased to be seated next to Sir Wavell Wakefield of Kendal, the former Harlequins' Captain and former President of the Rugby Football Union at the Eagles - England match at Twickenham.
During the late '70s and early '80s Nelson became increasingly involved in the leadership of the Western RFU. He was elected Secretary and later President. He was appointed by the West to the Board of the USARFU in 1980. In 1982 he chaired the Western RFU's hosting of An England XV on their six match tour of North America. This was his first meeting with England's skipper and scrum-half Nigel Melville. Also in that year he was appointed Chairman of the USA Rugby Football Club, a device for raising funds for the Eagles' 1983 Tour to Australia. For his work on this campaign Nelson was awarded the USARFU President's Award in June of 1983. After a brief hiatus Nelson was re-appointed to the USARFU Board in 1994. He earned a USARFU Level I Coaching Certificate in 1995 and a Level II Certificate in 1997.
Starting in the mid-70s Nelson enjoyed involvement in Over-30s rugby. He was a co-founder of Wildebeestes, Old Hat and The Texas XXXs RFCs. He was a member of Dale Toohey's 1979 Bald Eagles Tour to New Zealand and participated in the first Air New Zealand Golden Oldies Festival in Auckland. Subsequently he has joined the Texas XXXs at Golden Oldie events in Long Beach, London, Vancouver, Toulouse and San Diego. He has also been a guest player for the (London) Harlequins Gentlemen and for Dallas Harlequins on their Cayman Island Tour. He is an Honorary Vice-President of London Welsh and of Rosslyn Park and a member of the Dallas RFC Hall of Fame.
Nelson has also been involved in rowing (sculling) and was a founder of the Dallas Rowing Club and served as a board member and was recently elected an Emeritus Member. He is also a devoted runner having competed in Marathons from Vancouver to Philadelphia and is a consistent age-group medalist in Dallas 5 and 10K races.
He married Brenda in 1981 and together they have two beautiful and talented daughters.
Rick was a four-sport star in high school.
Was an integral part of five consecutive national championship Old Blues teams, and named MVP at one of the championships.
Was on several Northern California and Pacific Coast All Star teams.
Earned 11 caps for the U.S. Eagles, the most caps for a prop in his playing generation.
Served as assistant coach at his alma mater, Cal, from 1991-1994.
Rick Bailey, a Napa High Hall of Fame inductee, was a four sport star in high school before being a standout football and rugby student-athlete at the University of California from 1974-77. He later led the Old Blues RFC to the inaugural National Club Championship in 1979, the first of five consecutive National Club Championships for the Old Blues. While being voted MVP in one of the Championships, Bailey was instrumental in all of those campaigns at his customary loose-head prop position.
In representative rugby he was a mainstay on the Northern California Pelicans and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies, winning Territorial Championships with the latter.
Bailey was selected to the USA National Team (Eagles) in 1979 and went on to earn a total of 11 international caps, making him the most-capped U.S. international prop of his playing generation, 1976-1987. In 1987 Bailey represented the USA in the inaugural Rugby World Cup, starting against Japan in a 21-18 victory and again vs. England in a respectable showing. After the 1987 RWC Bailey retired from international rugby. Following his retirement, Bailey featured for the Classic Eagles over several years in the World Rugby Classic held annually in Bermuda. He later returned to his alma mater, where he served as a National Collegiate Championship winning assistant rugby coach from 1991-1994.
Dave Sitton was born in Los Angeles, California to Margie and Herschel Sitton in 1955. He was one of two children, growing up with his sister Margie. With parents who were restaurant owners, Sitton began working at the age of nine as a dishwasher in the family restaurant. He attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA and while he excelled in all sports, his true passion was baseball.
Sitton attended the University of Arizona intending to play baseball, but experienced numerous shoulder injuries that changed his game. It was at that time that he discovered the sport of rugby. During his senior year, he put in time playing the dual role of rugby coach and player.
After his retirement as a player, Sitton transitioned to coaching rugby at the University of Arizona. The Wildcat program became a model for other collegiate programs to follow. Over the course of his 35-year coaching tenure, he mentored and developed over 1,600 players. He considered this his true lifetime professional achievement. He led the Wildcats to the quarterfinals of the USA Sevens CRCs and in 2012, they competed in the championship match.
In addition to his duties at Arizona, Sitton also served as the General Manager and Assistant Coach for the U.S. National Collegiate All Americans. He also served on the USA Rugby Board of Directors.
Announcing UA football, basketball, and baseball games from 1990-2012, Sitton won two Emmy awards for his work that included appearances on ESPN, ABC, and NBC. His sports broadcast career spanned three decades and during that time he became the worldwide voice of rugby in the U.S. Sitton was named “Man of the Year” by both the Tucson Ad Federation (1994) and the Tucson Chamber of Commerce (1996). In 2006, he received the American Ad Federation Silver Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement.
He believed that the mentoring of young men was crucial to the future of our nation and worked to educate them on the value of competition, living by the golden rule, and the fundamental truths that make fine young men. His radio show, The Daily Male, was targeted specifically for young men between the ages of 18-24 and focused on issues and values that pertained to character building. Sitton received numerous awards for his service to young men including the Lute Olson “Scouts Honor Award” from the Boy Scouts of America, the “Bear Down Award” from the University of Arizona Alumni Association, the “Honorary Bobcat” from the University of Arizona, and the Tucson Father’s Day Council “Father of the Year 2006”.
Sitton considered his toughest battle in life was to beat lymphoma cancer. However, as a cancer survivor, he knew he had a great opportunity to help others in their fight against the disease. He worked for the Arizona Cancer Center, developing their marketing department. Sitton also served on the board of Tee Up for Tots and Steele Memorial Children’s Research Center, two organizations dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer. His radio show, Cancer Fighters, was dedicated to helping educate and inform the audience about the current advances in the fight against cancer.
Another of Sitton’s radio shows, American Warrior, was dedicated to active duty and retired military personnel, highlighting the bravery and dedication of all who serve our Nation. He served as an Honorary Commander for the USAF 55th Rescue Squadron of Davis Monthan Air Force Base. He also served on the Board of Directors for Davis Monthan Air Force Base “50”. He received the U.S. Marine Corps “Outstanding Citizen Citation” in 2009. A true renaissance man, he was also Chairman of the Board for the Tucson Pops Orchestra.
Dave passed away from a pulmonary embolism in 2013, leaving behind many who loved and admired him, especially his two daughters, Olivia and Elizabeth, and his sister, Margie.
Began playing rugby while attending St. Mary's College. Went onto play for 10 years with the Santa Monica Rugby Club, one of the top teams in the country at the time.
Was arguably the premiere #8 in the United States during the late 1970s.
Played against Wales “B” in 1980, and Italy and Fiji in 1980 for the Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
Played for the USA Eagles from 1977-1979 and captained the team in 1979. He was on the U.S. team that won their first international in the modern era.
Andrews was also one of the leaders of the USA Cougars team that toured South Africa in 1978.
Brad Andrews was born in Inglewood, California to Francis and Betty Andrews in 1949. He was one of three brothers. While attending St. Mary’s College, he commenced his rugby career in 1967. He graduated St. Mary’s with a degree in Biology.
He was a stalwart on several west coast rugby clubs in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1972, he played with the Old Gaels Rugby Club. In 1973, he started a 10-year run with the Santa Monica Rugby Club, one of the top teams in the country at the time. Following his stint with the Dolphins, he played for Belmont Shore then finished his career with Orlando in 1991. Andrews was selected for the Los Angeles County and Southern California Griffins Representative Sides numerous times from 1973-1984. He played for the Pacific Coast Grizzlies from 1977-1981, including matches against Wales “B”, Italy and Fiji.
Andrews, arguably the premiere #8 in the United States in the late 70s, was the kind of player that everyone wanted on their team, bringing ferocity and fairness in his play. He played the game for over 20 years and was selected to represent the U.S. National Team from 1977-1979. He was part of the Eagles touring side to England in 1977 and rose to captain the national team in 1979. Andrews was also one of the leaders of the USA Cougars team that toured South Africa in 1978.
Married to Alice, Andrews has been a Zoological Director for 44 years. He is currently the Chief Zoological Director Emeritus at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. His service extends to the board of many animal conservation organizations including the International Elephant Foundation, Cheetah Conservation Foundation, and Wildlife Alliance, among many others.
Began playing rugby in 1978 with the Grand Rapids Gazelles Rugby Club.
Played in the first two Rugby World Cups in XVs and the first Rugby World Cup in VIIs.
Represented the United States in 22 full internationals and 21 sevens internationals.
Played on five National Club Championship XVs teams and two National Club Championship VIIs teams with OMBAC.
Has been the on-air talent for over 700 rugby television broadcasts.
Was the Executive Director of the USA Rugby Super League from 1996-1999.
Brian Vizard was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Jack and Barbara Vizard on July 4, 1959. He was the youngest of six children. Vizard played all sports growing up including baseball and golf. But he really found success in ice hockey, receiving All-City Honors as an ice hockey defenseman while attending Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School. In the spring of 1978, he discovered rugby and was at the first practice the Grand Rapids Rugby Club ever had.
Vizard was an instrumental player at the club level. He played a key role for OMBAC when they won five national club titles and two national sevens championships. He was also a part of several San Diego County, Southern California Griffins, and Pacific Coast Grizzlies championship teams.
In 1986, Vizard made his debut for the USA Men’s National 15s and 7s Teams. He represented the USA in both the 1987 and 1991 15s Rugby World Cups, captaining the 1991 team. He captained the team for eight matches and earned 22 caps during his career. In 7s, he represented the USA at the inaugural Sevens Rugby World Cup in 1993 and was a three-time participant at the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament. Vizard appeared in 21 sevens international matches for the red, white and blue. He retired from internationals 15s in 1991 and 7s in 1993. Over the course of his career, he journeyed on 22 international tours.
Since his retirement from playing rugby, Vizard has dedicated his life to giving back to the sport. He was a member of the USA Rugby Board from 1996-1998. He was the Executive Director of the U.S. Rugby Super League from 1996-1999. Vizard is one of the four worldwide vice presidents of the Rugby Memorabilia Society.
Vizard has been an on-air talent for over 700 rugby television broadcasts dating back to 1995. He co-hosted a weekly international rugby studio broadcast on Fox Sports World. He also appeared on Fox Sports 1, NBC Universal, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, FOX, FOX Soccer Channel, FOX Soccer Plus, all of FOX Regional Affiliates, Versus, Oxygen, and Prime Ticket.
In 2014, Vizard won the Craig Sweeney Award, an honor bestowed on past U.S. international players that have given back to the sport. In 2015, he was inducted into the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Sports Hall of Fame.
Vizard currently serves as the President of the United States Rugby Foundation. He has done so since 2004. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Kathleen. He enjoys time with his daughter, Ashley, and two grandkids, Mia and Malakai.
George Betzler was born in Philadelphia to George and Mary Roddy Betzler in 1948. One of seven children, he grew up in Garrett Hill and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Inspired while watching the Villanova collegiate team play its matches near his home in Bryn Mawr, Betzler began playing rugby in 1962 at the age of 19.
He played rugby for about 14 years with the Philadelphia Rugby Club. In the early 1970s, he made the transition from player to coach and became the Head Coach at Whitemarsh Rugby Club. In 1985, Philadelphia and Whitemarsh merged and he took the helm of the newly formed Philadelphia Whitemarsh Club, and for over 30 years Betzler remained head coach of the team. Philadelphia Whitemarsh realized great success under his leadership, winning league, regional and east titles. The team vied for a National Championship and became one of the strongest, best run, and most organized clubs in the country and was one of the founding member clubs of the premier competition in the country at that time, the USA Rugby Super League.
In addition to delivering excellent team results, Betzler also excelled in individual players development. Many Philadelphia Whitemarsh players went on to be selected for the USA National Team.
His technical skills and development capabilities did not go unrecognized. He was selected for numerous local, regional, and national level head coaching positions including the Eastern Penn Select Side, USA East, Marine Corp All-Service Team, the USA All-Stars (7s and 15s) and the USA Maccabi Team. Due to his success with these teams, he was appointed as Assistant Coach of the USA National Team at the 1987 Rugby World Cup. That same year, Betzler was named head coach of the USA Eagles on the tour to Wales, becoming the first American-born rugby coach to ever hold this position. Following his tenure as USA Head Coach, he continued as the USA Assistant Coach, providing his expertise to USA Rugby as a National Team Selector and Advisor, Game Development Officer, National Technical Panel member, and Licensed IRB Coach Educator for many years.
After retirement from his full time profession at AT&T/Lucent, Betzler became something of a “traveling professor of rugby.” He has conducted coaching, referee, and player development clinics across the U.S., from grassroots to international level, providing consultancy to numerous local clubs, high school, college and the USA National Team. Recently, he returned to the hands-on role of head coaching, spending several seasons with North Penn RFC and Brandywine Rugby Club.
He currently enjoys golfing, coaching here and there when asked to help, watching rugby, and spending time with his wife, Helen, also known as “Saint” Helen. They share four children, Bernadette, Barry, Brenda, and Brian (deceased) and six grandchildren, Connor James (deceased), Caroline, Julia, Lily, Theodore and Reagan.
John Jacob “Jay” Berwanger was born in 1914 in Dubuque, Iowa. His parents, John and Pauline, had four other children, Dorothy, Eleanor, Elizabeth, and Paul. He grew up in Dubuque and attended Marshall Elementary School, Jefferson Junior High, and Dubuque High School where he played football, wrestled, and ran track.
After high school, he attended the University of Chicago and was a star halfback for the school’s Chicago Maroons football team. He was known as the “one man football team.” During a game against the Michigan Wolverines in 1934, he left his mark on Michigan center Gerald Ford in the form of a distinctive scar on the future U.S. President’s left cheek. Ford often said that he thought of Berwanger every morning (when he shaved). He also competed in track and field for Chicago, setting a school decathlon record in 1936 that stood until 2007.
In 1935, Berwanger became the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy. (The following year the award was renamed the Heisman Trophy.) He became the first player to be drafted by the NFL in its inaugural 1936 NFL Draft. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles but they traded him to George Halas and the Chicago Bears. Unable to reach an agreement over salary with the Bears, Berwanger took a job with a Chicago rubber company and became a part-time coach at the University of Chicago.
In an effort to appease his athletic desire, he started playing rugby. He was the headliner on the Chicago team that won 19 straight matches and claimed the national championship in 1939. In mid-November, Chicago posted a 24-9 win over New York before 10,000 shivering fans at Soldier Field. The game and Berwanger’s influence stimulated interest in cross-regional matches because during that time, people simply did not travel out of their regions to play club rugby. He demonstrated that club rugby should be played on wider geographical scope.
That game featured the first two winners of the Heisman trophy – Berwanger and Yale’s Larry Kelly, representing New York. In another rugby match, Berwanger also faced off against Joseph Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s older brother. In 1961, when Berwanger met JFK, they did not make mention of football or the Heisman. Instead, they talked about rugby. He loved his time with rugby and deeply appreciated the friendships he made and the spirit of the game. Pearl Harbor ended his rugby playing, as he enlisted in the Naval Air Force. He was a flight instructor, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Just after the start of his rugby career and a few years prior to his enlistment, Berwanger married Philomela Baker. They had three children: John, Cuyler “Butch”, and Helen.
