HOF Guest Speaker – Danny Barrett

Danny Barrett

We’re ecstatic to announce that Olympian and Houston SaberCat star Danny Barrett will be the guest speaker at this year’s banquet. With a little under two weeks until we celebrate our 2022 nominees, Distinguished Service Awards and the 2001 Woodlands DII National Champions, Danny’s addition couldn’t come at a better time.

Grab your tickets and we’ll see you there!

Announcing Distinguished Service Awards and the inaugural Alan Sharpley Memorial Award – 2022 HOF Banquet

This year’s TRU Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Houston on August 27 will feature for the first time the awarding Distinguished Service Awards and the inaugural Alan Sharpley Memorial Award
 
Beloved leader of the former Houston RFC Jim Cornelius, a former TRU VP, has been selected in the Club category.  Texas A&M coaching pioneer Roger Boos will be honored with the Collegiate DSA. Rick Marshall, the first president of Rugby Texas and a long time leader of the Katy Barbarians program, was selected in the HS/Youth category.
As previously announced, the 2001 Woodlands RFC XV will serve as this year’s Honor Team in recognition of its National D-II Championship; also previously announced were the selections of Gerry Acuna, Keith Engelbrecht and Meredith Ottens as the Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
 
A highlight of the awards banquet will be the first ever presentation of the Sharpley Award.  This unique honor will be given to an individual or group that has built on the legacy that Alan left in multiple ways, from his leading a group that developed the first club-owned rugby complex in Texas, to his service as a state and national leader, and even his example of having achieved notable professional success while maintaining lifelong ties to rugby in Texas.  And of course, he was a member of the inaugural HOF Class of 2016.  Alan passed away last Fall.
 
The first recipient of The Sharpley is the Houston SaberCats organization and its founders, former rugby players and principal owners Mike Loya and Marty Power, as well as co-founder Jeremy Turner.  The SaberCats have created for their organization and the local rugby community a terrific three-plus field complex and gym, including a professional stadium, the only purpose-built facility of its kind in the country.  Like the original Austin group, the partnership group dug deep into their own pockets to provide Houston and Texas a $15 million+ facility.  By hosting international events and serving as a home to a professional franchise, a new D-1 club side and youth teams among many other uses, the complex has raised the profile of rugby throughout the state and beyond.  As charter members of Major League Rugby, the organization is leading the way in raising the level of play in the USA to an elite level.  Congratulations to the entire SaberCats organization, including, President JT Onyett and his staff, and all the new award winners.  
 
If you have not already made your reservation for the banquet in Houston on Aug. 27, don’t delay.  A large number of supporters should be in attendance to cheer on the honorees and a sellout is likely.  Follow this link to secure tickets and hotel reservations.

TRU Announces HOF Class of 2022

2022 TRU HOF Class

A legendary women’s national team player, a former Texas Rugby Union president, and a Dallas Harlequins stalwart comprise the TRU Hall of Fame Class of 2022 that will be inducted at the Union’s annual banquet in Houston, August 27.

Meredith OttensMeredith Ottens of the Austin Valkyries earned 30 caps and represented her country at three World Cups. She captained both the Western and Midwest USA All Star teams, and captained the Austin Valkyries for seven years after having previously done so for her club in Minnesota. She served Austin as a coach, including head coach, for a decade. She was named national Forward Of The Year by Goff on Rugby in 2003, and was named tighthead prop of the decade by Rugby Magazine for the 2000s. Other career highlights include coaching a high school girls team, and conducting clinics at all age levels across the country.

Gerry AcunaGerry Acuna is one of five excellent rugby playing brothers, but he earned his HOF chops as President of the Texas Rugby Union, leading it through four challenging years while also serving on the Board of the Western USA Rugby Union. He started with Corpus Christi RFC while still in HS and became a leader of the Austin Huns before and after attending UT. Gerry is an original member of the Huns Hall of Fame and led the effort to host the 1996 USA Rugby National D-I and D-II National Championships, the first in Texas.

Keith EngelbrechtBesides having been an excellent player, Keith Engelbrecht is well regarded as a founder of the USA Super League, the first true cross country elite club competition that was the forerunner of the professional leagues that followed. He was a fixture on the Dallas Harlequins First XV for a decade, often serving as the game day captain during a run that saw the club win ten TRU Championships. Keith also was also a TRU All Star player, winning six Western USA titles. Administratively, he served as President of the Quins, TRU Treasurer, and as a Board Member of the USA Rugby Foundation. He is the brother of Michael Engelbrecht, a 2019 Hall of Fame inductee.

