Kevin R. Swords
Kevin Swords has conducted his life in a manner that has been an exemplary credit to his family and to his country. He served his country in the United States Air Force for a decade, from 1982 to 1992, attaining the rank of captain. And he especially has been a credit to the reputation and advancement of the sport of amateur rugby in the United States.
He represented his country in rugby as a member of the U.S. Eagles national team at lock for a decade, from 1985-1994, including tours of Japan (a 1985 victory over Japan in his inaugural Eagles match, and 1990), Wales (1987), USSR (1988), Uruguay and Argentina (1989 and 1994) and Australia (1990).
The highlight of Swords career included appearances for the United States in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups in, respectively, Australia and England. As testament to his character and leadership, Kevin was chosen and privileged to serve as the Eagles’ Captain from 1991-1994; and was the captain of the U.S.A. side vs. New Zealand and England in the 1991 RWC.
A renowned and respected American international, Kevin in the 1991 RWC was named Man of the Match vs the All Blacks by the Gloucester Journal; and his play vs RWC host England on the exalted pitch at Twickenham led one London newspaper to place him on their World XV. His performance at that 1991 RWC earned him an invitation to play with the prestigious Barbarians XV on their 1992 Easter tour of Wales, where he competed against the legendary Welsh sides of Cardiff and Swansea. He scored a try vs Swansea.
In a Fall 1993 issue, Sports Illustrated named Swords its Athlete of the Month, and noted, "… Kevin Swords is America's most accomplished rugby player, ever." At the time of his retirement from Eagles play, he was the most capped (36) player in his country’s history.
One of a family of rugby brothers (John (Holy Cross), Brendan (Holy Cross & Combined Services), Brian (Holy Cross, Beacon Hill & 3-time US Eagle), Kevin’s rugby career began with four years of collegiate rugby (1979-82) at Holy Cross, then club rugby with Washington RFC (1982-86) and Beacon Hill RFC (1987-94). He played for and captained the United States Combined Services (USCS) Select Rugby Side from 1984 to 1992, including their tours to England (1984 and 1986), Germany (1988), Australia (1990), and Wales (1992).
But it would be when he joined the Old Blue RFC in 1995 that he would embark upon the greatest success of his club rugby career, as he proved the precipitating force on the renowned New York City side that went on to a string of victories and men’s club D-I & Super League Finals over the remainder of the decade; and by which Swords was able to cap a singular 21-year American rugby career in 2000. He and his Old Blue teammates in that span of time reached the Elite Eight in 1996; both the Men’s D-I and Super League Finals in 1997 and again in 1998 (as the only side ever to reach both finals in the same year in consecutive years.); and the Men’s D-I Final Four in 1999.
Swords also played for the Eastern Rugby Union Territorial Select side (1984-1992), and won the U.S. All Star XVs Championship four times (1984, 1989-91). At one time or another, he also served as captain of the ERU and Northeast Rugby Union Territorial XVs; the MARFU, NERFU, and Met NY LAU Select XVs; and Beacon Hill RFC.
Among his many additional rugby honors are induction into the Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame (Rugby, 2002); Old Blue Foundation Hall of Fame (2009); Harp Super League All-Star Select (1997 and 1998); Harp Super League Leading Try Scorer (1998); Old Blue Best Forward (Spring 1998).
A graduate of Holy Cross College (BA, 1982) and the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School (MS in Management, 1994), he has been a municipal bond trader at Merrill Lynch (1994 - present). In addition to developing his career at Merrill, Kevin continues to promote amateur rugby, consistent with the stated mission of the USRF itself. He and wife Pam stay involved in coaching and managing rugby; and all four of their children, Megan, Jack, Grace and Michael, have played the sport. He is a volunteer and coach of the Ridgewood Area Youth Association, a local youth rugby program in the northern New Jersey area. It offers developmental programs for boys and girls from kindergarten through the 9th grade, with four progressively more advanced levels of rugby development by age group.
Just prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Swords was interviewed by Total Rugby on British TV to discuss the Eagle's 1991 RWC matches twenty years earlier. To view the entire interview of Kevin’s perspective as the American captain of that experience, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOU0ko1XAuk