After the war, Berwanger began a successful career as a businessman. He also began officiating collegiate football, including Big Ten games, Notre Dame, and the 1949 Rose Bowl. In 1954, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Two years after his first wife passed, Berwanger remarried an old friend, Jane Temple. They were married for 20 years until her death. Berwanger passed away in 2002 in Illinois.
Kathy Flores was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1955 to Joseph and Catherine Flores. She matriculated into East Stroudsburg University (East Stroudsburg, PA) in 1973 and graduated with a B.A. in Physical Education in 1977. During her four years there, she played basketball and ran track. It was not until she moved to Florida that she found rugby. From 1978-1994, Flores played dual roles as both captain and coach for the Florida State University Rugby Team, and was instrumental in leading the squad to Division I National Championships in 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1985. She earned a spot with the Eastern Rugby Union team in 1984 and was a mainstay with the ERU for the next 10 years.
With the creation of the USA Women’s National Team in 1985 there were more opportunities. Flores was selected to the team during its initial year and in 1987, captained Team USA during its first international match versus Canada. In 1991, she was selected to the U.S. Women’s National Team for the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup and led the U.S. to their first and only (to date) world title. According to Flores “I don’t know if there is any way to describe winning something that had always been a dream and something no one outside the U.S. ever thought we could do. It was so fleeting, really, the moment the whistle went off. It was jubilation and then the next day we were thinking how we could do it again in three years.”
She continued her international playing career until 1994 and then moved on to coach the Berkeley All Blues, the premier women’s team in the USA. Over the course of her time there, she led the team to 15 National Championship titles and 46 of the players she coached at Berkeley went onto represent the U.S. in international competition.
Flores has coached a diverse score of teams and found success at every level. She coached the Cal Berkeley Women’s Rugby Team from 1999-2003, leading them to their first Sweet 16s appearance in 2001. In 2009, she coached the University of San Francisco Women’s Team to first and second place finishes in the Northern California Collegiate Division II Competition. She began coaching the San Francisco FOG Men’s Rugby Team in 2010. In 2012, she led the Pacific Coast All Star Rugby Team to a National Title at the USA Rugby National All Star Competition.
Her national team coaching experience commenced in 2000 when she was appointed to the role of USA Rugby Development Officer to the Women’s National Team. In 2002, she was officially named the USA Women’s National Team head coach and served in that role until 2010. The USA finished fifth at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Flores has received many well-deserved accolades over her career. In 2000, she was named Coach of the Year by both rugbyrugby.com and the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 2003, she was the IRB Women’s Personality of the Year for her further development of women’s rugby. And in 2014, she was named the USA Rugby Coach of the Year. She has been the head coach of the Brown University Women’s Varsity Rugby Team since 2013.
Steve Gray was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Ford and Helen Gray in 1948. He attended the University of Arizona on a golf scholarship but struggled with his game and looked for other athletic outlets. In his senior year, 1969, he saw an ad in the Daily Wildcat, the school paper, to play rugby. He thought rugby involved sticks (lacrosse) and with his golf background and love for football, he’d be a natural. It was the team’s 1st year and with no coach (and no sticks), they just scrimmaged and then headed to a bar. His thoughts were, “This is a lot more fun than golf!”
Over the course of his career, Gray played every position in the backline. His club career was quite extensive, having played for the University of Arizona, UCLA, Los Angeles Rugby Club, West Rand (South Africa), Merthyr (Wales), Vail RFC, the University of Miami, OMBAC, and Sacramento RFC.
Gray was a member of the first USA Eagles 15s rugby team during the modern era in 1976. He was also the captain of the first Eagles 7s team that went to Hong Kong in 1980. Over the course of his international career, he earned six caps in 15s and 18 caps in 7s. He played with the Overseas International Rugby Team that played Wales in their Centenary Season Series in 1981.
Gray has successfully coached several clubs in his career. His first endeavor was with the Los Angeles Rugby Club from 1979-1980 and UCLA in 1981. During his term, both LARC and UCLA were league champions. From 1985-1987, he coached San Diego State University and was a player coach for OMBAC 7s. OMBAC was crowned National Champions in 1985 and placed third in 1986, while SDSU went on to win a National 15s Collegiate Championship in 1987.
He moved north in 1987 to work as a professor at California State University Sacramento. Between 1997 and 2000, Gray coached Davis High School. Davis HS were league champions in 1999 and third in the Northern California Playoffs in 2000. He coached UC Davis for several years between 2001 and 2013, including the 7s team. UC Davis won the DII National Championship in 2015, while Gray was serving as Coach Coordinator. In 2009, he coached River City High School and in 2012, Rio Linda, both located in lower socio-economic areas.
In 1984, Gray sparked his high-level coaching career with the Pacific Coast Grizzlies 7s Team. In 1985, he led them to a National All Star Title. He coached the USA National 7s Team in selected tournaments in 1985-1986, 1993, and 1989-1999. The team earned a second place finish in the 1993 Lisbon International 7s Tournament and in 1986 they won the Plate at the Hong Kong 7s.
Beyond both his playing and coaching career, Gray has remained a contributor to the game. Since 2010, he has been a World Rugby Educator and Trainer, presenting rugby coaching certification courses and training coach educators for USA Rugby. He particularly loves working with the many new coaches who are entering youth rugby, ensuring the future of the game in this country. In 2011, he became a certified referee. He has worked with both the USA Women’s and Men’s National 7s teams at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA in an effort to develop a USA Rugby 7s course. In 2014, he presented the USA Rugby 7s course to coaches in California.
Gray was inducted into the San Diego State Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. Although he no longer plays rugby, he remains a competitive athlete, having taken up Crossfit. He has qualified for the CrossFit Games twice in the Masters 60+ Division. He now helps train CrossFit athletes at his son’s gym (CrossFit Analog) in Sacramento,
He recently started a faculty early retirement program at California State University Sacramento where he teaches in the fall and takes the rest of the year off to enjoy time with his wife, Jackie, sons, Andrew and Jesse, daughter-in-law Marlo, and grandson (and future rugger) Woodson.
Dan Lyle was born September 28, 1970 to Mike and Carol Lyle in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the youngest of three children. As the son of a two star general, Dan grew up in 13 different cities before he turned 18. Playing all sports throughout his childhood, he chose football quite late but went on to have an outstanding collegiate career at the Virginia Military Institute. After college, he pursued the NFL, trying out for the Washington Redskins and later earning a contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Lyle took up rugby at the age of 23 to maintain his athletic skills in the event that the NFL called his number.
Over the course of three years, Lyle played for three club teams and three representative sides domestically. From 1993 -1994 he played with the Washington RFC. In the summer of 1994, he played with Aspen. Lyle appeared for OMBAC from 1995-1996, leading them to victory at the 1995 Club 7s and the 1996 Club 15s Championships. In 1994, he represented both Potomac and the ERU and in 1995-1996, Southern California.
Lyle received an offer to play football with the Vikings at the same time he received an offer from the Bath Football Club, a premier professional rugby club in England. He followed his heart, choosing rugby, and went on to earn the name “Captain America” amongst British rugby circles. He played with Bath from 1996-2003, serving as team captain on several occasions from 1998-2003, and leading the team in the 2000-01 season. He made 125 senior appearances for Bath and led the team to the European Championship title in 1998. During his time with Bath, he was recognized as the 1996-97 Premiership New Comer of the Year; All World 15s in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003; Rugby World and Rugby News Magazines Best Number 8 Globally; and Premiership and European Player of the Month and Premiership Man of the Match on several occasions.
In 1994, Lyle made his international debut with the U.S. National Team, the Eagles, against Ireland. Two years later, he was promoted to captain. In total, he made 51 appearances and capped 45 times for the USA. He was recognized on numerous occasions as the “Man of the Match.” In 1994, he also made his first appearance for the USA 7s Team. He represented the U.S. at four Hong Kong 7s Tournaments. He was the U.S. team captain at the 1997 7s World Cup, leading the USA to a Bowl victory. He retired from national team play upon the conclusion of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Lyle appeared for the prestigious international invitational side, the Barbarians, in 1997 and 2000. During his first match, he was named Man of the Match. He also made 12 appearances for Leicester from 2003-2004. After his stint with Leicester, he retired from professional rugby.
Balancing his life as a player and a businessman, Lyle served as a club representative to the English Professional Players Association and served on the Executive Board for five years. A multimedia professional, Lyle has broad speaking and broadcast experience, working with NBC, NBC Sports Network, ESPN, Fox Sports, various oversees broadcasters, and others as a color and studio analyst.
He currently serves as the Executive Vice President for United World Sports/USA Sevens, LLC. He joined the company in 2006 and served as tournament director for the USA Sevens before moving to his current position in 2010. He oversees the USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament in Las Vegas, the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, the ProSoccer MLS Preseason Challenge, and works directly within the company with their publication, Rugby Today, and their sports brand, Rhino Rugby.
Lyle is an avid reader, golfer, volunteer coach, Airborne qualified and Eagle Scout. He resides in Lafayette, Colorado with his wife, Becky, and three sons, Harry, Jack, and Matthew.
John Chase was born in Portland, Oregon to Margaret and Leslie Chase in 1942. The oldest of three brothers, he lived and went to school in Portland through fifth grade then moved with his family to Long Island, New York in 1952. In 1958, the Chases moved to Sacramento, California and John graduated from El Camino HS in 1960. Upon graduating from El Camino, he attended UC Davis where he played football and baseball.
Dr. Chase attended the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. While taking part in a surgical clerkship at Guy's Hospital in London, he was invited to play rugby because of his “gridiron” background. Hugh Burry, a former New Zealand All Black who was in post graduate training at Guy’s, coached the team. The Guy's "first fifteen” rugby side won the prestigious London Hospital's Cup in 1966. Dr. Chase recalls “how fortunate I was to have such an excellent example of rugby football to learn from.” This experience led to many wonderful experiences for him as a player, beginning in the States with the Denver Barbarians in 1967. He was a member of the San Francisco Rugby Club that won the prestigious Aspen Ruggerfest in 1969.
While working as an orthopedic surgeon, he was called to active duty for Desert Storm with the US Air Force. Dr. Chase was stationed at a contingency Hospital in Lincoln, England where he finished his playing career with the Lincoln Rugby Club.
From 1977-1997 Dr. Chase served as the team physician for the United States National Team, the Eagles, including numerous domestic matches against France, Canada , Wales, and the historic match against South Africa in New York in 1981. Dr. Chase also accompanied the Eagles on their first tour to England. His trip with the team to England set the precedent of a national team traveling with their own sports medicine specialist. The London Mail published an article entitled “Eagles Fly with Their Own Field Surgeon.” The RFU invited Dr. Chase to join the traveling party before the international match between England and the USA. Previously, the RFU had not allowed Dr. Chase to be considered part of the touring party, as they wanted to only use their physicians. Dr. Chase became the USA Rugby Medical Advisor and developed the infrastructure, and medical supervision and support of USA Rugby event and matches.
Dr. Chase became the Medical Editor of Rugby Magazine, writing a monthly column, “Medical Corner,” with articles on sports medicine, athletic training, injury prevention and treatment. He helped in the production of a medical care, injury prevention, and treatment video that was funded by the USA Rugby and he contributed to changing the laws of rugby to lower the incidence of cervical injury in the transition of scrum rules to “crouch, touch and engage”.
He was invited to be a visiting orthopedic surgeon in New Zealand in 1983-1984 and he worked as a medical advisor to the NZRFU on rugby safety and technical clinics. In 1984, he was the team physician for the All Blacks at the Hong Kong 7s, and the Eagles tour to Japan in 1985 and Wales in 1987. In 1987, he worked with Professor John Davies, the Welsh RFU Medical Officer, to found an International College of Rugby Physicians. He was the only U.S. doctor invited to be an associate member of the International Rugby Football Board Medical Committee when he represented USA Rugby at their meeting in London in 1988.
Today, Dr. Chase enjoys “semi retirement” with his wife of nearly 50 years, Susan. They share three children, Mike, Sarah, and Hilary and one incredible five-year old granddaughter, Zoë. He volunteers as a ringside physician for USA Boxing and is a member of the UCSF Orthopedic Clinical Faculty.
For the women of the 1991 U.S.A. Women Eagles team, the road to the 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup was less than ideal. Nonetheless, their love and passion for the game and national pride led them to become the only U.S.A. Rugby team in history to win a Rugby World Cup.
From the beginning, the team was burdened by a lack of resources and funding in their preparation for the 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup. At the time, there was little to no funding for women’s rugby; players paid for their travel costs out of pocket and many were in debt for months and years to come. The team did everything they could to make the journey to Cardiff, Wales possible, from surviving on a small team stipend from the Women’s Sports Foundation, hosting fundraisers, and making and selling t-shirts to cover expenses.
Adding another layer of difficulty, unlike in today’s day and age where team training camps are the norm, the 1991 team members were hardly familiar with one another as anything other than representative and club-side opponents. The Eagles had never practiced together as a national team before arriving in Cardiff, let alone actually played together as a team. All odds were against the 1991 Women Eagles team going into hostile U.K. territory, but with leadership, vision and guidance from Coaches Kevin O’Brien and Chris Leach, the team got to work and began to gel.
The Eagles’ 7-0 win over the Netherlands in the opening pool-play match, played in a torrential downpour that hobbled the Eagles dynamic backline, caused some media and rugby naysayers to scoff and suggest that Americans didn’t know how to play rugby, all but predicting an eventual tournament win for the English. Undeterred, the Eagles kept their heads down, ignored the media, and continued to train hard, gaining momentum and handily destroying the U.S.S.R., 46-0 in their next pool match. In the semi-final, the Eagles dominated all phases of play, including a walkover try against the heralded Black Ferns (“All Blacks”) scrum, and ‘upset’ powerhouse New Zealand 7-0 in the semi-final match.
On April 14, 1991, the Eagles had overcome all obstacles and faced England in the first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup Final at Cardiff Arms Park. As the Eagles walked to the venerated pitch from their nearby hotel, shouts from the street and nearby businesses rained down upon them; well-wishers lined up at the gates of the sacred Cardiff rugby grounds, cheering “USA! USA!!” and urging the Eagles to “BEAT England!”
A dominant Eagles performance in the World Cup final broke the backs and spirit of England, and etched the 1991 Women Eagles in the record books with a 19-6 win, their name to be engraved on the first-ever Women’s Rugby World Cup and forever in Rugby history.
After the 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup victory, more women and girls were playing rugby than ever before. The 1991 U.S.A. Women’s Rugby World Cup team changed the sport of women’s rugby forever, providing an international spotlight for rugby in America and continual inspiration for the growth and development of girl’s and women’s rugby today.
Frustrated from a growth spurt that deterred him from becoming a collegiate wrestler, Steve Finkel played his first rugby game at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1972. In his first four years of play, he earned the reputation as one of the fastest, hardest hitting flankers in the Midwest. He caught the attention of the Midwest Territorial Team coaching staff and was invited to try out for the team. The young rugger subsequently found a home in the Scioto Valley Rugby Football Club where he honed his skills and continued to learn the game.