Woodlands RFC - 2001 USA Rugby Men's National Champions
Woodlands RFC – 2001 USA Rugby Men’s XVs National Champions

The awards dinner will also recognize The Woodlands RFC 2001 National D-II Championship side as this year’s Honor Team. An exciting new addition to the program will be the presentation of the first ever Hall of Fame Meritorious Service Awards in the Club, Collegiate and High School/Youth categories. The highlight of this portion of the program will be the naming of the inaugural recipient of the Alan Sharpley Memorial Award. Sharpley, a Texas rugby icon and a member of the first Hall of Fame Class in 2016, passed away in 2021.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be inducted at the TRU HOF and Awards Banquet on August 27 at the Doubletree-Greenway Hotel in Houston in conjunction with the annual TRU Summit conference

Reserve your hotel room for the weekend and purchase banquet tickets here: https://www.texasrugbyunionhof.com/2022-hof-celebration/.

The hotel room block is available a first come, first reserve basis and bookings must be made by August 12.

Please also note that ticket sales will close August 22.

2022 HOF Celebration – Aug 27

The annual Hall of Fame Banquet will take place this year in Houston, TX at the Hilton Hotel Houston – Greenway Plaza [MAP] on August 27. We will begin the evening with a social hour at 6:00PM, seating begins at 7:00PM and we will close the event at 11:00PM.

Guest Speaker
The guest speaker for the night is TBC.

Banquet Tickets
The TRU is excited to welcome everyone to the celebration and encourage you to get your tickets early! Tickets can be purchased online for $100 per person. Tickets are available until August 22.

Hotel Block
We have put together a block of rooms at a discounted rate, you must reserve by August 12.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Hall of Fame event, please contact HOFadmin@texasrugbyunion.com.

SAVE THE DATE: 2022 HOF – August 27

We will be celebrating the Hall of Fame, a year-long celebration of individuals whose lives or careers are inextricably woven into the fabric of our history on Saturday, August 27.

Nominations are being accepted and should be submitted using the instructions found here. Nominations are due by May 15.

2022 HOF Nominations are OPEN – Due by May 29

Nominations for the Texas Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2022 are now being accepted through May 19 29.  Please fill out the nomination form and return as directed.  Return the form only to the designated e-mail address.  Do not send nominations to an individual.

Successful candidates will substantially meet some or all of the following criteria.

  • Longevity of service
  • Diversity of roles and areas of service (player, coach, referee, administrator, supporter, etc.)
  • Visibility (recognition on a regional, national, international stage, bringing honor to Texas rugby).
  • Skill, achievement as a player.
  • Leadership in some or all the above categories.
  • Character; difficult to define, but easy to recognize.

Note: Candidates for whom achievement can be shown in multiple criteria will have the best chance of election. Candidates who check only one or two boxes should have outstanding credentials in those particular areas.

This is a TEXAS Hall of Fame and it is important to understand that while many worthy candidates have been incomparable leaders — even legends with a single club — successful candidates will be those who have a record of achievement at the state and higher levels. Clubs are encouraged to form their own Hall of Fame — as many have – to make sure all those deserving of recognition are honored. Please note that multiple nominations (several people nominating the same candidate) will not be accepted. In the event dual nominations are received, we will either put the nominators in touch with each other so they can submit a single nomination, or the most complete submission will be sent to voters. Submitting multiple nominations will not enhance chances for election.

When drafting the nomination, it will be helpful if you address several questions so that voters will have a complete picture of the candidate. These include:

Have you included the name of clubs played for and years of service and offices held in the club(s)?

Have you listed offices held at the state and other levels, or special recognition given to your nominee by a state organization and other levels of rugby? This would include other awards and honors in addition to positions of leadership.

If you are nominating primarily based on playing credentials, have you included select sides he/she was selected to, or highlighted other playing honors at the state, regional or national level? Similarly, if you are nominating a coach, referee, trainer, supporter, etc., have you included particularly noteworthy contributions to Texas rugby or the sport overall at higher levels?

