History

The Texas Rugby Union began in 1967 at Baylor Medical when a few Navy men asked some medical students if they wanted to play a game of “rugby.” Below is a summary of the founding clubs and a few of our defining moments in our history.

We’ve broken each decade into a tab, please select the corresponding tab to view that history. As we gather more information and detail we will continue to update this timeline. If you have any documents, photos or details to add, please send those to admin@texasrugbyunion.com.

The First Decade - An Anecdotal History of the Texas Rugby Union by S.G.B. Tennant Jr.

For a more in depth look at the first 10 years, we suggest you review the “The First Decade – An anecdotal history of the Texas Rugby Union” by S.G.B. Tennant, Jr..

Tennant takes the reader through the foundational years of the TRU, chronicling the first clubs and administrators who started rugby in Texas.

1967

Rugby begins at Baylor Medical after some Navy shipmen asked Grover Bagby & Ralph Rucker who were medical students if they wanted to play a game of “rugby”. From there, as they say, the rest is history.

Baylor Medical (Baylor University of College Medicine) - 1967
Baylor Medical (Baylor University of College Medicine) – 1967

 

1968

In 1968, Dr. Grover Bagby, Dr. Ralph Rucker and friend Dr. William Woodfin started a rugby team at Baylor Medical. Shortly after, Dr. Larry Priano, Ken Long and a few others started a rival team at Galveston Medical. 

A third team was started in Austin by Al Hagan, Nat Davis, and P. Ordino from South Africa. 

Galveston Medical / UTMB - 1977
Galveston Medical / UTMB – 1977
Austin RFC – 1968
Austin RFC – 1968

 

1969

In the beginning there was lots of driving across Texas for matches and so new clubs began forming. South Africa Roger Boos started one at Texas A&M, Ira Gruber at Rice University, and Dr. William Woodfin started a second club along with Andy Csvenko started Dallas RFC. 

Houston got into the mix as well, Wayne Baxter, Jim Savage, Lee Garner and Gail Tennant formed the Houston Rugby Club. Houston held the first Lone Star Tournament in November 1969 and the Houston Rugby Club took home the first title.

After this, the teams got together to begin scheduling a season and realized they would be better off if they created a union. And thus the Texas Rugby Football Union was born. 

Houston Rugby Club 1969
Houston Rugby Club 1969

 

1969 Dallas RFC Constitution
1969 Dallas RFC Constitution

1970

Teams tripled in 1970, including the formation of the Dallas Harlequins by Nelson Spencer. Nelson was also instrumental in  the effort of creating the United States Rugby Union. 

Nelson Letter 1970
Nelson Spencer letter in 1970 requesting admittance of a new club, the Harlequins Rugby Football Club of Dallas.
Austin Invitational Tournament 1971
Austin Invitational Tournament 1971
Austin Golds Rugby 1971
Austin Golds 1971

Refereeing was becoming an issue during this time and the Texas Society of Rugby Referees was created by Dr. Ira Gruber, Roger Boos, Wayne Baxter, Tony Ivan-Smith, J.A. McDonald and Frank Van Lear.

The Society of Texas Referee 1971
The Society of Texas Referee 1971

 

1971

1971 Harlequins
1971 Harlequins

 

1972

TRU Vice President Carlos Puentes introduced the Champagnat Tour, where Buenos Aires teams toured and played many of the clubs in the Union. These matches opened the eyes of the clubs and they understood they had much to learn about rugby.

Champagnat Tour 1972
Champagnat Tour 1972

TRU Directory 1972

 

1973

The TRU continued growing and was divided into 20 clubs:

Northern Countries:

Dallas RFC and Dallas Alpha RFC
Denton Lions RFC
Ft. Sill Gunners RFC
Ft. Worth RFC
Harlequins RFC
Wildebeeste R.C.C.

Midland Counties:
Austin RCFC Black and Gold
Kingsville RFC
Saint Edwards RFC
San Antonio RFC
Texas A&M RFC White and Maroon

Southern Counties:
Baylor University Medical School RFC
Galveston Medical
Houston RFC
Huntsville Volunteers (Sam Houston State Univ.) RFC
Old Boys RFC Gold and Blue
Rice University RFC
Sportspage

Western Counties:
El Paso RFC
Univ. of Texas of the Permian Basin (Odessa) RFC

This included the formation of the Union’s first women’s side, the Zulu Warriors RFC.

This year also boasted the first TRU men’s Select Side team who faced a visiting team from Nairobi, Kenya.