After refining his skills, Finkel quickly became a fixture on the Ohio Sub Union Team and the Midwest Territorial Team. In 1980, he tried out for the U.S.A. Eagles and embraced a reserve position throughout the 80s. He appeared in multiple international matches, including the inaugural Hong Kong 7s Tournament and was capped 23 times in international 7s matches for the Eagles. As an Eagles 15s member, he was capped six times and was a member of the first Rugby World Cup team in 1987. Finkel also played 7s in Scotland, England, Canada, and Australia.
After his retirement from international play, Finkel embarked on a new phase of his rugby career and began to coach for The Ohio State University. In 1988, he led OSU to two final four spots, posting 3rd place finishes in 1990 and 1991. Finkel was highly sought by the Midwest Union and Ohio Rugby Union and later began coaching for the Midwest Under 23 team, the Ohio Sub Union team, and the Midwest 7s team. The ultimate request came from fellow Eagle and U.S. National coach, Jack Clark, who asked Finkel to coach the U.S. 7s team, an honor that Finkel accepted and held onto for five years.
Finkel would go on to coach the Eagles 7s team at tournaments in Australia, Sicily, Spain, England, Portugal, Fiji, Uruguay, Argentina, Taiwan, Hawaii and was the coach of the Eagles 7s that took part in the first ever Sevens Rugby World Cup, in Scotland, in 1993. In 2005, Steve began to give back to his hometown team of Scioto Valley and led them to Division I precedence through 2014.
Off the pitch, he started a metal fabrication and construction company in 1987 called Unifacs Steel Works. Currently, Steve is coaching the Wittenberg University Men’s and Women’s Rugby Clubs.
Dave Hodges was born on September 15th, 1968 in Long Beach, California. Hodges first encountered the game of rugby as he watched the Belmont Shore Rugby Club practice and play on the same field as his high school football team. Hodges enrolled at Occidental College to play football and later began his rugby career during his freshman year. While at Occidental, Hodges was a two-time, dual All-American in rugby and football.
In 1995, Hodges continued his career with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club and was a member of the 1996 National Championship team. From 1996-2004, Hodges was selected to play for the U.S.A. Rugby Men’s Eagles and became one of the most-capped Eagles in history, earning 53 international caps in the backrow during an eight-year career. He was captain for more than half of the games he played in a U.S. jersey and was named U.S.A. Rugby Athlete of the Year in 2005.
Hodges established himself as one of the most internationally recognized American players overseas, having had great success in his professional career in two stints with Llanelli Rugby Football Club and a one year stint with Bridgend Rugby Football Club. In 2001 and 2002, he was name Player of the Year for the Llanelli Scarlets.
Hodges began his coaching career in 2005, as he was named the head coach for the U.S.A. Rugby Collegiate All-Americans, Assistant U.S. National Team Coach, High Performance Manager, and Game Development Officer for U.S.A. Rugby. Shortly after, Hodges became the head coach for the Denver Barbarians Rugby Club for the next two seasons.
Dave is heavily involved in the rugby community and has served on the Board of Directors for U.S.A. Rugby and an advocate for youth rugby development. Today, Hodges remains active in the rugby community as the general manager of the U.S.A. Men’s National Team, overseeing team logistics and operations for the program.
As an undergraduate student at Harvard, Lyle Micheli was encouraged by his football coach to participate in lacrosse or rugby to stay in shape during the off-season. As a guard on the football team, Micheli never touched the ball, but he immediately fell in love with the endless opportunities to play the ball on the rugby pitch, even as a prop. And that’s where Micheli’s rugby career began!
Upon graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1966, Micheli continued to play prop for many clubs, including the Boston Rugby Football Club, Cleveland Blues Rugby Football Club, Washington Rugby Football Club, and Mystic River Rugby Club, where he also served as coach. After 40 years, and at the age of 60, Dr. Micheli retired from the playing field.
Off the rugby pitch, Micheli has remained active in the rugby community, serving on the Board of Directors for the United States Rugby Foundation for over 30 years and as Chairman of the U.S.A. Rugby Medical and Risk Management Committee. In February of 2013, Micheli was inducted into the U.S.A. Rugby Sports Medicine Hall of Fame.
Micheli has remained dedicated to dispelling rugby’s “dangerous” reputation through clinical research and published a research paper, “The incidence of injuries in rugby football” in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 1974. Through his research, he showed that in comparison to gridiron football, the incidence of injury in rugby is rather low. Micheli has been involved in numerous injury studies, including the United States Rugby Football Foundation’s 2006 Injury Study, “Internet-based Surveillance of Injuries Sustained by US High School Rugby Players,” done in collaboration with the U.S.A. Rugby Medical and Risk Management Committee. In 1988, Micheli organized the United States’ first-ever conference focusing on rugby sports medicine, where the recommendation that scrum formation be done in four phases was implemented.
Dr. Micheli is Director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine and co-chaired the International Olympic Committee consensus on the health and fitness of young people through physical activity and sport. He was the recipient of the 2011 Robert E. Leach Mr. Sports Medicine award at the annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) in San Diego, CA in July 2011. He has served as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports, and on the advisory board of the Bay State Games. He has been the Attending Physician for the Boston Ballet since 1977 and is Medical Consultant to the Boston Ballet School.
In 2013, Dr. Micheli founded The Micheli Center in Waltham, Massachusetts, conducting medical and scientific research focused on the prevention of sports injuries and the effects of exercise on health and wellness.
Lyle’s passion for rugby both on and off the pitch is unmatched and has had a profound impact on the advancement and growth of the sport.
With a combined total of 40 years of coaching and playing experience including 23 years of international competition, Candi Orsini has had a profound impact on the sport of women’s rugby in the United States.
Orsini began her rugby career with the Florida State University Women’s Rugby Football Club in 1975 and helped lead the team to 13 finals appearances and four national championships during a 23-year span. She was selected to the All-Tournament Team every year. At the time, FSU Women’s Rugby did not require players to be enrolled at FSU, but players could be alumnae or locals, resulting in Orsini’s 23-year career with the club. Orsini also represented the East, South, and Florida Select Teams multiple times and was a member of WIVERN (Women's International Vagabonds, Emissaries, and Rugby Nomads), the first unofficial U.S.A. Women’s Team in 1985.
In 1990, she was selected to the “President’s XV” at the World Rugby Festival and along with teammates and fellow U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame inductees Patty Jervey and Kathy Flores, was selected for the All-World Team. The following year she represented the U.S. Women’s Rugby Eagles at the inaugural 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup where she was a member of the historic 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup Champion Eagles, helping lead the team to a 19-6 win over England in the Final. She also represented the United States at the 1994 and 1998 Women’s Rugby World Cups, finishing second in both competitions. Orsini played with the first unofficial U.S.A. 7s Women’s Team, “Atlantis,” at the 1996 Hong Kong 7s tournament.
Candi continued her notable rugby career as a coach beginning in 1999, when she became a position specialist coach for the U.S.A. Women’s National Team. She later became an assistant coach for both the Berkeley All Blues and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies. Orsini then went on to become Assistant Coach and Head Backs Coach for the USA Rugby Women's National Team for the 2006 and 2010 Rugby World Cup campaigns. Her coaching stints included: as assistant coach with the Orlando men’s team; head coach of the women’s team at Eckerd College where she built the program from five players to 40 players, had two undefeated seasons and was voted Club of the Year twice; assistant coach for the Sarasota Men's Rugby Club when they were Florida State Champions; and assistant coach for the Dartmouth College women’s team where they were runner-ups in the 2015 Ivy League Championships. Candi is currently serving as a coach for the Sarasota Men’s Rugby Club.
Jay Waldron’s rugby career spans nearly five decades and across both coasts of the United States. He began his rugby career in 1968 at the University of Virginia as a graduate student. He continued playing for Virginia until graduating from law school in 1974. Waldron served as president and captain of Virginia. Then he played for the Portland RFC on the West Coast through 1984. He continued playing for the Portland Old Boars and the Owls until 1998. He began as a #8, but eventually played every position in the scrum but hooker.
Waldron played on various representative sides including the Eastern Rugby Union President’s XVs in 1970, the Potomac Union Representative Side in the early 70s, and Pacific NW Union Rep Side in the mid-to-late 70s. He also played in the ERU Possibles-Probables match with the hope of playing against the touring New Zealand All Blacks in 1974. He was a part of four playing tours during the 70s to destinations that included Great Britain, Ireland, and New Zealand.
Waldron coached the Portland RFC, the Pacific NW Rep Side, and the Pacific Coast Jr. and Sr. Rep Sides, winning several championships along the way. His administrative and leadership positions include 30 years as a Director/Trustee of the U.S. Rugby Foundation. Waldron also served on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Rugby Union, as Chair of the Pacific Coast Coaching Committee, president of UVA and Portland Rugby Clubs and the Rugby Commissioner of the Nike World Masters Games. He also served as a rugby broadcast commentator and analyst covering matches between the U.S. and international opponents, including Japan and France. Waldron has dedicated much of his time to advancing the sport across the United States.
Waldron has been recognized for his professional accomplishments as an attorney for Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt. He has distinguished himself as a trial and appellate lawyer in the areas of the environmental and energy law, winning several multi-million dollar cases. Waldron has made appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court, been named as an Oregon Super Lawyer and a Best Lawyers in the United States. He has served as President of the Port of Portland, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Oregon Health and Sciences University, and member of the Board of Trustees at Lewis & Clark College. Oregon Governors have turned to Jay when they needed someone to get a job done.
In addition to rugby, Waldron has been a triathlete and a university boxing champion. He has taken adventure motorcycle and rafting trips on six continents. Waldron has been married to his wife Karen for 48 years. They have a son, Shane, who coaches for the Los Angeles Rams.
Waldron embodies all the characteristics that define the rich and influential rugby culture that have paved the way for the future of rugby.
Ed Schram was born Thanksgiving Day in 1941 in Manilla, Iowa to Charles and Loretta Schram. He was first introduced to the sport of rugby in 1966 at Harvard Business School by two classmates, who were members of the Harvard Business School team. Schram was hooked and joined the team at the next practice and by the end of the fall season, he had earned his spot on the wing with the Harvard Business School Rugby Football Club 1st 15. Near the end of the 1966 season, Ed was named to a New England Collegiate Select Side that played and defeated the touring English side Rosslyn Park.
Upon graduation, Schram and his family moved back to their home state of Iowa, where he had accepted a job with R.G. Dickinson & Co. Investment Bankers. Ed was surprised to learn that a rugby team had been started by four Des Moines men who were each the son of prominent Des Moines families. The Des Moines RFC consisted of approximately 25 players and an experienced rugby coach, an Irishman, Dr. David Robinson, a professor at Drake University. Much to Schram’s surprise, the team was in the process of electing its club president. Ed ran and was elected and assumed that role until 1984, when the Schram family moved to Santa Barbara, California.
As president of DMRFC in 1980, Schram purchased a small farmstead in West Des Moines and set out to build a rugby facility. The club raised $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in gratis labor in materials toward the facility. The facility yielded two regulation rugby fields, a practice field, public viewing areas, restrooms, locker rooms, and a large display of wall-hung framed International rugby jerseys. The addition of the facility aided the club in recruiting such players like Eagle Tom Altemeier, WRFU player Vic Clark, and Iowa State RFU player David Wilson.
Schram was heavily involved in the rugby community, serving as co-captain and assistant coach for the Western RFU 1982-1984 and later co-captaining the Mustangs in the National Trials. In 1985, Schram was the acting team manager and took a U.S.A. development team to New Zealand. From 1986-1991, he was appointed Chairman of the National Team Selectors Selection Committee. Most notably, he was appointed National Team Manager in 1988 and USARFU Rugby World Cup Team Manager to England in 1991.
As National Team Manager during a span of five years, Ed Schram managed 33 U.S.A. International Test Matches. He managed USA National Teams that would travel to all of the world’s rugby playing continents, with the exception of Africa. Schram was an original member of the U.S.A. RFU National Technical Panel and the National Coaching and Team Development Committee, contributing to the selection and coaching of both the Territorial and National Representative teams and their coaches. Ed’s legacy lives on through the continued success of the U.S.A. Men’s Eagles.
Jim Russell began his rugby career in the fall of 1965 at Leighton Park School, in Reading, Berkshire, England. Russell later came to the United States to play for Duke University from 1966-1970, serving as an active member of his team, holding leadership positions that included, secretary, president, coach, and captain in his four-year tenure.
In the 1970s, Russell hit the rugby scene in Denver, Colorado for the Denver Barbarians while attending the University of Denver Law School. He captained the Barbarians from 1972-1980 and earned honors such as Most Valuable Forward in 1970, 1972, and 1974. He also served as Denver Barbarians President from 1976-1978. Russell captained the 1974 Eastern Rockies RFU Representative Side.
Jim continued to give back to the sport after his playing career ended by becoming a well-respected referee within the rugby community. His 26-year resume includes multiple local, territorial, and national championships, U.S.A. Rugby A-Panel, a handful of U.S.A. Eagles matches, U.S.A. Rugby appointments to New Zealand during the 1987 Rugby World Cup, and the 1990 Hong Kong 7s. Russell’s referee expertise is extensive and includes involvement in referee administration, performance reviewer, evaluator, assessor, and disciplinary experience. Most notably, Russell continues to serve as the World Rugby/IRB Judicial Officer and Appeal Officer. With a career as a U.S. Federal Prosecutor for the District Court of Denver, it is only appropriate that Jim is one of just two international adjudicators in the United States recognized by World Rugby.
Tommy Smith started his notable rugby career with the Washington RFC in 1974. In 1978, he moved across the country to California to play rugby for the Santa Monica Rugby Club. Three years later, Smith received a rugby scholarship to UCLA that included being assistant coach under fellow U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame inductee, Dennis Storer. Smith was recognized as an All-American in 1982 and that same year, took over as Head Coach at UCLA when Storer retired. Smith continued to coach the UCLA 7s team until 1990.
In 1981, Smith was selected to the All-World 15s team that defeated the famed Barbarians 38-36 in Hong Kong.
Smith was a highly decorated 7s player and in 1997, became the only Northern Hemisphere player to be selected to the All-Time, All-World Team in the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong 7s. He is still the only American player to ever win the prestigious Best and Fairest Award at the Hong Kong Sevens, which he won in 1986. He was a member of US Eagles teams that reached the Hong Kong Plate Championship on three occasions (winning two) and captained the Eagles 7s team on 13 occasions. He participated in international 7s tournaments in Melrose, Sydney, Dubai, Lord Tavern, Selkirk, Galashield, and Minerva 7s, just to name a few.
From 1998-2001, Smith was the U.S.A. Eagles 7s head coach and led the U.S. to its first international tournament championship since 1924 in Budapest, Hungary. During his tenure as head coach, the Eagles went 6-0 in the World Cup Qualifier for the Americas in Chile in 2000.
Smith has also coached for the UC Berkeley RFC, Pacific Coast Team, Old Blue, West 7s at the ITT’s, and Alameda Youth RFC. Smith currently serves as the head coach the Redondo Beach Rugby Club 7s teams.
