Excitement Builds for Texas Rugby’s 2024 Hall of Fame and Awards Night

The TRU rugby community is set to come together on August 24 in Austin to celebrate the Hall of Fame Class of 2024, present the prestigious Alan Sharpley Award for visionary leadership, and honor the 2001 Baylor University Rugby team for their USA Rugby Men’s Division 2 Collegiate National Championship win.

Hall of Fame Inductees:

Scott Green: A national panel referee who has been a fixture in Major League Rugby from its inception, officiating the first two MLR championship matches and the 2017 National Club Championship. Scott, a New Zealand native, also played for the Austin Huns and Austin RFC. As a former chair of the Texas Rugby Referees Association, he revamped many referee development programs while continuing to referee and coach across Texas.

Michelle Persica: A capped USA Eagle known for her speed and tackling, Michelle toured with the national team to New Zealand and Canada. She starred for the Austin Valkyries, Little Rock, and the Atlantis 7s squad. Her coaching career includes roles with the Valkyries, Lonestar men’s club, and Western USA Select Side.

Mike “Panama” Mazzerole: Known for his time with the Houston Old Boys, Mike also played for Stephen F. Austin University, HARC, and internationally in Panama. He coached numerous Texas teams at various levels, including the Spartans program in Houston. His playing career includes appearances for the Canal Zone All Stars, Texas junior and senior Select Sides, and the Western USA All Stars.

Traci (Schmidtke) Young: Her rugby journey is a rich tapestry of playing, coaching, refereeing, and being a tireless administrator.  She is a former co-captain and assistant coach of the Austin Valkyries after serving as president of the Texas A&M women’s team.   Her playing chops include being a member and often captain of numerous select sides, including the TRU, Western, and USA U-23s sides, and a member of the TRU and Western RFU senior select side. Her playing experience served her well as a coach at the collegiate, club and select side levels and as a referee.  She has also held leadership roles as a member of the TRU Board, collegiate conference commissioner, Chair of the referee society, and World Rugby Educator. Currently, her rugby expertise has led her to event management for the TRU annual summit and Hall of Fame.

Alan Sharpley Award:

This year, the Alan Sharpley Award for visionary leadership honors the original shareholders, we’re calling them the ‘Burr Field OGs’ who funded and built Texas’s first club-owned rugby facility, Burr Field. Their dedication turned a flood plain into an iconic rugby touchstone, with many shareholders donating their stakes back to the club.

Honoring Baylor University:

Each year, the HOF banquet revisits TRU rugby history, celebrating significant achievements. This year, the spotlight is on the 2001 Baylor University team, which won the USA Rugby Men’s Division 2 Collegiate National Championship. Members of that squad will be honored, along with alumni and supporters from other years.

Hall of Fame Banquet Celebration

The 2024 HOF Banquet on August 24 will coincide with the annual three-day TRU Summit Conference on the Game at the same location. You can learn more about the HOF Banquet Celebration here and purchase single tickets and discounted tables here. Discounted rooms at the Hilton are available here, and you can purchase various TRU and HOF merchandise here.

Texas Rugby Hall of Fame Announces 2024 Inductees

The Texas Rugby Hall of Fame is excited to announce the induction of four remarkable new members for 2024! Stay tuned for more details, but mark your calendars for the Hall of Fame Celebration on August 24 at the historic Austin Airport Hilton in Austin, TX.

The inductees this year are:

  • Scott Green
  • Mike “Panama” Mazzerole
  • Michelle Persica
  • Traci (Schmidtke) Young

This year’s group is not only exceptionally strong but also historic, as it includes two women, making this the second class where women constitute half the inductees. The first such instance was back in 2020.

2024 HOF Nominations are OPEN – Due by April 1

Nominations for the Texas Rugby Union Hall of Fame Class of 2024 are now being accepted through March 15 April 1. Please fill out the nomination form below as directed. 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 (e.g. player, coach, referee, admin, etc.).
  • Visibility (recognition on the national, International, regional stage).
  • Skill, achievement as a player.
  • Leadership in some or all of 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 TRU 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 TRU rugby or the sport overall at higher levels?
  • In general, have you demonstrated that your candidate has made a significant contribution to the TRU, not just a particular club, or that he/she has achieved prominence on a broader stage while representing our Union? 

The narrative segment of the nomination form provides you with the opportunity to comprehensively convey to voters why your candidate deserves their support. Take advantage of this space to present a detailed and compelling case, going beyond just a few sentences.

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.

