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.

TRU Announces HOF Class of 2019

Outstanding players, coaches, administrators, TRU pioneers, or those with a mix of all these traits make up the Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

The late Ryche Parker was the driving force behind the storied state champions Houston Heathens of the late 70s and was perhaps one to the toughest players ever to take the field in Texas or anywhere.  He captained the Western RFU selects, was a fixture on the TRU select side, was a trialist for the USA national team and played on several other all-star sides.  In addition to leading the Heathens, he also played for the Houston RFC and English sides Northampton, Kettering and Midland Counties.  His life was tragically cut short in 1980, but his tenacity on the field will not be forgotten.

David McPhail served the TRU as president for seven years and guided it through massive changes during a period of great growth.  He also was a long-time member of the Western RFU Board of Directors and served on the USA Rugby Congress and as a Board Member of Rugby Texas.  He frequently held leadership roles in these and other rugby organizations, mostly as Treasurer.  He began his playing career at Southwest Texas State (making the TRU Collegiate Selects) before moving on to Austin RFC, and then to Houston RFC where he was instrumental in the transition during its merger with the Old Boys to create HARC.  He has made a major mark in 7s, serving as the Western RFU Sevens Program Director for many years, and as a manager of the fabled Atlantis 7s side.  He has also refereed and served as a coach. 

Krista McFarren helped the USA win the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and as an Eagle has been capped numerous times, representing the USA in both 15s and 7s all over the globe and at three World Cups.  While living in San Antonio before women’s rugby in Texas took off, she was a long distance commuter playing for the New Orleans Half Moons which played in Texas leagues at the time.  She holds a Level 200 coaching certificate and served as an assistant coach on the USA Eagles staff and has served in several administrative roles on the national level.

Michael Engelbrecht has made his mark as a player and a coach. Michael was a key player for the dominant team of his era, the Dallas Harlequins, was a Texas and West All Star, and also played multiple times for the Classic Eagles competing in the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda. Retired from playing, Michael poured time and energy back into the game through continued development as a coach. Michael’s coaching credits include numerous USA High School All American and USA U-20s national team sides, the Dallas Harlequins, TRU Collegiate and High School All Stars, WRFU Selects and is currently the coach at the University of North Texas and defensive coach for the USA U20 national team.  Michael is a founding member of the highly regarded Eagle Impact Rugby Academy with a mission to “identify and develop the best young rugby players in America”.

Ralph Corry defines the term “TRU Pioneer.”  For over a decade, Ralph served as the Union’s secretary or treasurer (sometimes at the same time) during a period when the union had only two officers and keeping up with every team in the state pre-internet was an arduous task.  He served with no less than five TRU presidents, providing the consistency, oversight and leadership the young Union required to survive.  Ralph began his playing career in 1973 with the old Sportspage RFC before moving to the Houston Old Boys and then to what would become his “home” club, the Houston Strikers. 

In addition to these new members, the 1984 Dallas Harlequins will honored at the Hall of Fame induction banquet late this summer (details to be announced very soon).  The 84 ‘Quins were the first team from Texas to win a national championship and were the dominant club in Texas during this era.

We welcome all of these outstanding additions to the Hall of Fame.  Congratulations!

TRU Announces HOF Class of 2018

The Texas Rugby Union Hall of Fame will welcome nine new members to its ranks at its August 25 induction banquet in Houston.  Those selected are a good mix of great players, administrators, referees, pioneers and the first Father/Son inductees.  After an intense review period, development of the final ballot from those nominated, spirited discussion and very tight voting from top to bottom, the Class of 2018 members elected are:

Ed Brown, Houston Rugby Club, TRU Selects (Captain), Western USA Selects, former Rice coach, currently a coach at Cy-Fair HS.

Mike Geach, former player/coach in Houston and Dallas, USA “A” Panel referee, USA and Texas referee association leader, and national referee evaluator.

La Thaddeus Hill, Sr., Fort Worth RFC, Dallas RFC, over sixty USA 7s caps, Texas and Western USA Selects (7s and XVs), USA Defensive 7s Player of the Year, 1995.

Andrew Locke, St. Thomas HS, West Point.  USA U-19s (World Cup), Collegiate All American, USA All Military (player and coach), USA 7s and XVs player pool, USA 7s ass’t coach, Assistant USA Women’s Team coach at Rio Olympics.

Lowell Locke, Houston Old Boys Rugby Club, TRU President (six years), founder of Houston area junior high program, coach at St. Ambrose Middle School, assistant at St. Thomas HS, coach at Westside HS, coach and program director at St. Pius X HS.

Dr. Julia “Jules” McCoy, two-time USA Women’s 7s Head Coach (Rugby World Cup medalists), coach of Little Rock RFC men’s and women’s programs (7s and XVs), founder of ARPTC national championship 7s team.  Noted neurosurgeon.

Kirk Tate, Austin Huns RFC, Austin RFC, current TRU president.  Coaching stints at UT, San Marcos, and just named coach of St. Edwards University.

Bill “Dynamo” Taute, Austin RFC (president), Texas A&M, Houston Old Boys RFC.  Western USA Selects (five years), TRU Selects (10 years), youth coach.  Won gold medal with USA at 1985 World Maccabiah games (Man of the Match against South Africa in final, Team USA MVP).

Ron Watson, Dallas Harlequins, Fort Worth RFC, Hawaii Harlequins, President of Hawaii RFU, Weatherford HS (National Champions), long time TRU officer.  Member of the USA Rugby Congress.

In addition to these inductees, the other outstanding candidates on the final ballot were Bob Fleet (SFA, deceased), Nick Marketos (Plano, deceased), Stewart Morris (Houston), Ryche Parker (Houston Heathens, deceased), and Brett Taylor (Dallas Harlequins). The Hall of Fame voters would like to thank all the nominators, candidates and supporters of each person nominated this year (including those not named above).

The current members of the Hall of Fame are: Gandolf Burrus, David Chambers, Chris Chefchis, Chuck Erhardt (deceased), Lee Garner (deceased), Dave Jenkins, Jeff Kolberg, Robert Latham, Paul Mabry, Tracy Moens, Al Niece, Ian Nixon, Richard Prim, Carlos Puentes, Alan Sharpley, Nelson Spencer, Gail Borden Tennant, Jim Wolfinger, Bill Woodfin, and Barry Waite.