Tim O’Brien’s rugby career began as a 17-year-old, with the Palo Alto Rugby Club. Tim’s father, Kevin, a Stanford Peninsula Rambler and Palo Alto rugby player, introduced him to the game at a very young age and he’s been passionately involved in the sport ever since.
Tim played at the collegiate level for the University of California, Berkeley, from 1979-1981, winning National Championship teams in 1980 and 1981 as captain. At the conclusion of the 1980 college and select season, O’Brien travelled to Christchurch, NZ, to play for Merivale Papanui while hosted and coached by former All Blacks Stan ‘Tiny’ Hill and John Creighton. Upon returning home and prior to the fall quarter of his senior year at Cal, Tim was selected to start for the Eagles vs the All Blacks.
O’Brien was selected to play for the U.S. Eagles from 1980-1983. In 1981, he played on the first U.S. Eagles team participating at the Hong Kong 7’s tournament and acted as captain in 1983. In 1982, Tim travelled to Pretoria, South Africa as a member of the Rugby Club of the Americas. As a player on 1986 and 1988 Pacific Coast Grizzly tours with coach Bing Dawson, he traveled to to Argentina and South Africa at which time he began to put the wheels of coaching into motion.
Instrumental in his coach development process would be Tim’s club, the Old Blues of Berkeley, a team mostly made up of Cal Berkeley graduates, who were ahead of their time on an intellectual and physical basis, winning seven of nine Men's D1 titles from 1979 to 1987. Over the course of his club career with the Old Blues of Berkeley, Tim was a member of four national championship teams as a player, serving as captain in 1989. The Old Blues coaches, PhD’s Ron Mayes and Jeff Hollings, and former U.S. Eagles captain Whit Everett, provided a solid platform for a natural evolution into coaching and serving the rugby community.
Aside from his notable playing career, O’Brien has a coaching resume to match. Interestingly, he is the first member of USA Rugby to win a national championship as a player and a coach at the men’s club and collegiate levels. Tim started his coaching career - during a 2-year rugby playing sabbatical in 1984 and ’85 – under coach Jack Clark at Cal. This would be followed by coaching the Old Blues to a 1992 National Championship, coaching Lamorinda High School, under his former Cal coach Ned Anderson, and Saint Mary’s College of California. Blended into the coaching fabric would be a couple more firsts. Tim was a member of USA Rugby’s first coach accreditation instructor programs as well as the youngest member of the USA National Technical Panel, which helped create and implement competitions for USA Rugby territorial and national teams, as well as vehicles for player, coach and referee development.
Over the past 16 years as a volunteer, O’Brien has masterfully built a perennial collegiate powerhouse at Saint Mary’s College. A unique component of Tim’s love of coaching and teaching lies in the relationship he has with his coaching partner for nearly 20 years, John Everett. A former member of the Old Blues family and a USA Eagle, John has been a powerful force in keeping balance, power and creativity at the forefront of the development process. Saint Mary’s, with an undergraduate student body enrollment of less than 1,100 male students, has gone to four straight Division 1-A National Championship games from 2013 through 2016, winning USA Division 1A National Championships in 2014 and 2015. The Gaels also won the Division 1A National Sevens Championship in 2016. Under his leadership the Gaels program maintains a 99% graduation rate, and has produced over 40 All-Americans and six U.S. Eagles. Tim’s establishment of a rugby board, internship and mentoring programs, and coach development opportunities are the drivers of the Gaels program and coupled with the game itself, make St. Mary’s a special place.
Tim is dedicated to a cradle to grave system of rugby development in the United States, allowing young ruggers a clear pathway to rise through the ranks from youth programs to positions on the U.S. Eagles and beyond. His endless dedication to advancing and growing the sport of rugby is clearly defined by his work as a coach, catching the attention of many and contributing to the growing popularity of collegiate rugby in the United States.
Tim has been has been married to Christine, a woman’s rugby player at Cal, his college sweetheart, for over 30 years. They have two active, attentive and wildly independent children Emily and Luke.
Neal Brendel was an All-American wrestler at Yale College, placing 4th in the NCAA’s at 190 pounds in 1976, his senior year. His wrestling career over, Neal directed his athleticism and aggression to the rugby pitch that spring and quickly found his position as tight head prop for the Elis. He went on to law school at the University of Virginia, where his promise as a rugby player truly blossomed playing for the UVA rugby club, featuring a colorful assortment of townies, undergrads, and grad students, the most famous of whom was George Allen Jr., future governor and Senator of Virginia. Neal’s play at UVA earned him select side honors and eventual election into the Commonwealth of Virginia Rugby Hall of Fame in 2012.
After law school, Neal started his legal career in Pittsburgh and joined the Pittsburgh Rugby Club, where he served as club president for the black and gold from 1984-1987. He continued to mature at prop, gaining selection to the Ohio Rugby Union and Midwest Rugby Union select sides in the 1980’s. Following trials in Sonoma, California, he was selected for the 1983 USA Eagles team, which toured Australia where Neal earned his first cap in a 9-34 loss to Australia in Sydney, an emergent Wallabies team featuring Mark Ella and David Campese. He earned his second cap for the Eagles in a 21-13 win against Canada in Chicago in 1984. He played against Canada again in 1985 and against Japan on the Japan tour in 1985. The next year he was on the field in Pebble Beach for the Eagles’ 47-13 win over Tunisia in a World Cup warmup match. Neal’s career as an Eagle culminated with the 1987 World Cup, where he earned his sixth cap in the 6-34 loss against England in Sydney. 1987 also saw Neal’s Pittsburgh Rugby Club end their best-ever season as finalists in the National Club Championship.
Neal was elected to the USA Rugby Board of Directors in 1996 as one of the first IOC-mandated International Athlete Representatives. He also served as legal counsel and advanced through the officer ranks to become President in 2002 and then Chairman in 2004. He had the great pleasure of representing USA Rugby at the 1999 World Cup in Ireland and the 2003 World Cup in Australia. His most significant achievements as Chairman included reorganizing the Board and reducing the number of directors from 36 to the present 8, securing a tournament fixture on the IRB World Sevens Series Tour, and solidifying the future for the USA Rugby Sevens World Series fixture through partnership with long time rugby supporter and entrepreneur Jon Prusmack. In the February 2004 debut for the USA Sevens tournament at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, he had the honor of presenting the first trophy to winners Argentina.
Neal played a significant role representing the USA in International Rugby Board functions and developing the Union’s international profile and reputation as a reliable commercial partner. He served as Vice President and then President of the North American West Indies Rugby Association from 2003-2008 and as NAWIRA’s Representative to the IRB from 2006-2008.
Neal also volunteered his services as director and president of Three Rivers Rugby from 1997-2009, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting grade age rugby.
In 2009 Neal moved his law practice to the Middle East, where he opened an office for his law firm K & L Gates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, site of a hugely popular fixture on the IRB World Sevens Series Tour. Having previously served as an IRB Judicial Officer for North America, Neal continued to serve as an IRB Judicial Officer in the UAE and also chaired the Judiciary Committee for the UAE Rugby Association from 2011-2015.
John Chase, MD, FACS attended medical school at University of California, San Francisco. In 1966, during a Surgical Clerkship at Guy’s Hospital in London, classmates learned he had played "gridiron" in College at University of California, Davis and invited him to try a "real man's game" of Rugby with them on the Guy’s "Extra Beer's" side. At that time, Guy's Hospital was coached by ex-New Zealand All Black, Hugh Burry, who was at Guy's in post-graduate training to be a Rheumatologist. Dr Chase became fascinated by the game of rugby football while learning to play and watching the Guy's First 15, under Dr Burry, win that year's prestigious Hospital's Cup.
On returning to the U.S., Dr. Chase did his internship in Denver, Colorado and played with the Denver Barbarians in 1967-68. He then moved back to San Francisco and played with the San Francisco Rugby Club, who won the prestigious Aspen Ruggerfest in 1969.
Dr. Chase continued his rugby playing experience when he went into practice as an Athletic Injuries Orthopedic Specialist in 1972. In 1974, he moved to Davis, CA and took over the Orthopedic Sports Injury Consultancy for the Athletic Department at UCD. After 4 years playing with the Davis City Rugby Club, Dr. Chase learned that the USARFU was fielding a National Team, the U.S. Eagles. Dr. Chase was asked by the Eagles’ Coach, Denis Storer, to come and work with the Eagles in preparation to travel with them at his own expense for their first international tour to England in the fall 1977. Storer and Chase wanted to establish the precedent of an international team traveling abroad with their own medical specialist. This was the first time it had been done. After "tune up" matches with France and Canada, the Eagle's traveled to England in the fall of 1977.
In England, Dr. Chase and the Eagles were recognized as the first international rugby side to travel with their own sports injury medical specialist. At the time, the London Daily Mail wrote an article entitled "Eagles Fly With Their Own Field Surgeon.” By the middle of the tour, the RFU invited Dr. Chase to become a member of the Touring Party. Subsequently, all international rugby teams began traveling with their own doctors.
In 1977, the USARFU appointed Dr. Chase to be the Medical Advisor to the USARFU and Team Physician to the Eagles. Over the next 5 years, Dr. Chase developed a panel of orthopedic specialists, trainers and a medical care infrastructure to serve the four rugby territories established by the USARFU. During this time, national safety and injury treatment protocols were established for all matches. Dr. Chase trained doctors in each territory to accompany territorial representative sides to the annual Inter-Territorial Tournaments in Chicago.
In 1978, Dr. Chase was invited by Rugby Magazine to produce a column called "The Medical Corner" for each issue. These articles educated the national rugby playing audience in topics of preventing and treating injury, training techniques to improve fitness and avoid injury, and other subjects to prevent injury and improve the quality of the game. Taking material from several Monterey Rugby Tournaments in the early 80's, Dr. Chase produced a video tape for the USARFU dealing with "On Field Diagnosis and Emergency Treatment of Injury.”
Dr. Chase was invited by the New Zealand Rugby Union to be a "Visiting Orthopedic Surgeon" in Timaru, South Canterbury, New Zealand in 1983-1984. While in New Zealand, Dr. Chase worked as a medical advisor with the NZRU in their safety and technical clinics. In 1984, Dr. Chase was asked to travel with the New Zealand All Blacks as their Team Physician to the International 7's Rugby Tournament in Hong Kong.
On his return to the United States, Dr. Chase accompanied the Eagles on their undefeated tour to Japan in 1985 and the tour to Wales in 1987. In 1988, Dr. Chase was elected an Associate Member of the IRB Medical Meeting and attended their meeting in London where he contributed to work on changing the rules of scrum engagement to lower the incidence of catastrophic cervical injury and paralysis.
Dr. Chase was called to Active Duty with the U.S. Air Force 12th Contingency Hospital Unit during Desert Storm in 1991. He was stationed at RAF Scampton and played a match with the Lincoln Rugby Club during his stay. He became the Emeritus USARFU Medical Advisor on return to the U.S. and last traveled with the Eagles on their second tour to Wales in 1997.
Dr. Chase retired in 2009. He is now enjoying a number of different pursuits with Susan, his wife of 52 years, their three children Mike, Sarah and Hilary, and Granddaughter, Zoe. Dr. Chase is a Board member of Junior Achievement in Reno, sponsors the Hip and Knee Arthroplasty Fellowship at UCSF Department of Orthopedics, and volunteers as a ringside physician with USA Boxing in Nevada.
Alexandra Williams was no stranger to a pitch, as the rugger was first a soccer standout for Bronxville High School, Westchester County, New York. She was tabbed “Most Valuable Player” and All County in soccer and basketball in high school in 1986 and 1987. She would continue her education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she would quickly fall in love with the sport of rugby. She called Radcliffe Rugby Club home and served as team captain from 1988-1990. Upon graduating from Harvard, Williams would continue to play with one of the top clubs in the United States, Beantown Rugby Football Club from 1991-2000. Williams was Beantown forwards “Most Valuable Player” for many seasons and set a career high of seven tries during one match. She led Beantown as captain from 1995-2000 and won a national championship in 1996. Williams was named as the MVP of Nationals in 1996.
Her play excelled while with Beantown and she earned her first U.S.A. nod in 1994. During this same season, Alex earned her first international cap in a 121-0 USA victory over Japan at the Rugby World Cup. Williams would continue to play for the U.S.A. until 2004. During her tenure with the Eagles, she would participate in three Rugby World Cups: in 1994, 1998, and 2002, including runner-up finishes at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and served as captain in her final season from 2003-2004. Alex has served as a pillar to the U.S. rugby community from the day she entered the sport. A brilliant leader by example, she captained every team she had ever played on. Upon her retirement from international rugby in 2004, she finished as the second most capped women’s rugby player to Patty Jervey with 25 caps.
Williams was also a standout for the Berkeley All Blues from 2001-2004, earning multiple forward MVP honors, a forwards captain nod from 2002-2004, and winning four consecutive national championship titles from 2001-2004. She was tabbed MVP of the 2002 nationals. In addition, she earned many representative side honors playing for the New England All Stars, Eastern Rugby Union, and the Pacific Coast. As a member of the Northeast and Pacific Coast Territorial Teams, she won seven ITT titles.
She held coaching stints with the Berkeley All Blues, Pacific Coast All-Stars, and the U.S.A. Women’s National Team. With the All Blues, Alex served in various capacities as the assistant coach, head coach, and forwards coach from 2005- 2011 winning four national titles in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2011. Williams was the forwards coach for the U.S.A. Women’s National Team at the 2006 and 2010 Rugby World Cups. She also served as the forwards coach from 2005-2010, conducting all camps, tours and tournaments, which included multiple tours to England, several Nations Cups, and many matches vs Canada.
From an administrative role, Alex has continued to dedicate her time and passion to advancing rugby in the United States. She has served as the Executive DIrector of SoCal Youth Rugby from 2013-2018, and USAR Women’s High Performance Manager from 2008-2012, running all Women’s National Team programs. In addition, Alex has served on many national committees, including International Athlete Director on USAR’s Board of Directors from 2004-2006, International Athlete on USAR’s Congress 2006-2008, member of the U.S.A. Rugby Committee from 2007-2008, member of USAR's Women’s Competition Committee from 2009-2010 and USAR’s Collegiate Management Council from 2010-2012, and Women’s Premier League Founder and member of the Governing Committee from 2009-2012.
From his high character to his accomplishments on the pitch, Mike Saunders’ impact on the game of rugby is unmatched. He began his rugby career at the United States Naval Academy in 1979. It wasn’t until he left the academy in 1981, when his rugby career began to hit its stride. While taking a one-year hiatus from academics he played for his hometown club, the Monterey Rugby Club. Then in the fall of 1982, he became a San Diego State University Aztec, where he earned Most Valuable Back honors in 1983.
