Past U.S. Eagles Player and Head Coach, Tom Billups, Selected as this Year's Craig Sweeney Award Recipient
The Award will be presented at this year's U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in Houston on Friday, June 15
San Diego, CA (May 22, 2018) - Former U.S. Eagles hooker and Men’s National Team Coach, Tom Billups, has been named the winner of this year’s prestigious Craig Sweeney Award. The Award, named in honor of past Eagle, the late Craig Sweeney, is awarded to an individual who had played for the Eagles, who is respected by his peers and the rugby community, has made significant contributions back to the game following his playing career, and be a person of exemplary character.
Sweeney played in the first four test matches for the United States in the modern era, captaining the team in the third and fourth tests. Unfortunately, just a few months after returning from England where he earned his fourth cap, Craig suffered a fatal heart attack while training near his home in Santa Monica, CA. Upon his death, the USARFU wanted to honor Craig and did so in 1979 with the creation of the Craig Sweeney Award. Prior to this year, only 13 individuals have received the Sweeney Award. Those 13 prior recipients of the Sweeney Award, and those who are selected for the award in the future, comprise the Craig Sweeney Award Selection Committee.
Tom Billups is known for his many contributions to the game of rugby: Head Coach of U.S. National Team 2001-2006 and U.S. National 7’s team in 2005; 44 international test appearances in 15’s; 25 international test appearances in 7’s; former professional player for the London Harlequins and Pontypridd; coach at University of California for 19 years and inducted into the U.S Rugby Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.
Always a major fundraiser for the U.S. Rugby Foundation's youth rugby programs, this year's U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will once again be a collaboration between the U.S. Rugby Foundation and USA Rugby.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes past U.S. Eagle players Gary Lambert, Mike Saunders and Alexandra "Alex" Williams; former U.S. Eagles and OMBAC head coach, Reldon "Bing" Dawson; former U.S. Men's National Team physician, Dr. John Chase; pioneering referee, the late Denis Shanagher Sr.; and long-serving rugby administrator, Don Haider.
In addition to those past U.S. Eagles mentioned above, the following U.S. players and coaches have already confirmed their attendance at this year's induction dinner: Brad Andrews, Eric Swanson, Steve Finkel, Jan Rutkowski, Mike Purcell, George Betzler, Tony Ridnell, Ed Burlingham, Phiadra Knight, Ray Cornbill, Mike Stanaway, Brian Vizard, Ron Mayes, Dan Lyle, Jeff Lombard, Neal Brendel, Chris Lippert, Jason Wood, Bill Fraumann, Jack Clark, Denis Shanagher and Dave Hodges.
Hall of Fame inductees Andrews, Finkel, Purcell, Betzler, Burlingham, Cornbill, Billups, Vizard, Mayes, Lyle, Lombard, Fraumann, Clark and Hodges will be joined in the crowd by fellow Hall of Fame members Bob Watkins, Terry Fleener, Dick Poulson and Dr. Lyle Micheli.
A table for 10 can be purchased for $1,750, individual seats can be purchased for $200, while individual student (18 years old and younger) registration can be purchased for $100. A portion of each individual and table purchase will be considered tax-deductible. This year's dinner will be held at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel.
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.