About the TRU Hall of Fame

The Texas Rugby Union Hall of Fame stands as a testament to the rich historical journey and the clubs that have been the backbone of rugby in our region. Since its inception in 2016, we’ve celebrated 10 distinguished nominees in our inaugural year, marking the beginning of a tradition to honor outstanding individuals annually.

HOF Ceremony Weekend: Important Hotel Details and Arrival Instructions

We’re absolutely thrilled about the upcoming HOF Ceremony this weekend and can hardly wait to welcome all 270 attendees! This marks our largest gathering yet, and we’re truly excited. We want to take a moment to provide some special details regarding the hotel arrangements for your convenience.

Set to take place on Saturday, August 26, in Fort Worth, TX, the induction of the 2023 TRU Hall of Fame Class promises to be a momentous occasion. The event will be hosted at the prestigious Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel.

Upon Your Arrival at the Hotel:
For all Summit and HOF guests, please access the hotel through the BACK entrance along Calhoun St. There’s a designated parking lot (as shown in the picture) available for us to use, and the best part is that it’s entirely FREE of charge. While the parking lot can accommodate around 100 vehicles, be sure to keep in mind that space is limited. However, the good news is that all street parking, including metered parking, is also FREE during weekends. Upon entering through the back, you’ll find elevators and a generously-sized staircase leading to the 2nd floor, where all the events will unfold. If you’re planning to check in at the hotel, just continue past the staircase and take a left to reach the check-in desk.

If you happen to have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to ensure that your experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible!

Introducing the Class of 2023: Texas Rugby Hall of Fame’s Outstanding New Members

The Texas Rugby Hall of Fame has elected five outstanding new members.   Making up the Class of 2023 are Suzanne Cobarruvias of Houston; David Dodge of Dallas, Larry Gallego of San Antonio; Greg “Guido” Goodman of Dallas (Harlequins); and the late Mark Anthony of Texas A&M.

Several additional honors were announced, including the recipient of the HOF’s highest honor, The Alan Sharpley Award, which this year goes to Bob Latham of Dallas.

Singled out for the prestigious Distinguished Service Awards are Bob Macnab of Dallas (college); John Via of Fort Worth/Houston (club); and the late father/son duo, Nick and Mike Marketos of Plano (HS/youth).  The 2000 Fort Worth Rugby Club, winners of the national D-II championship, will be this year’s Honor Team.

The Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony will be held at the Fort Worth-Downtown Sheraton on August 26, in conjunction with the TRU Annual Conference and AGM.  Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets and reserve rooms ASAP.

Also, don’t miss the opportunity to showcase your HOF pride with our exclusive merchandise offerings. Additionally, HOF members can also discover a wider range of TRU merchandise available at our online shop. To ensure delivery by the HOF banquet, please place all merchandise orders by July 15.

2023 HOF Class

Mark Anthony was one of the most revered players — on and off the pitch — in A&M history, partly owing to his joining the fledgling team in 1969 as a young cadet from Monahans.  He would go on to lead the team in its epic defeat of LSU in 1974 in what was billed as the   national championship game even before USA Rugby was created.  Mark led the team to an additional five TRU titles.  Along the way he was a perennial TRU All Star, as well as stalwart on the Western USA Select Side.  He also was a member of the Houston Heathens.  Above all, Mark was known as a true gentleman leader and a gifted singer.  Sadly, he passed away in 2021.

Suzanne Cobarruvias began her playing career as one of the first members of the Texas A&M women’s club before becoming a founding member of the Houston Heathen Hearts.  She was a Texas Select Side hooker, and was one of the first female referees in Texas.  Suzanne was a Western RFU selector for five years, and was the Program Director for the USA Women’s National Team from 1992-1998, in addition to serving as the Manager of the first 7s national team to play in Hong Kong.

David Dodge of the Dallas RFC currently serves as treasurer for the USA Club Rugby Association and has a long resume as a player, coach and tireless administrator of the game, taking on many thankless roles to advance the game.  These include serving on national committees overseeing financial auditing, risk analysis, insurance for players, eligibility, competitions, and more.  In Texas, he serves as the D-1 representative on the TRU Board.  At the club level, he is the president of the Dallas Reds, played at all levels of the club, and has coached the second side.  He began his playing career with the Cadillac Rugby Club of Macon, Georgia.

Larry Gallego is a San Antonio RFC legend, or as the Express News once wrote “the SARFC’s answer to Dr. J.”  That happens when you drop-kick in double overtime to win the State Championship (1976).  His All Star credits include playing for the TRU and Western USA Select Sides.  Larry also helped build the state union, serving as secretary/treasurer in the 1970s. 