In the spring of 1983, Saunders was recruited by none other than Bing Dawson to tour Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. Mike found a home at OMBAC and continued to play for the club for another 10 seasons. During his tenure at OMBAC, he captained the club from 1985-1993. Throughout that decade, he played nearly every first side match for OMBAC. His name is forever etched in the OMBAC record books, as part of the side that won the first-ever U.S.A. Rugby Club 7s National Championship in 1985 and leading a star-studded OMBAC club to four national 15s championship titles in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993. He earned multiple honors as a member of OMBAC, including Most Valuable Player in 1988 and 1989, and Most Valuable Back in 1990 and 1991. Rugby Magazine honored his play with back to back U.S.A. Rugby Club Championships Most Valuable Back nods in 1988 and 1989.
Mike’s representative honors include appearances with the Southern California Jr. Griffins from 1982-1983, Pacific Coast Jr. Grizzlies in 1984, Southern California Griffins from 1983-1990, and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies from 1986-1991. During his tenure with the Grizzlies, he was named to the 1986 Grizzly tour of Argentina, eventually earning the starting scrumhalf spot and tying for leading try scorer on tour with four tries. He was named captain of the Grizzlies in 1988 and led the 1988 Grizzly touring side to South Africa, which included wins over Orange Free State and Natal.
Saunders earned the greatest honor of all representing the United States of America on multiple occasions. His first selection came in 1985 for the Jr. Eagles tour of Europe, playing matches against Paris Universities, Belgium, Germany, and Holland. He captained the Jr. Eagles in 1986 versus the touring Japanese National team in Dallas, Texas. As a member of the U.S. National 7s Team, Mike made his debut at the Sydney 7s Tournament in 1986, and had further appearances at the Hong Kong 7s in 1987, and Moscow 7s in 1988.
Mike made his debut for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 1987 against Tunisia at Pebble Beach, CA, scoring a try in an Eagles win. He earned 12 caps in total for the Eagles and played in all three Eagles matches at the first-ever Rugby World Cup in 1987 in Australia and New Zealand. He captained the Eagles in 5 matches and was the Eagles captain on its successful tour of England, France and the Soviet Union in 1988.
In 1993, Saunders relocated to Boise, ID and it was there that he transitioned to the role of coach, revitalizing and leading the Snake River Rugby Club to many highlights. Mike took the club from a social side to a championship caliber program recognized nationally, which include a record of 265-59, 15 Pacific Northwest League Championships, 5 Final Four appearances, and a 1996 U.S.A. Rugby National Championship. Year after year, Snake River continued to earn notable accolades at the U.S.A. Rugby National Championships under his guidance.
He also had coaching stints with the Grizzlies in 2007, U.S.A Falcons in 2008, and the U.S.A 7s National Team from 1993-1996. He served as the inaugural Chairman of Idaho Rugby from 2009-2010 and Director of Coaching from 2009-2011. He still actively contributes through clinics and coaching seminars and is currently the 7s Head Coach for Boise State University.
Gary Lambert attended Life College (now University) in Marietta, Georgia where he was a member, captain, and player-coach of the collegiate powerhouse Life Rugby Club from 1983-1988. Lambert called White Plains Rugby Football Club home from its inaugural season in 1972 to 1997. He played for several representative teams including Met New York 1977-1997 and the Georgia Select Sides from 1983-1988.
Gary was a mainstay on the Eastern Rugby Union team for many years and toured with the ERU to several global destinations from 1981-1991. It was through his play with the ERU that he drew the interests of U.S. National Team Selectors. His made his first of 18 appearances for the U.S. Eagles XVs team against Canada in June of 1981. Among his 18 tests was the match against the touring South African Springboks in 81.
Lambert was one of the best sevens players this country has ever seen combining power, pace and skills and played for the Eagles 7s team from 1982-91. He played in the prestigious Hong Kong 7s Tournament on eight occasions. Gary also played professionally from 1991-1994 for the U.S.A. Patriots rugby league team.
After he retired from international play, Gary was selected for two World XVs teams. The first, in 1982, was an unofficial World side that toured South Africa. The latter, in 1988 was with an official World XVs team that toured Australia during that country’s Bicentennial.
“Lambo was by far the best loose forward we have ever had,” said Mark Gaetjen, a former U.S.A. 7s and ERU teammate. “He was the most physically imposing player, was outstanding in loose play and had great leadership skills. He was feared by his opponents and had great ball skills for a man of his stature. He was so committed to winning and teamwork, and to me that was what made him one of the greatest players I had the privilege to ever play with, “
In addition to playing, Lambert enjoyed small stints as a player-coach for nearly all his career, including for the Kalispell Moose Rugby Football Club from 1997-2003 and coach for the St. Louis Bombers Women's Rugby team in 2006. Lambert would continue to make an impact in the rugby world as a member of the U.S.A. U-19 Medical Team that traveled to the 2007 World Championships in Ireland and went on tour to Ghana. Gary has dedicated the past 20 years to promoting the sport of amateur rugby in prep schools and high schools and has served as a mentor and camp coach to many.
Today, Lambert continues to operate a successful chiropractic practice and spend time with his family, that includes eight children ranging in age from 1-30 years old.
Denis Shanagher Sr. was the Captain of Dublin’s Bective Rangers when they won the Leinster Cup in 1955. He declined an invitation to play Hooker for Ireland in order to emigrate to the United States, and following an injury, decided that he could contribute to American rugby by becoming a referee.
Shanagher was the pioneering referee in Northern California, the Pacific Coast and the USA from 1957 – 1987. He founded and was the Chairman of the Northern California Referee’s Society. He was a founder and President of the Pacific Coast Rugby Union and on the original Board of Directors of the USARFU. As a referee, he was the first U.S. referee to handle an international match, refereeing the US – Canada game in 1977. Shanagher was the first to insist on publication of the rules of the game, to require referee training, and to create and insist on standards for referee evaluation.
He was a constant fixture for nearly thirty years as a referee for Stanford, Cal, regional and national club championships, USARFU inter-territorial tournaments, the Monterey Tournament, and for international touring sides. Indeed, he was the original standard by which quality referees were evaluated in the United States, was the inspiration behind many young referees embracing the sport, and his passion and dedication toward the growth of game was a key to the founding of the USARFU and the success of the sport in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
Reldon “Bing” Dawson started out as a football player for the San Diego State University Aztecs under the guidance of legendary coach, Don Coryell during the 1960s. Having been both a player and an assistant coach under Coryell, Dawson learned valuable skills that he would later translate to his rugby career. From training and conditioning techniques, game preparation and strategy, building offenses and defenses, equipment, sports medicine, and recruitment, Bing knew what it took to build a high-caliber program and would soon impact the game of rugby forever.
With his football playing career behind him, Bing began his rugby career with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club in San Diego, California and would continue to represent the club on the playing field until 1981. His playing career included numerous representative side appearances at prop on the Southern California Griffins and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he began his tenure as a player-coach and spent many summers studying the game of rugby in its purest form in New Zealand under the late Bill Freeman. From his experiences, Dawson created a unique rugby coaching style with combinations of “All Black knowledge with Yankee ingenuity.” With his SDSU ties, he and Bob Watkins collaborated to use SDSU Rugby as a feeder program into OMBAC. Dawson’s eye for talent and raw coaching ability, allowed him to recruit hundreds of players to San Diego to play for OMBAC from 1970-2005. Over 70 of those players would go on to represent the United States on the U.S. Eagles 7s and/or 15s teams, the most players to ever play for the United States from one club.
“Bing was instrumental in making OMBAC the place for rugby talent to come and where you could play with the best and be challenged to be your best. His ability to coach, organize, recruit, and create a winning culture were the drivers for OMBAC’s dominance from the late 1980’s through the late 1990’s. The sheer number of his players who went on to represent the United States and who continue to make contributions to the development and growth of rugby is a testament to his impact on the sport. His legacy continues to inspire those that he coached and has made us all better men,” said Ben Hough, a former OMBAC captain and U.S. Eagle.
The players whom he recruited became not just Eagles, but team captains including Steve Gray, Mike Saunders, Kevin Higgins, Brian Vizard, Chris Lippert, Dan Lyle, Kevin Dalzell, Dave Hodges, and Todd Clever. Bing recognized the importance for international talent and often recruited a select number of players from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, to sprinkle into the OMBAC lineup to elevate the standard of play within the United States.
“Bing’s work as an international coach brought significant preparation and standards to the National Team staff through his diligence and detail. In many ways, Bing Dawson was among USA Rugby’s first professional coaches, merging his passion and dedication to rugby with his profession as a coach and educator. Bing borrowed from his highly successful background as a collegiate and scholastic football coach to build his rugby teams and develop his players. Importantly, he shared his vast coaching knowledge generously,” said U.S. Rugby Fall of Fame member and long-time Cal Head Coach, Jack Clark.
Off the field, Bing collaborated with Bob Watkins, Klaus Mendenhall, JD Dahlen, Pat Boyl, and the OMBAC parenting organization to advance equipment, training, and sports medicine resources. Soon enough, OMBAC secured a new pitch and added top of the line athletic trainer Ed Ayub and top of the line physician, Dr. David Chao, both who would advance to provide the same services to the U.S. National Team from 1987-2002. OMBAC set the template for modern rugby clubs in the United States.
“Bing was a class act and mentor to all that worked with him. He knew his role as a coach as well as mentor to his players, as well as staff. There is only one Bing. No other person can duplicate his dedication to his players and team,” said Ed Ayub, OMBAC and U.S.A. Eagle Rugby trainer.
Bing’s coaching legacy is marked by an elite rugby team who achieved an unmatched history of championships. OMBAC won the inaugural United States Sevens Club Championships in 1985 and became the first team in the U.S. to win the National Club Championships in 7s and 15s, winning XVs titles in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, and the Rugby Super League Championship in 2006. The other 7s national titles were achieved in 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, and in 2006; making OMBAC the only U.S. club to win both 7s and 15s in the same year. Under Dawson, OMBAC fielded five sides on the pitch, a feat no other American club had accomplished.
In addition to OMBAC, Bing made numerous appearances on the sidelines for the Southern California Griffins and Pacific Coast Grizzlies from 1983-2006. Most notably, he served on the coaching staff of Eagles tours from 1988-1991 and was an assistant coach to the U.S. National team at the 1991 World Cup in the United Kingdom.
Dawson’s impact as a coach and mentor to many of his players set him apart. His passion and dedication for the game changed the lives of many and set the spark for rugby in America.
Don Haider is described by his peers as the epitome of a rugby scholar athlete with his notable achievements on and off the field. Don grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He was a three-sport athlete at New Trier High School. He was an honorable mention All-State football player while he co-captained the team. He also played varsity basketball and ran track.
His rugby career began at Stanford University in 1962, where he would be tagged as the No. 8 and captain of the second side. Haider would go on to play in the Eastern Rugby Union for Old Blue, Westchester, New York and the Washington Rugby Club. Don helped lead the Westchester Rugby Club to its only undefeated season in ERU and, later, captained the team. He was voted co-MVP of the Eastern 7’s, won by Westchester against the defending champions, Old Blue. In his later years, Don moved to second row and prop on whatever side that needed a player, and along the way continued to groom the younger players learning their craft. It was only fitting he should end his playing days where it all started for him, at Stanford, as Don last put on the boots in the Stanford alumni-undergraduate spring match in 2014.
Don was a founding member of the United States Rugby Foundation and was one of the core members of the organization for several years. He has dedicated much of his life to raising funds and promoting the sport of amateur rugby. Having been with the Rugby Foundation for over 40 years, Don continues to help grow the sport as a member of the U.S. Rugby Foundation board.
Don received his Ph.D. from Colombia University and served as a leading teacher and academic scholar at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School for over 44 years until his retirement in 2017. He is the author of five books and more than 100 articles and the winner of the prestigious Martha Derthick Best Book Award. Don retired from Northwestern in October, 2017 and remains on the faculty as Emeritus Professor of Strategy.
As the remaining all-time leading try scorer for the United States, it is no question that Vaea Anitoni is Hall of Fame worthy. However, his unmatched work ethic and passion for the game is what sets him apart.
Anitoni made his debut for the Eagles in June of 1992. The wing helped lead the United States in 15s and 7s from 1992-2000, playing in 46 matches, starting 44, and scoring a record 26 tries. From 1996-1998, Anitoni scored an impressive 22 tries in 28 matches; including twice scoring four tries in a single match against Japan in July 1996 and again against Portugal in April 1998. His performance in the 1999 Rugby World Cup earned him regards as a game breaker and key player for the United States national team.
“I consider him to be the finest 7s player the United States has ever put on the field. A superb playmaker, Vaea had the speed to finish up tries. When Vaea was on my squad he never left the field. The game plan was simple, get the ball to Vaea and let him create or finish. Vaea’s work ethic is second to none,” said former U.S. National 7s team head coach, Mike Saunders.
His skillset and speed solidified his reputation as an impact player for the U.S. national 7s team, while simultaneously paving the way for Polynesian-Americans to become a driving force in the American game. Vaea was a member of the preliminary squad for the United States during the 2000 Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Anitoni also played for the Pomona Rugby Club, San Francisco’s Olympic Club, and the San Mateo Club which claimed the National 7s Championship in 1997.
For more than four decades, Bob Causey has helped shape the game of rugby as both a player and coach. The Louisiana native began his rugby career at Louisiana State University in 1972, serving as captain and receiving dual honors as MVP throughout his tenure with the Tigers. Causey was an integral part of representative sides with Baton Rouge Rugby Club, Eastern Rugby Union South, the Eastern Rugby Union, and finally as a member of the United States Eagles from 1977 though 1987.
Causey donned the United States Eagles jersey eight times. His international rugby resume includes matches against Canada, Japan, England, South Africa, and most notably an appearance in the inaugural Rugby World Cup.
“Bob is exactly the type of person rugby should be holding out as an example to others. He was a fierce competitor on the field, covering huge amounts of ground, running hard with the ball and in support, did the gritty jobs in the rucks, mauls, and scrums and was a ferocious tackler. In the line outs he was nearly unstoppable. Bob played with passion and always put the team first. He shared the ball and always did more than his share of hard work that binds a team together,” said former teammate, Jack Breen.
After the conclusion of his playing career, Causey would continue to share his passion for the game by coaching his alma mater, LSU Rugby, to an impressive career record of 187-30 and a No. 6 national ranking in 2009. Causey has dedicated much of his time to serving as an ambassador of the game in the southern region of the United States and beyond.
“In short, Bob “Big Red” Causey is the model of what rugby is all about. His dedication, toughness and camaraderie are legendary and his exploits on the pitch unequalled. Bob is deeply respected and truly loved by the rugby community of Louisiana and throughout the South. He continues to give back to and support the sport that has been so much a part of his and countless teammates, friends and players lives.,” said fellow LSU Rugby Coach, Scott. F McLean.
From player to coach, his influence on the pitch has produced a new caliber of play and thus has cemented his place in the United States Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame.
Jennifer Crawford is regarded as a central figure for the United States Eagles and one of the finest female players that North America has ever produced. The Stanford graduate commanded the field as a center, wing, and fullback for the United States from 1988 to 1998, playing in three World Cup Finals and earning a record of 20 caps.
“The only worthy candidate by far is Jen Crawford. In my opinion, Jen continues to be the best U.S.A. female rugby player ever to play the game. Jen played several positions and excelled at all of them. There is a reason she was CNN play of the day, simply put she was incredible,” said fellow women’s rugby icon, Candi Orsini.
