By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Craig B. Sweeney



Craig B. Sweeney was born on May 8, 1947. He was introduced to the sport of rugby in 1969 while attending Stanford University, class of 1970. Later that year, he enrolled at UCLA to earn his MBA. At that time UCLA was not only one of the top universities in the country but was also home to one of the best rugby teams in the United States. Sweeney played second row for the Bruins from 1970-72 and was a member of the 1972 UCLA team that won the prestigious Monterey International Rugby Tournament and hence the title of unofficial national champions.

That same year Sweeney toured with the Pacific Coast Grizzlies representative side to New Zealand. He would go on to represent the Grizzlies until 1977 and played against Wales, Ireland and Fiji. Sweeney also played for and captained the Southern California Griffins All-Star team from 1972-77.

Having earned his MBA from UCLA in 1972, he and a number of former UCLA teammates wanted to keep a good thing going so they, along with some USC and Saint Mary’s grads, founded the Santa Monica Rugby Club in 1973. Sweeney’s Santa Monica club won the Monterey Tournament title in 1973 earning back to back national championships. Sweeney was a member of the SMRC team that toured Wales in 1973 and Scotland and Ireland in 1977.

Sweeney showed his dedication to the sport and his new club by driving 120 miles round trip twice a week from his home in Newport Beach to training sessions in Santa Monica. Santa Monica was a feared team up and down the Pacific Coast and in addition to winning the Monterey title in 1973, SMRC won San Diego’s OMBAC Rugby Tournament title five years in a row with Sweeney anchoring the SMRC engine room.

With the formation of the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) in 1975, it wasn’t long before discussions began about forming the United States National Rugby Team, the Eagles. And one of the names on every selector’s list was Sweeney’s. He played second row in the very first test match the Eagles ever played, against Australia, in Los Angles on January 31, 1976.

He followed that up with playing in the Eagles second test match against France in Chicago on June 12, 1976. He then captained the Eagles in their next, and Sweeney’s last, two matches; against Canada in Burnaby, British Columbia on May 21, 1977 and against England at Twickenham on October 15, 1977.

On March 31, 1978, while on a training run preparing for the Boston Marathon, Sweeney died of congestive heart failure.

Sweeney was one of UCLA’s, Santa Monica’s and the United States finest rugby players and is fondly remembered by UCLA, the Santa Monica Rugby Club and by the USA Classic Eagles. Sweeney was enshrined in the UCLA Rugby Hall of Fame and the Santa Monica Rugby Club Hall of Fame. In addition, the SMRC established the Craig Sweeney Fund to honor its former captain. The Classic Eagles created the Craig Sweeney Award, presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to rugby in the United States.

Sweeney’s sister, Nancy Jo Lindus, endowed the Craig Sweeney Award at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California in 1983. The honor is awarded annually to the high school athlete who demonstrates exemplary enthusiasm, integrity, respect for others and leadership on the field of play. Sweeney’s nephew, Scott Lindus, is a past recipient of the Craig Sweeney Award.