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

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