Archives for March 2011

Alabama – 28th State Based Rugby Organization

By Kurt Oeler/ Gainline

Statewide rugby has emerged as one of America’s leading means of promoting growth, with Alabama last week becoming the country’s 28th youth and high school body.

The rapid spread of so-called state-based rugby organizations, up from a dozen in 2006, indicates the organizational model dovetails with the US school system. Most varsity sports are governed by statewide athletic conferences.

‘Currently we have three [local area unions] operating within the state, and having one body to direct state administrators to has been key to progressing within the educational system.  It is already starting to open doors for us at the high school level as well,’ Rugby Alabama head Brad Kilpatrick said in an email.

USARFU, mimicking Commonwealth standards, was founded by four territorial unions each comprising a number of local or sub-unions. These bodies often spilled across state lines, exacerbating the sporting community’s confusion as to why a sports organization would be known as a ‘union’, a term Americans typically reserve for labor associations.

In the past decade, coaches and administrators have abandoned the approach in favor of governing bodies that are more recognizable to school leaders, parks and recreation officials, and so on. USARFU, which has been actively encouraging the formation of SBROs, is simultaneously pushing college teams to incorporate into conferences and also hopes to revamp the system for senior clubs. The latter initiative has been moving particularly slowly.

Birmingham  is presently Alabama’s center of of non-contact rugby. Mobile looks more promising for establishing the cotton state’s first high school league. There Rugby Alabama is working with the Mobile Sports Authority as well as parochial schools, some of whom are encouraged by the proximity of established high school leagues in nearby Florida, with boasts a more established SBRO, and Louisiana.

Nathan Carse, National Hero – Local Rugger

By Hunter “Coon” Guidry

Spc. Nathan “Chuck Norris” Carse
On Saturday, Feb. 19th, 2011, Spc. Nathan Carse was honored in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the inaugural Nathan Carse Memorial Rugby Match held between Baton Rouge Rugby and New Orleans Rugby (both teams Nathan played for). The pre-game tribute consisted of military presentation of the flag with bagpipes from the Celtic Society, and a moment of silence. The match was followed by many toasts to our friend and teammate, Nathan Carse, hero to us all.

Spc. Nathan “Chuck Norris” Carse was killed in Afghanistan by an IED on Wednesday, Feb. 9th, 2011 just two months before he was supposed to return home.  Originally from Ohio, he came to Baton Rouge to get his Masters in Engineering at LSU.  Nathan was an Alumni of LSU rugby playing for two years in 2004-05.  He next played with Baton Rouge rugby for three years 2005-08 and a short time for New Orleans as a loose head prop and occasional flanker.  Nathan got his nickname at LSU for his amazing gift of beard and his uncanny resemblance to Chuck Norris.  He was a tough rugger known for hard tackling and rucking, and he very rarely passed the ball – like any good forward.  Nathan was a great friend and teammate with a heart of gold- he will truly be missed.  He was a true American hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice.   

Some friends of Nathan’s set up a memorial scholarship fund to honor his ultimate sacrifice to his country and to us.  Be friend the Facebook page:!/pages/Nathan-Carse-Memorial-Scholarship/201112769904404

or send any contributions to the fund to:

Nathan Carse Memorial Scholarship
Allen East Local Schools
c/o Rhonda Zimmerly
9105 Harding Hwy
Harrod, OH 45850

All Contributions will be held in trust by the school until the proper paper work is filed with the State of Ohio.

Robert Markel, A Grandfather of Deep South Rugby

          What makes someone a grandfather of an entity as large and with so many roots as Deep South Rugby? In the most common usage of the word it means a parent of parents. This might relate in rugby to a player who has inspired players who have gone on to inspire other players. If this definition is valid then Robert Markel is certainly a Deep South Rugby grandfather many times over. Robert was a founder of Spring Hill, Jackson, Xavier University, Jesuit, and various touch, under-19, and 7’s sides. The number of Deep South ruggers who began playing because those sides existed is difficult to calculate. Many of these ruggers have gone on to roles of leadership off and on pitches at clubs throughout the Deep South and other unions. There is a strong argument that Robert is a very prolific grandparent.

            In the spring of 1968 at the age of 17 he played his first game as center with the New Orleans Blues against Southeastern Louisiana. The Blues had 3 games that season, all against Southeastern. In the fall Robert started university at Springhill College and soon had a team organized. In the spring of 1969 Springhill had its first matches against Tulane, New Orleans Blues (first victory), Pensacola, and Southeastern Louisiana. The following year Springhill played the University of Florida in their first rugby match. In the summer of 1974 Robert moved to Jackson where he saw a flyer put up by Frank Godwin asking if anyone was interested in starting a rugby side. Frank and Robert began running, passing the ball, and gathering players. Jackson’s first match was against Lamar College from Beaumont at the Hammond Mardi Gras Tournament in 1975. In the late 70s Robert moved to New Orleans and began many years involvement with the NORFC as a player and in various positions of leadership. Today he coaches Jesuit High School (which went to the high school national sweet 16 tournament in Utah in 2006), plays in the occasional Old Boys match, and is looking forward to a December trip to his favorite rugby tour destination – the Trinidad 7s tournament.

            Probably before birth Robert and Diane’s sons, Justin and Gabriel, were exposed to rugby and from very early ages they were toddling around with rugby balls. At the age of 1 Justin was on rugby tour to the Cayman Islands. Youth touch rugby had its beginning in New Orleans with the birth of Justin and as Justin and Gabriel grew so did the successes of the sides. The New Orleans youth touch rugby side went to the Junior Olympic Rugby Tournament twice and when Gabriel was in 7th grade the side took second place at the tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. These touch sides evolved into the U-19 Smiley Faced Warriors. It must be mentioned at this point that Robert’s jersey design flair began to reach new heights with the Smiley Faced Warriors’ kits. The Smiley Faced Warriors played their first match against Catholic High in Baton Rouge in 1996. The Smiley Faced Warriors 70-0 victory over a prep school from White Plains, New York, is one of Robert’s many cherished coaching memories. He, also, fondly recalls playing alongside outstanding local back Jeff Reuther, who started out playing on a high school side coached by Robert and went on to play for the NORFC, Texas A&M, and Atlantis select side.

            When asked about his favorite memories from 4 decades of rugby, the players and places and matches and moments just come tumbling out. His body remembers playing in the mud in Hammond or a match in New Orleans where the rain soaked pitch froze over and the ice crunched underneath his boots. His heart recalls singing “Rosin the Bow” with Richard Evans, prop for the NORFC in the 70s, at Spilfters & Smulchkins Ruggers Pub after a magnificent day of rugby on the batcher. In a tournament in Memphis in 1992 his 15 year-old son, Justin, played in his first adult match. Justin’s first try came on a pass from his father. Justin went on to be a collegiate all-American and to play for Atlantis. Robert’s neck and shoulders recall a match as prop for the NORFC in 1982 against John O’Connor, prop for an Irish side from Belfast, at the Freeport Bahamas Easter Tournament. His love of rugby recalls the birth of the concept of “Cosmic Buzz Saw Rugby” in Shreveport in the early 80’s. New Orleans drove up on Saturday to find a supposedly excellent Shreveport side impatient with the late arriving NORFC ruggers. Straight from cars to the pitch and the magic of playing in a match where all players are in tune, off-loads are quick and flawless, and movements seem to glide almost effortlessly to the eventual try still inspires Robert. The memories of the match flow in detail from the first tackle by Charlie Monnot that brought down 2 Shreveport players to the party that led to an overnight drive to Jackson and spending the night on the Jackson pitch – assuring arrival in plenty of time for the Sunday match.

            Favorite match and tour memories, from the 800 or so matches Robert calculates he has played, are endless. He recalls scoring a hat trick for the NORFC in 1979 against an excellent Canadian team, Vancouver Rowing Club. He was playing center outside Ed Murray who went on to be rookie of the year for the Detroit Lions and the Super Bowl MVP award winner while playing for Dallas. He recollects beating a very good Oklahoma side while playing in the pack alongside Wayne Fontenelle and Al D’Elia and winning the Battleship Tournament in 1980. Recalling the 80s and 90s he warms with thoughts of summer 7s on Tuesdays and Thursdays, touch on Wednesdays, and the end of summer luau at his or Tracy Moen’s house. Stories of characters and matches and dinners with the numerous international players from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, UK, and France (many of whom picked up traveling money working for Markel Lumber) afford an amazing window into the impact this ambassador of Deep South rugby has had.

            In December, 1990, along with former NORFC teammates Fran Thompson and Tom Crosby, he made his first trip to the Trinidad 7s as a member of the Caracas Teachers RFC. That initial trip has led to 5 more trips to the tournament. Over the last 18 years he has played with many teams in this tournament. Favorite memories include 1998 when he played his first match with both sons and gave Gabriel a pass that put him over for his first try, in 1999 the NO Womens RFC finished 2nd and the men went out in the semi-final, and in 2000 at the age of 50 he played a total of 9 matches for NORFC 2nd side and the Barbados Defense RFC during the weekend of the tournament. Robert established such a strong link between himself and the Trinidad 7s organizers that following Katrina, Brian Stohlmeyer ( Trinidad 7s Organizer) contacted him to offer his family a place to stay in Trinidad. He is now planning his December return to Trinidad to renew old acquaintances and make new friends and memories.

            In his 40 years of involvement with rugby in the Deep South Robert Markel has set a standard by which to measure what it means to be a grandfather of Deep South Rugby, and on October 23rd, 2007, the grandfather became a grandfather. His oldest daughter Bonnie gave birth to Eliza Rose Mead. One can certainly imagine that Robert dreams of the day when he gives Eliza the pass that puts her over for her first try in Trinidad.

DeepSouthRugby.Net Starts Its Fourth Year

By Tom Crosby

Four years ago Fran and I leaned across a table, a half-full pitcher of beer between us, and conjured up the idea of DeepSoutRugby.Net. We dreamed of the website as a vehicle to press passes to the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. The passes to the world cup never materialized, but in the intervening years we have covered a few rugby matches and sat in press boxes with professional journalists – and longed to be on the sidelines rowdily screaming the Eagles or Blue Jays to victory. Next year another rugby world cup rolls around. Tickets have been applied for and money tucked away for plane tickets and camper van. Soon we’ll start the dance to see if we can get a press packet, but when we land in New Zealand we’ll be comfortable to pull out our paid for tickets and find our seats in the stands and feel the atmosphere of the regular rugby fan at the greatest rugby tournament of them all.

Last summer DeepSouthRugby.Net took a road trip to Charleston to watch the Eagles defeat Canada in a World Cup qualifier and this summer we are off again to Harrison, New Jersey, to watch the final matches of the Churchill Cup on June 19th. The Eagles face Russia and England Saxons (England’s 2nd side) in their pool matches in Colorado. In the other pool Canada faces France A (France’s 2nd side) and Uruguay. There will be 3 matches in New Jersey on June 19th. The first, second, and third place teams from each pool will face-off against each other. The predictions are that the USA and Canada will face each other as the second place teams out of their pools on June 19th, but Russia is emerging as a rugby power to be reckoned with. They recently qualified for the 2011 World Cup and as of May 31st were ranked 19th in the world (1.6 rating points behind the USA’s 18th position). Russia is, also, in the same pool as the USA in the 2011 World Cup. They will face the Eagles on Sept. 15th, 2011, in what will be the USA’s best chance for their 3rd win in their 5 trips to a World Cup. The previous wins both came against Japan in 1987 (21-18) and 2003 (39-26). The winning try in the 1987 match was scored by former Baton Rouge player Gary Lambert. Hopefully there will be a great turn-out to watch the Churchill Cup matches. If the USA is to become a place to host international tournaments, we will have to show that fans support their national team.

Thanks to all who have contributed news to DeepSouthRugby.Net over the past year. Over the past 3 years we have evolved from a website trying to scam a few press passes to a website with the mission to record and archive the history of rugby in the Deep South. Be a part of history. Send any stories or news items to

Cheers, Fran & Croz

2009-10 Deep South Season Report

Deep South Rugby 2009-2010 Season Report

The following is an attempt to capture the highlights of rugby in the Deep South during the 2009-2010 season. If you have any other items you think should be added, send to

Congratulations to Steve Parrill on his appointment as Chair of Southern Referees Association (article in Archive Issue 3) and Michele Yarbrough on her appointment as USA Rugby South Assistant Collegiate Director (article in Archive Issue 3). 

The following LSU players (who played high school rugby in New Orleans) were selected to American Rugby News Collegiate All-American teams: Adam Ducoing (Brother Martin) , Bobby Johns (Jesuit), and Cody Cadella (Rummell). Congratulations to them and the coaches of New Orleans high school rugby.

Hilari French of the Baton Rouge Barbarians (Barbies) was selected as to the USA Rugby South All-Star Women’s Select Side to play in the National All Star Championship in Blaine, Minnesota on May 28-30th.

Mary Ann Reynolds, Danye O’Mahoney, and Madeline Wilbanks from Auburn were selected to the USA Rugby South U-23 Select Side to play in the U-23 National All-Star Championship in Santa Barbara, California on June 11-13.

Cameron Falcon of Shaw H. S. was selected and attended the High School All American Camp and played against Canada in December. He was on the list of players selected for the tour to Toronto in the summer of 2010, but unfortunately suffered a tear of his ACL in the left knee during the La. H. S. Championship game against Brother Martin and was not able to tour.

Below are reports on the Deep South Union team champions and how they did in their divisions and who went on to win the national division titles.


Teams Review: Men’s Division 2 

(There is currently no Men’s Division 1 side in the Deep South Union.)

South’s West Division 2.

The Pool Points (3 for win, 2 for draw, 1 for loss, 0 for forfeit but played, -1 for forfeit not played, -3 for no show) for the USA Rugby South West Division for 2009-2010 season were are follows:

Baton Rouge 13

Battleship  11

Jackson  11

Little Rock 17

Memphis  15

New Orleans 19

NORFC finished ahead of Little Rock as the No. 1 seed even though NORFC lost to Little Rock on Feb 20th in Little Rock by a score of 22-20. Based on the structure of the South Division 2 Pools, New Orleans only plays Baton Rouge and Battleship twice a year, and plays Memphis, Little Rock, and Jackson once a year. New Orleans scored 328 points to 56 points scored against them in the 7 regular matrix games they played in the spring 2010 season. In playoffs NORFC  faced Montgomery at home on April 10th and won 51-0.  Little Rock faced Knoxville in Knoxville on April 10th as #2 team out of USA Rugby South West Division and won 39-12.

In South Regional play on May 1st and 2nd  in Charleston, NORFC defeated Charleston  15-7 and then lost to Tampa Krewe 21-17. (Krewe beat Little Rock 39-17 the day before.) NORFC advanced to national play-offs as the USA Rugby South’s number 2 seed. On May 22nd New Orleans fell to Lincoln Park in Columbia, South Carolina, (22-18)  in the National Division 2 Final 8 Play-Offs. NORFC defeated Bayonne (Northeast #1 seed going into the tournament) 53-12 in the consolation match.

Tampa Krewe defeated Chicago (26-17) and Brandywine (32-5) in Columbia to advance to the USA Rugby Division 2 Final Four in Glendale, Colorado, on June 5th-6th. In their first match they faced Snake River (Boise, Idaho). The other semi-final match was Doylestown (PA) vs San Francisco.

Men’s Division 3

In Pool G of the USA Rugby South Division 3 Matrix the points (3 for win, 2 for draw, 1 for loss,0 for forfeit but played, -1 for forfeit but not played, -3 for no show) were as follows:

Columbus   20

Okaloosa  21

Panama City  7

Pensacola  17

Tallahassee 7

On April 10th in play-offs Birmingham (which was the USA Rugby South Pool D champ over Atlanta Bucks, High Country, & Athens) lost 6-0 to Johnson City in Johnson City, and Okaloosa hosting Krewe B from Tampa defeated them 28-13.  In the semi-finals on May 1st in Charleston,  Okaloosa lost to Triad 36-13. Triad fell the next day to Hilton Head by a score of 39-8. Hilton Head advanced to the national tournament as the South’s #1 seed and Triad the #2 seed.

In the USA Rugby National Round of 16 Triad was defeated by Cedar Rapids (Midwest #1 seed) by a score of 40-0. Cedar Rapids advanced to the semi-final play-offs by beating Old Gaelic (Mid-Atlantic  #2 seed) 23-13. Triad lost to Buffalo 37-15 in the consolation match. The South’s #1 seed (Hilton Head) fell to Virginia (Mid-Atlantic #1 seed) 20-5. Virginia advanced to the semi-final play-offs by defeating Fox Valley (Mid-West #2 seed) 48-12. Hilton Head won their consolation match against North Jersey 15-5.

Men’s Collegiate: Division 1

There is no Deep South Division 1 Side, but LSU (who plays in the Texas Union) is a spiritual Deep South side. The Tigers repeated as Western Union champions and made it to the Sweet 16,  played at Life University in Marietta, Georgia.

On day 1 LSU lost to Penn State 31 to 25 but came thundering back the next day to crush UCLA 41-14. The Tigers ended up ranked 11th in the country. Penn State was slaughtered by Univ. California – Berkeley 65-19 in the national semi-final.  Cal went on to defeat BYU (defending champ) in the national championship match by a score of 19-7 to claim their 25th national championship.

Men’s Collegiate Division 2

Points: (4 for win, 2 for draw, 1 for 4 or more tries, 1 for loss by less than 7 points)

Southeastern Division 2 Standings

Univ.  Georgia  25

Univ.  Tennessee  25

Vanderbilt  5

Univ.  Mississippi 14

Univ. of  Alabama 12

Mississippi State 6

Auburn 3

No Deep South side advanced to play-offs.

The  South #2 seed, North Carolina State, advanced to the round of 8 by defeating the Pacific #1 seed, California Maritime Academy, 28-17. In the Round of 8 NC State lost to Miami Univ. of Ohio 43-5. The South #1 seed, Appalachian State, defeated Western Oregon (Pacific #3 seed) 33-17 to advance to the Round of 8 where they were defeated by Temple 25-10.

Claremont Colleges (California) defeated Temple University in the Division 2 championships in Stanford, California by a score of 25-19 to claim its first ever national championship.

