Dr. John Chase
Lifetime Achievement Award
John Chase, MD, FACS attended medical school at University of California, San Francisco. In 1966, during a Surgical Clerkship at Guy’s Hospital in London, classmates learned he had played "gridiron" in College at University of California, Davis and invited him to try a "real man's game" of Rugby with them on the Guy’s "Extra Beer's" side. At that time, Guy's Hospital was coached by ex-New Zealand All Black, Hugh Burry, who was at Guy's in post-graduate training to be a Rheumatologist. Dr Chase became fascinated by the game of rugby football while learning to play and watching the Guy's First 15, under Dr Burry, win that year's prestigious Hospital's Cup.
On returning to the U.S., Dr. Chase did his internship in Denver, Colorado and played with the Denver Barbarians in 1967-68. He then moved back to San Francisco and played with the San Francisco Rugby Club, who won the prestigious Aspen Ruggerfest in 1969.
Dr. Chase continued his rugby playing experience when he went into practice as an Athletic Injuries Orthopedic Specialist in 1972. In 1974, he moved to Davis, CA and took over the Orthopedic Sports Injury Consultancy for the Athletic Department at UCD. After 4 years playing with the Davis City Rugby Club, Dr. Chase learned that the USARFU was fielding a National Team, the U.S. Eagles. Dr. Chase was asked by the Eagles’ Coach, Denis Storer, to come and work with the Eagles in preparation to travel with them at his own expense for their first international tour to England in the fall 1977. Storer and Chase wanted to establish the precedent of an international team traveling abroad with their own medical specialist. This was the first time it had been done. After "tune up" matches with France and Canada, the Eagle's traveled to England in the fall of 1977.
In England, Dr. Chase and the Eagles were recognized as the first international rugby side to travel with their own sports injury medical specialist. At the time, the London Daily Mail wrote an article entitled "Eagles Fly With Their Own Field Surgeon.” By the middle of the tour, the RFU invited Dr. Chase to become a member of the Touring Party. Subsequently, all international rugby teams began traveling with their own doctors.
In 1977, the USARFU appointed Dr. Chase to be the Medical Advisor to the USARFU and Team Physician to the Eagles. Over the next 5 years, Dr. Chase developed a panel of orthopedic specialists, trainers and a medical care infrastructure to serve the four rugby territories established by the USARFU. During this time, national safety and injury treatment protocols were established for all matches. Dr. Chase trained doctors in each territory to accompany territorial representative sides to the annual Inter-Territorial Tournaments in Chicago.
In 1978, Dr. Chase was invited by Rugby Magazine to produce a column called "The Medical Corner" for each issue. These articles educated the national rugby playing audience in topics of preventing and treating injury, training techniques to improve fitness and avoid injury, and other subjects to prevent injury and improve the quality of the game. Taking material from several Monterey Rugby Tournaments in the early 80's, Dr. Chase produced a video tape for the USARFU dealing with "On Field Diagnosis and Emergency Treatment of Injury.”
Dr. Chase was invited by the New Zealand Rugby Union to be a "Visiting Orthopedic Surgeon" in Timaru, South Canterbury, New Zealand in 1983-1984. While in New Zealand, Dr. Chase worked as a medical advisor with the NZRU in their safety and technical clinics. In 1984, Dr. Chase was asked to travel with the New Zealand All Blacks as their Team Physician to the International 7's Rugby Tournament in Hong Kong.
On his return to the United States, Dr. Chase accompanied the Eagles on their undefeated tour to Japan in 1985 and the tour to Wales in 1987. In 1988, Dr. Chase was elected an Associate Member of the IRB Medical Meeting and attended their meeting in London where he contributed to work on changing the rules of scrum engagement to lower the incidence of catastrophic cervical injury and paralysis.
Dr. Chase was called to Active Duty with the U.S. Air Force 12th Contingency Hospital Unit during Desert Storm in 1991. He was stationed at RAF Scampton and played a match with the Lincoln Rugby Club during his stay. He became the Emeritus USARFU Medical Advisor on return to the U.S. and last traveled with the Eagles on their second tour to Wales in 1997.
Dr. Chase retired in 2009. He is now enjoying a number of different pursuits with Susan, his wife of 52 years, their three children Mike, Sarah and Hilary, and Granddaughter, Zoe. Dr. Chase is a Board member of Junior Achievement in Reno, sponsors the Hip and Knee Arthroplasty Fellowship at UCSF Department of Orthopedics, and volunteers as a ringside physician with USA Boxing in Nevada.