Dr. John Fowler
After traveling up the 405 freeway with his father to watch a UCLA rugby game as a high school student, it was only fate that John Fowler would appear on the pitch for the Bruins one day. John attended UCLA from 1973 to 1979 and was a dual-sport athlete competing in rugby and football. On the gridiron, he was an outside linebacker and was a member of the 1976 Rose Bowl Championship squad and earned academic All-American First Team honors and the NCAA post-graduate scholarship in 1977. In 1978 he was awarded the UCLA Alumni Association Outstanding Senior award.
On the rugby pitch, John appeared at second row and flanker and was a member of UCLA tours to England and Wales. He was selected to the Los Angeles County, Southern California, and Pacific Coast representative sides during various seasons from 1975 to 1979. John continued his rugby career with the Santa Monica Rugby Club from 1980 to 1982 and the Cincinnati Wolfhounds from 1983 to 1986.
John played for the Eagles 15s squad from 1980 to 1982, appearing in 27 games and earning 7 total caps. He was also a member of the Eagles 7s squad from 1981 to 1986 appearing in the Hong Kong 7s on five occasions.
But John’s finest work was off the pitch. Throughout his rugby career, John was both an athlete and scholar. In 1978, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from UCLA and was awarded one of four Outstanding Senior Awards by the UCLA Alumni Association. He won a NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship which put him in the same class as the nation's top 15 student-athletes. In 1999, John was inducted into the GTE Academic All- American Hall of Fame.
Although rarely mentioned, John's entire Eagle career was played while he attended medical school at UCLA (1979-1983) and completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Cincinnati (1983-1987). John, his wife Dianne, and their six children lived in the
Republic of Turkey for over 20 years. During his tenure, he founded the Emergency Medical Association of Turkey, served as the Director of the Ephesus Emergency Medicine Training and Research Center, and was an advisor to Turkey’s Ministry of Health. In 1999, a powerful and devastating earthquake struck Turkey. Thanks to the education and training that John provided, he and his former trainees were uniquely qualified to lead and assist with the rescue efforts. In 2002, John received a UCLA Professional Achievement Award for his academic emergency medicine efforts in Turkey. John has authored many scholarly articles and spoken at numerous national and international medical conferences.
"Although there are many Eagles who have more caps, there are probably none who completed their medical school and residency training while playing for the Eagles. He made it look easy, although he had to fit rugby and rugby training into a rigorous medical school and residency schedule. Rugby is a small but deep part of John’s soul. His travels while playing rugby helped to shape his world view, and that view moved him to teach emergency medicine in Turkey where there was no emergency medicine specialty or paramedic training before he arrived," said Diane Watanabe.
He was a member of several representative sides including the Pacific Coast Grizzlies, the USA Cougars, and the World XV's Wales Rugby Centenary.
"John was the ultimate team player on and off the field. He was never selfish or out of control and always fun to be around. In those days, the post-game parties were legendary, and John was always there with a smile on his face keeping his teammates out of trouble. He made every team he played on much better. John was a trailblazer for USA rugby and deserves to be in the USA Rugby Hall of Fame", said former UCLA teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Steve Gray.