Men’s Collegiate Div 3 Bayou League

West Division: University of Louisiana Lafayette (Champ), Tulane , Loyola

East Division: Univ. West Florida, Univ. Southern Mississippi, Spring Hill

ULL had playoff victories against Springhill College, West Florida, Sewanee and the reigning Division 3 champion, Coastal Carolina. During their matches in play-offs ULL outscored opponents 178-24.

ULL advanced to the Final Four of the National Small College Rugby Championship.

The National Small College Rugby Organization ( was created so that “small” colleges and universities could compete for a national championship in rugby. NSCRO was formed three years ago. In 2009 the NSCRO Men’s Division 3 National Champion was Coastal Carolina University. Participating teams in the championship this year were:
Region 1 Champion – Keene State College (New England RFU)
Region 2 Champion – William Paterson University (Met NY RFU)
Region 3 Champion – Penn State University – Berks Campus (East Penn RU)
Region 4 Champion – University of Louisiana-Lafayette (Deep South RU)

There were 99 eligible Division 3 teams representing 13 Local Area Unions  which were part of 4 different Territorial Unions.  ULL lost to Keene State (N.H.) College 25-22 in the semifinals, but rebounded to shut out William Paterson 43-0 in the consolation game. Penn State-Berks won the championship, defeating Keene State 11-6.

Tremendous congratulations to the coaches and players of the ULL Ragin Cajuns. Sixteen of the 26 players on ULL’s roster hail from the New Orleans area. Nine more are from Lafayette, with one Texan.


Women Division 2

Baton Rouge lost to Miami 21-7 in USA South Semi-Finals in October, 2009. BR Barbies went on to defeat Memphis in the consolation match to capture 3rd place in USA Rugby South.

Miami defeated Charleston 22-5 in the finals and both sides advanced to the national championships held in Houston on Nov. 7th and 8th. In the national tournament 10 teams competed in 3 pools. Miami lost to Providence in their pool match 31-12. Providence went on to lose to Raleigh in the semi-finals by a score of 31-5. Raleigh won the championship by defeating Pittsburgh by a score of 12-0.

Miami defeated Houston 31-0 to finish 5th in the national tournament.


Women’s Collegiate – Division 2 (No Deep South Div 1 sides)

Points in USA Rugby South Central Division:  (4 for win, 2 for draw, 1 for 4 or more tries, 1 for loss by less than 7 points)

Lee University 23

GA Tech 17

Auburn 15

Mid TN State  11

Emory 0

Univ. of  Alabama 4

Auburn won 3 and loss 2 (losing to Lee University and Georgia Tech). University of Alabama played 5 and loss 4. Defeating Emory.

On March 6th  Auburn defeated the University of Alabama 40 -21 scoring 8 tries to 3.

Deep South Youth Rugby

The  State B- Side Tournament was held at ESA in Lafayette. The following are the results of the B-side tournament.
ESA 35 Bro Martin (B) 20
Jesuit (B) 12 ESA 5
Jesuit (B) 29 Bro Martin (B) 5
Saturday,  April 17, was the Louisiana Youth State Championship. The following were the seedings in the tournament.
  #1 Shaw v #4 Bro Martin
 #2 Jesuit v #3 Niceville

Jesuit Blue Jays captured the 2010 Louisiana State High School Championship by defeating Niceville 28-10 in their first match and Brother Martin 27-3 in the final.

Shaw represented the Deep South Union at the April 24th USA Rugby South Youth Championships at Furman College in South Carolina due to Jesuit and Brother Martin not being able to muster a squad for the trip. Shaw finished 5th out of the field of 8 teams . Shaw’s High School All-American Cameron Shaw was sorelymissed as he was out due to torn knee ligament suffered in LA High School Championships. Charlotte Catholic from North Carolina repeated as the South Champion defeating Walton High School from Marietta, Georgia, 15-8 in overtime. In the national tournament in Utah on the weekend of May 21st Charlotte Catholic defeated Snow Canyon (Pacific #2 seed) 17-12, but lost to Xavier (Northeast #1 seed) in semi-finals 24-15. Xavier defeated Gonzaga (mid-Atlantic #1 seed) 32-10 to take the High School Championship in the first all Eastern side final. Charlotte lost to Jesuit of Sacramento (who were the defending champions and Pacific #1 seed going into the tournament) 61-3 to end up in 4th place in the 8 team play-off tournament.

Louisiana (Deep South Union) had no Boys U-19 Club side competing at the USA Rugby South Championships. The final was a repeat of the last 3 years – Highland Rugby Club (Utah) playing the United Rugby Club (Utah). United won the very hard and closely fought match to end Highland’s 20 straight national championships.

2008-2009 Deep South Rugby Report

Below are major events this year in the Deep South and reports on the Deep South teams who were the champions in their respective divisions and advanced to compete in regional play-offs.

In September the sad news of the death of Wayne Fontenelle (LSU, NORFC, BRRFC) deeply shook those who knew and loved him. (See article in Archive Issue 2).

The Deep South Rugby Union had several teams join this year. Baton Rouge Men’s & Women’s teams both joined after playing in the Texas Union for some years. For info on the BR Men’s season read below. The BR Women’s side will play its first season in the Deep South Union in 2009-2010.

LSU B side played a season in the Deep South Union. They captured the SEC B-side title.

Marion Military Institute played its first full season. They won their first match against Southern Mississippi 15-0 on February 14th by forfeit.

Niceville (FL) High School under the leadership of Dr. Ed Frisbee signed up to join the Louisiana High School League for the 2009-10 season.

Chris Liddy was promoted to referee grade B-3  giving the Deep South 2 of the 8 B-grade referees in the South Union. (See article in Archive Issue 2 for other referee promotions.)

The Deep South Union proposed a new constitution at its annual meeting in 2008. The Deep South Constitution has been redone, reworked and somewhat modernized and will be presented at the November 2009 AGM.  (See article in Archive Issue 2 for  information on the originally proposed Constitution.)

High School and Youth Championships

Rummel advanced to the finals of the USA Rugby South regional championships high school division. The Raiders lost 26-16 to Charlotte Catholic (NC). In the USA Rugby championships held in Pittsburgh (PA) Charlotte Catholic was blasted 50-0 by the reigning national champs Jesuit High School (Sacramento) who went on to recapture this year’s championship. Charlotte Catholic finished in 8th place losing the 7-8th place match 29-22 against St. Thomas (Texas).

In the U-19 youth club division Shaw lost to Highlanders (NC) in the semifinal 29-0. The Highlanders won the final beating Naples (FL) by a score of 21-7. At the USA rugby championships the Highlanders fell 31-15 to the perennial rugby power Highland Rugby Club (Utah) who went on to capture the title this year for something like the 19th year in a row. The Highlanders ended up 7th beating Union City (NJ) 11-7 in the 7-8th consolation match.


Div. 1

Although not playing in the (official) Deep South Union, claims LSU as a “spiritual member” of the Deep South rugby community. The Tigers had an incredible season advancing to the national quarterfinals. To get there they defeated Colorado State University 18-14 in Greeley, Colorado, to claim the Western Rugby Union University Div. 1 title. In the first match of the round of 16 the Tigers destroyed Utah University 47-5, but fell to San Diego State Aztecs 44-30 in a very tough quarterfinal match. San Diego State lost to Brigham Young University in the semifinals 31-13 and Brigham Young went on to claim the national title upsetting the University of California 25-20. (For more information on LSU’s fantastic season see 2 articles in Archive Issue 2.)

The Deep South Union has no Collegiate Div. 1 sides.

Div. 2

The Deep South has 2 Collegiate Div II teams, Ole Miss and Alabama.  Ole Miss won the Deep South/Mid-South bracket and was then defeated by eventual South runner-up East Carolina University.  After Western Kentucky pulled out of their playoff game against App State, the boys from Bama stepped up, putting a team together and traveling 8 hours on the 1st weekend of Spring Break.  They were defeated, but showed great effort in giving App State a playoff game with very little notice going in. App State would lose to University of Florida (19-14) and USF would be the South #1 seed to the Round of 16. East Carolina was the South #2 seed. In the Round of 16 East Carolina would fall (36-10) to Miami-Ohio who would then lose to Wisconsin in the Semi-final. USF defeated Colorado School of Mines 37-14 in the Round of 16, but would lose 32-17 to Middlebury College (VT) in the Quarterfinals. Middlebury would go on to defeat Wisconsin (27-10) and capture the national title for the second time in 3 years.

Div. 3

Tulane (Deep South West #1) defeated Mississippi State University (Deep South East #1) 22-13 on March 14th to advance to the regional play-offs. Tulane lost to Furman College 29-8 in Rugby South Div. III Final 4 match-up in Tuscaloosa. Furman had captured the Rugby South title 5 out of the last 6 years, but lost to Coastal Carolina University 13-10 in the final. Coastal Carolina went on to win the National Small College Div. 3 championship defeating SUNY-Oswego in Cherry Hill, NJ, on April 26th by a score of 36-15.

Men’s Div. 3

The Birmingham Vulcans traveled to Hilton Head (SC) on April 11th and unfortunately came up a little short (15-9) in the play-offs.

Pensacola Aviators hosted and defeated the High Country (GA) Rugby Club 38-21 on April 11th to advance to the Rugby South championships in Columbus, Georgia.  On April 25th Pensacola defeated Savannah 37-3 and then the next day captured the South Div. III title by defeating Hilton Head 27-11 in the finals. May 18th in Columbia (SC) Pensacola faced Danbury (CT) in the Round of 16 and lost 19-3. Danbury went on to beat Blacksburg (PA) 30-27 to advance to the Final 4. Pensacola won its consolation match 31-29 against Cleveland Eastern Suburbs.

On May 30th Danbury lost 37-12 in a national semi-finals match against Northern State (SD). Northern State went on to capture the National Div. 3 title defeating Beaumont(CA) 67-22.  Danbury lost its consolation match 49-10 to Middlesex (MA).

Men’s Div. 2

New Orleans RFC was the Deep South’s #1 seed. On April 11th they hosted and defeated Atlanta Old White B-side 42-5 to advance to regional play-offs in Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Baton Rouge RFC was the Deep South’s #2 seed. They traveled to Huntsville on April 11th and barely came away winners with a 1 point win (25-24).

At Ft. Benning NORFC lost to Krewe Rugby Club (Tampa) 26-10 in the semi-final and Baton Rouge defeated Jacksonville 24-17. In the finals Krewe beat Baton Rouge 33-22, but both teams advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals held in Columbia, SC, on May 16th. Baton Rouge lost to Indianapolis Impalas 53-12. The Impalas would go on to defeat Brandywine (PA), last year’s national runner-ups,  and advance to the Final Four.

In the national semi-finals on May 30th, Indianapolis fell to East Palo Alto by a score of 30-11. East Palo Alto went on to capture the national Div. 2 title defeating Albuquerque 46-22. Indianapolis won the consolation match in overtime (43-38) beating Lancaster (PA).

The Deep South has no Division 1 sides.

Deep South Women’s

The Deep South will seed at least one Women’s Club Div II team to the South LAU Championships in October, something that has not previously ever occurred in the Deep South.  This team has the chance to represent the South TU at the unofficial Div II Women’s National Championships.

Thanks to Charles Dube and Stephen Parrill for information for this report.

If you have other information you would like added to this report, send it to

Louisiana High School Rugby Schedule 2010

Below is the first draft of the 2010 La High School Rugby Schedule. If you have conflicts please contact the coach of the other team and work out a suitable change and then call or e-mail Gary Giepert (  with the change and he will update the master schedule. Please work out all changes by Dec 31. The schedule becomes final as of January 1 , 2010.
For New Orleans teams all games will be at the Gretna field and the first team is the home team who is responsible the home team who is responsible for the getting the field ready and the ref.
3 NORFC High School Rugby Clinic 11am-2pm
16 Bro Martin v Jesuit 1pm
23 Jesuit v Rummel 1pm
Bro Martin @ ESA 12 noon
Bro Martin @ Lafayette 1:30pm
26 Shaw v Bro Martin 4:30 pm
30 ESA @ Rummel 10am
Shaw v LSU (B) 12 noon
2 Jesuit v Shaw 4:30pm
6 Bro Martin v White Station in Jackson 11:30 am
Shaw, Jesuit, ESA, Niceville, Alliance Round Robin in N O
9 Rummel v Bro Martin 4:30pm
23 Shaw v Rummel 4:30pm
25 Jesuit v Bro Martin 4:30pm
27 Shaw v ESA @ BR 11am
Jesuit v Niceville in Mobile 1pm
Lafayette@ Rummel 12 noon
4 Bro Martin v Shaw 4:30pm
6 Bro Martin v Niceville in Mobile 12 noon
Rummel v Jesuit 12noon
13 Jesuit @ ESA 12 noon
Jesuit @ Lafayette 1:30 pm
Rummel v Niceville @ Mobile 12 noon
Bro Martin @ Nash Bash
16 Shaw v Jesuit 4:30 pm
18 Bro Martin v Rummel 4:30pm
20 ESA v Niceville in Mobile 12 noon
Lafayette@ Shaw 12 noon
23 Rummel v Shaw 4:30pm
25 Shaw v Harvey School 4:30pm
26 Bro Martin v Harvey School 4:30pm
27 La State B-side Tournament @ ESA
8,10,13 Make up days and possible playoff dates
17 La State Championship Tournament in N O
( Top 4 teams in League)
24-25 South Regional Tournament
21-22 USA National Championships Salt Lake City Utah

Michele Yarbrough: Appointed Assistant Collegiate Director for USA Rugby South

 On Feb. 17th, 2010, USA Rugby South President Kevin Kitto approved and announced the appointment of Michele Yarbrough as Assistant Collegiate Director for USA Rugby South. Michele will work with USA Rugby South Collegiate Director Marty Bradley in the administration of the women’s collegiate competitions.

Michele’s dedication to the development of rugby is well known to ruggers in the Deep South Union and while congratulating Michele on this responsibility and honor, asked her a few questions to preserve a bit of the history of the moment and so readers, who don’t know Michele, can find out a little more about her. Below are the questions and Michele’s answers.

Question: When and where did you start playing?

I started playing Rugby at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS.  During the fall of 2000, I was challenged by one of the men’s players to see if I could last a whole women’s practice.  I went out to practice and the rest is really history for me.

 Question: Greatest moment as a player?

This is a very hard question to answer for me.  I have been extremely blessed to be around many great rugby players over the past ten years.  As a result I have so many moments with rugby that I will never forget.  It has truly made me who I am today.  If I had to pick one moment though, it would be the USM Women’s Alumni Game in 2005.  First I was asked to be captain – for the first time.  I played 60 minutes on a fractured ankle and ended up getting Man of the Match.  The only game that comes close to this is our first home game in the spring of 2001. We beat LSU and I think everyone on the team got to score a try! After that game I had the opportunity to thank the one person who had gone so unrecognized with the USM Women’s team, Sabrina Scott (Bean to those who know her).  She is truly the reason that the USM Women’s Rugby team has survived over the past ten year and deserved the credit.  To this day she is the one coach that I have had that I never want to disappoint.
Question: Overall greatest Rugby moment?

This is really going to be a toss up between two moments for me. 

This past weekend I was brought to tears of pride over 25 young women that I have been assisting this year to develop their own women’s collegiate rugby team.  At their first home game this weekend, they had the forethought to sing the national anthem before the match, invited dignitaries from their University and the President of our LAU, Charles Dube, was there to present them with a game ball.  They played with the gusto and drive that makes rugby the sport that it is today.  To make the day even better, they won!

The other moment that rivals this will happen on April 24, 2010.  The USM Women’s Rugby team will be celebrating its Tenth Anniversary of the start of the team.  We will have an alumni game, banquet, and I imagine some type of fun rugby awards.  I will have the opportunity to referee this game as my playing days are over.  It will be a bittersweet weekend.  When this team was formed there were at least 4 other collegiate women’s teams in the area (LSU, SLU, Loyola, & MSU), but there was no backing in our LAU for a matrix and now USM is the only team out of those original teams that is still around, but at the same time, we now have such great support from our LAU that this year we have seen the birth of two new college women’s teams (Alabama and Auburn) and in their first year, they are playing in a matrix!
Question: Views on direction of womens collegiate rugby in South, in Deep South, in nation?

Deep South Direction :I think our LAU has ignored women’s rugby for a very long time and if anyone wants to challenge me on that point I welcome them too, as I saw it first hand when I was in college.  I can honestly say that over the past two to three years that our LAU has made leaps and bounds on the emphasis that is being placed on women’s rugby.  We have made major efforts to educate people who are trying to start new teams and offer them as much assistance and guidance as we can.  This being said, while I have served as the Discipline Chair for this LAU, I have been grossly upset by watching teams being decimated by one or two bad eggs.  When this has occurred it takes several years to rebuild a team.  It is evident to me that it greatly benefits a college team to have an adult (Yes,  I said adult or just a non student) around to keep them grounded both on and off the field.  (It is worth pointing out Adult refers to a state of mind not age). I am excited and proud to be part of the Deep South Rugby Union. We are going through a  period of growth, which is great for us and the sport of rugby!

 Rugby South Direction : From what I have learned over the past few years and in the most recent few weeks, I think that USA Rugby South is moving in the correct direction for women’s collegiate rugby.  Between people like Marty Bradley, Nancy Campbell and Kevin Kitto, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a great deal of backing for women’s collegiate rugby.  What I can most definitely point out, as a need, is the help from past players to step in and volunteer to coach.  For teams to continue to excel in the South, we need more people who have already hung up their boots to pick them back up and lend time to these new players.  In my opinion collegiate rugby takes the most time to coach and lend direction to, mainly because you only have players for 2 to 4 years and rugby is fighting for their attention, which is split between school, work and that wonderful college experience.  To every former player who coaches, referees or is an administrator a big thank you!  It takes the work of all of you to make these teams what they are today and your continued support to take them forward.


Personal Rugby Accomplishments

2009                 Deep South Rugby Referee Society

Appointed  the Referee Development Officer with the responsibility to determine, schedule and refer training for all referees in our society.

2008-Current       Deep South Rugby Union                                                     

Appointed  the Discipline Chair with the responsibility to determine equitable discipline for inappropriate actions both on and off the field.

