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There was a time when Michelob Beer sponsored the Bermuda Classic Tournament, an invitational, two-team event that welcomed All Star players from days past. What started out in 1972 as an Easter match for some touring teams, turned into a singular world class contest.
Players who participated in the Classic included the legendary Gareth Edwards from Wales, Mike Edwards, Fergus Slattery, and Tom Grace from Ireland. Edwards played for Bermuda, one of the different wrinkles in bringing in international caps to play for the home fifteen.
In 1981, an Irish team arrived with top players from Ireland and France while the Bermuda XV included English players, and the first American, international, Chimere Okezia.
The match was preceded by a black-tie dinner dance with an after-dinner speech given by Irish international and British Lion great, Tony O’Reilly (who would become CEO of Heinz).
The Irish defeated Bermuda 23-11 making up for two past defeats.
A Women’s match started the day with perennial champions Beantown beating a Mid-Atlantic Select Side (D.C.) 23-11.
The 1981 Bermuda weekend was also notable for the fact the Rugby Magazine Editor (USA Rugby Hall of Fame) indicated he played as a fill in with the visiting Pittsburgh Old Boys in a match against a local Bermuda fifteen.
(The Classic would morph eventually into the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda played every November. The event features retired internationals playing for their country against other national caps.)