J. “Tyke” Nollman
J. “Tyke” Nollman was a catalyst for United States Rugby culture for over 40 years. Nollman played football for the Northwestern University Wildcats from 1962-1966, prior to beginning his rugby career with the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club in 1969.
From that moment on, Nollman was a staple in Chicago rugby culture and throughout the United States. He changed the game of international rugby in the United States by establishing the inaugural USA Rugby Inter-Territorial Tournament (more commonly known as the ITTs) and developed rugby’s national presence through the incorporation of business sponsorships and marketing strategies.
Following the Inter-Territorial Tournament, United States Rugby benefitted from the influences of Tyke’s vision.
“Within two years, the USA national team played Australia in California, France in Winnetka, Illinois and was invited to play in the hallowed grounds of Twickenham Stadium, where the Royal Family had their private box and the headquarters of global rugby. Tyke’s work established the ITTs as the best rugby tournament the rugby world had seen, spawned a spate of tournaments around the world and has never been bettered,” said former colleague and friend, Vic Hilarov.
He was an avid champion of youth rugby, having served as the first president of Illinois Youth Rugby in 2007 and a major proponent of the Notre Dame de LaSalette Academy in Georgetown, Illinois. After reading an article about the small 100 boy school, Notre Dame de LaSalette, and its love for rugby in 2007, Nollman served as a dedicated sponsor and even contributed funds to build state of the art rugby pitches on the school’s campus. His legacy was immortalized at Notre Dame de LaSalette, where the Jay “Tyke” Nollman Memorial Fields at LaSalette Academy were dedicated in 2017.
“I can think of very few men more deserving of such an honor. Tyke’s enthusiasm and contributions, and contagious love of the game are most noteworthy. At all levels, in numerous countries, internationally, nationally, with the men’s and high school clubs, this man was truly outstanding and merits such recognition,” said Father Michael McMahon of Notre Dame de LaSalette Academy.
Nollman was an active administrator and visionary within the rugby world that has and still continues to sustain impact on the American game and its current successes. While he is truly missed, his influence will live on forever.