Editor Note: In the fall season of 2014 the LSU rugby team was suspended. Several players lost an opportunity to compete for a national championship in their senior year. The purported cause of the suspension was students of legal age drinking at a post match party. This violates university policy for university sanctioned athletic trips. The purpose of publishing Andy Pharr’s account of an LSU rugby trip is not to condone the activities described, but (in accord with a goal of this publication to preserve the history of rugby in the region) present a record of university reaction to student high jinks while on an athletic trip in the 1970s.
By Andy “Phar Lap” Short
In November 1971 we went up to Washington DC to compete in a seven aside comp. We had three vehicles, one driven by Bill McCloud with a bunch of guys who have never been out of the state. The other was a Uni station wagon with LSU logos on the side. Chris Simpson also had a car. McCloud’s car had a big sign “Washington or Bust” stuck across the back. They were as keen as mustard and when we left would race ahead.
However, in those days the Interstate system was incomplete and would terminate on country road. Well, McCloud and Company would race along the Interstate, but when it stopped, they would not know where to go. So, they would wait for us to catch up and follow us to the next section of interstate and off they would go again. When we finally got near Washington we told them to wait at the Lincoln Memorial. We finally arrived and found they had been driving round and around the Memorial for more than an hour waiting for us.
Pictured: Andy ‘Phar Lap” Short McCloud’s car getting ready to leave Baton Rouge. In photo (left to right) Clay MaCaffey, ?, Veron Wells (87), Lawrence Williams (kneeling) , Chris Simpson? (rear), Wandergem?, Jay McKenna, ?, Paul Jenkins, Boyd Morrison, Andy Short, Barry Haney, Bill McCloud (sitting), Gary Myers, ?.
The tournament was played in an area between the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. It was cold and wet and muddy on the field. We bombed out early. That night they had a party and award ceremony at the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Washington. The LSU team had been given purple and gold LSU tracksuits. So we all decided to wear these to the party. We arrived in those purple and gold tracksuits looking like a bunch of freaks from a circus and proceeded to act like a bunch of freaks.
Most of the other teams were Ivy League and quite smartly dressed in jackets, ties etc. with girlfriends to boot. Well, it didn’t take long for the LSU boys to make their mark. They had kegs of beer, which were rapidly consumed, the LSU crowd refusing to line up and jumping the queue. Then LSU’s “Baby Bull” (Vernon Wells – a big black player) decided he was cold and needed a new winter jacket. He went through the cloak room until he found one that fit.
Next, he and little Clay McCaffy did the Zulu Warrior dance where they take all their cloths off. You couldn’t see Wells through the crowd of co-ed’s wanting to be front row. During the award ceremony, we started flipping coins into the trophy, which didn’t go down well with the Ivy league crew.
Finally, we decided to pack down and charge the room using fake trees as a ram. Then someone started a fire alarm and the sprinklers started. People were riding the lifts up and down, and then the police and firemen arrived and we were all kicked out. I was taking a jug full of beer out with me when I slipped down the stairs smashing the jug. I ended up with just the handle in my hand. Once outside, we decided we had better find a bar. We went into the first one we found. It was awfully quiet for a bar. So I went up to the bar and ordered some beers. The barman started using sign language and we finally realised we were in a bar for deaf and dumb people. So then I resorted to sign language pretending to drink to order the beers. That worked.
Pictured: The LSU Sevens team & their colorful track suits at Lincoln Memorial
Next day, McCloud’s and Simpson’s cars loaded up and headed home and the rest of us in the limo (Rob Haswell, Jay McKenna, Prince Valiant (Lawrence Williams), Honeymoon (Bill Hamlin), McCloud and Paul Jenkins??) headed for New York. We wanted to watch the Wallabies who were going to play their first game ever in North America against an eastern All Star team at Downing Stadium on Staten Island. We stopped off at Arlington to see JFK’s grave. We stayed at McCloud’s aunt’s place. She was a child psychologist and lived alone in a big apartment that had kids’ toys all over the place. ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ a horror movie set in a similar apartment in New York, had just been released. So it was fairly creepy. We had a good time in NY. Went by the hotel where the Wallabies were playing and saw them in the lobby, rode the subway and got lost, went out to Staten Island and also went out to the Aqueduct racecourse with Rob being a big racing fan. He even picked a couple of winners, but we came out in the red. Then out to the stadium on the derelict Downing Island. it had a stand on one side and was a night game. It was cold with a cold wind blowing right down the pitch. The crowd of a 1000 or so huddled on the one stand. Richard Harris the movie actor was there. The first half was slow. Then the Wallabies woke up and ran away in the second half 23-3.
It was then the long 2200 km dive back to Baton Rouge. The day we got back I was called in by Campus Police about a reported mooning in a University vehicle, as had Rob and Jay. As it turns out, our University car had been reported for mooning an LSU Alumni on the Maryland Interstate (enroute to NY). The policeman in change, Luke McCoy, made the fatal mistake of interviewing Jay, Rob & I (separately) first. We then all met with the undergrads that night. So we had time to concoct a plausible story. We all stated that we had left the Seven’s tournament wet and cold and headed straight to NY and a couple of guys in the back had to get changed in the car, and possibly someone saw them changing as we drove along the interstate. We said we may have made a small ‘indiscretion’ that was interpreted as a moon. Well, did the cop get mad. He interviewed the three undergrads together while Rob, Jay and I waited outside. We could hear him screaming when one of then asked him to define a ‘moon’, a ‘pressed-ham’ and a ‘red-eye’. He finally kicked us all out in disgust at his failure to lay a conviction.
However, we still had to front the Dean of Men, a lovely old southern gentleman. He told us a story about how he had had a run-in with a southern cop and didn’t think highly of them. He then told us not to commit any more ‘indiscretions’ and sent us on our way.
Pictured: In New York: Rob Haswell, Jay McKenna, Paul Jenkins, Bill Hamlin & Bill McCloud
Pictured: Mooning was quite common on LSU road trips, especially when we had the University bus and a big back window. Rob or someone would call ‘Moon,’ especially if they saw someone or car on the road they didn’t like. Up would go the bums, usually three at a time. The call ‘technicolour moon’ meant one of the black guys had to be in the middle so you had white-black-white bums and moon.