Jennifer lead the Eagles as captain in the 1998 Rugby World Cup final, where the team ultimately finished in second place. She continued to champion women’s rugby with the Berkeley All-Blues, leading the squad to nine consecutive U.S.A. Rugby National Women’s Club Championships as both a player and assistant coach.
“Arguably the most dangerous attacking player on a USA team that was supremely dangerous, Jen Crawford boasted a strike rate greater than a try per game. She was a central figure in the U.S.A.'s run of three World Cup finals in the space of eight years,” said Alex Goff of the Goff Rugby Report.
Jen also served a two-year term as a Player’s Representative on the USA Rugby Board.
Congratulations, Jennifer on your induction into the United States Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame!
John Decker, with notable achievements both on and off the field, has been a tireless ambassador for rugby in the US for more than 50 years.
Just out of college in June 1965 and looking for an outlet to stay fit John began his rugby-playing career with the Washington Rugby Football Club - a Club with a rich mix of ex-pats from many rugby-playing countries. That environment brought him quickly up the learning curve and he soon became a 1st XV mainstay along the backline from fly half to fullback. In short order his increased knowledge of the game, passion for winning and leadership led to his being named Captain of the WRFC 1st XV.
Back in those days WRFC was one of the teams that dominated rugby along the Mid-Atlantic Coast regularly winning Championships in the major XV Tournaments that were the order of the day, including: the Virginia Commonwealth Cup (Charlottesville), the Cherry Blossom Rugby Festival (DC); and, the Boston International Invitational.
WRFC also fielded a powerful 7s side. John captained WRFC 7s to the Championship of the Washington Sevens four consecutive years - from 1967 to 1970. He was named Most Valuable Back in 1969 and Most Valuable Player in 1970 - the 1970 team winning the Tournament with a combined total score of 92-0 for six matches. The next year, John's first season playing in New York with the Old Blue, John captained the Old Blue 7s team to the Championship of the 1971 New York 7-A-Side.
Recalling his days playing both with and against John, Bob Johnson, a WRFC Captain and a finalist for the USA v. Australia test in 1976, noted, "John was a lightening back. He had wonderful rugby instincts to go with his speed - and most importantly, when to smell the corner flag and go for it. He was a great leader as Captain with a wonderful blend of toughness and cordiality and boundless energy for running a very successful club."
He helped put together a coaching tour to the East Coast by legendary All Black Fred Allen. Coach Allen was an All Blacks captain and the only undefeated All Blacks coach. John was co-founder / organizer of the Potomac Rugby Union and the Potomac Referees Society.
While living in upstate NY John played on the Old Blue side that, in the spring of 1979, was the ERU Champion and ERU rep at the first USA Rugby Final Four in Kansas City. During his Old Blue days he organized and ran a successful Rugby program at the Wiltwyck School for Boys - a reform school in upstate NY for African American juvenile delinquents from NYC (the school where Floyd Patterson's life was turned around).
John's latter playing days were with the Boulder RFC; and, while in Boulder he took a two year ex-pat assignment with IBM Japan in Tokyo and played for IBM Japan's Rugby Team in the Japan Industrial Rugby League - a 1st XV fly-half and the team's only non-Japanese player.
His representative honors include appearances with Potomac Rugby Union and Metropolitan New York Rugby Union Representative Sides. He also played with a number of select / touring sides: Old Blue (Southern California, 1971; and, Bermuda, 1973); Manhattan (France, 1975); WRFC (England and Wales, 1977); The Gentlemen of New York (England, 1985); and, Portland Olde Boars (Nike World Masters, 1999).
As John's fifteen-year playing career was winding down he was recruited to join the US Rugby Foundation (USRF) where he has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee / Director; and, for seven of those years as Chairman of the Board. During this time John developed strategy for and initiated: the International Rugby Exchange Program; the College Scholarships Programs; the US participation in a Global Rugby Health Research Program; and, the recruitment of a professional fundraiser to guide a significant Capital Campaign.
John was born on New Years Eve, 1943, in Albany, NY, the second of seven children. He attended Vincentian Institute High School and graduated Siena College with a BS in Physics. Subsequently he also earned an MS in Space Physics from Catholic University and an MBA from Columbia University.
John is currently retired with Francesca, his wife since 1979, in Santa Fe New Mexico. They spend time in the New Mexico outdoors, traveling, and with their daughter Ryan, son Kit and their three grandchildren.
While Luke Gross’ rugby career began much later in life than the average international player, nonetheless his accolades are Hall of Fame worthy. Gross was originally a basketball student-athlete at Indiana State University and Marshall University from 1991-1993. Shortly after, he took a liking to rugby and got his start with the Cincinnati Wolfhounds at age 24.
Gross would continue to establish a dominant presence on the pitch, earning 62 caps in 61 starts for the United States from 1996 to 2003, including starts at the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups. He sustained his international career for Rivigo in 1998 and won the Italian Cup with Roma.
Luke has been coaching the sport for nearly ten years and holds a 300-level USA Rugby coaching certification. Gross has served as a coach and administrator in various capacities including stints with USA Rugby as the High-Performance Player Development Manager, Head Rugby Coach at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Head Coach for the Sacramento PRO Rugby team in 2016. Gross has extensive experience in coaching U.S.A. age grades and is currently the Director of Amateur Rugby for the Glendale Raptors
Shawn Lipman’s career is marked with high accolades as both a player and coach. The South African born rugger played for the University of Witwatersrand from 1983 to 1985. He moved stateside and began to play for the Santa Monica Rugby Club in 1986, garnering seven MVP honors during his 11-year tenure with the club. Lipman’s appearances on representative sides included: Transvaal Under 20 (1984), South Africa Maccabiah (1985), Southern California Griffins (1987-1993), Grizzlies (1988-1993), United States Maccabiah (1989-2009), United States Cougars (1990), Unites States Classic Eagles (1998, 2009), and the United States National Team.
As a member of the U.S.A. Eagles from 1988 through 1991, he was capped nine times and represented the United States in the 1991 Rugby World Cup. He was a legendary player for the United States in the Maccabiah Games, having captained the U.S. team in 1993 and 1997. As a player, he has medaled multiple times in the Maccabiah Games including gold in 1985, bronze in 1989, silver in 1993, and gold in 1997.
He served as the head coach of the gold medal U.S.A. Maccabiah Rugby Team in 2013 and 2017. He is the first person to ever win a gold medal for rugby at the Maccabiah Games as both a player and coach. He was inducted into the Maccabiah U.S.A. Rugby Hall of Fame in 2018.
“He is such a positive influence on other players, coaches, and administrators. He has worked so hard to be the best as all levels of his rugby involvement. As Chairman of Maccabiah U.S.A. Rugby and a former player with Shawn, I can’t say enough about what he has done to influence and inspire players and coaches in our program. He has helped establish Maccabiah U.S.A. Rugby as a competitive representative side within U.S.A. Rugby.,” said Dave Rudzinski.
Lipman also founded the West Valley Wolverines Youth Rugby Club in 2013 and served as both head coach and president. His contributions to the development of American rugby have made a significant impact on many and solidify his place in the United States Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame!
J. “Tyke” Nollman was a catalyst for United States Rugby culture for over 40 years. Nollman played football for the Northwestern University Wildcats from 1962-1966, prior to beginning his rugby career with the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club in 1969.
From that moment on, Nollman was a staple in Chicago rugby culture and throughout the United States. He changed the game of international rugby in the United States by establishing the inaugural USA Rugby Inter-Territorial Tournament (more commonly known as the ITTs) and developed rugby’s national presence through the incorporation of business sponsorships and marketing strategies.
Following the Inter-Territorial Tournament, United States Rugby benefitted from the influences of Tyke’s vision.
“Within two years, the USA national team played Australia in California, France in Winnetka, Illinois and was invited to play in the hallowed grounds of Twickenham Stadium, where the Royal Family had their private box and the headquarters of global rugby. Tyke’s work established the ITTs as the best rugby tournament the rugby world had seen, spawned a spate of tournaments around the world and has never been bettered,” said former colleague and friend, Vic Hilarov.
He was an avid champion of youth rugby, having served as the first president of Illinois Youth Rugby in 2007 and a major proponent of the Notre Dame de LaSalette Academy in Georgetown, Illinois. After reading an article about the small 100 boy school, Notre Dame de LaSalette, and its love for rugby in 2007, Nollman served as a dedicated sponsor and even contributed funds to build state of the art rugby pitches on the school’s campus. His legacy was immortalized at Notre Dame de LaSalette, where the Jay “Tyke” Nollman Memorial Fields at LaSalette Academy were dedicated in 2017.
“I can think of very few men more deserving of such an honor. Tyke’s enthusiasm and contributions, and contagious love of the game are most noteworthy. At all levels, in numerous countries, internationally, nationally, with the men’s and high school clubs, this man was truly outstanding and merits such recognition,” said Father Michael McMahon of Notre Dame de LaSalette Academy.
Nollman was an active administrator and visionary within the rugby world that has and still continues to sustain impact to the American game and its current successes. While he is truly missed, his influence will live on forever.
Don Reordan stands alone as one of the finest American referees in the game. His rugby career began on the pitch as a center for various teams over a span of eight years including; the University of Southern California, the University of California, San Diego, Santa Monica Rugby Football Club, Pasadena/Crown City Rugby Football Club, and the Del Mar Rugby Football Club.
Reordan transitioned his career from player to referee in 1980 and embarked on a path that would mark him as one of the game’s finest officiants to ever grace the pitch.
“Don maintained an extraordinarily high level of performance over time, maintaining his rank as an A-Panel referee for a remarkable span of 18 years, the longest such tenure in American history. This longevity alone could serve as sufficient rationale for applying the label of “Greatest American Rugby Referee” and subsequent induction into the Hall of Fame, however this enduring excellence was not merely durability, but was paired with matches of importance unsurpassed by any other United States referee,” boasts Bret Reordan, son of Don Reordan.
He refereed 12 international test matches from 1988 to 1997, sharing the pitch with teams such as; Belgium, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Japan, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Spain, Tonga, Uruguay, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., and Zimbabwe.
He also refereed 12 additional matches which involved national teams. He is the only American referee to ever officiate a World Cup match, a feat which he accomplished twice in both 1991 and 1995. In July of 1988, Reordan was appointed by Australia to officiate a match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Capital Territory.
He has represented the United States as a referee on a global scale and served as an ambassador promoting the reputation of American referees. While living in New Zealand, he maintained membership in the Wellington, New Zealand Referees Society in 1984.
Not to neglect his own international achievements, Don recognized the need for greater leadership and development efforts stateside and dedicated his time to furthering the success of American referees. He served as the president of the Southern California Rugby Referees Society in the 1980s and contributed to the development and documentation of proper referee signaling technique as published in a law book.
After the completion of his A-Panel career, he continued to contribute to American rugby in the Pacific Northwest, maintaining membership in the Pacific Northwest Rugby Referee Society having served as a referee, mentor, and evaluator while living in Oregon.
Don was presented with the Dennis Shanagher Award in 2004, recognizing his distinguished service to American Rugby as a referee. He has served as an ambassador of the game in the United States and beyond, championing referee development, assessment, and training for over 30 years.
Samantha Sullivan was familiar with the sport of rugby for her father had played in college and in the Army but she had never played prior to her being accepted to West Point. She was a three-sport star in high school, excelling at cross country, indoor track and captained her school’s soccer team. Her twin brother, Jackson, is also attending West Point and is on the school’s track team.
Samantha walked on with the Army Women’s team her freshman year and it wasn’t long before her speed and athleticism earned her a starting role on the wing and she’s never looked back.
Army Women’s head coach, Bill LeClerc, said that “Samantha became our main strike weapon and is now the 7s program all-time try scoring leader. She was second on the team with 26 tries as a freshman, she led the team last year with 25 and again this past year with 33 tries.”
Off the field, Samantha is a member of the new Hawk Eye ID Program. She is also the first-ever West Point Military Academy Brigade Trust Captain, heading up a committee of cadets to highlight sexual assault and sexual harassment and creating a culture in which every cadet is empowered to protect their teammates.
Cristian Rodriguez was introduced to the sport in the streets of Hawaiian Gardens, CA through a program called, Alternatives to Gang Membership. The name speaks for itself as founder Ernie Vargas used rugby as a way of keeping kids off the streets and on the pitch.
Cristian immediately took to the aggressiveness of rugby when he first picked up a rugby ball as a 14 year old. He climbed the ranks through his Hawaiian Gardens team utilizing his speed, playmaking ability and defensive prowess. He caught the eye of then Lindenwood University coach, JD Stephenson, at a match in San Diego, and it was the start of something big.
He earned a scholarship at Lindenwood and for the past four years, has been a leading figure for the Lions, guiding them to three consecutive USA Rugby Collegiate Sevens titles and back-to-back Collegiate Rugby Championship titles.
“Cristian has been the bedrock of our sevens team for three years now,” said current Lindenwood Head Coach, Josh Macy. “He is diminutive in size but is the best play maker in the country. Add on his ability to finish tries and defensive prowess at sweeper and you have a recipe for the country's best player.”
Cristian closed out his Lindenwood career a winner and now he looks to continue in the game exploring more opportunities in sevens and Major League Rugby. But before that he is looking to give back to his community and the sport by going back to Hawaiian Gardens.
“Ernie Vargas wants me to take over his job. I’ve been working for him for the past five years as his assistant, so that’s the goal. Two years ago, I started putting in a proposal for a teen center. We’re looking to get that this summer, where kids will be able to come to the facility and do homework, play games. We’ll run all our programs out of there.”
Rick Bailey was the dominant loose-head prop for the Eagles in the 1980s. He was a four-sport letterman for Napa High School and then played football for both Brigham Young University and then the University of California at Berkeley.
He appeared on the pitch for the Cal Golden Bears from 1974-1977. His high level of play won him the nod at loose-head prop on the U.S.A Eagles in 1979 and he held that position until 1987, including a spot on the inaugural US Men’s Rugby World Cup team in 1987.
He was a member of the Old Blues of Berkeley and played on seven National Club Championship teams between 1978-1987, being named the MVP at the 1986 National Club Championships.
Bailey made a successful transition from player to coach, serving as a Cal assistant rugby coach from 1991-1994 with the Bears winning four National Collegiate titles.
In 2015, Bailey was presented the Craig Sweeney Award, awarded to “an individual who had played for the Eagles, who was respected by his peers and the rugby community, has made significant contributions back to the game following his playing career, and be a person of exemplary character.”
Tam Breckenridge was arguably the premier lock in all of women’s rugby in the late 80s and early 90s.
Championships run in her blood. Her athletic career was marked with numerous accolades from the very beginning. Breckenridge was a multi-sport athlete at Crescenta Valley High School in Glendale, California and then played basketball for the UCLA Bruins, where she was part of the 1978 National Championship team.
Breckenridge transitioned to rugby after a shoulder injury derailed her basketball career. She represented the U.S. from 1988-94. She helped the Eagles take home the first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup title in 1991.
Off the pitch, Tam served in the UCLA Athletics Department for over 20 years, including as Assistant Athletic Director. She worked extensively to advance the sport of rugby at the community and national levels.