2004-2009         Battleship Men’s Rugby Football Club, Inc. , Mobile, AL

Elected to two terms as Club President 2006-2008

Elected to four terms as Club Treasurer 2005-2008

Elected to two terms as Club Secretary 2004-2005

Served for six years as a Tournament Chairwoman 2004-2009

(If you have a Michele story to add to the article, send it to ).

Baton Rouge Redfish 7s Tournie 2010

By Cara De Carlo

Saturday was a rugby day.

What the hell does that mean?

Kids, I used to play rugby. Yes, rugby: the game where 20 people seem to be looking for one contact lens, and then trying to kill each other. The photos of me playing rugby are brilliant, because you don’t know I’m running AWAY.

Fortunately for everyone involved, I stopped playing the game and started enjoying it. What you might not know about rugby is that it’s not just a game. It’s an entire culture, and it has its own holiday: the sixth day of the week. Here’s what all rugby rookies should learn:

 1. A 7s Tournament Is Not a Card Game.

During the summer, rugby is played in fast, 14-minute games with only seven on a side. This is because the missing eight are in a hospital. But the quick format with smaller teams allows for a lot of teams to get together and play a great tournament.

Here’s what you can expect by the pitch…

“I thought it was guys … in striped shirts … and you always had to play in the mud,” said Kelly. Kelly plays for Baton Rouge Women’s Rugby, same as I did.

Kristen added to this: “You can hate somebody on the field, and [then] you go to the party and it’s like nothing ever happened!”

Kelly nodded. “You’re friends,” she says.

Some guys in the green-and-yellow New Orleans colors passed by.

“No slapping!” said one.

“I don’t have a shirt on.”

Other players talked of other tournaments:

“…did shots of 151 and hot sauce!”

“One of our guys passed out with both doors open … in the middle of Birmingham!”

“Wow,” came the reply. “One of our guys went to jail when we were in Birmingham!”

See? The atmosphere was awesome. Best of all: it wasn’t Birmingham.

2. The Action’s Like Tiger Football on Fast-Forward.

Here, let me show you:

At 2 p.m., Baton Rouge Women’s Rugby faced New Orleans. Kaufmann-Swang kicked the ball for B.R., and N.O. recovered. A maul attempt by Baton Rouge resulted in a stoppage in play. N.O. took the ball deep into the B.R. end, but a kick by Kaufmann-Swang brought B.R. the distance. B.R. recovered close to the try zone, and French scored early in the game’s first half.

As fast as Baton Rouge scored, the game was reset. B.R. kicked to New Orleans, followed by a scrum in Baton Rouge’s own end. The ball was forced out at the 5. There was a line-out to inbound the ball, and Baton Rouge took possession at the 10. A Galliano-to-Crouch pass resulted in a forward call, and play stopped once again. I, in turn, paced nervously and broke two pens.

The half ended with Baton Rouge up. So New Orleans kicked, but it required a do-over. Baton Rouge recovered, but not definitively.[1]This began Baton Rouge’s defensive battle to the finish. New Orleans kept the ball in Baton Rouge’s end, but French registered two pivotal tackles within a minute of each other. There were three scrum-downs and a maul attempt, but all Baton Rouge needed was possession. They got it on the third scrum-down…

Galliano passed the ball to Kaufmann-Swang, who paused to find the gap. She found it, and sprinted 70m for the try. This game ended with a score of 14-0 Baton Rouge over New Orleans, but New Orleans had certainly put up a fight.

You shoulda been there…

On the men’s side, game play continued in the tournament pool.

“We won our first one and had a draw for our second,” said Mike Dellafiora of Team BR1, “so we kinda need to beat the dog sh–t outta these cats.”

Well, BR1 did win that match (against Galveston), putting them at the top of their pool for the semifinals. Scoring tries for BR1 were Molina, Kelso, Tabor, Somers, and Kelso again.

Said Kaufmann-Swang about Kelso: “He’s awesome at rugby … AND sex!”

On that note…

3. With Rugby, There’s Always a Social

And I don’t mean a cooler of beers and orange wedges. BR1 won the tournament, but the party was for all. In Baton Rouge, this means a certain bar under a certain overpass.

This year’s theme was “Redneck.” One thing about rugby parties – there is always a theme. It’s never just Saturday if it can be Toga Day or Trashy Versions of Bible People Day. (OK, that last one I may have made up – for now.)

Anyway, I showed up in my T-shirt and jeans, but everyone else had on cutoffs, overalls, T-shirts without sleeves … in general, it was clothing without limbs.

I didn’t want to stand out too much, so immediately I started drinking. Besides, it only improves the other traditions.

I wasn’t too far in the bag when I heard the whole bar start to sing: “Heyyy, Zulu War-rior!” and I knew to get out of the way.

Fast as the Phillies considered Halladay, a guy and a girl came sprinting through the barroom naked. They went into the hall, startled the guests on the other side, and ran back out the door from which they came.

I assure you this is normal, because every time new players score their first try, they have to get naked at the party. And why shouldn’t they? I often find that I, too, am naked when I score…

There is one final tradition of a Saturday Rugby Day that I have to tell you about. It’s the songs. When the people are just drunk enough, it seems like a good idea to sing a standard battery of rugby-camp songs. This includes hits such as “If I Were the Marrying Kind” and “The Days of the Week.” (Guess what kind of day is Saturday!)

That night, a guy from one of the visiting teams stepped up to lead the songs. But his arm was in a sling, making it impossible to do all the required vulgar gestures. Thus, he was forced to “Shoot the boot!”

Ever see a man in a sling chug beer from a moldy, old, cowboy boot? Wait, you have? Sh–t, I’m going to lunch with you from now on…

4. Mark It on Your Calendar

OK, so you missed the 7s tournament this year, but now that you know all about it, you can plan to go the next time it’s in town. Remember, games are at BREC’s Highland Road Park. It’s Baton Rouge Rugby, baby. GET SOME.

[1]The average 7s tournament is played in 7,000-degree heat. This causes the ball to become coated in a frictionless mixture of sweat and SPF. In scientific terms, no one can hang on to the greasy motherf–ker…

Dugan and the Black Crowes

By Fran Thompson

About 15 years ago some teammates of mine from my days of playing rugby for Battleship went to a rugby tournament in Atlanta and came back with tales of seeing Chris Robinson, the lead singer of The Black Crowes on the sidelines. They said that Chris’ father played for the Atlanta Renegades Rugby team. They also mentioned that Chris made the right decision to play music instead of rugby as his 119 pounds might not last too long in such a rough game.

Saturday I saw a man named Mike Dugan that I played against back in the early 1980s. Dugan was the youngest player in the first season of The Atlanta Renegades. I asked him about the connection with The Black Crowes. Dugan told me that Stan Robinson, the boys’ father, had been a founding member of the club and that the children, Rich and Chris had indeed grown up along the sidelines of Renegades Rugby.

Dugan then told me this story.

As the summer of Chris Robinson’s junior year of high school was approaching Chris asked Dugan, who owned a bar, if he could work as a busboy/dishwasher/anything for the summer to make some money. Dugan told Chris that his waitresses usually bussed their own tables and that the bartenders did most of their own dishwashing but Dugan said ok, the waitresses could tip him out and Dugan would be glad to not have to wash dishes. A few weeks later Chris Robinson called Dugan and thanked him for the opportunity but let Dugan know he wouldn’t be working at the bar for the summer because he had gotten together with some guys and they were going to give their music a try. Dugan says he is so glad Chris didn’t come to work because he had wild waitresses that would have taken that young boy to places so deep he would not have wanted to climb out of and may have never become the Rock star we know today. & the Approaching 2011 World Cup

By Tom Crosby

DeepSouthRugby.Net attended the qualifying match between the USA and Canada in Charleston on July 4th. I’m sure readers have heard the USA won that one (12-6) and then lost in Edmonton (41- 18) and now has to battle Uruguay home and away in (probably) November for a World Cup slot. If they lose the aggregate point total in the Uruguayan matches they will still have one more chance at a spot. To get the last spot they will need to beat first whomever emerges runner-up of the 2010 Asian 5 Nations Cup.  (Japan will probably win so runner-up would be someone like Hong Kong,  Arab Nations, or Kazakhstan. Yes, we might need to get past Borat.) After winning that,  we would need to beat (home and away) the winner of a European-African play-off system. The African play-offs are down to a final between Namibia and Tunisia. The winner of that match-up in November will go to the World Cup and the loser will face the team that emerges out of a multi-tiered European play-off system –  probably Georgia. Odds seem to be favorable for us to ease past Uruguay as we did to get a spot in the 2007 World Cup and avoid the Asian clash to get to the winner of the Africa-Europe match-up.

The USA v Canada match in Charleston was excellent. DeepSouth.Net publisher (Fran “The Man” Thompson) and I sprang for the VIP tickets (only $104). The tickets came with buffet and free drinks prior to the match. We got to the grounds early to find the area relatively deserted, so we got Fran’s incredible wife, Michelle, to drop us a couple of miles away at a bar where there seemed to be some rugby activity.  While there we met up with DC area (West Potomac RFC) rugger John  Kimmer and family. John and I shared stories and our passion for experiencing World Cup rugby in the country where it is happening. The Kimmer’s gave us a lift to the pitch and eventually back to our hotel in Charleston, and we looked forward to meeting up again in New Zealand in 2011.

  The US certainly showed up to play and my only complaint is the match seemed to end way too soon. The official report was there were 3,800 fans there.  We heard the capacity of the stadium which is home to a pro-soccer side was 4,000. It was no where near half full, so it would be interesting how they came up with the 3800 number. The VIP ticket let you have your pick of seats along mid-field and Fran said he had never had such a great seat for a match at this level. He was right behind the Eagle bench and could smell the sweat and feel the players’  determination  as the Eagles defeated the Canadians for the first time since June 2005. I wandered between the press room (which was practically empty with one Canadian journalist, one guy from a Charleston paper who had never seen a rugby match before, and a couple of USA Rugby folks) and the clubhouse where the soccer oriented bar crew kept me well lubricated as we watched the match on television and I explained what was happening.

Thoughts from Fran:

“I wrote a report to Battleship about the Atlanta Renegade guys we met who were waiting on an order of  “What Would Major Dan’ do?” shirts.  I’d be interested to  know if there was a post game party under the tent. My other great memory was of the bunch beside me on the 40 yard line lower section. About 80 of ’em were on their feet screaming the entire match. Their repeated E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles chant reminded me of my Philly football roots. Great stuff.

I thought the fitness level of the players was definitely at the International level. The pace was incredible, especially considering the 100 degree weather and 100% humidity. The Canadian scribe you mentioned referred to the level of play as sloppy. But I saw great defense on our part and crushing contact throughout the match. It was probably the best seat I’ve ever had for any sporting event. But the section was only about 25 percent full even though nobody was collecting tickets. You are right. It went by way too fast, especially since we hightailed it out of there so quickly, even though I had a cooler of perfectly cold beer in John’s trunk.”

I recall a few months back there were complaints about the USA not bidding to host the 2015 World Cup (which England will host) or the 2019 World Cup (which Japan will host), but if we can’t get more than a couple thousand people out to watch our own national team in a World Cup qualifier we have a long way to go before we are ready to host the Big Show. I’m aware that the Cape Fears 7s tournie up I-95 was a conflict and a tough choice for many ruggers and fans, but I still contend that the Charleston turn-out indicates the decision to not invest energy in bidding on the World Cup was the right one.

About a year ago I wrote semi-promising regular reports about rugby development in Honduras where I had just started a teaching job. There wasn’t much to report. I reffed one middle school touch match which seriously inflamed my plantar fasciitis. The kids borrowed my ball a few more times. As far as I know that was all the rugby played in the country. Currently I am back in Honduras with my rugby ball next to my emergency bag ready to high tail it to the Guatemalan border if the political situation deteriorates much more. If I leave it will place serious financial strains on my intention to take September-December off in 2011, but the wife and I were able to put $10,000 aside this year for our New Zealand World Cup Fund, and we should be able to find something to keep us in pupusas and ceviche until our flight leaves for Auckland .

Any Deep South Rugger, Hugger, or fan interested in info on tours to New Zealand World Cup, email

Vomit Sliding & Rugby with Manners

Dear Fran, Tom, and the rest of the Pack,

I was reading the website when I stumbled onto the slogan poll.

 I voted for Rugby with Manners. It is a catchy phrase.

 I thought about rugby combined with manners for a brief moment. I went back to my very first rugby party which was in Fort Wayne, Indiana circa 1975. Bill Campbell from Boon, North Carolina came to town and he was friends with my ex. We attended the party with him and at the beginning it seemed like a regular party. We dined on grilled hamburgers and slammed beer in large quantities. The singing began and I was hooked. “This is Mad Magazine live.” I said to my ex. He ignored me as he usually did which is why I now call him my ex.

 I went looking around in the next room where they were playing music and dancing. But it wasn’t couples dancing and it wasn’t line dancing; it was a group of about ten people holding beer cups and having a ball, all dancing together. I joined in the dancing and singing and nearly every song became an aerobic workout. The beer was sloshing everywhere. In the group, there were some tall, handsome lads; a few, cute girls; and a short, stocky guy whom everyone called “Hooker.”

The beer was sloshing everywhere and I stopped to roll up my bell bottom jeans. I rejoined the group and began dancing again when, out of the blue, Hooker hurled all over my shoes. He did it with intent. It wasn’t a roll over and puke out of the side of his mouth type of puke. It was an aim-his-mouth-at-my-feet-and-turn-his-head-back-and-forth-to-insure-complete-coverage, type puke. In my fine, upper-middle class upbringing with charm school lessons, etiquette training and ballroom dance lessons that included more etiquette; I never once stumbled into the proper, mannerly response to someone puking on ones shoes. What would Miss Manners do?

I went to the bathroom of their clubhouse and put my foot in the toilet and flushed it. I put my second foot in the toilet and flushed that. I tried to dry the old shoes with paper towels and soon gave up. I touched up my lipstick, in hopes of diverting attention away from my feet, and I returned to the dance floor.

When I returned to the room, with a fresh beer; the group was standing in a bigger circle outside the dance floor and Hooker was the center of attention. He would stand in the middle of the room and regurgitate in all directions. He would then run to the edge of the room where the crowd would part a hole for him. Then, with a running start, he would hurl himself onto the floor and slide the rest of the way in his on puke. He slid in the vomit on his back, on his side, curled up in a ball and every which way making quite a show. He would then slam beer, replenishing his supply, while others in the room would measure his slide, stepping heel to toe along his slide mark of vomit. Then, they announced how many “feet” the slide was. The room cheered no matter what the call. This went on for a while and I was so enamored with this group I was soon measuring the slides myself. Hooker had an impressive skill. I never once saw him stick a finger down his throat. Someone told me, he had been a wrestler in school. His mom made him eat every meal and his coach told him to lose weight. He had taught himself to toss cookies at will to please both authority figures at once. This was the mid 70s so he must have been the world’s, first known bulimic.

 I have this embarrassingly good memory and this was thirty-four years ago if my math is correct and I will never forget my introduction to this wonderful world of rugby with its own, unique set of manners.

 And the loser is: Inspiring rednecks to fall in love with Rugby

Color me a Redneck.

 Anita Beer

Fran’s Comments

I went both years I rented the other half of the club  – Mardi Gras 82 and 83.  The group was called Party ‘Til You Puke. And I don’t remember how they found the clubhouse. The first year was an Elvis Theme and included a poster of Elvis stating “Don’t Puke On My Blue Suede Shoes.” The second year they left a couple sacks of oysters, which Roger Escude and I prepared every way but the wrong way the next day for the Seattle RFC guys staying with us during carnival. Yes, it started out gross and got worse. But I loved those guys.


Billy Goodell – The Early Years

            At the New Orleans Fest Master’s Tournie in 2008 I saw Billy Goodell again after probably close to 25 years. The first thought that crossed mind was, “This has got to be Goodell’s son.” But no –  it was Billy, and he was the same old ‘rugby whore’ picking up with whatever side had a spot, chatting with everyone on the sidelines, organizing the over-50 match, and looking forward to the party. Below is a small piece of his memories, legend, and parties from his beginnings in the sport that has kept his body and spirit young.  

            He started playing in spring of ’72 at Spring Hill College. Bob Markel was playing then, along with Harold Hardin of Mobile and Freddy Schwartz who later played for Crescent City. Springhill had a great team, playing in the finals of the Univ. of Florida tournament (losing to Notre Dame by a point in the finals, and beating U of Florida, U Mass and Cornell to get to the finals.). At the Hammond Mardi Gras Tournament they lost to LSU in the finals by a drop goal by LSU’s South African coach, Rob Haswell.

            At the time there were teams at Pensacola (the Navy Seals made up most of the team). They ran 5 miles every morning in the sand and were big big big boys to top it off. Birmingham was a very good team led by Krebs Brothers and Joe Pierson who later played for Mobile. Birmingham played on a football field that had the most unbelievably soft turf. It was like a carpet. They were big German men for the most part and tough opponents, Florida State ( mostly football players in their spring off-season) were fucking HUGE. LSU had some great talent (Haswell, Big Red, Barry Haney, Bill Bratton). Springhill also played strong Tulane and Hammond sides.  Matches were generally played in the center of campus in front of the school student union (LSU Parade Grounds, Tulane Quad) and well attended on Saturday afternoons.

            His second season at SHC was tough.  They lost most of the team to graduation and  did not do that great. They scheduled the Galveston Tournament in the spring and did not send a team. Billy was so hooked he went anyway and had his first of many “whore out” rugby experiences. He played with Skunk Creek of Ames, Iowa, who had  a pretty good team but no scrumhalf, so he was their scrumhalf for the tournament. They played Texas A&M who was top team in the south by reputation. Again, HUGE men. Skunk creek was mostly a college side, Iowa State and a few others. They lost a close game to Texas A&M, then lost another close match to LSU. They  beat a Texas team from Galveston and some other team.

