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USRFF Announces US Rugby Hall of Fame Class

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USRFF Announces US Rugby Hall of Fame Class

Two new hall-of-famers in this photo. Emil Signes, the godfather of women's 7s rugby, back row, far left, and Patty Jersey, all-time women's Eagles record-holder, front row, 4th from left, holding the ball.

San Diego, CA (March 10, 2015) –The United States Rugby Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 inductees into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame:

Tom Billups 
Ed Burlingham
Bill Fraumann
Patty Jervey
Jeff Lombard
Don Morrison
Mickey Ording
Dick Poulson
Mike Purcell
Rudy Scholz
Emil Signes
Bob Watkins 

The 12 members of the Class of 2015 were elected by the USRF Board of Trustees after receiving recommendations from a Selection Committee composed of USRF Directors and Trustees who examined and reviewed a record number of nominations. Like those previously inducted, the Class of 2015 is comprised of individuals who have made their mark in United States rugby. They will be inducted at the USRF’s Hall of Fame Dinner which will be held in conjunction with an Eagles game and determined when the Eagles 2015 schedule is announced. 

The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2015:

Tom Billups
Tom Billups
Tom Billups observes the USA Men's National rugby team in training during the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The training session was held in Bowral, NSW, Australia. Billups was the head coach of the team. Alex Goff photo.

Tom Billups, former U.S. international player and head coach,  is completing his 16th season as coach at the University of California, whose Golden Bears have won 10 national collegiate championships in 15s and two national 7s titles since Billups joined the program in 2000. Billups was head coach of U.S. National Team from 2001-2006, which included the 2003 Rugby World Cup; head coach of the Collegiate All-American Team in 2001; and head coach of the U.S. National Sevens teams at the 2005 World Games in Germany. As a player, Billups made 44 international appearances on U.S. National Team in 15s, captaining the team for the 1998 season and playing at the 1999 Rugby World Cup; and 25 appearances as a player for the U.S. National Sevens team. He was a professional player for London Harlequins and Pontypridd, Wales.

Ed Burlingham played four years of college basketball at UC Irvine before starting his lifetime of rugby involvement in 1974 with Irvine Coast RFC in Newport Beach, CA. He won his first Eagles cap against the New Zealand All Blacks in 1980, one of the 14 caps he earned. He captained the Eagles nine times, including during the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987. Ed was named to the North American Barbarian team for their tour South Africa in 1982. He was an Assistant Coach of the 1991 U.S. Rugby World Cup team and has been on the National Technical Panel. He has been President and head coach of Back Bay RFC in his hometown of Newport Beach and involved in the formation of their successful youth program.

Bill Fraumann started playing rugby in the early 1970s while in law school after four years of college basketball at the University of Michigan. He played his club rugby with the Harvard Rugby Football Club, the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club and Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. Fraumann was a reserve for the first USA Eagles game against Australia in Long Beach in January 1976. He played #8 against France in the Eagles second game in June 1976 in Chicago. His two tries against the French were the first tries scored by the Eagles in the modern era. Bill played #8 in all six games of the Eagle’s first international tour to England in 1977, and was capped against an England XV at Twickenham in the final game of the tour. In 2000, Bill was named to Rugby Magazine’s All-Time U.S.A. rugby team at #8. He was the first active duty service member (U.S. Navy) to play on the Eagles.

Patty Jervey began her Hall of Fame career when she played for the University of South Carolina in 1983. From there she played for Florida State University and later, the Atlanta Harlequins, where, at 50 years old, she still continues to play on their top side. Patty was a member of the 1991 USA Women’s National Team that won the Rugby World Cup. She went on to play in the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 Rugby World Cups, the first woman to ever play in five RWCs. She earned 40 caps during her Eagles career. She scored an average of nearly a try a game as she finished her test career with 38 tries and still holds the international points record for the U.S. Women’s National Team with 178 points. In November 2014, Patty was one of six women, the first class of women, to be inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame by the International Rugby Board, now known as World Rugby.

Jeff Lombard was introduced to rugby at Western Washington State College in 1969 and won his first Eagles cap against Canada in 1977. Jeff won his second cap against an England XV at Twickenham in the final game of the Eagle 1977 England tour. In 1984, Jeff became the first U.S. Eagle player to manage the United States National Team. In 1987, He was the manager of the Eagles team that played in the inaugural Rugby World Cup. He served on the USA Rugby board of directors from 1984-1987. He managed Team America (today known as the Classic Eagles) for 20 years from 1988 to 2008. Jeff currently coaches with the men’s rugby program at Western Washington University.

Don Morrison was an outstanding referee at every level and was chosen to referee a number of international test matches as a USA Rugby International Referee (1981-1990). He refereed the politically controversial test match between USA and South Africa in 1981. Don has served as a match official performance reviewer for USA Rugby (1990-present), the International Rugby Board (1998-2007) and his local New England Rugby Union (1990-present). Don has also served as chairman of USA Rugby’s Referees and Laws Committee (1990-1998) and as chairman of Evaluation subcommittee of the USA Rugby Referees and Laws Committee (1990-2002). Don received the prestigious Denis Shanagher Award from the Referee & Laws Committee in 2000. USA Rugby established the Morrison Referee Development Fund in 2012.

Mickey Ording was an All-American guard for the University of Oregon football team in 1962. He also played rugby for the Ducks from 1960-62 and then went on to play for the Olympic Club and the XO Rugby Club, where he played until 1982. Mickey was selected to start at the tight-head prop against Australia in the United States’ first game of the modern era in Los Angeles on January 31, 1976. He would go on to play in three of the next four Eagles matches, including against an England XV on the 1977 Eagles tour to England. His last test was in a win against Canada in Baltimore in 1978. His career also included the U.S. Cougars tour of South Africa and Rhodesia in 1979.

