Historic Photos

If you have any Rice Rugby related pictures from the past years that you would like to share, please send them to jfe2@rice.edu

2000: Nationals

posted Jul 16, 2012, 10:52 AM by Rice Rugby

Rice Rugby 2000 at USMA in West Point, NY. USA Rugby Division 1 College Round of 16.

The 2000 team was the first from Rice and the Texas Rugby Union to rank in the top 10 based on USA Rugbys ranking system. Lead by captain Steven Vaughan, coaches Eddie Brown, Tim Gorham, and John Connolly, the Rice team continued to improve through the season. After a disappointing 3rd place finish in the TRU, the 2000 team beat Colorado State University and crushed Texas A&M in back-to-back games to qualify for the Western Semifinals. The warm-up game against CSU was such a physical match that the Aggie coaches admitted they expected Rice to be too beat-up to be effective on the second day. While many players had bruises, cuts, sprains, and general soreness going into the A&M match, to a man they stepped up to prove that they were the best team in Texas. With the match slipping away, the Aggies frustrations built up and some of their players tried to shake the Owls resolve. The Aggies called for a scrum after Rice committed a penalty inside its own 22 and as the players were preparing to pack down, the Rice Assistant coaches shouted encouragement to the forwards that had been dominating the set pieces throughout the match: If they want a scrum; we ll give them a scrum! Sure enough, the undersized but better skilled Rice frontrow of Phil, Garrett, and Chucky pushed the Aggies back and Vaughan got the ball out cleanly to flyhalf Nickie Darling who laced a beauty of a kick from his own tryzone to the Aggies 40m where it bounced out of bounds. As Nickie was starting to chase his own kick, the frustrated openside flanker from A&M threw an elbow into Nicks eye opening up a cut that took at least 20 stitches to close. The resulting penalty gave Rice the ball in A&M territory and Rice extended their lead to win easily.

In the second round of Westerns, Rice beat Truman State behind some fantastic lineout work and crash balls from Number 8 Judd Smith. The Owls were consistently putting Truman on the back foot by breaking both the gainline and multiple tackles, and then getting good ball to the backs in space. With the win, Rice qualified for Nationals for the second time in four years. The next day in a typical spring thunderstorm in Houston, the Rice Owls were outplayed by eventual number 2 Wyoming giving the Owls some extra motivation for their Sweet 16 preparation.

In West Point, the Owls lost to Army (who went on to place 3rd in the nation) on the first day and blasted Princeton on day two. The win over Princeton was the first time a Rice team won in the Sweet 16 tournament. The win combined with losing to number 2 and 3 gave Rice a 9th place finished based on the seed given to the West second seed to the 2001 USA Rugby National Championships.

Joe Shifflett Class of 2000.

1999 - Nationals Run

posted Jul 16, 2012, 10:48 AM by Rice Rugby

It was a weird one that year - LSU won Texas, and through some provision in the rules, we were able to challenge them to some sort of... "challenge match," which was played at their home field (somewhere in Baton Rouge, anyway). I guess they had to accept the challenge, I don"t know why they would have, otherwise, but it was a fantastic game where we came from behind in the last seconds, on a play where I stole a lineout, then a breakdown or two later, spun the ball out to Drew Rascoe, who made an incredible run outside, made it just far enough to the outside of the defender, and as he was carrying the defender forward through the tackle, was able to stretch out and put the ball ON THE TRY LINE to win the game. LSU players wept, and we went on to Westerns.

By AB Mendez

1998 Western Championships - Lawrence, Kansas

posted Jul 16, 2012, 10:47 AM by Rice Rugby

Losing the players from the class of 1997 was a huge blow to the Rice team but they still managed to qualify for Westerns and were within one or two meters of scoring the winning try against CSU to grab the West number 3 seed to nationals. Lead by Captain Thomas Hutchinson and backed by 5th year senior Todd Haskins, the Owls turned a rebuilding year into a solid campaign.

In Westerns Rice beat St Louis University, lost to Truman State (MO), and then lost a heartbreaker to Colorado State University. It was sweet revenge to beat CSU in the Western Quarterfinals in 2000.

Fuentes, Woz, Haskins, Hammerick, Moreno, Shifflett, and Brown prepare for the lineout as scrumhalf Vaughan takes a breather. 

