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Orrell versus Old Belevedere, 1976

The year 1976 witnessed the 10th Cherry Blossom Rugby Tournament sponsored by the Washington DC RFU. The event expanded beyond its Eastern states attraction to include California and foreign sides competing in the spring classic in the nation’s capitol. The tournament, started in 1966, just three-years after the founding of the Washington club in 1963, offered American clubs a view of what international rugby was like, the final played between Old Belvedere (Ireland) and Orrell RFC (England).

The overseas visitors made short and methodical work of the American clubs they met on the path to the championship match. Old Belvedere easily defeated the San Jose Seahawks in the opening round while Orrell dispatched the George Washington RFC.

In the second round, the more experienced Belvedere club outplayed Washington, while Orrell’s  fast forwards helped beat the heavier Chicago Lions, who had previously prevailed against the San Francisco RFC in the opening game.

Thus, the title game became an all Anglo-Irish finale for the right to claim the Australian Ambassador’s trophy. Orrell prevailed 17-12 to take the trophy home.

The 52nd Cherry Blossom Tournament will be played this April 7, 8, 2018, at the Rosecraft Raceway in Ft. Washington, Maryland. The Washington RFC anticipates more than forty sides will gather. This year’s event will mark the first time for College Men’s Sevens.