In the autumn of 1958, two celebrated American athlete scholars began their Rhodes Scholarships. Both had been outstanding undergraduate football players, one had been a top varsity hockey player, while the other had been a champion collegiate boxer. One played for his American college’s rugby XV, while the other had never played the sport.
When they arrived that fall at Oxford, both played rugby... Read More
For an American viewing his first test match at Twickenham - the Calcutta Cup of 1963 - watching England against Scotland should have been enough excitement for the day. (Four-shillings - $.56 - standing ticket).
But a 40-yard run occurred on the pitch that would immortalize the event that would henceforth be known as the game that produced "Sharp's Wonder Try."
The Sharp was Richard Sharp,... Read More
The first Sevens tournament in the United States occurred during a 1959 Thanksgiving holiday Saturday in Manhattan sponsored by the New York RFC. The winner was an M.I.T. “A” team against an M.I.T. “B” squad. Eight teams participated, all from the north east.
Today, with over 200 sevens tournaments played nationally, mainly in the spring and summer time, it seems odd that the first sevens... Read More
A brief history of California: In 1849, the year of the famous Gold Rush, San Francisco numbered 25,000 people while the settlement south called Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles could only report 1,600 inhabitants. Sixty-one years later in 1910, San Francisco listed 417,000 in the census, while LA, still a sparse, desert city without adequate water, totaled 320,000.
USC, the dominant university in... Read More
It is always interesting to remember historically which famous and infamous people played rugby. In the USA, we list three Kennedys (Joe Jr. and Ted at Harvard, and John Jr. at Brown), George W. Bush at Yale, Kris Kristofferson at Claremont, Joe Biden at Syracuse Law School, and some claim Bill Clinton played for his college at Oxford during the Rhodes scholarship year. Let’s also add Mark Cuban... Read More
In the next two years, Albert Woodley, an officer of the NYRFC and ERU, and a businessman who traveled frequently to Great Britain, made excellent contacts within the RFU. He hosted representatives of the RFU in Manhattan and, importantly, demonstrated that the NYRFC was organized along the same amateur principles of all British rugby clubs. By 1937, the RFU hinted that the ERU should solicit... Read More
Oxford. Cambridge. In the last century, these were gold standard names of Great Britain, as culturally and historically “English” to Americans as Big Ben, Rolls Royce, or 221B Baker Street. To the few rugby communities in America in the 1930’s, these Oxbridge fifteens – playing one another since 1872 - represented the apogee of rugby union play. In 1933, the Cambridge University Vandals Club (... Read More
The popularity for the English acceptance of rugby football in the mid nineteen-century emanated, ironically, from the publication of a work of fiction entitled Tom Brown’s School Days. Written by Thomas Hughes, who described himself as an “Old Boy of Rugby,” the novel was published in 1857, and by 1862, it sold more than 28,000 copies, a certified best-seller.
The book featured the tale of 11-... Read More
Today, every rugger in the United States knows or should know the story of the country’s rugby gold medals from the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games. And all should be aware by now that the sport will return again to the Olympics in 2016 when rugby sevens makes its debut in Rio for men and women. (12 countries). But there is an earlier Olympic rugby narrative in 1900 and 1908 that speaks to the root... Read More
If you bet that the statue of William Webb Ellis at Rugby School is the only one in England devoted to a noted rugby person, you would lose the wager; a statue in the town of Ipswich honors one of the most fascinating and romantic of all international rugby greats, Prince Alexander Obolensky.
The Prince was born in Petrograd, Russia, son of a prince who served in Tsar Nicolas's imperial Horse... Read More