The eight newest members of the United States Rugby Hall of Fame will be inducted on Saturday, June 4, 2016 in Philadelphia at the Hall of Fame Dinner being held in conjunction with the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC). The dinner at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel is an important fundraiser for the Foundation and individual seats can be purchased for $200 while a table for 10 costs $1,750. A portion of each individual and table purchase will be considered tax deductible as a contribution to the United States Rugby Foundation.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2016:Brad Andrews, arguably the premiere #8 in the United States in the late 70s, was the kind of player that everyone wanted on their team, bringing ferocity and fairness in his play. He played the game for over 20 years and was selected to represent the United States National Rugby Team, the Eagles, from 1977-1979. He was part of the U.S. Eagles England Tour squad in 1977 and rose to captain the Eagles in 1979. Brad was also one of the leaders of the USA Cougars tour of South Africa in 1978. He played with the Old Gales RC before starting a 10-year run with the Santa Monica Rugby Club, one of, if not the top team in the country at the time. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Brad Andrews.
Jay Berwanger was the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy in 1935. The following year the award was renamed the Heisman Trophy. In an effort to quench his athletic thirst, Jay started playing rugby. He was the headliner on the Chicago team that won 19 straight matches and claimed the national championship of 1939. In a mid-November match, Chicago posted a 24-9 win over New York before 10,000 shivering fans at Chicago's Soldier Field. The game and Jay’s influence stimulated interest in cross-regional matches because during that time, people didn’t travel out of their regions to play club rugby. He showed that club rugby should be played on a wider geographical scope. Pearl Harbor ended his rugby playing, as he enlisted in the Naval Air Force. He passed away in 2002. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Jay Berwanger.
George Betzler began playing rugby in 1962 at the age of 19. He played with the Philadelphia Rugby Club for 14 years and then turned to coaching, what would eventually become the Philadelphia-Whitemarsh RFC, for the next 30 years. Now, more than 50 years later, George is one of the most experienced and well-known coaches in North America, coaching many teams over those five decades, including the USA Eagles (the first American-born rugby head coach to ever hold this position), USA All Stars (15s and 7s), Eastern Rugby Union Select Side, Eastern Penn RFU All Stars, and the USA Maccabi Team. He has served on the U.S. National Men’s Team Selection and Advisory Panel, the USA Rugby Technical Panel and also as a USA Rugby Certified Coaching Instructor. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee George Betzler.
Kathy Flores was the captain/coach of the Florida State University team and led the team to four National Championship titles. She captained and coached the Berkeley All-Blues, winning two national titles while playing. She played on the USA Women’s National Rugby Team from 1985-1994, captaining the team in 1987 in its inaugural international match vs. Canada as well as the 1991 USA Women's Rugby World Cup Championship Team. She coached the USA Women’s National Team for eight years, leading the team to 5th place finishes at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. She has coached the Berkeley All Blues to 15 National Championship titles. Kathy was recognized as the 2000 Coach of the Year by rugbyrugby.com and the Women’s Sports Foundation, the 2003 IRB Women’s Personality of the Year, and the USA Rugby 2014 Coach of the Year. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Kathy Flores.
Steve Gray played rugby for 35 years. He captained both the USA 7s and 15s teams, earning six caps in 15s and 18 in 7s. He was a part of the first USA Eagles Team in the modern era, he captained the first USA team to play in the Hong Kong 7s, and he played on the Overseas International Rugby Team that played Wales in their Centenary Season Series in 1981. He coached the USA National 7s Team in selected tournaments between 1985-1999, claiming second place in the 1993 Lisbon International 7s Tournament and the Plate title at the 1986 Hong Kong 7s. He was a certified referee and an IRB Rugby Educator & Trainer. He has worked with the USA Men’s and Women’s 7s teams at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to develop a pending USA Rugby 7s course. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Steve Gray.
Dan Lyle began his rugby career at the age of 23 to keep his athletic skills on point should an NFL opportunity avail itself. He was a natural fit for rugby and earned a spot on the U.S. National Team in 1994. He became captain in 1996. That same year, Dan joined England's Bath Football Club, playing with them for seven seasons and helping the team win the Heineken Cup title in 1998, and serving as team captain in 2001, earning the nickname "Captain America." Dan continued playing for the U.S. National Team and led the U.S. 7s team to a Hong Kong Plate victory in 1997. Dan retired with 45 caps for the U.S. 15s team (1993-2003) and played with the U.S. 7s team for 3 years. He was recognized as Rugby World and Rugby News Magazines as the Best Number 8 globally. Dan currently serves as executive vice president of United World Sports/USA Sevens LLC. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Dan Lyle.
Dave Sitton is synonomous with University of Arizona rugby. He went to school there to play baseball but shoulder injuries saw him change his focus to rugby. He began coaching the rugby team during his senior year and over the next 35 years of coaching Wildcat rugby, Dave mentored and developed over 1,600 players. Through Dave's tireless dedication to the program, the University of Arizona program became a model for other collegiate programs to follow. He won two Emmy awards during his 22 years of announcing UA football, basketball, and baseball. During those years he became the worldwide voice of U.S. Rugby. Dave passed away in 2013. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Dave Sitton.
Brian Vizard earned 22 caps for the U.S. Eagles and played in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups, where he led the Eagles as captain. He earned 21 7s caps and was a member of the 1993 USA Sevens Rugby World Cup Team. Brian helped lead OMBAC to five National Club titles and two National Sevens titles. After he retired from playing, he served as Executive Director of the U.S. Rugby Super League during its first four years of competition and has served as the Executive Director of the United States Rugby Foundation since 2004. He was been on-air talent for over 700 rugby television broadcasts dating back to 1995. In 2014, he won the Craig Sweeney Award and last year, was inducted into the Grand Rapids (MI) Sports Hall of Fame. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Inductee Brian Vizard.
Congratulations to the eight members of the Class of 2016 who are joining the 38 who have already been inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. The members of the Class of 2016 were elected by the USRF Board of Trustees after receiving a record number of nominations. Like the five classes of inductees previously inducted, the Class of 2016 is comprised of individuals who have made a lasting mark on United States rugby. Nominees not selected will be re-submitted to selection committee next year.
In addition to this year's HOF inductees, the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. John Chase. 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.
John Chase became the USA Team physician in 1977, serving in the match versus France (in Chicago), Canada (in Vancouver), and he accompanied the team on their first tour to England, setting the precedent of a national team traveling with their own sports medicine specialist. John became the USA Rugby Medical Advisor and also became the Medical Editor of Rugby Magazine, writing the monthly column, “Medical Corner.” He was the team physician for the Eagles tour to both Japan in 1985 and Wales in 1987. Read more about 2016 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Dr. John Chase.
Dr. Chase will have his biography 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.