            Although his memory fails him a bit on who was the fourth team he played against as a pick-up scrum half over 35 years ago, he does remember the party like it was yesterday. It was in a big hall like a VFW kinda place. Tulane Rugby stole the show and won the party. Some Tulane kid had found a piece of driftwood resembling a large penis, curved to the left with little roots at the base resembling pubic hair. Tulane makes an entrance to the party in a big ball and they start chanting “root, root, root” and then they open up their little pack and this kid has the “Root” between his legs and is stroking it like a porn movie  king in time with the escalating volume and cadence chanting of “root, root, root” by his teammates. Then they spray shaving cream on the root as he strokes it. They go all around the hall doing this , Then they exit and in a couple of minutes they return with 5-6 players naked, shaving cream from head to toe, the “abominable snowman” routine. They went around the room, left came back with ALLL Tulane players naked , toilet paper stuck up their ass crack and dangling down to the floor and trailing behind them, they then lit the paper – ”human torch “ routine. They went around the room like this exited and came back again al nude, in the classic “elephant walk”. The entire place was mesmerized and waiting each and every entrance after the root routine. Tulane easily won the party.

            And almost 4 decades later you can still find Billy “rugby whoring” at a tournament, enjoying as many games as he can, and looking forward to celebrating the sport he loves with the many friends he’s made over the years at the party..

                                If you have any Billy Goodell stories (or stories of other Deep South Ruggers who need immortalizing) send them to

Steve Parrill – Chairman of Southern Referee Association

Deep South Rugby’s very own Steve Parrill was recently chosen Chairman of the Southern Referee Association.

Steve began playing rugby at Southeastern Louisiana University in 1982. He played for the Hammond Black Lions while they were in existence and then for New Orleans RFC. He began refereeing full time around 2001/2002 and became chairman of the Deep South Referee Society when Alastair Twaddle left in 2003/04. He is a licensed IRB Trainer and Educator for USA Rugby and currently serves on the training committiee for USA Rugby. He is certified to teach the various courses offered by the IRB and also to train educators who teach those classes. He is a B3 territorial referee for the South. This grade is now considered a T panel referee.

His recent selection as Chairman of the Southern Referee Association  includes responsibility for the Deep South Society, Florida and SEERS, which is the rest of the south except for Tennessee.

Alex Sharland has become Chair of the Deep South Referees Association.

What follows is the new grading system for referees in the United States.
The grading system for referees in the United States has just changed going into this year.
The new system:
The grades of D, C3, C2 and C1 will now be called L4, L3, L2 and L1 (which stands for Local). And all the B grades (B3, B2, and B1) will all collapse into one combined T Panel grade. (This stands for Territorial)

The progression for referees will now be:
Local – L4 to L3 to L2 to L1 to
Territorial – T panel to
National – National Focus Group to National Panel to International Panel.
The system for T Panel refs will use just a number for the match (just like the old evaluation system) but there will be no grade. It will be expected that a new T panel ref will have lower scores than a referee who is about to be promoted to the USA FG or National panel. Likewise, a T panel referee who is getting older and nearing the end of their refereeing career would be expected to score low and even score below grade for a T Panel. This would lead to the referee being moved to a L1 if they wanted to continue to be a competitive referee, or they would be given the option of taking a Directors grade of T Panel and being moved to a non competitive category.
The evaluation manual has been changed to reflect this new T Panel grade and the competences in the Tackle, Ruck, Communication and Control elements has been merged together. Some of the B3 competences have been pushed down to L1 (Old C1).

Pensacola Rugby Road Trips

By Fran Thompson

Smoke, Jack & Bobby,

I’m going to start posting Pensacola rugby stories on my website. I’m ccing you guys because Bobby was telling Elf stories when here, Smoke was pretty much my only connection when I moved over from NOLA, and Jack has done an incredible job of keeping us in touch. Feel free to add, improve, edit, etc.. as there have been lots of beers consumed between then and now,

I lost his address again. But I know Elf Gone Bad is running a base in San Diego.

P.S. – Saw Doug Dassenger at the Bob Dylan concert up the street from me on Friday. He’s married to a beautiful girl named Margaret and has added about 15 pounds of muscle to his torso. Mentioned Ft. Laud. to him. Also saw Burke Willborn’s mug in the Gulf Breeze News. The cutline ID’d him as the assistant wrestling coach at GBHS.

Fran the Man

Favorite P-Cola RFC Road Trips

I never actually fought at the post-match party. I hate fighting and I’m not good at it. But twice I quick punched people. It’s pure coincidence that both times were in the middle of incredibly great Pensacola RFC road trips. I also saw a no-talent named Danny Brasso from Crescent City RFC for no reason at all walk up and pop a NORFC prop named Mike Guzzio at a rugby party around 1981. Also, coincidently. Guzzio, a teammate, once punched me in a game with the explanation that a week earlier, I told girls we were trying to pick up that he was gay. So be it.

The First Punch

Anyway, I punched a 2nd row I earlier played against in the parking lot outside a bar in Memphis. I was bruised from playing two games, and he pushed me a bunch of times for who knows why. I think we lost the first game close and dominated the second. I popped him and then turned towards a waiting Navy van full of teammates heading back to shower at the Memphis Navy Base. I didn’t think anyone saw it. But an Old Number 7 flanker I had played in the Battle of New Orleans with busted me. I apologized, of course, and tried to say it was an accident. I’m glad the Memphis boys didn’t hold a grudge, as we partied with them later on Beall St ‘til the bitter end.

The military guys flew a military plane to Memphis and Mikey Owens, Little Bobby, a pilot who wanted hours and I drove over to Hurlburt Field in Mary Esther and flew in a rented piper. Everybody going to Memphis chipped in about $15 and that paid for it all. That sounds noble on the Navy guys part. And it was. But it should be mentioned that we did only have 15 available players. We all played both games. Pat Lein, a centre, propped in front of me in the first game. The Navy boys met us at the base with two vans and we were all able to stay free at the base that night. The two guys piloting the planes Sunday a.m. were the designated drivers on Saturday night. Little Bobby pulled out a bottle of rum as soon as we were airborne Sunday a.m., and Mikey and I helped him polish it off before we touched back down. I don’t know for sure. But we easily could have met most of the guys from the team at Rum & Reggae and/or the Shaker on the way back to the beach.

The Second Punch

I also punched a guy at a rugby party in Tallahassee. He was not a rugger, just a drunk guy I egged on, I said hello – that’s it – to a girl coming down steps near the entrance to The Moose/Antlers(?) on Tallahassee Ave. A guy behind her started screaming about kicking my butt. He was really hammered and kept coming towards me. I could have walked back into a bar full of ruggers. But I just stood there and watched him continue to walk towards me. When he was in front of me, I smacked him and hightailed it back inside the bar. After a bit, a couple of the FSU ruggers I was eating pizza with said the guy was outside screaming about killing me. They asked if I wanted them to go out and smack him again. I said no thanks.

This was early in the party at a perfect college bar. We smeared FSU twice. Their football team was hosting Michigan State later that evening, and the joint was electric. Great fall day. Free beer flowing. Rugger huggers everywhere. I even had money to buy a couple rounds of pizzas. We had the perfect side to take advantage of all that. I think Gene Agate was our captain, Jeff Sands our coach and Elf Gone Bad our unquestioned leader for the ages.

I ended up back at our hotel – directly adjacent to the bar – the next morning thinking I’d been stranded when Paul Cotter pulled up in his muscle car. We blew back to P-Cola Beach in less than three hours, splitting a case of Busch on the way.

I wasn’t there for the highlight of the road trip. But I did, for a bit, save the AP story from the paper. it seems our guys were invited to a sorority party at an apartment complex where they were beer bonging and carrying on as usual. At one point, they started an elephant walk towards the balcony just when the balcony packed with people crashed into the ground below. Luckily, nobody was in the doorway below. But there was blood and about 30 injuries. We had a few casualties from guys who were on the balcony already, and one Elephant walker (I think it was Chuck O’Neil) was standing in the doorway, jewels in hand, looking down at the crying hordes. I’m told Elf Gone Bad was in the middle of it all standing proudly and cooling things down with a beer bong that he had placed over a broken water main.

Every party with that team was a major celebration. Our two headed Commander – Elf Gone Band & Glasser – , and the crew of misfits they led, deserve their own chapter in my team’s history. For on those Saturdays when we made it happen, there was nowhere else I would’ve rather been and nobody else I’d would’ve rather partied with.

2009 Deep South Spring Schedule

Deep South Spring Schedule

Jan 12 (Tuesday Night)


Jan 16th

Jan 23

Ole Miss @ Miss St.

Oka @ Panama City

Tallahassee @ P’cola

Jan 30

P’cola @ Panama City

Feb 6

Columbus @ Panama City

Tallahassee @ Oka

B’ship @ Jackson

New Orleans @ Baton Rouge

Feb 13 Mardi Gras

Miss St @ Alabama

Panama City @ Tallahassee

Feb 20

Tenn @ Miss St

Georgia @ Ole Miss

Oka @ P’cola

Memphis @ Jackson

B’ship @ Baton Rouge

Feb 21

Tenn @ Alabama

Feb 27

Auburn @ Ole Miss

Panama City @ Oka

P’cola @ Tallahassee

Bucks @ B’ham

Jackson @ New Orleans

Mar 6

Alabama @ Ole Miss

Auburn @ Miss St

Columbus @ Oka

Panama City @ P’cola

High Country @ B’ham

Little Rock @ New Orleans

Baton Rouge @ New Orleans

Mar 13

Oka @ Tallahassee

New Orleans @ B’ship

Jackson @ Baton Rouge

Mar 20

Tallahassee @ Panama City

Columbus @ P’cola

Athens @ B’ham

Baton Rouge @ B’ship

Memphis @ New Orleans

Little Rock @ Jackson

Mar 27

Columbus @ Tallahassee

P’cola @ Oka

B’ship @ New Orleans

2008-2009 Deep South Rugby Report

By Tom Crosby

2008-2009 Deep South Rugby Report

Below are major events this year in the Deep South and reports on the Deep South teams who were the champions in their respective divisions and advanced to compete in regional play-offs.

In September the sad news of the death of Wayne Fontenelle (LSU, NORFC, BRRFC) deeply shook those who knew and loved him. (See article in Archive Issue 2).

The Deep South Rugby Union had several teams join this year. Baton Rouge Men’s & Women’s teams both joined after playing in the Texas Union for some years. For info on the BR Men’s season read below. The BR Women’s side will play its first season in the Deep South Union in 2009-2010.

LSU B side played a season in the Deep South Union. They captured the SEC B-side title.

Marion Military Institute played its first full season. They won their first match against Southern Mississippi 15-0 on February 14th by forfeit.

Niceville (FL) High School under the leadership of Dr. Ed Frisbee signed up to join the Louisiana High School League for the 2009-10 season.

Chris Liddy was promoted to referee grade B-3 giving the Deep South 2 of the 8 B-grade referees in the South Union. (See article in Archive Issue 2 for other referee promotions.)

The Deep South Union proposed a new constitution at its annual meeting in 2008. The Deep South Constitution has been redone, reworked and somewhat modernized and will be presented at the November 2009 AGM. (See article in Archive Issue 2 for information on the originally proposed Constitution.)

High School and Youth Championships

Rummel advanced to the finals of the USA Rugby South regional championships high school division. The Raiders lost 26-16 to Charlotte Catholic (NC). In the USA Rugby championships held in Pittsburgh (PA) Charlotte Catholic was blasted 50-0 by the reigning national champs Jesuit High School (Sacramento) who went on to recapture this year’s championship. Charlotte Catholic finished in 8th place losing the 7-8th place match 29-22 against St. Thomas (Texas).

In the U-19 youth club division Shaw lost to Highlanders (NC) in the semifinal 29-0. The Highlanders won the final beating Naples (FL) by a score of 21-7. At the USA rugby championships the Highlanders fell 31-15 to the perennial rugby power Highland Rugby Club (Utah) who went on to capture the title this year for something like the 19th year in a row. The Highlanders ended up 7th beating Union City (NJ) 11-7 in the 7-8th consolation match.


Div. 1

Although not playing in the (official) Deep South Union, claims LSU as a “spiritual member” of the Deep South rugby community. The Tigers had an incredible season advancing to the national quarterfinals. To get there they defeated Colorado State University 18-14 in Greeley, Colorado, to claim the Western Rugby Union University Div. 1 title. In the first match of the round of 16 the Tigers destroyed Utah University 47-5, but fell to San Diego State Aztecs 44-30 in a very tough quarterfinal match. San Diego State lost to Brigham Young University in the semifinals 31-13 and Brigham Young went on to claim the national title upsetting the University of California 25-20. (For more information on LSU’s fantastic season see 2 articles in Archive Issue 2.)

The Deep South Union has no Collegiate Div. 1 sides.

Div. 2

The Deep South has 2 Collegiate Div II teams, Ole Miss and Alabama. Ole Miss won the Deep South/Mid-South bracket and was then defeated by eventual South runner-up East Carolina University. After Western Kentucky pulled out of their playoff game against App State, the boys from Bama stepped up, putting a team together and traveling 8 hours on the 1st weekend of Spring Break. They were defeated, but showed great effort in giving App State a playoff game with very little notice going in. App State would lose to University of Florida (19-14) and USF would be the South #1 seed to the Round of 16. East Carolina was the South #2 seed. In the Round of 16 East Carolina would fall (36-10) to Miami-Ohio who would then lose to Wisconsin in the Semi-final. USF defeated Colorado School of Mines 37-14 in the Round of 16, but would lose 32-17 to Middlebury College (VT) in the Quarterfinals. Middlebury would go on to defeat Wisconsin (27-10) and capture the national title for the second time in 3 years.

Div. 3

Tulane (Deep South West #1) defeated Mississippi State University (Deep South East #1) 22-13 on March 14th to advance to the regional play-offs. Tulane lost to Furman College 29-8 in Rugby South Div. III Final 4 match-up in Tuscaloosa. Furman had captured the Rugby South title 5 out of the last 6 years, but lost to Coastal Carolina University 13-10 in the final. Coastal Carolina went on to win the National Small College Div. 3 championship defeating SUNY-Oswego in Cherry Hill, NJ, on April 26th by a score of 36-15.

Men’s Div. 3

The Birmingham Vulcans traveled to Hilton Head (SC) on April 11th and unfortunately came up a little short (15-9) in the play-offs.

Pensacola Aviators hosted and defeated the High Country (GA) Rugby Club 38-21 on April 11th to advance to the Rugby South championships in Columbus, Georgia. On April 25th Pensacola defeated Savannah 37-3 and then the next day captured the South Div. III title by defeating Hilton Head 27-11 in the finals. May 18th in Columbia (SC) Pensacola faced Danbury (CT) in the Round of 16 and lost 19-3. Danbury went on to beat Blacksburg (PA) 30-27 to advance to the Final 4. Pensacola won its consolation match 31-29 against Cleveland Eastern Suburbs.

On May 30th Danbury lost 37-12 in a national semi-finals match against Northern State (SD). Northern State went on to capture the National Div. 3 title defeating Beaumont(CA) 67-22. Danbury lost its consolation match 49-10 to Middlesex (MA).

Men’s Div. 2

New Orleans RFC was the Deep South’s #1 seed. On April 11th they hosted and defeated Atlanta Old White B-side 42-5 to advance to regional play-offs in Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Baton Rouge RFC was the Deep South’s #2 seed. They traveled to Huntsville on April 11th and barely came away winners with a 1 point win (25-24).

At Ft. Benning NORFC lost to Krewe Rugby Club (Tampa) 26-10 in the semi-final and Baton Rouge defeated Jacksonville 24-17. In the finals Krewe beat Baton Rouge 33-22, but both teams advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals held in Columbia, SC, on May 16th. Baton Rouge lost to Indianapolis Impalas 53-12. The Impalas would go on to defeat Brandywine (PA), last year’s national runner-ups, and advance to the Final Four.

In the national semi-finals on May 30th, Indianapolis fell to East Palo Alto by a score of 30-11. East Palo Alto went on to capture the national Div. 2 title defeating Albuquerque 46-22. Indianapolis won the consolation match in overtime (43-38) beating Lancaster (PA).

The Deep South has no Division 1 sides.

Deep South Women’s

The Deep South will seed at least one Women’s Club Div II team to the South LAU Championships in October, something that has not previously ever occurred in the Deep South. This team has the chance to represent the South TU at the unofficial Div II Women’s National Championships.

Thanks to Charles Dube and Stephen Parrill for information for this report.

If you have other information you would like added to this report, send it to

Fond Memories of Wayne and Other Thoughts from Anita Beer

By Anita Beer

Fond Memories of Wayne and Other Thoughts from Anita Beer”

The other day I received the email below from an old friend whom I haven’t seen in 25 years. We were brought together again by memories of Wayne Fontenelle’s life and our continuing sadness at his passing. Below are some of her thoughts on Wayne and the mental ramblings of a world class rugger hugger.

hiya Tom and Fran and Lads of the NORFC!!

It’s Jennifer here – from now on to be known as “Anita Beer”. I’ve gone from young, beautiful and willing to make a beer run to old, saggy, and wrinkled with cottage cheese laden thighs spilling over the sides of my chair. And I’m getting that old man smell.

I was so sad to hear about Wayne passing. I saw Wayne the same day I saw Fran last at the Jazz Festival circa 2003 or 4 perhaps? We ran into Fran at our campsite where he gave me directions to his site. I went over there later that day. I never found you, Fran; but fortunately I ran into Wayne and his wife and daughter. I remember being stunned that Wayne was all growed up, with a family. And they were all so beautiful together with their brown hair and big brown eyes. Now I am more than just stunned that he has passed away. I am so sad for all of you and his family. It seems he lived his whole life in warp speed … as fast as he could run.

And I am given this opportunity to reconnect with you two and I cannot resist. What if one of you drops dead before you get this email! I shouldn’t procrastinate another minute. Just know I loved you and if you ever croak I would be so sad yet richly endowed with wonderful memories.

Thomas, I saw your house yesterday. Since nobody buys art during a recession; I am riding it out, working as a field researcher for the University of Mich. They are doing the New Orleans Katrina Study and I am basically their eyes on the ground down here. The respondents are picked randomly based on their address. My job is to track them down and I have been trained to fill out a form assessing each housing unit at each address. I am a highly trained professional. So when Ellen was in need of a Housing Unit Assessment, I was her man. Do I need to over amplify the importance of my position any more?

My highly trained professional assessment of the Housing Unit is: Ellen and her friends should stay with me.

Not because there is anything wrong with Crosby’s house, I think its very cute. I just want the company of a bunch of fun girls and, as always, I am still in it for my own personal gratification.

Tom, I love your little pink house. I started singing John Mellencamp when I got there. ” awwww for you and me!” Everybody, sing with me!