In general, have you demonstrated that your candidate has made a significant contribution to Texas rugby, not just a particular club, or that he/she has achieved prominence on a broader stage while representing Texas?

The narrative section or the nomination form is your chance to fully explain to the voters why your candidate should be elected and should be more than just a few sentences.

We urge everyone considering a nomination to review these two example nominations.

We are here to help. If you have any questions about the selection process or submitting a nomination, contact Paul Mabry. If you need guidance on what to include in your narrative, either he can help or arrange for a HOF representative to reach out to you with assistance.

Thanks for your participation.

HOF COVID Update

The safety and wellbeing of all attendees is the TRU’s number one priority. Since the event will be hosting over 200 individuals who are elderly, possibly immunocompromised and children unable to be vaccinated, all attendees will be required to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test prior to the event. 

Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test should be sent to admin@texasrugbyunion.com no later than noon on Friday, November 5. Please note that the negative COVID test must not be administered prior to Tuesday, November 2. Be mindful that receiving test results can take several days, we urge you to schedule an appointment for testing to save time and confirm test availability prior to our event.

2021 HOF Celebration – Nov 6

Mark your calendars! After missing out on a 2020 event, the TRU is excited to announce the annual Hall of Fame Banquet. The TRU will induct the Classes of 2020 and 2021. The guest speaker for the night will be Jillion Potter, captain of the 2016 USA Women’s Olympic 7s team. The TRU is excited to welcome everyone to the celebration and encourage you to get your tickets early! Tickets can be purchased online for $75 per person or $650 per table. Tickets are available until Monday, October 25, 2021!

The banquet will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott Pflugerville Conference Center on Saturday, November 6th. We will begin the evening with a social hour at 6:00PM, seating begins at 7:00PM and we will close the event at 11:00PM. There is a discounted room block available until October 8th. Please reserve your room early.

2021 HOF Celebration

If you have any questions or concerns about the Hall of Fame event, please contact HOFadmin@texasrugbyunion.com.

TRU Announces HOF Class of 2021

The Texas Rugby Union Hall of Fame welcomes four outstanding contributors to the game as the Class of 2021: John Connolly, Scot Courtney, Bob Fleet, and Mary Graham.  The newest members will be inducted at the TRU annual conference tentatively scheduled for Nov. 6 in Austin, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the TRU.  

John Connolly has been a fixture on the local, state and national level since he moved to Houston in 1983.  He was an enthusiastic player and president of the Houston Old Boys, and remains active with its successor, the Houston Athletic Rugby Club (HARC).  He was instrumental in starting the program at Strake Jesuit High School where he served as an assistant coach.  He also served as an assistant coach at Rice University for nine years, and was the TRU Collegiate Secretary for seven years during which time he staged two National Collegiate Championships in Texas.  At the national level, he chaired the USA Eligibility Committee for four years, and was a leader in the staging of several USA Eagles matches in Houston.  John, a former referee, was a driving force behind the establishment of the Lost Afternoon Rugby Luncheon, and is a Board Member of the Houston Youth Rugby Association.  

Scot Courtney is a long term member of the TRU Board, and is a legendary member of the Southwest Texas/Texas State rugby program.  He currently serves as its Director of Rugby after beginning his career as a player in 1984, eventually becoming its captain and coach, earning All Star honors and playing on or coaching championship teams.  He is also a referee and played in Houston while attending law school.  On the TRU Board, he is known for his long and current service in the thankless role of Disciplinary Chair.  He has held a similar role in the Western USA RFU, and is member of the USA Collegiate Management Committee.  Additionally, he has been active at the youth/high school level in San Marcos and held key positions with Rugby Texas.  

The late Dr. Robert “Bob” Fleet is known as the Godfather of East Texas Rugby.  Following a stint playing for Texas A&M, Bob became a Professor of Forestry at Stephen F. Austin University in the early 70s and led the team as a player and/or coach over four-plus decades.  Besides planting the flag for Texas Rugby in Nacogdoches, Bob was a founder of the Eastern Counties Division of the TRU and fostered programs throughout all of Deep East Texas, ensuring that the TRU would not be a metro-centric organization.  Clubs from Shreveport to the Gulf Coast and in between benefitted from his leadership in the region, allowing players to earn All Star honors at the divisional, state and Western USA levels, while providing access to referees and coaching resources.  Bob even served as Coach and Head Selector of the All Star team.  Beyond coaching, he loved to play the game and took the field for a number of teams besides SFA, including Shreveport and Sam Houston.  He also helped grow the game as a referee, and through the hundreds of players he touched who have gone on to serve rugby throughout Texas.  