Prior to her induction into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame, Breckenridge was inducted into the Crescenta Valley High School Athletic Hall of Fame and her 1978 UCLA Bruin team was recognized by the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Her victorious 1991 USA Women’s RWC team was inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017.
Jamie Burke was a prop of exceptional ability and is one of the most accomplished women ever to grace the rugby pitch for the United States.
As a four-year (2000-2003) All-American and the 2003 Woodley Award winner for the University of Virginia, she made her presence known early on.
Burke became the first and only woman to earn 50 caps for the USA and is the most capped 15s player in Women Eagle history, having earned 51 caps over a decade’s worth of play on the Women’s National Team, including three Women’s Rugby World Cup appearances (2006, 2010, 2014).
She received numerous accolades during her career, including being named to the 2010 IRB World Cup Dream Team and to Rugby Magazine’s Team of the Year and Team of the Decade in 2010.
After retiring as a player, Burke transitioned to coaching. She currently serves as an assistant coach for the National Champion Glendale Merlins of the Women’s Premier League and occupies a role as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team, as well as director of the Glendale Youth Rugby programs.
Bill Campbell is an American rugby icon.
The Columbia University grad was well versed in football and was eventually recruited to the rugby pitch. He co-founded the Columbia University RFC (in 1961) because he understood the impact rugby could make in a community.
With the help of other Columbia graduates, Campbell also helped found the renowned Old Blue RFC in New York City in 1963. His vision for Old Blue was to connect Columbia alumni athletes with a combination of championship caliber rugby and camaraderie.
He captained and served as president of Old Blue, leading the club to numerous 15s and 7s championships over many years.
His impact on Old Blue and U.S.A. rugby extends far beyond the pitch. Campbell was a passionate philanthropist within the rugby community, funding resources for Old Blue, Columbia, and U.S.A. Rugby.
Campbell is remembered and celebrated for both his brawn and brains; a dynamic rugger and a highly regarded Silicon Valley executive.
Chris Lippert was a world-class loose-head prop for the Eagles in the 1990s.
He began his rugby career at the University of California, Irvine. Lippert later transfered to San Diego State University, where he led the Aztecs to the 1987 National Collegiate Championship while earning All-American honors.
After college, Lippert became a pivotal player for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, helping OMBAC to five national championships in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994 (Captain) and 1996.
He became a mainstay for the U.S.A. Eagles from 1989-1998, was a member of the 1991 U.S. Rugby World Cup team, and captained the Eagles in three test matches in 1996.
In 1994 and 1995 Lippert made three appearances for the world-famous invitational side, the Barbarians, an honor bestowed on only two previous American players.
He retired from international rugby in 1998 with 38 caps, then the most for a U.S.A. player. Lippert finished his playing career with the Huntington Beach Unicorns in 2000.
He transitioned to serving stints as the manager for both the Eagle 7s and 15s teams from 2001-2003, including the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He also has worked on the coaching staffs at OMBAC and SDSU, and as a referee for the Southern California Rugby Football Union.
Gerry Seymour was a rugby visionary who is credited with advancing the sport of rugby in middle America and beyond.
Born in London, England in 1927, Seymour graduated from Westminster College prior to serving in the British Armed Forces. He came to the United States in 1960 as a member of the British Consul Office and called Kansas City, Missouri his home.
In 1964 he organized Kansas City’s first rugby club, the Kansas City Rugby Football Club. Later, he organized and served as president of the Heart of America RFU from 1967-1976.
He was the HOARFU representative when the Western Rugby Football Union was formed in 1975 and represented the Western RFU at the meeting in Chicago where the U.S.A. Rugby Football Union was formed.
Seymour represented the U.S.A. as its ambassador at the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 and ultimately served as a director of U.S.A. Rugby for 14 years. In addition to being a rugby enthusiast, he was a highly respected and beloved member of the Kansas City community.
Mike Dunafon’s American football career started in the 1960s and ended in 1977 after a stint with the Denver Broncos.
He discovered rugby after moving to the British Virgin Islands in 1978, and played there until 1992.
Mike went on to manage the United States U-19 National Team from 2000 – 2001, taking them on three international tours to Australia, a World Cup Qualifier in Trinidad, and the 2001 Junior World Cup in Chile.
Mike’s real impact on rugby in America, though, is in the development of RugbyTown USA in Glendale, Colorado. As Mayor of Glendale, Mike’s vision was to revitalize a community by embracing the ethos that he saw in rugby—the camaraderie, sportsmanship, and commitment to community. Infinity Park, the only municipally-owned, rugby-specific stadium in the US, is the fulfillment of that vision; and is widely considered to be the finest rugby training facility in the country.
Bob Erwin played for and was involved in the formation of numerous rugby clubs throughout Texas, Indiana, and Minnesota.
He gained experience as the president of the Minnesota Rugby Football Club from 1974-1976 and served on the board of the Minnesota Rugby Union in 1977. During this period, Bob worked with a committee of passionate ruggers to help organize the United States of America Rugby Football Union in 1975.
Erwin continued to lead as rugby administrator. He served as president of the Midwest Rugby Union from 1977-1978 and was an active member of the USARFU Board of Governors.
After hanging up his boots, Erwin remained involved in the rugby community serving as a member and supporter of the Texas XXX’s, the Minnesota Area Rugby Foundation, Team America, Chicago Lions, Chicago Hope School, and The Lost Afternoon Luncheon.
Bob has served as part of the leadership of the U.S. Rugby Foundation since 2006.
Matt Godek is regarded as one of the most influential ambassadors of the sport of rugby in America and the pioneer in the development of rugby equipment and supply.
After playing rugby in college and the U.S. Army in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he opened Godek Rugby and Soccer Supply in Merrifield, Virginia in 1978. Ever since, his name has been synonymous with rugby expertise and knowledge.
His vision for the rugby kit, service, and camaraderie is what set him apart. He is known the world over for his unsurpassed willingness to dedicate his time and service to the sport. If you needed a job done, no matter how big or unique, he would get the job done.
His impact is nearly as big as the game itself, as many ruggers’ memories are associated with the equipment, service, advice and encouragement supplied by Matt Godek.
1976 USA Men’s Team vs Australia – On January 31, 1976 in Anaheim, California, the U.S.A. Eagles played against Australia in their first test match of the Modern Era.
The USARFU was founded in 1975 with the purpose of acting as the governing body responsible for the promotion and development of rugby in the United States and in 1976, they introduced the Eagles to the rugby world.
Australia won the hard fought game 24-12, as the U. S. served notice they were a force to be reckoned with.
Selected by Dennis Storer (head coach), Ray Cornbill, Keith Seaber and Dale Toohey, the following players were part of the 1976 team and helped pave the way for rugby in America:
15-Kip Oxman, 14-Del Chipman, 13-Dave Stephenson, 12-Greg Schneeweis, 11-Steve Auerbach, 10-Rob Bordley, 9-Mike Swiderski, 8-Tom Selfridge, 7-Tom Klein, 6-Skip Niebauer, 5-Craig Sweeney, 4-Gary Brackett, 3-Mickey Ording, 2-Fred Khasigian, 1-Eric Swanson Reserves: Bill Fraumann, Steve Gray, Jessie Lopez, Dennis Murphy, Terry Scott, and Barry Waite.
Many of the players, coaches and selectors went on to play important roles in U.S. rugby.
Todd Clever made his pitch presence known at an early age as he burst onto the pitch at age 14. He played for Santa Teresa High School and captained the College Park Rugby Football Club. He was named to the USA Junior Eagles U19 in 2000 and 2001, and played in the Junior World Cup in 2001 and 2002.
Clever attended the University of Nevada and played rugby for the Wolfpack from 2002 to 2004. His collegiate career was marked with three Collegiate All-American nods. Upon finishing his collegiate career, Clever would carry onto play a 14-year career with the USA Rugby Eagle 15s and received 76 total caps. He appeared in three Rugby World Cups with the Eagles 15s in 2003, 2007, and 2015. His on-field performance would earn him recognition as the American Rugby Player of the Decade for 2000-2009 and selection to the Team of the Decade for 2010-2019.
Todd also appeared on the pitch as prop for the Eagles 7s from 2004 to 2011. During his tenure with the Eagles 7s, he played in numerous tours throughout the USA, Australia, England, South Africa, China, and the UAE. He appeared in 26 tournaments, in addition to being named co-captain and vice-captain on multiple occasions. With the Eagles 7s, he played in the 2005 and 2007 Rugby World Cups. His illustrious career for the Eagles would affectionately earn him the nickname of “Captain America.”
“I have nothing but admiration for who he is, what he stands for, and how he goes about implementing his work as a person, back rower, teammate, and captain. He is also very competitive, passionate, and loyal to his country, teams, and to a team ethos that understands what he values most before anything else,” said former Eagles Head Coach, John Mitchell.
Alongside his career as an Eagle, he played at the club level for Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. With OMBAC, he led the team to a Cal Cup Championship. He also played for the Austin Huns from 2016 to 2018 and led the program to a Division I National Championship in 2018. Clever was named to the Pacific Coast Grizzlies on over 10 occasions.
At the professional level, Todd played in Johannesburg, South Africa for the Golden Lions from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, he set dual honors becoming the first American to play Super Rugby and the first American to score a try in Super Rugby. Todd also played in the Japan Top League for Suntory from 2010-2012. During his career with the Suntory, he helped lead the team to the Japan Cup Championships in 2011 and 2012. He has also appeared on the pitch for Japan Top League NTT Communications, the English Premiership Newcastle Falcons, and Major League Rugby’s Austin Elite.
“Todd has demonstrated the courage to travel around the world in the pursuits of his ambitions in the game whilst showing an uncompromising toughness, impressive skillset, and leadership displayed on and off the rugby field. In my generation, I believe he has pioneered the ascension of the current crop of USA players within the modern game. With sport there are certain individuals that leave imprints on organizations, players, and supporters. Todd lands within the front row of this select group,” said former Australian Wallaby great, George Smith.
Off the pitch, Clever has served on the USA Rugby Board of Directors as International Athlete representative from 2017-2019, executed administrative roles as Co-General Manager and Director of Rugby for Major League Rugby’s Austin Elite from 2018 to 2020, and Director of Memphis Inner City Rugby.
One of his many efforts in giving back to the game of rugby has been the recent establishment of the Todd Clever Foundation, an organization created to provide financial and supportive services to rugby players and teams across the globe.
Phaidra Knight is a jack of all trades: a trailblazing rugby player, sports media talent, lawyer, and entrepreneur. Her versatility on and off the field is what makes her a beacon for American rugby.
Knight, a native of Irwinton, Georgia, grew up playing basketball and tennis for Wilkinson County High. She attended college at Alabama State University, followed by law school at the University of Wisconsin. While in law school, Phaidra was introduced to rugby and played for the Wisconsin Women Rugby Club. Her level of play was quickly recognized, and she was named to the Midwest All-Stars 15s and 7s teams from 1997-2002.
After a move to the East coast, Phaidra played for the New York Rugby Club for over 15 years, serving as captain on multiple occasions and winning national championship titles with the team in 2006, 2009, and 2010. She also appeared on the pitch for Old Blue New York and the Northeast All-Stars, earning various MVP honors.
Her raw talent and natural athleticism led her to skyrocket to an elite level of play early on in her rugby career. Knight cemented her presence as one of the premiere players in the sport appearing for the USA Eagles 15s and 7s teams over the course of 18 years. Playing for the Eagles 15s on over 10 tours, she earned 35 caps and started in three World Cups in 2002, 2006, and 2010.
Her level of play brought her many accolades, including being named to the World 15s Team in 2003, recognition as the USA Player of the Decade in 2010, and an induction into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017. From 2006 to 2009, Knight appeared on the pitch for the Eagles 7s, appearing in five tours and earning nine caps.
On the sidelines, Phaidra has served in numerous roles from coach to broadcaster. She served as the strength and conditioning coach for Columbia University Women’s Rugby from 2007 to 2010, forwards coach for Princeton University Women’s Rugby from 2013-2016, coach and mentor for Play Rugby USA from 2008 to 2012, and most recently, as assistant coach for the Community Development Olympic Program from 2016-2017. She has established a notable media resume working as a broadcaster for ESPN, NBC, CBS Sports, and Flo Sports.
While her playing days may be over, Phaidra has remained active in the rugby community and pursued various entrepreneurial endeavors. In 2019, she founded PeaK Unleashed Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the personal and physical development of marginalized youth through rugby and yoga.
She has served on the USA Rugby Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Sports Foundation.
With over 25 years of administrative and managerial experience for USA Rugby, Tristan Lewis is regarded as the “Manager of Managers.”
Lewis, a countryman of England, began his rugby career at a very young age. He attended London University from 1968-1970 where he was also a member of the rugby team. Upon graduating from London University, he attended London School of Economics from 1970-1972. While in London, he played for the Old Daytonians and the London Welsh Rugby Football Club.
A job opportunity brought Lewis stateside in 1977 and he was introduced to the Old Blue Rugby Football Club in New York City. Tristan played more socially for Old Blue as work was all encompassing. After moving to Chicago in 1984, Lewis sought a rugby club and found a home with the Chicago Lions. With work still remaining a priority, Lewis didn’t make his first appearance at a match for a few years and realized his playing days were over, he quickly turned his sights on helping the club administration and the rest is history.
He joined the Lions executive committee in 1993 and utilized his team management skills to help guide the team to win a bid to host the national club championships in 1994. His managerial savviness led him to become the Director of Rugby for the Chicago Lions from 1994 to 2006. He was also elected vice president of the club in 1996. He received the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club Lowry Lion Award in 1995 as recognition for having made the greatest contributions to the wellbeing of the club through efforts both on and off the field.
Tristan found his stride and soon became a pillar in American rugby administration. He served as vice president of competitions for Midwest Rugby Football Union and was responsible for all territorial competitions and all-star teams, including acting as general manager for the senior men’s all-star team. He was instrumental in rewriting the Midwest RFU constitution to reflect the union’s position in USA Rugby. While continuing to serve on the Midwest RFU board, Tristan was a member of the USA Rugby Board and elected vice president of USA Rugby in 1998. He remained involved in his position until 2000, when he pursued higher level positions.
Lewis’ talents led him to manage for various USA Rugby National teams and coaches on both the men’s and women’s sides. In his role as manager for USA Rugby National teams, he was responsible for budget management, player needs both on and off the field, travel, team standards, public and media relations, sponsorship, operations, equipment, and sideline management on match days.
“He is overwhelmingly respected by the players he has served and that can only be surpassed by his absolute and uncompromised respect for the USA Eagles. Quite simply, he has been the gatekeeper of tradition for the program and is responsible for countless statistics, artifacts, and memorabilia that have accumulated through the ages. He has carried on the tradition during several tenures of coaches and across a multitude of generations of players, groups of young men who unintentionally tried to chip away at Eagle tradition through the behaviors of new fads, styles, and influences,” said former Eagles Head Coach, Mike Tolkin.
His career in team management covered 14 years, 85 tests and other A level matches, three Men’s 15s Rugby World Cups and two Rugby World Cup 7s for both the Eagle men and women. Lewis traveled the globe guiding the USA to numerous 7s tournament and up until 2015, every Eagle earning their 50th cap did so under Lewis’ management under some point in his career.