I went around to the back yard and saw your deck. I saw some sweaty, thick-thighed rugby players sucking on a beer keg and I heard them singing the Abortion Song in front of a really pregnant woman. I saw the Edwards Brothers hovering over your chiminea full of burning pot. In the far corner of the lot, by the alley, I saw Maureen puking with a Jamesons pocket rocket stuck in her nest of hair. I saw Fran in his black man costume asking, “Where da white women?” (Fran, I don’t know if you knew this or not but I was on acid that night and you and your costume caused me to have a quantum personality change.) Back to what I saw at Tom’s house.

I saw the outdoor “shower”. No no no. This is not a shower. Here, again, is where Tom’s perspective takes flight on reality. A shed is not a house and a garden hose does not a shower make. I saw Wally, naked, taking a shower. I threw some soap in his general direction.

I’ve had chances to reconnect via email with a few people over the years and never have I experienced the fun of reliving the past such as this has been. Writing this letter is a blast as I go back to those days spent with you guys and the New Orleans Rugby Football Club on Oak Street and the pitch on the river and the trips and the singing and the fun and the dancing and the impromptu visits in the night from Rocek and (ok there I mentioned him. Sated?) some of my favorite times were spent with you guys. You contributed greatly to making the whole of my life exquisite. I am truly blessed to have those days to remember, making friends with Ellen and you all, when I was young and cute and we all had so much fun. Exquisite.

I am now living in Lakeview rebuilding this house we bought after the flood. And in lieu of turning my fingers into bloody stumps, rewriting what is already there — here is the link to somewhat update you on where we are now. the storm story sort of says most of it. And I have an all new site under construction with more of that story coming. Stay tuned.

So if you guys drop dead tomorrow, you will know how much I appreciate how you contributed to one of the best phases of my life.

And, by the way, I mailed a copy of this to my lawyer.

much love,

Jenn … oops, Anita

3/11/11 – New Orleans v. Crescent City Reunion: Update No. 4

3/11/11 – New Orleans v. Crescent City Reunion: Update No. 4

By Fran Thompson

Please continue to help spread the word about this historic event and forward me additional addresses for our NORFC brothers.

If I wasn’t just happy that at age 55 I’ve been able to avoid extended stints in the pokey and am not still working half days at Markel Lumber for $30 and lunch on Robert (though I’m very proud of my place on the All-Markel Lumber First XV), I might be jealous of Tim McKinney.

He managed to get his residency in gynocology. He has prime season tickets for my two favorite sports teams, Eagles and Flyers. He has Guiness and Harp on tap at his home in South Jersey. He has another house in Ft. Lauderdale, and he also has cosmetic and medical instrument companies in addition to being an MD and a professor at Rutgers.

Timmy will be there. So will Timmy McConnell, who is only 50 but started playing rugby after being recruited by Markel at 14. Timmy was 20 when I debuted for New Orleans v. the Crescent City Dirtbags in spring ’80, but he easily ranked among our top five wildmen, along with Crosby, Rozek, Rick Edwards and Steve Siville.

I’ve attached a team pic from the spring ‘82 Bahamas Tour. You’ll see Frank Urann, Jack Tillay, George Henderson, Smokey, Croz, Iron Mike Frenzel, Rutherford, Rozek, Markel, Mark Boller, McKinney and myself, along with a few guys from Jackson RFC. Wally Ferrara, Frank Perkins and Gayle Jones from the Half-Moons were also on that tour. I fully expect to see eight of you – including Lumpy Heimdal – at the reunion. I think that’s the first time we wore the Mardi Gras striped jerseys. A couple years later, Brooks Brothers started selling them by the thousands.

My favorite story from that tour, besides the fact that we all played out of our heads to beat the Toronto Nomads (and the limey ref) in the tourney opener: Wally, McKinney and Mark drove to Ft. Laud. and parked at McKinney’s aunt’s house to save money. McKinney decided to stay in Freeport a couple more days and fly back to NOLA. When they picked up the car, the other two guys told McKinney’s aunt that he fell in love with a Freeport girl and was staying there for good. Everybody in McKinney’s family, including his fiance, bought the story. I don’t think I’ve seen Mark since then. But he was a funny kid.

Jimmy is currently living on the Maryland Eastern Shore in his last year teaching at a college there. He is a strong maybe at this point, depending on whether he is offered a job somewhere.


Fran The Man

The Itinary

– Friday Night, April 8, Happy Hour Social at Sammy Farnet’s restaurant, Joey K’s on Magazine, Balcony occupancy limit of 50.

– Saturday: April 9, New Orleans v. Crescent City: High Noon at New Orleans Pitch on Gretna Ave., a block off Lafayette on the Westbank. We hope to start game w. 55’s ready to play at least two minutes.

Post Game Party: The Rugby Bar is a couple blocks from the pitch.

Saturday Night: TBD – French Quarter Fest?

– Sunday: April 10, Noon ‘til dusk; French Quarter Fest Main Stage (Between Aquarium & The River). Free fest. It’s a bitch getting in and out, but relaxed once you get there. Camp will be just left of soundstage.

French Quarter Festival Masters Rugby Tournament



I’m sitting here with my hamstring screaming, reflecting on the 2008 First Annual French Quarter Festival Masters Rugby Tournament and wondering 2 things – why the hell did I play and who won?

On Friday, April 11th, at the fields in Gretna a combined New Orleans/Baton Rouge RFC Masters side rumbled over the Texas XXXs in the opening match. Watching some of the legends of local rugby (Bob Causey, Gary Giepert, Tim Falcon, Sammy Fornet) scamper around the pitch was inspiring. The ever-youthful Billy Gooddell (Somebody needs to follow him to where he’s hiding the fountain of youth.) between playing matches with the NO/BR side and the Memphis/Nashville/Tennessee side was arranging an over-50 match for Saturday at noon. While the Tennessee side battled the Morristown/South Jersey lads, I caught up with old NORFC teammate Gene Gerdes. I had heard that Gene had suffered a stroke and found out this was true. But at 60 years of age and with a warning from a doctor that cerebral bleeding from his stroke put him at severe risk if he had a head accident, Gene was keen to strap on his boots and feel that exquisite pleasure of involvement in a match of rugby. The last match of the day saw The Blacksmiths defeat the NO/BR side. I headed over the bridge to meet my wife for a bike ride to French Quarter Fest with a weirdly wonderful feeling of knowing you truly exist and have had a good life because of this network of rugby.

Saturday, I picked Fran Thompson up at 8:30 a.m. to get to the pitch for the 9 a.m. Mobile v Morristown. On the cloudy but gorgeous drive over the swollen Mississippi River, Fran gave me the key to an old boys successful play in a Master match – keep your head bobbing as if you are running, no matter how slow you’re going. Mobile’s defeat of the Jersey lads ended dramatically with a snap and a cry from a Mobile player for everyone to stop. A Jersey player’s leg was broken. While the Blacksmiths bettered the Texas XXX in the second match, Fran and I philosophized with Baton Rouge Old Boys Gary Myers, Mark Lawson, and “Big Red” Causey about the pleasantly strange relationships between players and fans from different teams in rugby. At a loss for the perfect description without resulting to the clichés of camaraderie or a rugby brother/sisterhood we fumbled with comparisons with the angry hostility that exists between fans of professional football or soccer teams. Examples were given of being cursed while wearing a Dallas jersey in Philadelphia. As we know, if you were to wear a rugby jersey for a certain club in another club’s city, the questions would be welcoming and about who you know. As the next match (Mobile v Tennessee) started, Billy runs up and says there will be no over-50 match, so if I we want to play get ready to go in at half.

I’m feeling pretty good. I see Gene getting his kit on. I jog to the car and put on my boots and trot over to the side of the pitch to stretch and watch the hard charging Mobile boys, pound through the Tennessee side. The half ends. For the past several years I have had a personal rule that I don’t play for any side that cares if they win. I figure it is not fair to that side or me as I am no longer willing to make the physical sacrifice to win a game of rugby. Looking at the Tennessee fellows and the over-50 bunch that was volunteering to fill in their ranks, I figured I didn’t need to poll the team if they wanted to win when they asked if anyone wanted to play fullback. The Mobile onslaught continued until my hamstring popped as a back who had me well out paced cut back inside. I forgot to keep my head bobbing.

Why did I play? Was it for that boyhood/young man feeling of youth and healthy enjoyment of a good game? Was it by still playing to feel to wonderful rugby experiences past? As I hobble around the house, my sweet Carolyn (who is in some ways delighted that her prophesy that I would get injured has come true) is extracting promises that I will never play again while making me far more comfortable than I deserve to be. The recovery period from a pulled hamstring I know only too well. As I look forward to shuffling around for the next few weeks, I think how lucky I am to not be the fellow with the broken leg. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why I played. I’m expanding my rule to include not playing in matches where either team cares if they win.

The ceremony to award the trophy to the tournament champion was held on the side of the pitch before the New Orleans RFC division II regional championship match against Atlanta Renegades. I was medicating myself on the bleachers while the award ceremony took place. I heard second hand that Morristown were the crowned the tournament winners. Criteria for deciding the champion were in the areas of how far they traveled and performance on and off the pitch. A simplified criterion was which team had the most fun. There are, I believe, a few disputes over who had the most fun. I heard the Texas XXXs had so much fun before they left Texas they declared on their website they had won the championship before the tournament ever licked off. As every one was heading off Saturday afternoon to the French Quarter to enjoy the fantastic music, food, and ambiance of the free French Quarter Festival, there was still a lot of fun to be had.

The 2nd Annual French Quarter Festival will be held Friday, April 10th, and Saturday, April 11th, 2009. For more information contact Tim Falcon at 504.884.5471.

A goal of is to create a historical record of rugby in the region. If you attended the tournament and would like to be listed send your name, club affiliation, and comments to deepsouthrugby@

40th Anniversary of SLU Rugby

By Brandon Vicknair

40th Anniversary of SLU Rugby

The Lion’s Rugby Football Club celebrated its 40th anniversary on in Hammond. Established in 1967 by the late Dr. John Healy, the club is the oldest in the state and carries a rich history. While Southeastern does not endorse the team, it has historically fostered the progress of the club and continues to do so with grants and use of the Kinesiology field.

The team has won multiple Deep South Conference Championships and for nearly 20 years hosted the nation’s largest rugby tournament. In its prime years, the Mardi Gras Tournament, which the club won twice itself, accommodated 64 men’s teams and 18 women’s team and bolstered Hammond’s economy with the highest revenue of the year for those weekends.

“We beat LSU, we kicked their a-s in the first (Mardi Gras) tournament we won,” said alumnus Carl Guy, “but the older we are, the better we were, and we never lost a party.”

Almost 100 ruggers past and present and their families gathered to commemorate the occasion with some coming as far as Pennsylvania to attend. The festivities included a social gathering on Friday night and an alumni game on Saturday. At Friday’s gathering the alumni or “Old Boys,” as they are affectionately known, cavorted and reminisced over old times and met the younger members and current players. Many of the attendants had played together in alumni games past, while some had not seen each other for thirty years. </p>

It’s been 40 years of camaraderie,” said Art Graybill, of the original ’67 team, “I haven’t seen Hank (Ziller) in 30 years; we don’t keep in contact but in the essence of youth it’s like I just saw him.”

Dave Shepherd, “The Godfather of Lion’s Rugby,” saluted the club and its members, hailing it as an “International fraternity.” He also toasted to the memories of alumnus John Barillo who was killed while serving in Vietnam and the recently deceased Bob Tuminello, whose friends consider him one of the greatest players to ever grace the field, scoring an unheard of 389 points in one season. The “Old Boys” have gone on to such lucrative careers as Judges, Professors, Doo-wop singers, Politicians and Doctors.

“Rugby has given me the greatest friends that I’ve ever known,” said Hank Ziller of the ’73 team, “We share a camaraderie of pleasure, pain and passion.”

The alumni game on Saturday was characterized by stiff competition, hard hits and dynamic plays. In the first few minutes of the first half, rugby vet Jonathan “B-Cups” Fowler suffered a game ending nose laceration from the head of Southeastern’s A.J. Calderone. Luck and providence prevailed however as “Old Boy,” Dr. Dave Cuccia of the ’93 team was there to stitch him up before returning to play. The first Try was scored by alumnus Dean Woods at scrumhalf, who executed a “Tuminello Shuffle,” strolling from the five meter line to the try-zone uncontested. Winger Stephen Andrus of Southeastern answered back causing an “Old Boys” turnover and was able rocket downfield. He was chased down near the opposing 22 meter line by the long-legged alum Brandon Box, but one tight juke freed him to Try, bringing the score to 7-5 due to a wide Southeastern conversion kick. Both teams continued to drive the ball determinately for the rest of the half but neither saw the Try-zone until the end of the second half.

1980 standout, Bobby Aucoin, made some impressive breaks throughout the game, but none as spectacular as the game-ending hit he laid on Southeastern’s flanker Jesse Gray, which not only dropped the rugger cold but allowed him to gain some positive field position. Inside center, David Plauche of the “Old Boys” single-handedly thwarted a series of passes and drives as he pushed one player back five meters and man-handled the second nearly into the Try-zone. Late in the second half, Southeastern team cohesion yielded success as Andrus tore downfield after another caused turnover. Tori Umbu gave chase and nearly caught him before he dished the ball to rookie Chris DeCesare. DeCesare broke for the Try-zone; encountering opposition near the five meter line, DeCesare popped to Ryan Charbonnet who was able to punch into the Try-zone to take the lead. A series of drives attested to both teams’ determination, but it would be Plauche who would score off of the hard fought drive and dish from veteran Kevin Kirby, to tie the game and bring it to overtime..

In O.T., Cuccia, on the outside wing drove deep into Southeastern territory before getting it back inside to Kirby. Kirby broke downfield and relayed the ball down the wing back to Cuccia who was able to break for the Try.

With the score 19-12 near the end of the period, the “Old Boys” were feeling confident as Woods said, “Age and treachery will overcome youth and endurance.”

The last few minutes yielded a well-oiled drive of desperation as Southeastern drove and cut into alumni territory. DeCesare executed a brilliant “up and under” play in which he chip-kicked the ball to himself and blazed into the Try-zone to even the score once more. Play continued but with the both teams exhausted at the end of O.T., the captains decided to call it a game.

“They’ve got the talent, the muscle, and the speed, they just need to get their heads n the game,” said Dave Shepherd, “they’re very talented, but if they had somebody to coach them they would be really good.”

“We played better rugby than they did, but they had experience on us and played a lot of tricks on us,” said scrumhalf Miguel Larrea, “overall it was good competition.”

<p>Reunion and alumni organizer Cliff “Sonny” Fontenot had this to say about the occasion: </p>

<p>It was great to see so many old friends, and so many smiling faces of players that hadn’t seen each other since the 1960’s. Trying to contact well over 500 alumni players was a daunting task but email and networking has made communication much more effective, and attendance over the past few events has improved accordingly. Rugby is a very unique and team oriented sport that creates unparalleled camaraderie. There is no individualism in rugby; when a person scores, we all know he could not have done it without the rest of the team putting him into that position. Rugby friends are friends for life, and many end up serving in each other’s weddings, becoming business partners, etc. I think the uniquely long-term friendships stem from the fact that your teammates on the field often put themselves into dangerous positions to protect you, even when you know they didn’t have to. It means a lot to know someone would do that for you.</p>

<p>Some of the ruggers from SLU’s first teams who attended were Art Graybill, (anyone else please contact to have your name added). Several others expressed their regrets and vowed to make the next one, including one known as rocker Vince Vance of “Vince Vance and the Valiants”.</p>

<p>And some who have passed away and were fondly remembered were: </p>

<p>Bob Tuminello, </p>

<p>David Kinchen, </p>

<p>Joe Fox, </p>

<p>Chuck Buckley.</p>

<p>Some thoughts from attendees on what SLU Rugby and the friendships it has formed through 4 decades has meant to them are … </p>

<p>From Sonny Fontenot –

David Shepherd was my college biology professor who introduced me to rugby, got me excited about biology, and convinced me to go to graduate school. When I look back to what got me to this point in my life, if it were not for David Shepherd, I would not have become a Ph.D. in Biology, nor played rugby throughout the U.S., as well as in Bermuda, Scotland, France, and Italy.

Thanks David!

Sonny Fontenot<p>

<p>Mapp’s comments –

The alumni event was a wonderful weekend. It gave former players the opportunity to see teammates they haven’t seen in years. Many entertaining, funny, embarrassing and even disgusting stories were shared. Even some old rugby songs came out of the vault. Hank Ziller had a great set up at his house. There were scrapbooks and pictures from past through present.

The game was very well played and entertaining for the spectators. Afterwards the social at Sonny’s was a tremendous feast and a continuation of the night from Friday.

Rugby has influenced my life greatly. I joined the team midway through my second semester during the fall of ’97. I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but the guys were encouraging. Through the years I have developed many strong friendships. I believe that if I didn’t join the rugby club I would have just gone to class and work, and probably would of became a fat ass. I made the right choice and played rugby, the greatest TEAM sport in the world. I still play rugby to this day. I’m still makin new friends and I still keep in touch with the old ones. I believe that everyone should experience rugby. (It just might change your life!)

I’m looking forward to the next event.

Jason Mapp </p>

<p>To add your thoughts send them to</p>

John Howe & Tulane’s (Early Days) Ultimate 15

By Tom Crosby

John Howe & Tulane’s (Early Days) Ultimate 15

One of the most colorful rugby characters to ever come out of the Deep South area was John Howe. He started his rugby playing at Tulane as an undergraduate in 1968. When I met John in 1972, I was constantly amazed at his “style”. He was already a legend for his play, singing, and having been escorted out of the Bahamas locked to a ball and chain. I remember one morning during the Tulane Mardi Gras tournament on the university’s football practice field in the shadow of the old Sugar Bowl Stadium. John showed up 5 minutes before kick-off with cigarette in mouth, beer in hand, and a look like he hadn’t been to sleep yet. He played an inspiring match against Waterloo University and went on to lead the party that evening. He went on to play in London for London Irish in ‘73, Denver Barbarians, Aspen RFC, Beacon Hill RFC (Boston), SUD and Washington RFC…a self-avowed rugby whore.

