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John Decker



John Decker, with notable achievements both on and off the field, has been a tireless ambassador for rugby in the US for more than 50 years.

Just out of college in June 1965 and looking for an outlet to stay fit John began his rugby-playing career with the Washington Rugby Football Club - a Club with a rich mix of ex-pats from many rugby-playing countries. That environment brought him quickly up the learning curve and he soon became a 1st XV mainstay along the backline from fly half to fullback. In short order his increased knowledge of the game, passion for winning and leadership led to his being named Captain of the WRFC 1st XV.

Back in those days WRFC was one of the teams that dominated rugby along the Mid-Atlantic Coast regularly winning Championships in the major XV Tournaments that were the order of the day, including: the Virginia Commonwealth Cup (Charlottesville), the Cherry Blossom Rugby Festival (DC); and, the Boston International Invitational.

WRFC also fielded a powerful 7s side. John captained WRFC 7s to the Championship of the Washington Sevens four consecutive years - from 1967 to 1970. He was named Most Valuable Back in 1969 and Most Valuable Player in 1970 - the 1970 team winning the Tournament with a combined total score of 92-0 for six matches. The next year, John's first season playing in New York with the Old Blue, John captained the Old Blue 7s team to the Championship of the 1971 New York 7-A-Side.

Recalling his days playing both with and against John, Bob Johnson, a WRFC Captain and a finalist for the USA v. Australia test in 1976, noted, "John was a lightening back. He had wonderful rugby instincts to go with his speed - and most importantly, when to smell the corner flag and go for it. He was a great leader as Captain with a wonderful blend of toughness and cordiality and boundless energy for running a very successful club."

He helped put together a coaching tour to the East Coast by legendary All Black Fred Allen. Coach Allen was an All Blacks captain and the only undefeated All Blacks coach. John was co-founder / organizer of the Potomac Rugby Union and the Potomac Referees Society.

While living in upstate NY John played on the Old Blue side that, in the spring of 1979, was the ERU Champion and ERU rep at the first USA Rugby Final Four in Kansas City. During his Old Blue days he organized and ran a successful Rugby program at the Wiltwyck School for Boys - a reform school in upstate NY for African American juvenile delinquents from NYC (the school where Floyd Patterson's life was turned around).

John's latter playing days were with the Boulder RFC; and, while in Boulder he took a two year ex-pat assignment with IBM Japan in Tokyo and played for IBM Japan's Rugby Team in the Japan Industrial Rugby League - a 1st XV fly-half and the team's only non-Japanese player.

His representative honors include appearances with Potomac Rugby Union and Metropolitan New York Rugby Union Representative Sides. He also played with a number of select / touring sides: Old Blue (Southern California, 1971; and, Bermuda, 1973); Manhattan (France, 1975); WRFC (England and Wales, 1977); The Gentlemen of New York (England, 1985); and, Portland Olde Boars (Nike World Masters, 1999).

As John's fifteen-year playing career was winding down he was recruited to join the US Rugby Foundation (USRF) where he has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee / Director; and, for seven of those years as Chairman of the Board. During this time John developed strategy for and initiated: the International Rugby Exchange Program; the College Scholarships Programs; the US participation in a Global Rugby Health Research Program; and, the recruitment of a professional fundraiser to guide a significant Capital Campaign.

John was born on New Years Eve, 1943, in Albany, NY, the second of seven children. He attended Vincentian Institute High School and graduated from Siena College with a BS in Physics. Subsequently he also earned an MS in Space Physics from Catholic University and an MBA from Columbia University.

John is currently retired with Francesca, his wife since 1979, in Santa Fe New Mexico. They spend time in the New Mexico outdoors, traveling, and with their daughter Ryan, son Kit and their three grandchildren.