1973 TRU Select Side
1973 TRU Select Side

 

1973 Houston RFC
1973 Houston RFC

 

1973 Houston RFC - San Antonio 7s
1973 Houston RFC – San Antonio 7s

 

1974

The TRU continued showing their organizational strength as a Union and soon developed contacts with the Heart of America RFU and Eastern Rockies RFU. 

Gandolf Burrus - 1974 Zilker Park
Gandolf Burrus – 1974 Zilker Park

 

1974 Dallas RFC vs. Houston Old Boys
1974 Dallas RFC vs. Houston Old Boys

 

1974 Houston RFC
1974 Houston RFC

 

1975

Through the HOA and ERRFU contacts, the Western RFU was created and initially included the Beehive RFU, the Eastern Rockies RFU, the Rio Grande RFU and the Heart of American RFU.

Texas All Stars 1975
Texas All Stars 1975

Once this new regional union was created, the WRFU joined the Eastern RFU (Louisiana to Maine), Mid-West RFU and the Pacific RFU to complete the formation of the USA Rugby RFU. 

Gail Tennant and Nelson Spencer are considered founders of the USA RFU and were deeply involved in creating the first set of Bylaws. 

Formation of USARFU 1975
Formation of USARFU 1975
Letter to Rugby Enthusiasts in Texas 1975
Letter to Rugby Enthusiasts in Texas 1975

 

Galveston RFC 1975
Galveston RFC 1975

 

1975 Houston RFC
1975 Houston RFC

 

1976

Tennant became the first USA RFU Treasurer and represented Texas honorably for many years.

More teams formed this year including the Houston Heathens.

USA RFU also hosted their first international match in Long Beach, Florida and Texas’ first International caps were earned by Barry Walter (Houston Old Boys RFC) and Manus O’Donnell (Houston RFC).

1976 North Counties All Stars
1976 North Counties All Stars

 

1976 Gail Tennant at Rugby School in Warwickshire England
1976 Gail Tennant at Rugby School in Warwickshire England

 

1976 Barry White
1976 Barry White

 

1976 HARTs
1976 HARTs

 

1977

Tennant was named the first USARFU Chairman and traveled with the Eagles to England in 1997.

First USARFU Tour to England 1977
First USARFU Tour to England 1977

1978

Texas All Stars 1978
Texas All Stars 1978
Western USA Territorial Champions - 1978 | Texas Rugby Football Union XV
Western USA Territorial Champions – 1978 | Texas Rugby Football Union XV
1978 Houston Heathens
1978 Houston Heathens
1978 Houston Heathens - High Desert Classic Champions
1978 Houston Heathens – High Desert Classic Champions

1979

Galveston Women 1979
Galveston Women 1979
Paul Mabry Captains Mug 1979
Paul Mabry Captains Mug 1979
1979 Dallas RFC at ATM 7s
1979 Dallas RFC at ATM 7s
Houston Invitational Tournament 1979
Houston Invitational Tournament 1979

 

1979 HARTs vs Irish Touring Side
1979 HARTs vs Irish Touring Side
1979 ATM
1979 ATM

1980

Baylor Strikers RFC 1980 England Tour
Baylor Strikers RFC 1980 England Tour

 

1980 Baylor Strikers
1980 Baylor Strikers

 

Galveston Schedule 1980
Galveston Schedule 1980
Western RFU Directory 1980
Western RFU Directory 1980

 

1981

TRU Eastern Counties Championship 1981
TRU Eastern Counties Championship 1981
1981 Texas All Stars
1981 Texas All Stars

1982

Galveston Medical 1982
Galveston Medical 1982
Article in the Austin American Statesman 1982
Article in the Austin American Statesman 1982
1982 HARTs
1982 HARTs

1983

1983 Dallas Harlequins - National Championship Runner-ups
1983 Dallas Harlequins – National Championship Runner-ups

1984

1984 Dallas Harlequins - Rugby Magazine
1984 Dallas Harlequins – Rugby Magazine
1984 Dallas Harlequins National Championship Team
1984 Dallas Harlequins National Championship Team
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins - National Champions
1984 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions
1984 Houston RFC
1984 Houston RFC
1984 Houston RFC AGM
1984 Houston RFC AGM

1986

1986 University of Texas
1986 University of Texas

1987

1987 Kirk Tate & Grandad
1987 Kirk Tate & Grandad

1990

1990 Rugby Magazine - Rich Prim
1990 Rugby Magazine – Rich Prim
1990 Krista McFarren
1990 Krista McFarren

 

1991

1991 Krista McFarren - Inaugural Women's Rugby World Cup Winners
1991 Krista McFarren – Inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Winners
1991 Krista McFarren - Halfmoons
1991 Krista McFarren – Halfmoons
1991 Dallas Harlequins
1991 Dallas Harlequins – National Champions