In 2000, almost 30 years later, I found myself sleeping on the floor in a hotel in Paris with John and 8 other rugby players. Following a Tulane Old Boys match John and I had arranged to meet in Paris for a France v Scotland 6-Nations match. John takes a group of current players and old boys from the American University sides he coached for 14 years to a 6-Nations match every year. After meeting up for a morning beer we found our way using Paris public transport to a remote field in a suburb where the France v Scotland women’s match was being played. Following the match we headed to the St. Michel section of Paris where John took us straight to the ‘rugby’ bar. Within 10 minutes of walking in the bar he had tickets at face value for the sold-out men’s match the next day. A late night of sampling French wines and incredible French fries and hot dogs ended up with us curled up on the floor of the other tour members’ hotel room – flashbacks to college rugby days. In 2007 John and I met up in Montpelier for USA v Tonga. John, who is now publisher, editor, and a writer for, was looking successful. The twinkle was still in the eye and the joy of good rugby and fine wine still in his heart. The website is a fascinating and captivating interactive site devoted to all aspects of rugby from forum debates on current national and international rugby issues to limericks and drink. He, also, is the spirit and presenter behind rugby radio at

John and I exchanged emails about our different websites. I sent John an article I was writing about first decade New Orleans players who also played for Tulane. John misread my article as being “The Early Days Best Tulane Side”. Below is his reply in his wonderful stream of consciousness style, and his Tulane “Early Days” Ultimate 15:


How we see things so differently?

stan never played on the first side hooker at Tulane only if we were desperate (he was the great song leader) dial was a prop forward along with edmonson, charlie monnot in the backrow and sometimes center … actually I thought you were a pretty good backrow…if I were making my selections they would be the way they do it in the press from the wing on through burns, nick Anderson, ?,?, mike ellis, b.kennedy, arnold dupisani, randy starett, george stollings, peter maud (he was a fantastic player), jay scully, bill daniels, bob edmonson, bruce hughes, and pat dial… wings and centers I can’t recall too many who played with me other than salliman and ancira but I would definitely have you and davies and laird and tyrone as reserves and even jack adams and brian travis and fred ??? and mike keyes as reserve scrumhalf … on my reserve davies roommate jan was also a helluva backrow player until he killed himself, eric rocstroh was a good front ranker but perhaps the best center was a KA with a french surname (he was called Chip) who must have graduated in 1970 and the best front row player Tulane ever had was another KA, I think, who Edmonson would know who graduated in 1969, yes, his name was Bob Chapman, and I don’t know whether he dropped out or graduated … he could have played internationally … Bob E would know him as they played together before dial made his appearance. There was another guy your era, a SAE by the name of Wagner and he wasn’t too shabby either playing or singing. Underated players in my era would be Steve Sallman, Bob Urann (but he was no match for Dupisani), an SAE by the name of Ron Bertucci, who died in his sophomore year from some tropical disease, was one helluva backline player, another SAE who sang quite a bit by the name of Bob Wagner(prop), Braun had the talent to play but he didn’t develop any real rugby skills while I was there, Jack Adams had a little what we call ‘mongrel’ in him. He wasn’t a bad player in the engine room. Either was Jan ???, he committed suicide, the former SEAL and roomie of Davies.

But the boiler house, is where Tulane always excelled…Chapman, Edmonson, Monnot started off as a hooker too, Dial, Wright, Bob Wagner, Eric Rocstroh (a talent scout in San Antonio and a former KA,) the list is long…because , as you know, all winning rugby starts in the front row.

John Howe’s Tulane University Early Days Ultimate 15

15..Nick Anderson and kicker , Medical School, Notre Dame

14. Peter Burns, our era, just for sheer speed

13. Mike Ellis, he had a job but was from Memphis as I recall.

12. Charlie Monnot, he wasn’t skillful but he was a bulldog.

11. Chip Henderson, a KA, was easily the best wing and maybe centre.

10. Barry Kennedy, our era, New Orleans kid, nice boot, good delivery, quiet, don’t remember him playing much after 71…..he’s a little hazy buthe was very good.

9. Arnold Dupisani, South African Consul, was the best player ever to play for Tulane at 9, 10, 12….he was the Captain and the real thing. Mike Keyes, Medical School, alumnae?, was an awfully good player at 9 or 10 but his style and mind conflicted….but to many he may have been a better player than Kennedy. He was a student of the game and actually started Stan interested in refereeing.

8. Bill Daniels or Steve Davies, when given the opportunity, had better overall skills than Brian Travis, Medical School, alumnae.

6. Peter Maud was easily the second best player but by a long shot to Dupisani, he was rough aggressive and technically knew his stuff. Randy Starrett, Law School, Duke University was very close. Fred King, Law School, I think Georgetown University wasn’t far behind either but he preferred soccer and did the rugby thing also. I think his heart was in the soccer.

7. My idol at the time was our openside, George Stellar, Medical School, Air Force Academy…he was great but I only had one year with him.

4. Jay Scully, Medical School, Man Mountain of Georgetown University.

5. Jim Wright, I never played with him but met him on campus. He was rumored to have played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a tossup between Laird Canby, Bill “Red” Daniels, and Steve Davies. They were all so valuable it is hard to distinguish amongst them in terms of importance. Laird was probably the most athletic, Davies was a natural, and Red, believe it or not, was a rugby thinker. Red knew just what he could and what he could not get away with.

3. Bob Chapman, KA, could player either side or the backrow too. One of the most talented players I ever had the privilege to watch get better and better. Marc Elliott of the Denver Barbarians played one year commuting from Baton Rouge.

2. Bruce Wallace, Medical School, Furman University. He was a better hooker than Stan Smith because he was simply better and better than Tyrone Yokum because Tyrone played ‘football rugby’. Remember at that time the wing threw the ball in, maybe even the scrumhalf. Tries were worth 3 points and the conversion 2.

Bruce Wallace was subtler.

1. Pat Dial, but he could play any position form 1-14. Fortunately not fullback because I don’t think he could kick worth a damn.

We invite you to send us your best team with whatever parameters you want to put on your selections. Send to

Apartheid, Bob “Big Red” Causey, & the Springbok’s 1981 Tour

Bob "Big Red" Causey in 1981 USA Eagle vs South African Springboks

By Tom Crosby

Apartheid, Bob “Big Red” Causey, & the Springbok’s 1981 Tour

On January 9th, 2008, South Africa named the Springbok’s new coach, Peter de Villiers, to succeed the 2007 World Cup winning coach, Jake White. De Villiers is black. He was coach of South Africa’s 2005 U-19 World Cup champion side. The South African Rugby Football Union admits that de Villier’s appointment was not based on purely rugby grounds. In a complex country with multiple racial categories, former coach White faced continuing pressure to play more “black” players. Has de Villiers stepped into the same pressure or will he be able to pick the best players regardless of race as he claims he will? Time will tell.

The stories of South Africa’s deliverance from the stranglehold of apartheid are many. An interesting local side story about South Africa’s evolution involves the Springbok’s 1981 rugby tour and legendary Louisiana rugby player, Bob “Big Red” Causey. In 1980 Eastern Rugby Union President Tom Selfridge (who had played the Springboks on tour in 1978) arranged for South Africa to play 3 matches in the USA at the end of their 1981 tour to New Zealand. The nation of South Africa was under an international ban from economic and athletic exchanges with other countries. The matches were to be against the Midwest Rugby Union in Chicago, the Eastern Rugby Union in Albany, and the US Eagles in New York. Bob was picked to play in both the Eastern Rugby Union and the US Eagles match.

Rumors of the violent and sometimes bloody protests that followed the Springboks through Kiwiland preceded their arrival on US shores. The midseason baseball strike left sportswriters looking for something to cover. The little known US sport of rugby burst onto the front-page. Protests were organized. The US Olympic committee tried to ban the matches fearing African nations boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Mayor Koch of New York forbade the playing of the match in the city. The mayor of Albany fought the Governor of New York for the right to have the ERU vs Springbok match in Albany all the way to the US Supreme Court and won.

Through metal detectors and onto this pitch of international socio-political-sports attention ran “Big Red”. He recalls the military with guns in the windows of the buildings surrounding the pitch in Albany. The Springboks were huge and carrying a serious attitude of hostility. Many were ex-military with New Zealand hardened game faces. They had played 14 matches – winning 11, drawing one, and beating the All Blacks in the 2nd test by a score of 24-12. They were considered the best team in the world. Peter Jones was ref. At the first lineout Bob’s opposite number is subtly lifted. This a few years before the laws allowed lifting. On the second lineout Bob slips through, snatches the ball, and passes it. After the pass and as play moves to the other side of the pitch, his opponent holds him while the two props land a couple of punches at the same time practicing a new English phrase they were learning, “We will kill you!” Not good at taking a hint, Bob strips the ball at the next lineout. The Springboks showed their famous versatility when they switched and had the props hold him while the second row punched. Their scrum had this straight ahead, old-fashioned low hard maul with very little roll to it. Twice Bob wedged through it to snatch the ball. After the pass the entire South African pack made a special detour to run over him on their way to the next breakdown. The second time he ripped the ball away, he held on to the guy who hit him as he passed. The South African scrummies showed their feeling of equality as they ran over both Bob and their own teammate on their way to the next tackle. Big Red recalls Gary Lambert coming over at this point and saying, “ We are going to get through this.”

In the match Gary ran by Naas Botha (South Africa’s outstanding fly half and arguably the most prolific match winner in Springbok history) after a pass. There was some contact but slight and un-intentional. Later in the match Botha had an opportunity and took it to kick Gary in the head. But the match was not over. Gary got an “opportunity” after Botha made a pass and drove him 10 yards in a bone-crushing tackle. Play stopped. The Springbok forwards surrounded Gary. He wiped his lips with his jersey and strode directly at the biggest Bok and pushed past him. Gary became a focus for a lot of pent-up Springbok aggression after that. The ERU lost to the Springboks 41-0.

After the match Bob recalls telling Coach Hornball that he was through. He wanted his ticket home. DID NOT WANT TO PLAY THEM AGAIN!!!

At this point the protests seemed like a party. There were beer bashes and bands. Pete Seeger came to sing. University students and tv reporters were having a good time. Jesse Jackson (whose protests efforts had been thwarted when the Chicago match was mysteriously switched to Racine, Wisconsin) was busy trying to find where the USA Eagles vs the South Africa Springboks match would be held. The match was scheduled for Saturday, September 26th. Bob remembers a few of the fellow players got together Thursday evening to savor some of the moments and contemplate the next match. They talked about the new strategy – isolate and intimidate.

At 7 a.m. Friday he was awakened and told to get dressed in his game kit and don’t call anyone. They sent the South African players extra US kits, so they wouldn’t be as noticed leaving the hotel. Everyone left in small groups. They drove out of the city until they reached what seemed to be a pasture. It was the Owl Creek Polo Ground. The match was called so quickly and secretively the president of the USA Rugby Union didn’t know it was being held. The match is in the International Rugby Board’s (now World Rugby) data as the lowest attended international match in the history of the sport. Bob recalls a handful of the neighbors who came out and an occasional helicopter flying overhead. As soon as South Africa started their tricks the Eagles retaliated with ‘isolate and intimidate’. The game quickly calmed down and became straight hard rugby. The Springboks won 38-7 in what Bob feels was one of the greatest Eagle efforts. When the match ended and they arrived at the Saratoga Racetrack for the match reception, they found out the area had been surrounded by the State Police Swat Team. Later back at the hotel, the television news had live pictures of protestors being loaded onto buses to go to the match.

When asked questions pertaining to whether the South African rugby team is racist, Bob reflects more on his 1978 tour to South Africa than his ’81 match experiences before his answer. In 1978 he played in 8 matches on an Eagle tour to South Africa. The color divide was evident and along 4 categories: white, non-white, colored, black. The South Africans he met lived in a protected world with few liberties. Bob recalls being at a party by a pool and all of a sudden two heavily armed military police jumped the wall. Someone had called in a complaint that marijuana was being smoked. When the military found this was not true and that the US Eagle rugby side was at the party, they sat around and talked rugby for a couple of hours. He remembers being in Orange Free State and thinking that in comparison with the Afrikaaners, the black population was small in stature. He pulls his thoughts and memories together and reflects on his own love of rugby. He has a thoughtful moment about the Afrikaans South African nation, where rugby is a religion, and the black South African nation where rugby is a game and a philosophy. He concludes that because of the physical stature and historical relationships to the game, South Africa’s international team will probably remain predominantly white for the foreseeable future.

The only match the touring side won on the tour was against an all black side. The ceremonial team tie Bob received after the match with the emblem of two hands extended out of the jungle holding a rugby ball remains his special tie of choice for a rugby occasion.

2008 New Orleans Half-Moons Mardi Gras Rugby Tournament

By Tom Crosby

2008 New Orleans Half-Moons Mardi Gras Rugby Tournament

On a sunny Saturday morning in early February right across the river from the madness of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Buffalo Gals kicked off against FSU while LSU played Texas A&M. The New Orleans Women’s Half-Moons served up the 27th (or is it 26th) Mardi Gras Women’s Rugby Tournament. The trophy says 26th, but the t-shirts say 27th. What the heck?! The tournament is about having fun, playing rugby, and camaraderie – with healthy helpings of creativity, love, and fond memories.

Tracy Moens (long time New Orleans area rugger and Eagle (?)) remembers the first tournament being in 1981. She remembers the pitches being up on the batcher in Audubon Park and being laid out so there was a tree on one of them. It put a whole new meaning to strategic kicking. The first tournament was an off-shoot of Hammond’s mega Mardi Gras Tournament which reached 64 men’s teams and 16 women’s teams. The Hammond tournament began around 1976. The joke is made that the tournament was started because one year it was so cold the Hammond pitches were covered with ice, so they decided to move the women’s part of the tournament south. The Halfmoon’s Mardi Gras Tournament has been held in New Orleans (or current site in Gretna) consecutively since 1981 except in 2006 when Katrina played her devastating match. Last year there were 4 teams. This year there were 8 teams in 2 divisions. In the college division, in order of finish in this round robin tournament, were Texas A&M, University of Florida, LSU, and Rice. In the club division the order of finish was Buffalo Gals, FSU, USM, and Halfmoons.

There is some dispute over the winner of the first tournament. Tracy remembers it being a battle between FSU and the Houston Hearts as this was a perennial final in the early years of the tournament. Janine Pardee (Buffalo Gal) recalls it being Tampa Tarbabies against the Houston Hearts. The Tarbabies came over with about 9 players and picked up 4 or 5 players from FSU. Bee Bee (Buffalo Gal) and Suzie Rosen (Buffalo Gal) were two of these players. This was back in the days when FSU was often national champs. Another player who thought she had been at the first final recalls a team from Portland won. Anyway – regardless of who won or if it was the 26th or 27th the tournament has developed a tremendous sense of camaraderie and love among participants.

Tania Hahn (Buffalo Gal, Eagle Reserve’98, tournament director since ‘92) sees the tournament growing to possibly 2 divisions of 6 next year with an ultimate goal of building back to two 12 team divisions. Beyond the obvious reason of Katrina the tournament had been losing popularity because it was seen to have dropped in its level of competitiveness. Tania acknowledges that a team like Beantown would deliver a large boot to the rump of any of the teams present, but the level of competition is certainly improving. Janine Pardee claimed that she had recently seen the Division II champs (?) and that several teams at the Mardi Gras tournament would give them a good game and the Buffalo Gals would handle them easily.

The Buffalo Gals are a large force behind the Mardi Gras tournament. Many of them coming to be Buffalo Gals through participating in the Mardi Gras tournament. The Buffalo Gals are a group of about 50 women from all around the country who keep in touch via email. They play in 4 tournaments a year – the Mardi Gras tournament, Saranac Lake in New York, and two others. For different tournaments they take different names, but for the Mardi Gras tournament they are always the Buffalo Gals. Buffy (?) (Buffalo Gal) a naval aviator from Colorado was selling t-shirts for the New Orleans Halfmoons. She couldn’t play because of a broken arm (snowboarding accident) and had to fly out the next morning for her niece’s wedding, but she had to be part of the tournament. Since first coming to the tournament in the mid-80’s she has only missed twice – when she was stationed in Japan. Tania, who is well into her second decade as tournament organizer for the New Orleans Halfmoons, plays with the Buffalo Gals. Candi Orsini (Buffalo Gal – Eagle?) agrees it is the special camaraderie, good competition, and shared memories that brings her back. The memories are of clever and spectacular skits at parties as much as of hard fought rugby matches.

For information on the 2009 New Orleans Halfmoon’s Mardi Gras Rugby Tournament go to or contact Tania Hahn at

The Rugby Pride of the Deep South, Louisiana’s U-19 Select Side

By Tom Crosby

The Rugby Pride of the Deep South, Louisiana’s U-19 Select Side

As Deep South club rugby struggles to gain national competitive strength, the Louisiana U-19 select side (in only 5 years of existence) is already recognized as a national power. Coach Jerry Malina has started putting together the side that will travel in May to Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Challenge, the premiere youth tournament in the country and where selectors will be scouting for participants for the June regional camps. The Louisiana U-19’s will be defending their title as champions against teams from strong unions like Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Manitoba Canada, Utah, Pacific Northwest, New York, Southern California, and the American School of London. Most of these are much bigger than the Louisiana 5 team union (Jesuit, Brother Martin, Rummel, Shaw, and Episcopal School of Acadiana).

They call themselves the Louisiana U-19 Select Side, but most of the players are from New Orleans with a kid or 2 from ESA in Lafayette. To date no central or north Louisiana kids have played on the side. The first year (2003) they placed 14th of 16, winning 1 of their 4 games. The next year they made the semifinal before losing to Southern California and placing 4th. In 2006 the kids were spread around the country due to Katrina. Somehow they got together, often practicing as far away as Baton Rouge. They adopted a hurricane symbol with a rugby ball at the center and named the team “The Refugees”. Against incredible obstacles they went to the tournament and won coming from behind to beat Colorado in the final. This past year they became the first and only team to win the tournament twice – and back to back. In what was described by one USA age grade coach as the best age grade game he had witnessed. They beat Utah 15-14, coming from behind against a huge, highly talented team of kids, most from the rugby playing South Pacific islands. This year they face the challenge of extending their record to 3 consecutive tournament titles.