Greg “Guido” Goodman of the Dallas Harlequins is USA Eagle #213.  He started playing with the Southwest Texas Renegades in 1983 before becoming Captain of the Dallas Reds prior to joining the ‘Quins where he captained a side that went to three USA Final Fours.  He was a Western RFU All Star for a decade, and captain for all four of the West’s  National Territorial Championships, where he was MVP in 1992. He also captained the TRU Select Side, and was previously a TRU collegiate All Star.  His coaching stints include Rice University and Kent State.  Greg is currently coaching his son’s youth rugby club.

Alan Sharpley Memorial Award

Bob LathamRobert P. “Bob” Latham embodies the spirit of The Alan Sharpley Award, which was created to recognize those with Texas connections who have made extraordinary and unique contributions to rugby.  Just as Alan spearheaded a coalition to buy and develop Austin’s Burr Field, the first rugby complex in the state, Bob achieved many “firsts” of his own.  And like Alan, Bob has devoted practically his entire adult life to moving the game forward.  His impressive and too long resume includes serving as Chairman of USA Rugby, and he is completing his final term as the first American to serve on the Executive Board of World Rugby as arguably one of the top 4-5 leaders of the international game.  A former tennis player, Bob migrated to rugby at Stanford University and continued to play while at the University of Virginia School of Law.  Upon moving to Dallas, he soon became a fixture with the Harlequins, serving as president, and he also served on the Western USA Board.  Ultimately, It was Bob’s leadership that gained USA Rugby membership in the US Olympic Committee, and he was a driving force globally in getting 7s Rugby into the Olympics, leveraging the contacts he developed over many years of leadership in both world rugby and the Olympic movement. 

Distinguished Service Awards

John Via has been selected to receive the Distinguished Service Award after being a steward of the game for over four decades in several regions of the country, although he is most associated with the Fort Worth Rugby Club, where he was President when the team won the national D-II title.  He also played club rugby in California, Pennsylvania and elsewhere as a handy back rower.  John’s expertise and steady hand was vital to the Western RFU when he served as treasurer during a particularly challenging time.  It was this same type of professionalism he brought to his other administrative roles with the Texas Select Side.

Bob Macnab already has a rugby field named in his honor, such was the impact he had as the long time coach of the University of Dallas.  His playing career was spent in England,  Holland and Scotland before he joined the famous London Scottish RFC.  Upon moving to Dallas, he played for the Old Hat and toured internationally with the Texas XXXs before becoming “just” a coach for the fledgling University of Dallas for the next 32 years. In his rugby retirement, Bob established the Groundhog Rugby Alumni Association with a mission of supporting youth rugby nationwide.

The Marketos Family embody the term “legacy” as it relates to youth and high school rugby in Texas.  That legacy began in 2000 when the patriarch, Nick, who brought his passion from Zimbabwe, started a rag-tag high school team that would become the vaunted Plano Rugby Club.  In 2005, the program was expanded to include youth teams from kindergarten through 8th grade, including girls.  With the help of his fellow founders and coaches, the program introduced the game to thousands of youths.  After being named Chairman Emeritus, Nick passed away in 2017. His son, Mike, who played collegiately at A&M, carried on in the tradition of service to the game, becoming club President until his own untimely passing at age 50 earlier this year.  Nick’s son Pete was a fine player for Rice University, and his granddaughter (Mike’s daughter), Elena suited up for the Plano youth team.  The definition of legacy. 

Honor Team

2000 Fort Worth Rugby Club, winners of the USA Rugby XVs National DII championship

SAVE THE DATE: 2023 HOF – August 26

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 26.

Nominations are being accepted and should be submitted using the instructions found here.

2023 HOF Nominations are OPEN – Due by April 15

The Texas Rugby Hall of Fame is now accepting nominations for its Class of 2023.  Please follow the link below by April 15.  In the narrative section, please be as complete as possible and detail the experience of your nominee.  The new class will be inducted at the TRU annual conference in Fort Worth on August 26.
 
The HOF selection process is very dependent on the nominations process to provide a good cross section of the game and representative of all eras.  All clubs and individuals are encouraged to participate.  If you’ve ever wondered why so-and-so is not in the HOF, there’s a good chance they have never been nominated. We appreciate your help in making sure the Class of 2023 will be another outstanding group and a credit to the TRU.  

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.