Dick Poulson played loose head prop and second row for the Washington Rugby Club from 1966-1983, where he helped develop the club into one of the East’s powerhouses. He was a two-term club President and Match Secretary for Washington and was the co-founder of the old boy’s side, The Poltroons. Dick founded the Washington’s 7’s and annual Cherry Blossom Tournaments, the Baltimore-Washington Rugby Association and, later, the Potomac Rugby Union. He also founded the Potomac Referees Society. He was a Director/Treasurer of The Eastern Rugby Union and served on The ERU’s Executive Committee. Dick was also a Trustee and Chair of the United States Rugby Foundation for many years, guiding and shaping its mission of supporting amateur rugby, youth programs and referee certification programs.

Mike Purcell began playing rugby for the Newport Beach Sharks while in junior college in Huntington Beach, CA and then played for the Bay Area Touring Side (BATS). Mike won his first United States Eagles’ cap and scored his first international try against the Welsh Centenary XV in Long Beach, CA in May of 1980. He played on the first U.S. 7s team at the 1981 Hong Kong 7s Tournament and scored the first ever try for the USA 7s at that historic event. At the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup, Mike scored the Eagle’s first Rugby World Cup try in a match against Japan. Mike also scored a try in his last international game in the USA’s final game against England at the 1987 World Cup. In 1986, along with U.S. Eagle teammate Kevin Higgins, Mike was selected to play for a World XV team in Johannesburg, South Africa and played against Transvaal at Ellis Park. He scored a long range try in the first half of that game and the World XV were victorious 24-17. Mike is currently the head coach at UC Davis.

Rudy Scholz received his introduction to the sport of rugby in 1913, when as a high school senior enrolled in Santa Clara University’s college preparatory program, he became a member of the university’s varsity rugby team which played two matches against the touring New Zealand All Blacks. Rudy lettered in rugby, baseball and basketball all four years at Santa Clara. He was a member of both the 1920 and 1924 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning rugby teams. He coached San Francisco’s Olympic Club rugby team and played competitive rugby until the age of 47. He made on-the-pitch cameo appearances at the Monterey Rugby Tournament up to the age of 83.

Emil Signes has coached rugby since 1974, and in that time has coached club, college and high school rugby, men and women, boys and girls, 15s and 7s. He was the US National Men's Sevens coach from 1987 to 1990, and its manager from 1991 to 1993. He was a member of the USA Rugby Board of Directors and in 1988 put in charge of organizing sevens within the US. He formed the national women's sevens program and was the first national women's sevens coach, serving from 1996 to 2005. Between 7s and 15s, men and women, club and All-Star, his teams have won 14 national championships. In 1986, Emil founded Atlantis US Sevens Rugby. Between 1986-2014 Atlantis teams – men, women, boys, girls - fielded 219 squads at 148 tournaments in 31 different countries. Atlantis was one of the first 7s clubs to regularly tour with co-ed sides, and Emil - by means of initiating and organizing these tours, helped bring the men's and women's rugby communities together. He has championed, helped to inaugurate, and developed, international women’s sevens. Through these efforts he has been credited with being an integral part of setting the stage for rugby’s entry into the Olympics. Emil has coached more than 25 players that became US national level coaches as well as several that became coaches of other national teams.

Bob Watkins played rugby for San Diego State University, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club and the Southern California XV. He was a Founding Director of the U.S.A. Rugby Football Union and served as a Director of the USARFU from 1975-1991 and as President from 1983-1987 and 1989-1991. He has managed the U.S. Eagles against Canada, U.S.S.R., South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales and Hong Kong. Bob is also past President of the Pacific Coast and Southern California Rugby Football Unions. He served as the Chairman of the U.S. Rugby Super League in its first five years of existence and is the current Chairman of the U.S. Rugby Foundation.

Congratulations to the 12 members of the Class of 2015 who are joining the 26 who have already been inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. Nominees not selected will be re-submitted to selection committee next year.

This year the Chairman's Award is being presented to Bob Latham. This award recognizes and honors individuals who have had and continue to have a significant and lasting impact on the sport of rugby in the United States. Mr. Latham has served on the Board of Directors of USA Rugby since 1994. From 2000-2004, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Olympic Committee. Mr. Latham is a member of the World Rugby Council, the World Rugby Executive Committee and is Chairman of the World Rugby Regulations Committee. From 2009-2013, he served as President of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association. Mr. Latham began his rugby career at Stanford, continued playing during law school and played for 13 years for the Dallas Harlequins as well as for the Texas Select Side.  

In addition, the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame will present Lifetime Achievement Awards to Ram Eddings and Nelson Spencer. The U. S. Rugby Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize and honor individuals who have dedicated their life to the sport of rugby and whose service and commitment to rugby may have gone unrecognized.

Ram has been involved with rugby for 40 years as a player, coach, referee and administrator. He also founded the Grey Wolves, a team comprised of players of color from across the nation to play in tournaments and interact with inner city youth. Nelson is a true ambassador of the game having been developing rugby for the past 45 years. He founded the Dallas Harlequins RFC and co-founded the Texas Rugby Union, and founded, co-founded, and funded several other clubs, among his many contributions to the sport.

Recipients of the Chairman's Award and U.S. Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award will have their biographies and images housed in the Gallery of Honors section on the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame website.

The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame and its Foundation is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of U.S. Rugby; supporting the development of the game by funding programs for youth, high school and collegiate rugby; and individual player development programs.