Steven calls Press B A for the Rice scrum against SLU

Captain Hutch sits back and watches Richardo and Joe play some defense

Steven attacks the weakside of the CSU ruck with Rene in support
Rice runs eighty-nine against CSU
The Rice forwards prepare to steal the CSU lineout

1995: Mardi Gras Tournament

posted Jul 16, 2012, 10:43 AM by Rice Rugby

This undersized rugby team with an over sized heart won the 1995 Mardi Gras Tournament. Battling huge teams (including two Canadian Teams) and bad hangovers the team won the final match in triple over time with a combination of tackling and grit. Multiple over time penalty kicks required players 1 though 10 to take a kick on goal. Rice won the game when 6-6 lock Brendan Daly hit a penalty kick that miraculously spiraled its way in.

The team went on to win the 1995 Texas Championship beating Texas A&M in the final.

Written History: Late 80s'

posted Jul 16, 2012, 10:38 AM by Rice Rugby

By 1985, the RURFC featured a core of graduate students that had played together for several years. Led by the versatile Dave Schafer, who could step into any position on the field from prop to flyhalf, the Owls played a rugged schedule against a mix of Texas club teams and college sides. Rice teams were marked by gritty play in the forwards form players such as undergraduates Steve Nations and Stuart Lewis, an outstanding undergraduate halfback duo of Walter Kenneally and Jim Humes, and a hard tackling set of backs led by graduate students Mark Leising, Wes Walter, and John Levois. Offensive success was most often achieved when the back line popped grad student winger Mike Glass into the clear, where he could use his massive build and sprinter"s speed to devastating effect

The year 1985 marked a something of a watershed for Rice Rugby, as the club began a transition from a side dominated by graduate students, competing primarily in the Texas club rugby competition, to one dominated by undergraduates competing against collegiate competition. The key figure in this transition was Phil Meyer, who arrived as a freshman in 1985 and stepped into a second row position that he played with distinction for the next four years. Meyer"s made two signal contributions to the success of this transition - he tirelessly recruited undergrads to play rugby, and he convinced Duncan Rossiter, a New Zealander who was in Houston to coach the Houston Old Boys senior side, to become Rice"s first rugby coach. Another four-year starter that arrived as a freshman in 1985 was hooker Keith Couch, who carried two years of experience playing the game in high school in the UK.

1986 was a year marked by less success on the field as the stable core of graduate students drifted away, having completed their studies. The influx of talent at the undergraduate level continued, with the arrival of loose forward Richard "Tres" Ward, (Couch"s high school teammate), scrumhalf Sean Park (with high school experience in Canada), all-arounder Mike Giangiorgi, and lock forward Tom Jackson. The team was younger and won less often, but was building a new core that would find success later on.

The tide began to shift as the team received inspired coaching from Duncan Rossiter. Beginning in the late fall of 1987, Rossiter would appear at the biweekly practices, often with fresh paint still on his face from his day job painting houses, and drill the team on fundamentals, team play, and fitness until dark. One of Meyer"s key recruits was former Owl footballer Brannan Smoot, who stepped into the back row and began a rugby career that later saw him as a mainstay of the Dallas Harlequins senior side and which culminated in an appearance for the USA Eagles national team in 1992. The results were soon apparent on the field. The team entered the year end collegiate tournament in Lubbock for the first time in the spring of 1988, marking the transition to focus upon undergraduate collegiate competition.

The Owls arrived as a force in Texas collegiate rugby beginning in the fall of 1988. Rossiter had returned to New Zealand, but Rice continued to receive professional-caliber coaching from Welshman Steve Zeal, who had arrived to work with the Old Boys. Sean Park was installed as president of the club, and quickly set about securing for Rice the responsibility of hosting the Texas Collegiate championship tournament at season"s end. The Owls were the class of Texas college rugby in that year, with standout performances from prop Ted Adams, flyhalf Ali Koc, wingers Steve Sain and Steve Mattingly, and fullback Steve Maclennan. The Owls went on their first tour in living memory, to California in the spring of 1989, where they took on San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz.

The season resulted in twin titles for this outstanding team. The Owls took the first of what was to be many Texas Collegiate titles on their home ground on a frigid March day, thumping Texas Tech to take home the hardware. In addition, the Owls won the Texas Class C club side championship in Dallas, soundly beating Arlington. At season"s end, Rice traveled to Lawrence, KS for the collegiate regionals, where they lost to eventual national champions Air Force by a score of 21-10. No Owl team to date had ever played so much rugby in one year, or played so successfully. The standard was set for the successes in the 1990"s that would follow.

Keith Coach - Class of 1989


posted Jul 16, 2012, 10:30 AM by Sean Kim




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