Coach Malina brings tremendous quality rugby experiences to support his team. He has played with Akron, Ft. Myers, Life, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. While at Life College they beat archrival and rugby power Palmer College five times. He toured Korea and Hong Kong. They beat the Korean national selects and made it to the final four in both 7’s and 15’s at the tournaments associated with the famous Hong Kong 7s. While at Life he played center mostly. From 1983-1990 he played for the Eastern Rugby Union in 9 international test trials and 3 foreign tours to Scotland, Ireland, and Bermuda. He was named ERU captain on several occasions. He fondly recalls the great moment when the ERU beat Melrose, a top Scottish team, 13-12 at their home stadium, the Greenyards – the birthplace of 7’s rugby. He was playing opposite Keith Robertson a highly capped Scottish center. He has had several stints coaching New Orleans RFC and was instrumental in the start of the Louisiana U-19’s 5 years ago to compete in the Rocky Mountain challenge.

Several Louisiana U-19 players have made the USA camps and pools with Eric West (ex-Jesuit/LSU) and Adam Ducoing (ex-Brother Martin/LSU) playing in the U-19 World Cup last year where the USA had their best showing ever. They are now selected to play in the upcoming U-20 World Championships in Wales in June of this year. Adam has even made the cover of Rugby Magazine. This past weekend (Feb. 16th) they played for the USA U-20s against Canada U-20’s at the Freedom Cup in Lakeland, Florida. Adam started at number 14 and Eric was a reserve. The US lost a closely contested match by a score of 19-14. (For an excellent account of the match go to At the same “tournament” Michael Bordes (Jesuit) played for the USA U-18 side. He came in at wing in the second half in their 30 to 0 win over the USA U-17s.

Congratulations to Adam, Eric, and Mike, Louisiana U-19 select side, and Coach Jerry Malina. Hopefully these very talented ruggers will remain in this region to help with the development of nationally competitive first division clubs.

The 2008 Episcopal School of Acadiana High School Ruggerfest

By Tom Crosby

The 2008 Episcopal School of Acadiana High School Ruggerfest

On March 1st and 2nd In the little town of Cade, Louisiana, (just south of Lafayette in the heart of Cajun country) seven high schools gathered to compete in the ESA High School Ruggerfest. Jesuit entered 2 sides and Brighton High School (representing several schools in Tipton County, Tennessee) entered 3 sides. The teams were divided into 2 divisions. Jesuit A-side easily captured the championship in the 1st Division and ESA won the 2nd Division championship defeating Shaw 24-10 in a hard fought final. Also attending the tournament were Rummel from New Orleans and Westside and Mt. Carmel Bel Air from Houston.

The tournament has steadily grown from its inception four years ago to become more and more attractive to teams from outside Louisiana. Coach Craig Malinsky from Westside in Houston said it is an excellent tournament, and he can’t wait to tell other coaches in Houston about it. They usually go to the 16 team high school tournament in Dallas which attracts good competition from sometimes as far away as Canada. The competition at the ESA Ruggerfest is comparable and, like Dallas, only 4 hours from Houston. Westside is a unique Title 1 high school. Coach Malinsky (a Grace King graduate who started playing rugby at Arkansas State University) is a paid coach for the varsity sport of rugby. Rugby is offered as a PE credit and kids come to the sport from all sorts of different sport offerings. Errol Allard, current Junior Eagle on the U-20 side, is a Westside graduate. Brighton High School from just outside Memphis is the current runner-up Tennessee state champions and will be competing in the regional championships this year. The Brighton rugby team is a community side drawing players from 3 high schools in Tipton County, Tennessee. Coach Justin Whitmer said they usually go to the Nashbash High School Tournament in Nashville. It is a 25 team tournament. Coach Whitmer said he would definitely return to the ESA Ruggerfest as it has a higher concentration of quality sides and the weather is much better. The travel and high level of competition helped bring his team together in significant ways. They were humbled by the Louisiana sides and realized that sheer athleticism will not overcome well coached sides who execute fundamentals properly. Coach Tim Falcon of Shaw in New Orleans (who has been to every Ruggerfest since they began in 2005) concurs that it is an excellently run tournament.

One of the tournament’s first-rate referees (Chris Liddy) complemented the excellent organization and care shown to referees. He enjoyed the matches he refereed, as the play was hard but clean. Chris had recently been to a high school tournament in Florida. He refereed a match between a Ft. Lauderdale and a Pennsylvania side. From what he witnessed at the Florida tournament he felt the level of high school rugby in Louisiana has risen to be nationally competitive. He went on to comment that the growth of high school rugby in the state is related to the improvement of Louisiana college rugby and is directly responsible for LSU’s current success and recent visits to the ‘College Sweet 16 Tournament’. He complemented ESA on the quality of their 2 pitches. The best pitch being better than LSU’s and possibly the best rugby pitch in the state. He, also, felt the tournament had incredible crowd enthusiasm and a very pleasant family atmosphere.

Jesuit hooker, Billy Wright, commented that the tournament this year was much better because there were more teams. Etienne Rene (Jesuit’s #8) concurred. He went on the say that the teams from other states gave Jesuit a chance to compare themselves against other teams as they pretty much dominate all teams in the state. The Jesuit A-side won its 2 matches on Saturday against Westside (43-0) and Brighton A-side (57-0). The Brighton side was so impressed by the play of Jesuit that they honored them with a post match congratulatory “circle dance & chant”. For the final on Sunday no team showed up to face the Jesuit A-side.

ESA coach, Brian McIntyre, is looking for the tournament to grow even more. He would like to see the tournament expand to 16 high school teams in 2 divisions. He would, also, like to add a collegiate and a women’s division. They have played with the date of the tournament, but a couple of tournaments held on cold rainy February days have led them to settle on the first weekend in March. The school is looking to add a 3rd pitch and has considerable resources in community sponsorship and support from the school’s booster club, the ESA Legion. ESA has about 100 boys in its high school and about 30 of these are on the rugby team. From sixth grade on all students (boys and girls) are introduced to the sport in their PE classes. The school has tried to start a girl’s side, but the lack of competition has made maintaining interest very difficult.

Coach McIntyre invites all interested in information about next year’s ESA Rugger Fest to contact him at

Deep South 2008 Division Champions

By Tom Crosby

Deep South 2008 Division Champions

Boys High School: Co-Louisiana State Champs and South Regional Champs – Jesuit (multi-school) and Rummel (single school)

The state high school tournament on April 26th ended early as heavy rain with lightning began 3 minutes into the 3rd-4th place play-off match between Shaw and Brother Martin. Jesuit and Rummel agreed to cancel the final. There was no official declaration of a state champion. Jesuit had had a perfect season. Brother Martin defeated Shaw in the play-off 29-5. The following were the team coaches: Jesuit – Robert Markel, Rummel – Trip McCormick and Kevin Kern, Brother Martin – Gary Giepert, Shaw-Tim Falcon.

Louisiana sent three teams to the USA Rugby South Regional Tournament hosted by Middle Tennessee State University in Murphreesboro, Tennessee, held on May 3rd and 4th. Jesuit went as the Louisiana representative team to the multi-school division. This was Jesuit’s choice because travel arrangements made it difficult to get to the tournament for the earlier match times of the single school bracket. Rummel was the number one seed in the single school division of the tournament based on Jesuit winning and Rummel coming in second in the tournament last year. Rummel captured the single school South Regional Tournament by defeating an enormous side from Gilbert High School, South Carolina. The final score was 17-15. To get to the final Rummel defeated Ravenwood of Nashville (17-10) and Brentwood of Murphressboro (7-0). Jesuit defeated a multi-school side from Atlanta (17-15) called the Trojans. They were a large side coached by South Africans with several South African players. To get to the final Jesuit defeated a side from Knoxville by several tries and a close come from behind win (14-12) over a Chapel Hill side with New Zealand coaches. The story goes that the Kiwi and South African coaches were asking Jesuit parents where Markel was from – to which Markel asked them to reply, “ A country for old men.”

The National Tournament was the weekend of May 30-June 1st. Both Rummel and Jesuit competed for national titles. Rummell in the single school division and Jesuit in the multi-school U-19 club division.

Raiders lost their first match to the Notre Dame de La Salette Lions by a score of 31-0.

The Lions went on to the final match, losing to the Jesuit Marauders (Sacramento, California) 22-5. Rummell lost their second match 74-0 versus Xavier (New York) and their last match, a hard fought battle against St. Joe’s Prep (Philadelphia), by a score of 12-8 to finish 8th out of the 8 schools in their division.

The Blue Jays lost their first match (a valiant battle) against the defending tournament champion, Highland Rugby Club (Utah) by a score of 41-7. The Blue Jays withered in their second match losing to the LA Cougars (California) 25-0 and then lost a very exciting match 21-20 against Union County (New Jersey) to finish 8th in the division.

College / University

Men’s Collegiate Division III Champs: Univeristy of Louisiana Lafayette

University of Louisiana Lafayette Men’ Rugby were arguably one try away from being the national champions. University of Louisiana Lafayette Men’s Rugby and Coach LeJeune made it to the USA Rugby South Collegiate Championship Finals against Furman University. After a Furman 7-5 lead through the first half and 12 – 5 lead into the second half, ULL pulled back to tie the match at 12 -12 with 1 minutes left. However, in the last 10 minutes Furman scored the match-winning try leaving the final score 19 – 12.

The win over ULL allowed Furman (15-3-1 overall, 7-0-1 spring) to advances to the national National DIII Championship Tournament, held April 26-27 in Hamilton, New York. Furman has collected five Rugby South Championships and three National Championships during the past six years since Division 3 was established. In 2007, the Furman Paladins fell one point short in national finals with a 11-10 loss to Bentley (Boston). Their first game of the tournament was a semi-final match vs. Widener from the East Penn RU. In a fast paced, hard hitting match Furman triumphed 31-20. Furman lost the final to Plymouth State (PRU) by one try – 22-17.

Coach Boyd Lejeune’s comments:

Hey there, we will be losing 2 starting locks and 1 substitute back, so I think that we should be ready for another run. I am lucky to have such a great group of young men. Our concept is to develop a tight family atmosphere that strengthens us through any ordeal that comes our way. We are able to throw around ideas and everyone contributes to the team’s success. Since the boys have invested so much time and effort, I am able to guide them to attain what we set out to do. Everyone knows that each person is important to the team, there are no cliques or attitudes. If you start this match, you are no more better than another chap who has shown up for every practice and put his blood and sweat on the line for his teammates and coach Bill and myself. I sometimes wish we had the numbers of say an LSU, but God has given me a tight group of 18 guys that have made the university, the fans, and coaches very proud.

Men’s Collegiate Division 1 Champs – LSU??

Technically LSU plays in the Texas Union, but certainly there is an argument that they are spiritually a Deep South Side. There are currently no other Division 1 sides in the Deep South Union. Ranked as high as number 7 in the country, LSU consistently played exceptional rugby all year. LSU’s record was 17 wins and 1 loss, including beating a very good Tennessee team to win the SEC Championships and winning the Texas Rugby Union Division 1 championships. The LSU Rugby Club lost to the University of Colorado 37 –21 at the Western Collegiate Championships held in Fort Worth. LSU had an 11-point lead with 15 minutes to go but a very strong Colorado team battled back and won. LSU had too many penalties, and some crucial mistakes let the Buffalos back in the match. Colorado went on to win the tournament on Sunday beating the Air Force Academy 27-20. LSU beat the University of Nebraska in the third place match 20-7. LSU ended up with a #17 ranking by American Rugby News. (University of Tennessee ended up ranked #12 even though they were beaten by LSU in the SEC Tournament.)

Colorado lost 42-13 to Brigham Young University in the semi-final. For the 3rd consecutive time in the final BYU faced UC-Berkeley. Berkeley captured their 24th national title by defeating the Cougars by a score of 59-7.

LSU Coach Scott McLean comments: We had solid wins this season against Shreveport Rugby Club, Baton Rouge Rugby Club, Old White Rugby Club, University of Florida Rugby Club, University of Tennessee Rugby Club, Texas A and M (finally !), Sam Houston, University of Texas, and University of Nebraska.

The program continues to get better and should be “reloading” with talent as more high school programs develop and student athletes are coming to LSU to get their education and be part of a great rugby program.

LSU 2007-2008 Coaches: Scott McLean, Mike Moore, John Staub, Bob Causey.

Men’s Division II Champs: The New Orleans Rugby Football Club

The NORFC posted an undefeated season defeating main rival Memphis both at home and away to give New Orleans home field advantage for the South regional play-off with the Atlanta Renegades division II side. New Orleans easily handled the Atlanta side and at the South division II championships in Jacksonville lost their first match 22-8 to Charleston. Augusta fell to the NORFC in their second match (30-11) giving New Orleans a place at the national playoffs in Austin on May 17th. New Orleans was seeded #13 and faced #4 seed Tulsa (the #1 team from the West). Tulsa jumped out to a big lead in the first half and held on to it through the second half to end a great NORFC season.

Tulsa fell to Detroit by a score of 47-14 after getting behind 37-0 by half. Detroit lost to Brandywine who went into the final as the top seed, but ended up losing to Red Mountain 41-18. Detroit, also, lost the consolation match to Wisconsin 24-16 to end up in 4th place.

NORFC Coach: Jerry Malina

Comments from Deep South Rugby Union President, Charles Dube:

Because several of the Deep South brackets contain teams from Georgia and Mid-South LAU’s we only had two outright Deep South LAU winners. ULL won the Men’s Collegiate Div III and New Orleans won the Senior Men’s Div II.

One could argue that because Pensacola was 2nd in their bracket that they would be the Div III Senior Men’s winner, but without having them play Birmingham that may be a stretch. Deep South only has two Div II collegiate sides in Bama and Ole Miss. Bama did beat Ole Miss in regular matrix play, but I believe that Ole Miss may have finished higher in the matrix bracket. Certainly doesn’t look impressive that we have all of these mixed brackets in the Deep South. In a regular season if everything goes against the Deep South teams we would only have the Div III collegiate winner as the sole representative from the Deep South at any playoff level.

On a side note I have to give props to MSU who were 2nd in the Div III collegiate bracket and DID travel to Lee University in Tennessee when Tenn Tech did not travel down to play ULL in the 1st round of the playoffs!

Congratulations to University of Louisiana Lafayette Men’s Rugby and Coach LeJeune

By Tom Crosby

Congratulations to University of Louisiana Lafayette Men’s Rugby and Coach LeJeune for making it to the USA Rugby South Collegiate Championship Finals against Furman University!!! After a Furman’s 7-5 lead through the first half and 12 – 5 lead into the second half, ULL pulled back to tie the match at 12 -12 with 15 minutes left. However, in the last 10 minutes Furman scored the match-winning try leaving the final score 19 – 12. Brian Stringer, USA Rugby South Collegiate Director said he was ” impressed by the behavior, good manners, and exemplary sportsmanship UL demonstrated both on and off the field.” Stringer also spoke highly of Coach LeJeune saying he must also “pay tribute to the huge contribution Coach Boyd LeJeune has made to the UL rugby program.” Needless to say, the Deep South is very proud of this team and their leadership.

Keith Knowlton scored two trys to lead the Furman men’s rugby team to a 19-12 victory over the University of Louisiana Lafayette in the Rugby South Division III Championship game Sunday.

With the win Furman (15-3-1 overall, 7-0-1 spring) advances the national National DIII Championship Tournament, which will be held April 26-27 in Hamilton, New York.

Hosted by the University of Alabama, Furman advanced to the tournament’s championship game with a 26-10 win Saturday over Elon University while ULL (6-1 spring) bested Lee College 23-18.

Knowlton, a senior center, helped the Paladins to an early 7-0 after a try and successful conversion by Blair Barton midway through the first half. ULL, champions of the Deep South Rugby Union, scored an unconverted try late in the half to cut the Paladins’ lead to 7-5.

Midway through the second half an unconverted try by freshman Monty Turner helped the Paladins to a 12-5 advantage. Five minutes later, the Ragin Cagins answered with a converted try to tie the contest.

With less than four minutes remaining Knowlton broke through several tackles and rushed 30 yards for a try that would put Furman ahead 19-12 after Barton’s successful conversion. During the game?s waning moments the Cajuns advanced deep in Furman territory before time ran out.

Zach Mullinax and Kyle Tenke scored two trys each in Furman’s Saturday victory over Elon, champions of the North Carolina Rugby Union.

Furman has collected five Rugby South Championships and three National Championships during the past six years. In 2007, the Paladins fell one point short in national finals with a 11-10 loss to Bentley


Saturday 4/26

11am Plymouth State vs Hamilton College

1pm Widener vs Furman

Sunday 4/27

11am Consolation

1pm Championship

The 2007 World Cup

By Tom Crosby

The 2007 World Cup

One week before I took off for France my early prediction was of a French world cup victory.  Optimism about the US Eagles winning 2 matches faded with a pre-world cup loss to a weak Munster side. There was little hope of beating England on October 8th, so Oct. 12th in Montpelier against Tonga was the do-or-go-home-winless match for the USA. There was not much hope for later matches against Samoa and South Africa.

I had been struggling with bronchitis for 4 months before leaving for France –  possibly the result of trailer living and post-Katrina conditions in New Orleans. At one point the doctor said I was on the edge of pneumonia and a hospital stay.

September 11th, 2007 Colchester, England: USA v England

I arrived in England in time to read about the French humiliation at the hands of Argentina. The Times was predicting an English triumph over the USA Eagles – described as “chunky and unfancied” by the English scribes.  The next day The Sunday Times was treating the 28-10 (England-USA) as a loss for the home team. I watched the USA’s marvelous effort in the living room of my wife’s sister’s husband in Colchester, England. He was even impressed with the Yanks’ effort.

We left England to  settle  into an efficiency with a loft in the French village of Leucate. Although small (2,000 or so residents) it had a very nice rugby stadim. I watched the French first side Toulouse play Perpignan in the village while we were there.  

My earlier world cup predictions of a French victory were a shambles after Argentina spanked them in Paris in the opening match. Unless France could remake their side and find some commitment to match that of even the 2nd tier teams like Namibia this was going to quite an embarrassment for the French.

