How it all got started

As, far as how the team got started. I was a transfer student from Hanover College in IN, where I played football. I did not go out for football at OU, but wanted to stay involved with a contact sport. I had several buddies at other colleges that were involved with rugby and they told me I had to play the game as I would love it. There was a student, Jack some-thing, at OU that tried to get a team going in the Fall of ’71 when I started at OU . This guy had played some rugby for the old Cleveland Blues, was kind of a Bohemian/Hippie type of guy that lived out of his car and took care of his personal hygiene at Grover Center. We had some prac-tices and one game, which I couldn’t attend. In Dec. of ’71 I ran into Jack and asked him about rugby in the Spring and he indicated that he wasn’t going to be around. I think it had to do with money, grades, or both. I desperately wanted to play rugby, so I called my Dad and asked if I could “borrow” $100 to get a rugby team going. He agreed, although 40 years later he’s still waiting to get paid back. I used the money for long distance phone calls to set up a sched-ule and buy a couple of rugby balls. I approached a Dean Waverly at Grover Center about my idea and he was totally supportive and told me where he thought there was a field we could use. He told me to talk to the “maintenance guys” and tell them what we needed. I went to the Maintenance Bldg. armed with two cases of high-neck Stroh’s and told them where Dr. Waverly thought the rugby pitch might fit in and they took it from there. The pitch was put in the same green space right next to where it is located, today. The maintenance peo-ple came up with goal posts for us and we never had to say a word about maintaining the area. I put a notice in The Post that there was going to be a rugby meeting at Baker Center. Over 70 potential players showed up. All shapes and sizes of athletes, almost all with some sort of background in either football or soccer, and one stu-dent actually had played the game before in Canada, Joel Lampel. We made him Captain because he was the only one that knew all the rules. We had a very successful first season, only losing one match. We were a real collection of renegades. We acquired several disgruntled football players from the OU vasity team and eventu-ally acquired one football player on scholarship, dismissed because he couldn’t follow team rules as to off field behavior…he fit right in! We had a very successful season, only losing one match. We did not receive any funds from the school, but our team sponsors were a bar called Phase I owned by Dave Sullivan and Steve Sines (the bar is now PawPurs). Of course that was the first rugby bar. Our other sponsor was Kerr Distrib-uting, owned by Kenny Kerr Jr. His son, Kenny Kerr III, ended up playing rugby after I left Athens, and main-tained the company’s sponsorship after his father passed away. The first rugby party was held in the basement of a dormitory on the West Green. It was pretty wild. None of us had ever attended a rugby party before, want-ed to show our wild sides, mix in 5 kegs from Kerr Distributing, and ….future parties banned from campus. Sorry guys. The next year the first MAC Rugby Tournament was held at Bowling Green. The Bobcats took home the trophy. Rugby was off to a good start at OU and a winning tradition continues as evidenced by the recent trophy won this Spring at Ohio Rugby Select in Columbus. I have many, many very funny rugby stories, but because of my son’s upcoming wedding necessitating my missing the Rugby teams 40th, you’ll just have to wait for me to attend the 50th. ~ Jim Farmer

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