Mike MacDonald began his rugby career as a sophomore in high school in Orinda, California. His talents would lead him to play at the collegiate level for perennial powerhouse, the University of California, Berkeley. From 2000-2004, MacDonald helped the Bears earn four National Championships and was named the 2004 National Championship MVP. During his collegiate career, he was selected for the US Collegiate All-Americans in all five years.
Following college, Mike made his way across the pond and played internationally for the Worcester Warriors and Leeds Carnegie in England. In 2008, he received the dual honors of being voted Players Player of the Year and Supporters Player of the Year for Leeds. He was named captain of the Leeds Carnegie professional side the following season.
Stateside, MacDonald made his USA Rugby Eagle 15s debut against Fiji on June 30th, 2000. He represented the United States in three Rugby World Cups in 2003, 2007, and 2011. In the 2011 Rugby World Cup, MacDonald broke two US records. He recorded his 63rd cap, surpassing Luke Gross in becoming the most capped player in Eagle history, and notched his 11th appearance in a Rugby World Cup match, breaking the record previously held by Alec Parker. Mike was also named the Man of the Match following the United States’ win against Russia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He finished his Eagle’s career with a then record of 67 caps.
Upon completion of his playing career, Mike was hired on staff as an assistant coach for his alma mater, Cal, in 2011. He is currently entering his tenth season as forwards coach with the Bears and remains heavily involved in the rugby community.
Kevin O'Brien retired from his role as head coach of the USA Women's National Team with an undefeated international record of 7-0, the best points scored versus points against margin (155-22) in U.S. Eagles history, and the only coach to bring home a Rugby World Cup trophy to the United States.
O’Brien, a native of Wales, attended and played rugby for Saint Mary’s College in London, England from 1966 to 1970. When women’s rugby began to take hold in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Beantown Women’s Rugby contacted Kevin and sent him a one-way ticket to the United States to become their new head coach. The rest is history.
Kevin’s coaching achievements include stints at the high school, collegiate, club side, and international levels. To name a few, he served as head coach for the USA Women’s National Team, Middlebury College Men’s Rugby Team, Harvard University Men’s Rugby Team, Burlington Men’s Rugby Club, Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, Eastern Women’s Rugby Union All-Stars, and co-coach of the South Burlington High School Boy’s Rugby Team.
The O’Brien effect would follow him everywhere he would go, as winning was a constant. At the international level he led the USA Women’s National Team to a 1991 Women’s World Cup Championship. He also took Middlebury College Men’s team to the Division II Collegiate finals in 2008 before winning the National title in 2009.
At the club side, Kevin coached Burlington Men’s Club to an appearance in the Division II Men’s National Final Eight in 1997 and a spot in the Division II Men’s National Final Four in 1995 and 1996. Burlington Men’s Club secured an ERU Men’s Championship Title in 1995. Under his tenure at Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, he coached the program to three Women’s National Club Championships in 1982, 1983, and 1991.
With over 45 years of coaching experience, O’Brien’s success and impact is unparalleled.
“Kevin is a great coach because he respects every woman rugby player. Ability level, sexual preference, intellect, never matters to him. Everyone is welcome to the pitch and learns from him. He has a vast understanding of rugby and knows how to translate it to the audience with flair and humor. He has an ability to teach when students don’t realize they are being taught. He is self-effacing and knows when to laugh at himself. Humor is an essential part of rugby and Kevin is a master at it. Above all, his integrity has continued to shine through the years- from helping build a club with morals and discipline, to mentoring players to play with intensity but respect for the game and opponents,” said friend and former Beantown Women’s Rugby player, Annie Flavin.
O’Brien remains active in the rugby community, serving as a World Rugby Educator and USA Rugby Coach Educator.
Alatini Saulala, a native of Vava’u, Tonga, is the definition of a rugby warrior. As one of the few international rugby players to be selected to represent more than one national team during his career, his resume speaks for itself. From the time he began playing rugby in his youth to his presence on the international stage, he is known throughout the rugby world for his skill and his unwavering values and integrity.
“Tongan by birth, he represents the best of what his ancestors would consider a true warrior. As dedicated and destructive as he was on the rugby field, he was the epitome of humility and gentleness off of it. A man of faith and family, he is kind, generous, and committed. His passion for rugby and others was always bigger than himself. His mark on the game goes beyond the US National Team,” said former teammate and friend, Brian Hightower.
Alatini moved stateside to San Diego, California where he served as a Mormon missionary. After completing his mission, he attended Ricks College, now known as BYU, Idaho, where he played football. After suffering a leg injury from football, he returned to his roots on the rugby pitch. In 1994, he moved to San Mateo, California and teamed up with fellow Hall of Famer, Vaea Anitoni, and co-founded the San Mateo Rugby Club. As a founder, player and head coach of San Mateo Rugby Club, Saulala helped the club win two 15s and 7s National Championships along with the CanAm Tournament. In 1997 there were five USA 7s players selected from San Mateo.
On the international stage, Saulala shined for the Tonga National Rugby team from 1990 to 1991. With Tonga, he played in three tours and appeared in 16 total test matches over a span of three years. He continued his illustrious career with the US Rugby National Team from 1997 to 2000. As a center for Eagle 15s, he played in 20 games, including the 1999 Rugby World Cup, and earned 16 caps. For the Eagles 7s, he earned 12 caps. Most notably he played in the Hong Kong Sevens in 1998 and 1999. In the 1999 Hong Kong Sevens, he led the tournament in tries.
From the sidelines, Saulala has coached for a variety of clubs across the Northern California Bay Area region including: San Mateo Rugby Club, Cal State Monterey College Rugby Club, South Valley Rugby Men’s Club, Morgan Hill Rugby High School Club, Nor-Cal Pelicans 7s, United Rugby Youth Rugby, East Palo Alto Bulldogs Men’s Rugby, and Google Rugby.
“Alatini carried on his professionalism giving back to the game of rugby after he retired. He continued coaching clubs and youth leagues at their local area. I admire his love for the game and skills, looking up to him as a great role model. While coaching, he is a family man at the same time and is very much involved in his kids’ sports as a father and a coach,” said Anitoni.
He currently serves as the head varsity coach for Peninsula Green High School Rugby Club and remains very involved in the rugby community.
Wilbert “Salty” Thompson’s vision for American rugby has transformed the growth and the future of the sport. His dedication to the education and development of young players has created a pipeline that will sustain the success of the USA Eagles for years to come.
A native of Northern Ireland, Thompson began his rugby career at Regent House and was an Ulster U19 and U23 player.
Thompson attended Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England where he received a bachelor’s degree in Sports Science. Thompson was a dual sport athlete for Leicestershire competing on both the track and rugby teams. He was an accomplished track athlete earning high marks at the championships level. In 1979, he placed third in the English 400-meter championships and placed first in the English 4 x 400 championships. On the pitch, he served as freshman team captain in 1976, second team captain in 1978, and was selected to the 7s first team in 1979. On the 7s first team, he competed in the Middlesex 7s and won the Monterey International Tournament. After graduation, Salty played for Nottingham in the English Premier League.
In 1982, Salty moved to the United States and attended Arizona State University, where he pursued his master’s degree. He played scrumhalf for the Sun Devils from 1980-1982. In recognition of Salty’s play on American soil, he appeared on numerous representative teams including Atlantis, USA Cougars, and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies.
Salty translated his rugby IQ to the sidelines, building up a highly notable coaching resume. He has coached numerous USA National Teams at the U19, U20, and High School All-American levels. His U19, U20, and High School All-American teams have produced over 40 Eagles 15s, 35 Eagles 7s, and 45 Collegiate All-American players. He has also coached for Tempe Rugby Football Club, Arizona State University, Atlantis 7s, and the Southern California representative 15s and 7s programs. He has been involved with USA Rugby since 1996 and was a coach educator in the USA Rugby Coach Education Program from its inception. He is also a former IRB certified coach educator.
“He not only is a great coach and mentor through his actions and integrity, but he sets the standard for these players and coaches to live by. He has given me an opportunity to learn more about being a successful coach. He has given numerous coaches this same opportunity. He is honest and open to anyone who is willing to learn,” said Tim Kluempers.
Thompson created the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy in 2013 and currently serves as program director and oversees player development. The Eagle Impact Rugby Academy’s mission is to identify and develop the next generation of rugby players in America.
“Salty understands the role of the national age grade and development programs and the impact that it plays on the development of our future athletes,” said Paul Keeler. “While these programs have been neglected, underfunded, and the importance undervalued as the lifeblood of our national team, Salty has made it his life’s work to navigate these challenges and find solutions to move forward.”
The program’s approach to player and coach development is focused on the Six Pillars of High-Performance model. Since EIRA’s creation, the program has produced over two thirds of all High School All-Americans. Through EIRA, Salty has led the charge in closing the gap in the global game of rugby and influenced thousands of young ruggers nationwide.
Ed Todd was a revolutionary rugby referee and administrator. Beloved by many for his leadership and love for the game, he built the very foundation that USA Rugby and Northern California Rugby Referee Societies stand on today.
Todd played rugby for the University of Southern California from 1966 to 1970. During his four-year tenure, he served as varsity rugby scrum half and team captain. The 1967 season was blockbuster for the Trojans as they amassed three championships: crowned Monterey Tournament Champions, League Champions, and an AAWU Conference Championship. Todd was named Most Valuable Player the following season in 1968. Upon graduating from USC, he continued his athletic and academic education at the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. While in law school, he founded the school’s rugby club and served as player coach.
After completing his playing career, Ed continued to make his mark on the game by becoming an active referee and administrator. Todd would become an A Panel referee from 1996-1998 in the Northern California region. He would advance at multiple levels serving as a B-3 to A-2 referee throughout the United States and beyond. Some of his most notable tournaments and matches include the Canada Cup in 1996 and as head referee for Wales vs. USA South in 1997.
He served as a referee administrator for USA Rugby and the Northern California Rugby Football Referee Society for over 30 years. During his time as a referee administrator, he developed and educated thousands of referees by creating a charter and by-laws for the USA Rugby Referee Association. His vision helped form integral committees such as the rules and laws committee and the disciplinary committee, which shape the organization of the USARRA.
He helped write the Northern California Rugby Football Referee Society incorporation documents and was one of the four original signers. Todd published numerous articles and papers, including “The Referee Coaching Manual,” which educated and set the standard for American referees.
From 2005 to 2014 he served as the USA Rugby Referee Development Manager and oversaw national referee standards and education. His referee IQ would lead him all across the globe amongst the best of the best, having attended the New Zealand Referee Manager Conference in 2005 and developing the Rugby World Cup referee objectives in 2007. He remained a dedicated USAR and IRB administrator and educator through 2019.
In addition to his referee responsibilities, he found time to coach at the youth level for Lamorinda Youth Rugby U19 and U15 teams from 2003 to 2005. He also served as the St. Mary’s College Team Manager from 2000 to 2004.
Todd undoubtedly laid the foundation for the present-day standard of refereeing. His impact has traveled to rugby pitches locally, nationally, and globally and his legacy will remain ingrained in American rugby for years to come.
Bob Hoder was a visionary and fierce advocate for the promotion of rugby in the United States. His grassroots approach can be credited to much of what the game has currently shaped into at the youth, collegiate, club, and professional levels.
Hoder, a Rhode Island native, attended the University of Rhode Island from 1958-1962 where he was a walk-on freshman for the football team. His tenacity on the football field landed him honors in the URI Athletic Hall of Fame. Following his collegiate football career, Bob discovered rugby and began his career with Old Blue Rugby Football Club in New York City. He would carry on to co-found the Providence Rugby Club and play for the club for many years. Hoder was a force on the pitch at the hooker position and helped lead Providence to championships at the Saranac Lake and New England Rugby Tournaments.
Bob’s passion for rugby was not for fame, but rather for enacting a vision of advancing the sport across New England, the United States and beyond. He turned his passion for rugby into a business by founding Rugby Imports in 1971. After noticing a lack in the availability of rugby kits in America, he began importing Halbro rugby jerseys into the United State and that started the ball rolling. Rugby Imports would grow to become a powerhouse rugby supplier and a leader in coaching education and resources. Bob used his business as a platform to give back to the game that he loved so dearly.
“He truly believed that if Rugby was going to become a popular sport in this country, that you needed to start the kids out playing and the more people that were exposed to the sport would make it grow. He did not care about select side and being recognized by his peers in the rugby community, he believed in growing the game by starting, nurturing and expanding at the grass roots level. Bob Hoder loved the game of Rugby Football and gave back to the game every single day,” said former teammate and friend, Pete Thorpe.
Bob served as coach for Barrington High School, Providence Rugby Club, and the University of Rhode Island and also refereed at various levels throughout New England.
Not only did Hader and Rugby Imports lay the groundwork for rugby apparel and product in America, but more importantly sponsored USA Rugby’s first Coach Education Program. Because of Hoder’s advocacy, hundreds of coaches were educated and certified across the United States.
“Few have given greater service to the game than the late Bob Hoder of Rugby Imports. His commitment to our sport was immense, his generosity unbounded and his energy unparalleled,” said former USA Rugby National Technical Director, George Hook.
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.
Craig Sweeney played in the first four test matches for the United States in the modern era, captaining the team in the third and fourth tests. Unfortunately, not too many months after returning from England where he earned his fourth cap, Craig was training on the track at Santa Monica and suffered a fatal heart attack.
Keith Seaber, who was the Chairman of the National Selectors at the time and is currently the Convenor of Selectors for the Sweeney Award, remembers Sweeney fondly. "While extremely talented, Craig was also modest and revered by his teammates. He was a great captain and a wonderful ambassador for the game, U.S. Rugby and the United States of America.
"After the initial shock, we, the Union, decided to have an award in his memory. The National Selectors were given the responsibility of selecting an individual who had played for the Eagles, who was respected by his peers and the rugby community, has made significant contributions back to the game following his playing career, and be a person of exemplary character."
There have been just 13 recipients of the Sweeney Award to date. Former Eagle prop Mickey Ording was the first ever Sweeney Award winner, accepting the honor in 1979. He was followed by backrowers Tom Selfridge (1980), Clarence Culpepper (1982), Jeff Lombard (1984) and Brad Andrews (1985).
Former U.S. National Team head coach and current Cal head coach, Jack Clark, was presented the Sweeney Award in 2001. He was followed by Mike Purcell (2004), John Jelaco (2007), Fred Khasigian (2009), and Brian Vizard (2014).
Rick Bailey was selected as the Sweeney Award recipient in 2015. Steve Gray was chosen as the Sweeney recipient in 2016. While Neal Brendel was the Sweeney Award recipient in 2017.
“It is with great gratitude that, I and the previous recipients of The Sweeney Award, accept the USRF invitation to have this prestigious award housed in their Hall of Fame," said Seaber. "We are extremely pleased that the Award and its history will now be available for all to see.
“We are also very proud that this award will be presented annually at the Hall of Fame Dinner. It will mean that these two awards that acknowledge the very significant dedication given by U.S. rugby people on and off the field, receive the recognition they deserve.”