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NorCal Rugby Stalwart Ben Parker Dies

Int'l News

NorCal Rugby Stalwart Ben Parker Dies

Ben Parker, who was a stalwart in the Sacramento rugby scene and one of the most vocal advocates for serious governance of the game, has died.

Originally from New Zealand, Parker often clashed with others within the game because he was such a stickler for following the by-laws and rules, but he did so always from a belief that the game belonged to the many, not the few. Parker was an innovator (coming up with a quick-deploy and cleanup way to showcase sponsor signs and rope off a field at the same time was one of his), and a dedicated coach of his beloeved Sacramento Blackhawks.

Parker also managed the Sacramento team in the single-season PRO Rugby competition. It was Parker who realized that many of the players at Sacramento were struggling to make ends meet, and who then worked a deal with the team's caterer to serve players two breakfasts instead of one lunch, all for the same price. That decision was typical Parker - practice, good-hearted, and, in the end, controversial. The decision led PRO Rugby CEO Doug Shoninger to refuse to pay the caterer, Plates2Go.

The caterer was a non-profit that used its business to help homeless families get back on their feet. The incident was a PR nightmare for Shoninger, and the fight for Plates2Go (who got their bills paid by the rugby community) showcased once again how Parker stood proud for what he believed in.

Parker was a massive supporter of rugby in schools and among the youth ... 

... and he never tired of it. Whether he was talking to national team players or All Blacks, or teaching middle-school kids, whether he was calling union officers on the carpet or sharing a joke in the bar after a game, he was the same - he loved rugby. 

Ben Parker died Christmas Eve. Memorial service plans are still underway.