 September 12th, 2007 Montpellier, France: USA v Tonga

On occasions like this, the hand of fate is infalible. As long time friend from my Tulane University rugby days, John Howe, pulled into the car park at the Montpelier train station, we were moving our own car into the same lot. We all hopped the tram to the Mosson Stadium and had pre-match beers and pizza from a patisserie. John’s French friend Christian informed us that beers in the stadium could be 7 Euros (11 dollars) because the IRB was taking a healthy cut to support rugby in poor countries. It turned out beers were 5 Euros and we drank to Namibia and Georgian rugby. Security at the stadium was severe and haphazard. My wife had her small but lethal bottle of Oil of Ulay confiscated and just about everyone was body searched. I walked through without even having my ticket checked. The USA play was hapless as security. After two minutes, Tonga’s scrum easily pushed over for a try. The USA looked like a B-side college team as fly half Hercus held any good ball way too long before passing, running into Tongan defense, or kicking it away. The sun was strong. The day was hot. The crowd was decidedly pro-Tongan. At half-time, we moved from crowded lower level seats in the end zone to midfield seats in the upper deck. A nice breeze and plenty of space with a view over the countryside as well as the pitch made the second half much more pleasant. The USA played the second half like they had the will to win. But continuing disorder in the backs left a gaping hole that the Tongan Tonka Trucks rolled through for another try to seal it. As the Tongans took a victory walk to a standing ovation around the pitch, the USA Eagles – heads down – slumped off the pitch knowing the previous 80 minutes represented their best shot ‘at a 2007 World Cup victory. After more beers and pizza in Montpellier, we bid farewell to John and Christian. My wonderfully sober wife, Carolyn, drove us back to Leucate. Mark Bielski, another long time friend from the Tulane days, and I headed to a local pub to watch Italy v Rumania. We had just settled into our beers when the bartender switched the channel to the France v Scotland soccer match. We sauntered – which is French for staggered – through the village until we found another bar with the game on a wide screen TV. We sat back in comfortable chairs with a carafe of local wine and savored the wine, the match, and a fantastic day. Viva le Coupe du Monde !!

September 17th, 2007 Montpellier, France: Tonga v Samoa

The sunrise drive from Leucate to Montpelier took you through grape vine covered hills and tiny southern France villages. We parked at the stadium ticket office by 10 only to find it didn’t open until noon for the 2 p.m. match. We discussed coming back for the Sept 30 South Africa v USA match. Carolyn had become a rugby fanatic in the last week and an adoring fan of the chiseled jaw, golden haired South African fullback, Percy Montgomery. September 30 coincided with our wedding anniversary and the 100 Euro tickets that were available would be a wonderful present for us both. After we strolled the narrow streets around Comedy Square and soaked up the sunshine and rugby enthusiasm in Montpelier, we hopped the tram back to the stadium. The ticket line was about 10 people deep and moved quickly. We found out we couldn’t buy the Sept 30 tickets until the Friday before the match and that we couldn’t use our Visa (official preferred credit card of the World Cup) to buy tickets. After paying cash for the tickets and buying 2 official world cup t-shirts with our visas’ we settled down for freshly grilled sausage po-boys and half liters of Heineken draft.  The buses carrying the Samaon and Tongan teams rolled by to the cheers of the gathering crowd.  The pre-game video was fun with highlights of previous World Cup matches, Samoan and Tongan World Cup histories, and interviews with the team captains. As the teams came out to warm-up, the p.a. system started playing the New Orleans tune Iko Iko. It was an intense match right from the the hakas. The Tongan team went first. The captain charged across the midfield line and after their haka, he led his fellow Tongans to the midfield line, forcing the Samoans to do their haka a safe distance back. Tonga hung on to a 4 point lead in the final minutes with only 13 players. The crowd – initially split between Tongan and Samoan supporters – was eventually almost totally pro Tongan thanks to the referee’s careless sending off of Tongan players. After warm congratulations between Tongan and Samoan players, the Tongans took 2 walks around the pitch to the standing ovation of the crowd. The Tongan coach then led the Tongan team out again (a few players carrying their children) to stretch and for what one could imagine to be a talk on what it felt like to pull off the upset. They knew they were one upset away from being the first Tongan team to ever reach a World Cup quarterfinal. 

 Once safely back in Leucate, we wandered to El Chupito Pub to watch France dismantle Namibia.

While hanging around outside the stadium before the Tonga v Samoa match, I saw a poster advertising an international veterans’ tournament around Montpellier on Sept. 22nd. World Cup fever inspired me to whip myself into shape and try to pick-up with a team. The first 2 days of training didn’t go too well. Since leaving New Orleans in June, I had suffered with a respiratory problem which had tenaciously clung to my lungs through 3 antibiotic treatments. After 5 minutes of a gentle jog, I was coughing and hacking like a man with a 30 year two pack a day habit. Last night at El Chupito Pub, while watching Scotland dismantle Romania 42-0, the owner (former rugby player for Lyon) suggested I try one of the region’s thermal baths. We drove toward Spain into a valley of the Pyrenees in search of a miraculous cure from some magical waters. The scenery was spectacular and all the small French villages we drove through had signs proclaiming they celebrate 2 rugbies ¬(13’s and 15’s). Unfortunately when we arrived at Amelie-Les-Bains, the place was heaving with sickly folks seeking the magical waters. We couldn’t even find a place to park.  I remained on the injured reserve list for Saturday’s tourney. I hope to at least observe a little of the tournie before finding a pub to watch Saturday’s matches.

September 26th, 2007 Toulouse, France: Portugal v Romania

The TGV (fast train) had just started picking up speed as it left Toulouse. The previous evenings battle between Romania and Portugal for the bottom of pool C was a gratingly slow match. The combined number of back line movements for both sides could be counted on one hand without using your thumb. Eventually the Romanian scrum wore down the Portugese. If it weren’t for the rugby loving spirit of the Toulouse people, a beautiful stadium with a half-roof to keep the drizzle off, and spending time with a French friend, Lilian, it could have been a miserable evening. The Toulouse crowd was in the mood for an evening of World Cup rugby. It was strongly pro-Portugal, but the largest cheer was “Toulousain” which Lilian explained was a combined cheer for the Toulouse rugby team and the people of Toulouse.

Although the IRB website did not show the match sold out, getting tickets was not easy. The IRB and SNCF (train company) representative (Marie Sautel) at the official World Cup welcome point at the Toulouse train station suggested I try a local store that handled sport and concert tickets and, if not there, buy them from someone before the match. When I said I had read several places that the IRB did not want you buying from people outside the stadiums, she shrugged and replied, “Maybe someone does not want to go”. Lilian and I tried the ticket outlet. They said they had some on Saturday, but had sold them. Lilian had to go back to work and dropped me at the stadium. On the chance that Marie did not have all her info straight, I asked a security person if the ticket office was open. He showed me where it was and said it would open in 30 minutes. There was one other person in line. I took a walk and came back at 2 to find 12 people in line. By 2:15 there were 15 people in line and the office still was not open. I decided to spend my time enjoying the sights of Toulouse.  At 5:00 I went back to the ticket office. It was open but there was a sign saying “No Tickets”. I guess I will never know if there ever were any official tickets.

As Lilian had Parents Night at his school, we had agreed to meet 30 minutes before kick-off. I arrived a little early and quickly found 2 tickets from a Spanish rugger who had (as Marie predicted) two friends who had decided they didn’t want to go to the match.

September 27th, 2007 St. Etienne, France: USA v Samoa

It is the morning after one of those incredible World Cup evenings. The USA play was fantastic from 14 of the 15 players. I take back all the bad things I’ve said about Mike Hercus. He kept the ball moving and was all over the pitch. It was a thrilling match to watch. The player who let the USA down was #13 Philip Eloff. After Samoa’s first 2 tries which were a direct result of him being out of position on the first try and missing a tackle on the second, I started writing down his missed tackles, coming up slow in defense, not passing to support outside, a penalty for hanging on to the ball, and other poor play. Why he was not replaced one can only imagine. He was directly responsible for at least a 13 point difference in a 25 to 21 defeat. Now that I am through venting on Philip let me get on to the special world cup moment. It was drizzling rain and I had not brought any spare clothes on my Toulouse and St Etienne journey. Hotel rooms were full in St Etienne and I was lucky to find a room in someone’s house through the tourist office. I rode the tram most of the afternoon just to stay out of the rain. I got to the stadium early hoping to hang around a bar, but there were none in the area except a grocery store chain’s cafeteria with a big screen tv. I was very tempted to stay out of the chilly rain and watch the match on tv. But it is France and in a grocery store cafeteria you can get an excellent bottle of wine with a quarter roast chicken for $8. Fortified with wine and chicken I headed out to find my seat. My ticket was for somewhere in the end zone, so I settled right between the post. I was in the end goal where every point was scored except for 1 Samoan penalty in the 2nd half (a result of Eloff hanging on to the ball). The crowd was overwhelmingly for Samoa, but by the 2nd half the USA’s exciting form of play and efforts had gained them tremendous respect and an equal amount of the cheers. It was 80 minutes of fun rugby to watch. The match was memorable and would have been a wonderful upset, but  the truly memorable moment was the farewell from this World Cup to the Samoan side. The crowd gave them a 30 minute standing ovation. The Samoans did their haka to each side of the stadium. At the end the 35 year old Samoan legend, Brian Lima, in his 5th and (probably) last World Cup with his jersey off and his 6-pack rippling led another haka. The crowd went wild. One Samoan player took his jersey and handed it to a kid in the crowd. I’m not sure if it was drizzle or a tear, but my cheeks were moist.

October 1st, 2007 Montpellier, France: USA v South Africa

On a drizzly Sunday morning we popped The Boss’s Seeger Session CD in the car’s player and wound our way north from Leucate to Montpellier. We quickly found a parking spot close to Mossun Stadium. It was 9 hours before kick-off. The ticket office was closed with no signs about availability or when it might open. Before hopping the tram into the city we checked that the Bar Las Vegas (close to the stadium) had a TV where we could watch Ireland v Argentina in case we had to come back early for tickets. We got off the tram and were told at the IRB’s welcome booth that tickets were still available. We wandered the lovely old streets of Montpellier and, as the skies cleared, settled into a cafe in Comedy Square to celebrate our anniversary with a great meal and a few glasses of champagne. A horde of South African clad rugby supporters were already gathering in the square. After lunch, Carolyn was feeling a little sleepy. We found a spot in front of the giant screen in the square to watch France v Georgia. She lay her head on my lap and dozed until experiencing what she calls her most magical world cup moment. She awoke to to the rousing voices of the French crowd standing all around her singing the Marseillaise. We shifted to a couple of seats in an outdoor cafe where I could get a beer and still watch the match around the flow of the crowd and the occasional passing of a tram. I saw a sign a for tickets for sale at the cafe next to us. A group of South African’s had two extra tickets.  They didn’t get the joke when I asked if they would be supporting the USA as they looked dumbfounded and pointed at their head to toe Springbok gear. We watched France’s clobber Georgia and after 20 minutes of Argentina taking a 4 try lead over Ireland,  we took the tram back to the stadium. With 15 minutes left in the match, we squeezed our way into a corner of Bar Las Vegas to watch the convincing rise of the new rugby power – Argentina. Walking out of the bar we fondly remembered 6 years before in another Las Vegas we had pledged before God and Elvis to forever stay off of each others’ blue suede shoes. After a trip back to our car to get our world cup outfits on, we headed to the food and beer tents outside the stadium. With beer and excellent French frites in hand, we sat down at a table with an Australian and South African couple. We got the usual questions about New Orleans. Is the city still under water? How can the most powerful country in the world be so inept at helping its own people?

What can you say? No, it is not under water. Yes, the huge hulking bureaucracies of local, state, and federal governments tripped all over themselves blaming each other and accomplishing little.

Fortified with beer and frites, we scampered – yes, scampered!! -up to our seats in the upper deck of Stade Mosson to bravely (if off key) sing The Star Spangled Banner surrounded by our new South African friends.

Since I last wrote about the thwarted trip to the the miracle waters in the thermal pools in the Pyrenes, I went to a French doctor. After several sleepless nights,  Carolyn took me to the local clinic in Leucate. She speaks a little French. The doctor spent thirty minutes  asking questions and listening to my chest. He then said I had asthma prescribed an inhaler and charged me 30 Eur0s ($40). I filled the prescription, took a puff, and didn’t have another sleepless night. I had spent hundreds in the USA for x-rays and antibiotics and repeat trips to a doctor who spent 5 minutes, prescribed antibiotics, and sent me for another test. Beathe in. Breathe out. Move on.

Back to the USA vs Springboks match

The mood was jovial and the billtong (South African venison jerky) was flowing. One of the South Africans was Riann Van Zyl (sp?) – a former Seattle rugger and US Eagle. He played for the USA in the 2003 World Cup. He assured me the Eagle side was better than the side in 2003.  The US side (although not able to defensively adjust to South Africa’s quick ball recycling and exceptional ball handling) played valiantly and earned considerable applause and respect from the predominantly South African crowd. Taku Ngwenya’s outside-inside-outside fake that left the incredible Springbok winger Brian Habana slapping air as he dived for Taku’s heals was a sensational moment enjoyed by all. It would go on to become the “IRB Try of the Year”. With 5 minutes to go we fought the tide of leaving bodies and headed pitch side for a close-up spot to watch the teams take their post match walks around the field. The USA proudly accepted the well deserved applause of the crowd. A couple of players sent their socks via security guards to pretty French girls along the rail. And as the p.a. system cranked up The Boss’s “Born in the USA,” the Eagles turned the last corner of the pitch and joined the stadium crowds applause for the Springboks.

October 7th, 2007 Cardiff, Wales: France v New Zealand

Where to begin? With the slow farewell drive along the Mediterranean on the way to Perpignan Airport ?  With the 8 hour crawl through traffic around London two days ago? With the spectacular crossing of the Severn River and our welcome in Welsh and English into Wales? Or waking this morning to a new rugby world order? France had managed to climb from the mud their loss to Argentina had stuck them in. They had done the impossible. Even if it took the luck of a ref overlooked forward pass, New Zealand should never have let it get so close that an overlooked forward pass could make the difference.

After catching up with old Welsh friends Celia and Huw Thomas (an outstanding Welsh back who I played with in Ecuador almost 30 years ago), we headed to the revitalized Cardiff Bay area to watch England v Australia. Eight years ago during the 99 World Cup, I stood in a Welsh crowd of 400 people watching England play New Zealand on a giant screen in a brewery’s courtyard . Besides my English wife, I saw only one other person silently cheering for England. Wales, a nation that outspokenly cheers first for Wales and then for any team playing the English, was for at least 90 minutes yesterday behind the English. Besides the odd Aussie in the pub, the bar was boisterously overjoyed at the English 12-10 victory. When you are with Huw in Cardiff, you get a real feel of walking among rugby legends. In the pub where we watched the England match, he pointed out Grant Fox (All Black stand-off from the lates 80¹s and 90¹s) standing next to us. Along the streets of Cardiff, he nudged me as we passed  legendary French winger Serge Blanco. And when you enter the Cardiff Rugby Club, you are surrounded by pictures of the great players through Welsh rugby history. 

 I had bought my ticket online back in February anticipating this would be an Irish-All Black clash. I joined the throng that was surging for the entrance gates of the majestic Millennium Stadium. The crowd seemed to be equally split between French and All Black supporters, with the odd splattering of green clad Irish supporters who had also purchased tickets for this quarterfinal long before Argentina squashed Ireland’s hopes for a spot in this quarterfinal showdown with New Zealand. The All Black supporters started out more vocal, but during the haka, the French side inched forward from the midfield line, curled around the world cup favorites and almost encircled the All Blacks. The French crowd gained confidence as they realized a repeat of the ¹99 World Cup semi-final was a real possibility. The cheer of “Les Bleus” grew in intensity through the evening and the chant of “All Blacks” faded away. After France’s 20-18 victory, I went pitch-side to watch the triumphal and farewell walks around the pitch of the French and All Blacks. The French took their lap, but the New Zealanders quickly disappeared down the changing room tunnel. I met up with my elated friends sitting among a dejected All Black supporting crowd in the Cardiff Rugby Club. Celia, who for over 30 years has seen the faces of many loosing ruggers and team supporters said, “I have never seen a defeated team so depressed. Grown men were crying. Others were in stunned silence.” Indeed sitting right next to us was an All Black supporter wiping away tears with his handkerchief. I was talking to Bob at the bar about how the All Blacks left the pitch without a farewell lap and how at all the pool matches I¹d seen where a team played their last match in the tournament, they had taken a farewell lap. I asked if they didn¹t do that in the knock-out rounds. Bob thought they usually did, but suggested I ask the distinguished looking All Black supporter standing next to us. So, I offered to buy the gentleman a pint and then asked the question. Mr. McCaw (All Black Captain Richie’s dad) wasn’t sure of the etiquette. It was a fantastic day capped by the harmonious voices of a Welsh choir resounding through the Cardiff RFC Pub

October 12th, 2007 Manchester, England: England v France

Today I’m sitting in a pub in Manchester sipping a pint of bitter. Tomorrow I’ll take the 3 hour train ride to London and find a lively pub to watch the England v France match. The English papers are spouting a fairly confident prediction of English victory after a hard match. There are lots of comparisons with the semi-final match 4 years ago in Australia when Jonny Wilkinson kicked France out of world cup contention during a heavy rain. The British bookies are not as confident. Odds for England to win are around 13 to 2. France is 6 to 4.  Sunday I’ll again settle into a London pub for South Africa v Argentina. Argentina is certainly the darling of the press here, but the bookies like South Africa at about 11 to 10.

October 21, 2007 New Orleans, USA: South Africa v England

A wedding invitation pulled me back to the USA before the Final.

I paid my $20 and crowded into the rich rugby atmosphere of Finn McCool’s to watch South Africa kick 5 penalties to England’s 2 to win the world cup. Certainly the best team won, but the complaints about how poor the match was will go on – and on. The day before Argentina and France put on a fantastic match. No one seemed to have told the players that nobody cared who came in 3rd place. There were only a handful of us in Finn McCool’s to witness this marvelous moment when Argentina vaulted over France into rugby’s first tier beating them twice during the world cup held in France.

My prediction of French victory and 2 USA victories proved delusional. The French did manage the impressive feat of beating the All Blacks and the Eagles came within a whisker of  beating Samoa. Personally the experience was “Fantastique”! I’ve already started planning for 2011 in New Zealand.