1992

1992 Tracy Moens - Atlantis 7s
1992 Tracy Moens – Atlantis 7s

1992

1992 Dallas Harlequins
1992 Dallas Harlequins

1993

25th Annual Austin Tournament 1993
25th Annual Austin Tournament 1993

1994

1994 7s by the Sea
1994 7s by the Sea
1984 Harlequins vs Blacks
1984 Harlequins vs Blacks
1994 Dallas Harlequins
1994 Dallas Harlequins

1995

1995 Dallas Harlequins
1995 Dallas Harlequins

1996

1996 Mike Geach - Italy vs Australia
1996 Mike Geach – Italy vs Australia
1996 Dallas Harlequins
1996 Dallas Harlequins

1997

1997 Bill Taute - Maccabiah Gold Medal Team
1997 Bill Taute – Maccabiah Gold Medal Team
1997 Dallas Harlequins
1997 Dallas Harlequins

1998

1998 Kirk Tate Refereeing
1998 Kirk Tate Refereeing
1998 Michael Engelbrecht - DFW Sports Magazine
1998 Michael Engelbrecht – DFW Sports Magazine
1998 Mike Geach - Canada v Hong Kong
1998 Mike Geach – Canada v Hong Kong

1999

1999 Mike Geach at Hong Kong 7s
1999 Mike Geach at Hong Kong 7s

2000

2000 Rice University
2000 Rice University

 

2003

2003 Austin Huns
2003 Austin Huns

 

2004

2004 Kirk Tate and son
2004 Kirk Tate and son

 

2006

Austin Valkyries vs Denver Olde Girls 2006
Austin Valkyries vs Denver Olde Girls 2006
Texas Women's All Stars 2006
Texas Women’s All Stars 2006
Texas Women's U23 All Stars 2006
Texas Women’s U23 All Stars 2006

 

2009

2009 Julie McCoy
2009 Julie McCoy
Austin Valkyries 2009
Austin Valkyries 2009

 

2010

2010 Plaque in USA Rugby National Office
2010 Plaque in USA Rugby National Office

2014

Austin Huns vs NOLA 2014
Austin Huns vs NOLA 2014
Texas All Stars 2014
Texas All Stars 2014
Texas Women's All Stars 2014
Texas Women’s All Stars 2014
2014 Scott Green, Joey Swatzell & Kirk Tate
2014 Scott Green, Joey Swatzell & Kirk Tate

 

2015

2015 Nelson Spencer receives USA Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award
2015 Nelson Spencer receives USA Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award

2016

Tulsa vs Austin Valkyries 2016
Tulsa vs Austin Valkyries 2016
Austin Valkyries vs Little Rock 2016
Austin Valkyries vs Little Rock 2016
2016 Oklahoma vs Little Rock 7s
2016 Oklahoma vs Little Rock 7s
2016 Little Rock vs Air Force 7s
2016 Little Rock vs Air Force 7s
2016 Oklahoma vs Harlequins 7s
2016 Oklahoma vs Harlequins 7s
2016 TRU HOF Class
2016 TRU HOF Class

2017

2017 Ft Worth vs DARC
2017 Ft Worth vs DARC
2017 San Marcos Greys
2017 San Marcos Greys – RRRC DII Champions
2017 TRU HOF Class
2017 TRU HOF Class

2018

2018 Austin Blacks DIII
2018 Austin Blacks DIII – National Champions
2018 Bill Taute & Alan Sharpley
2018 Bill Taute & Alan Sharpley
2018 Austin Blacks vs Dallas Reds
2018 Austin Blacks vs Dallas Reds
2018 Austin Elite vs San Diego
2018 Austin Elite vs San Diego
2018 SHARCs vs Chicago
2018 SHARCs vs Chicago
2018 Houston SabreCats vs Glendale Raptors
2018 Houston SabreCats vs Glendale Raptors
2018 Dallas Reds 7s
2018 Dallas Reds 7s
2018 ARPTC 7s
2018 ARPTC 7s
2018 USA vs Scotland Tailgate
2018 USA vs Scotland Tailgate
2018 TRU HOF Class
2018 TRU HOF Class

2019

2019 Austin Blacks DIII - National Champions
2019 Austin Blacks DIII – National Champions
2019 Austin Valkyries - National Champions Runners-up
2019 Austin Valkyries – National Champions Runners-up

 

 

2019 Dallas Reds - RRRC 7s Champions
2019 Dallas Reds – RRRC 7s Champions

 

2019 ARPTC Blue and White - RRRC 7s Champions
2019 ARPTC Blue and White – RRRC 7s Champions

 

 

2019 TRU HOF Class
2019 TRU HOF Class

The future!