Mary Graham is another pioneer who was a leading figure in the establishment of several women’s All Star programs in Texas in the early 2000s during her time as Head Coach of the Rice women’s team and a player for HARC.  She also played for the Austin Valkyries.  Most notably, she created the U-23 program when All Star opportunities for women were limited, and then went on to serve in similar capacities at the Western USA level, including Assistant Coach of the Western U-19s.  Administratively, she served as the TRU Women’s Division Director before her career eventually took her to Colorado where she continued to have an important impact on the game.  

The Hall of Fame was created in 2016, and with the latest additions now has 45 members (including five deceased) representing the first 50 years of the organization.  The induction ceremony for the seven members of the Class of 2020 was canceled due to COVID, and these members will be formally inducted at the November banquet along with the Class of 2021. 

TRU Announces HOF Class of 2020

The Texas Rugby Union is proud to welcome its seven newest members to the Hall of Fame. The Class of 2020 represents a wide spectrum of contributors- players, coaches, administrators and pioneers.  In a first, two women were elected in the same year.  The Magnificent Seven are (in alphabetical order):

Robert Hays – Corpus Christi

Jennifer Joyce-Brewerton – Austin 

Joe Kelly – Arlington/Dallas

Rick Medina – Austin

Brett Taylor – Dallas Harlequins

Alex Ramirez – McAllen/Kingwood

Wendy Young – Austin (TRU, TRRA)

One of his club’s founders in 1974, Robert Hays IS Corpus Christi rugby; and remains very active today in addition to also being a player/leader of the Texas XXXs touring side.  The International Sevens By The Sea is a staple of Texas rugby, and he has refereed throughout Texas and helped form the A&M Corpus side, in addition to his work with youth rugby.  

Jen Joyce Brewerton is a capped Eagle, a former member of the USA Board of Directors, was a representative to the IRB and the USOC and served in various roles with the Western RFU including captain of the West Selects.  In addition to playing for and coaching the Austin Valkyries, she currently coaches the Four Points Youth Rugby 5-9 year olds.

As well known for his happy countenance as he is for his many contributions, Joe Kelly has been instrumental to the success of several clubs as a player, captain and coach in addition to being an outstanding player who for many years was a member of the Western USA 7s team and the TRU Selects.  He founded the UT-Arlington side and was a key part of the Dallas Reds.  He has been very active with high school rugby in North Texas, and served as the manager of the Texas Selects.  

Rick Medina is known for his fire and passion for the game as both a player for the Austin RFC and as coach of Lake Travis HS.  He played at Texas Tech, captained the Blacks, played for the Western USA Selects (15s and 7s), and captained the Texas Selects.  He has toured with the Atlantis 7s program, coached the Texas HS Selects, and even served as assistant coach of  Mexico’s National 7s side.

A prop on the 1984 National Champions Dallas Harlequins, Brett “Rosie” Taylor was the heart-and-sole of Texas’ first team to hoist the championship trophy.  A player for the Western USA Selects and a Junior Eagle, he captained and coached the team for several years and was a key contributor to 14 TRU titles, and four other teams that reached the national Final Four.  

If Texas rugby had a Pied Piper, it would be Alex Ramirez.  A former Mexico national team player who also coached several high profile programs there, his first Texas stop was with the Houston RFC before he was a founder, player and coach of the McAllen Knights.  He would move back to the Houston area many years later where he enjoyed great success as coach of the Kingwood HS program and founded the Kingwood Crusaders men’s side before returning to the Valley where he works with the women’s side.

Wendy Young is not only the glue that holds the TRU, the RRRC, and the TRRA together as a professional administrator, but she is a great rugby player, coach and referee.  A former scrum half for the Austin Valkyries, she played on the TRU select side and coached the 7s team.  In 2018, she was named USA Rugby’s Female Referee Coach of the Year.  She is the founder of one of the first women’s rugby-focused internet blogs, Your Scrumhalf Connection.