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For the end of 2016 “Down Memory Lane” column, we turn to the first December issue of Rugby Magazine in 1977. The publication began in 1975 as Scrumdown, a restart by Publisher A. Jon Prusmack after a seven-year hiatus from 1968 when he printed two issues in a glossy format. When Ed Hagerty came aboard as Editor-in-Chief, he suggested the publication change to the more recognizable “Rugby” name. A yearly subscription cost $8.00.
That December issue detailed the Eagles first tour to England, a six match schedule, five against clubs and the finale against an England XV. (Not the national side but starting seven capped players.)
The USA was coached by Dennis Storer, managed by Ken Wood, and captained by Craig Sweeny. The USA went 2-4, losing that last match 37-11 in front of a crowd of 15,000 at Twickenham. (Of historic note: the English captain that day was Bill Beaumont at Lock, currently, the CEO of World Rugby.)
The tour started with a USA victory over Civil Service 15-6, followed by a heart-breaking loss to Cornwall 12-11. Coventry won the third match easily 33-6, and Gosforth prevailed at 18-12. The last club match pitted the Eagles against Cambridge University, which featured All Black Mike O’Callaghan on the wing. The USA led 20-12, giving up a late try to hold on for a 20-18 win.
The 1977 magazine included testimonials from the RFU Secretary, opinions from the opposing British players, and commentary from American players.
The 40-page spread broadcast SPECIAL SOUVENIR ISSUE above the title, and inside, the complete tour coverage proved that it was.