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In June 1975, four diverse and distant American geographical areas came together with the stated goal to form “a more perfect union” of the rugby designation to be called the United States National Football Rugby Union (USARFU). In a historic sense, the joining paralleled the nation’s birthing in the latter part of the 18th century, uniting independent union states with their own agendas into one union to represent the country.
The conclave - hosted by the Midwest RFU – exuded a spirit of mutual compromise, displaying a vastly different cooperative character from an earlier confrontational attempt in 1968. In seven years, the elected participants that came to Chicago, had to overcome widespread regional apprehension of the need for a USA union, and an uneasiness about the powers it could possess.
It was clear that the four disparate Territorial Unions could not continue to act independently, especially regarding international affairs and negotiations. The global rugby union model that proved successful from earliest times in the late 19th century had been the formation of a national governing body with one voice.
With differences having been worked out in preliminary conversations and correspondences, the fifteen-member USAFRU body addressed some issues before moving to sign the charter. The signatories were:
Eastern RFU - Peter Baigent, Edmond Lee, Joe Reagan
Pacific Coast RFU – Richard Moneymaker, Dennis Shanagher, Patrick Vincent, R.J. Watkins
Midwest RFU – Robert Grierson, Victor Hilarov, Keith Seaber, Richard Smith
Western RFU – Terry Fleener, H. Keith Haines II, Gerard Seymour, Gail Tennant Jr.
(Jon Prusmack created the calligraphy for the Charter document.)
The newly elected officers came from the four-regions:
President, Victor Hilarov
Vice President, Dick Moneymaker
Secretary, Ed Lee
Treasurer, Gail Tennant Jr.
Hilarov was prescient with his answer about the formation of the USARFU when he stated, “The size of the United States is the biggest problem the Union must encounter now.” A problem then, and a continuing and perplexing problem today.
This June 5 will mark USA Rugby’s 43-year anniversary. Hearty thanks and congratulations to all those who made it possible.