Ransom "Ram" Eddings
Lifetime Achievement Award
Ram started playing rugby in 1974 in Pocatello, Idaho. He played 10 years in Pocatello and was a threat as a winger, fly half, and inside center, and one season he scored 22 tries. His talent was noticed by others as well as Ram was selected to the All Idaho Select side. He became a player-coach for Pocatello before moving to Portland, Oregon where he played three years as a winger with the Portland Pigs. One year the team advanced to the West Coast Playoffs.
Ram moved to Savannah, Georgia where he played with the Savannah Shamrocks as a starting winger and inside center. While in Savannah, he was elected President of the club and began his journey on the road to being an administrator. One of the biggest concerns Ram had about rugby was the lack of minority players in the game. Often he would be the only player of color at games or tournaments. He was constantly trying to talk men of color into playing rugby.
The lack of minority players in rugby led him to organize the Grey Wolves rugby team. He chose the name “Grey Wolves” because he felt that wolves signified rugby; running in a pack, team work, always going forward, and pressuring the enemy. In the spring of 1991, the first Grey Wolves team came together at the Savannah Shamrocks Saint Paddy’s Day tournament, winning their first game as a team. Ram was the player coach.
During their time in Savannah, the Grey Wolves came up with the idea of interacting with youth in the schools and thus started their Honorary Captain’s program for youth. They would ask teachers to select two students, one male and one female, who were not the greatest students, but ones who had been a challenge, but had made a change and were doing well. They would hold a semi-formal dinner and honor these students with awards. As the program grew, the team realized they could not go into a school and talk to young people and not have any follow up. They began to require local teams hosting tournaments to follow up in the schools after the Grey Wolves visited.
For 10 years the Grey Wolves travelled the nation playing and interacting with youth and sending positive messages about rugby, education, drugs, violence, teen parenthood and more while visiting some of the toughest detention centers in the nation. One of their greatest rewards came from the State of Kansas Legislators who honored them with a state proclamation.
Ram retired from playing at the age of forty and following this his coaching career began to take off. He was an assistant coach with Denver University and helped to start an inner city team in Denver. Ram coached at Colorado College and then coached the Black Ice Women’s Rugby Club in Denver, taking them to a National Qualifier in 1994. It was while coaching the Black Ice team that he learned to respect the women’s game and has remained a great advocate of women’s rugby and helped to promote women’s rugby nationwide.
With the Grey Wolves, Ram developed his coaching philosophy and style of play. He learned how to work with groups of great athletes, each with their own personalities. He learned how to get the best from his players and how to help them take their play to the next level. He believed all of his players could improve and that encompassed his coaching philosophy.
At the age of forty-two, Ram left Los Angeles, California heading for Washington D.C. on a walk across America to promote youth rugby. It took ninety days to make the 2600 mile trip. Ram carried rugby balls for people to sign as he was walking. These were later sent to President Clinton. One of the people Ram met while going across America was Utah Jazz great, Karl Malone. Ram recalls the walk was tough and at times he wanted to quit, but each time he considered quitting, he would meet young people at just the right time who would encourage him to keep going.
Ram returned to Idaho where he coached a men’s club team, the Boise Lions and for a short time with Boise State University. He was offered a job at Idaho State University and moved to Pocatello, Idaho where he started coaching the local women’s team the Pocatello Goddesses.
In 1995, he was asked to coach the Idaho State University men’s team and later the ISU women’s team, often coaching them both at the same time. He believed that men and women practicing together could help both develop and it was successful. Ram has coached for 19 years building the Idaho State Program into a nationally and internationally recognized program. He successfully negotiated with the university administration to get a rugby field for the ISU program and eventually out-of-state fee waivers for recruitment. He organized a run from Northern Idaho to Pocatello (788 miles) and helped his team raise $8,000 for equipment. He has taken the men’s team to the playoffs three times and the Elite 8 once. He has served as President of the Utah Rugby Union Collegiate Division, the USA Rugby Board of Directors, and is currently the Commissioner of the Mountain States Collegiate Rugby conference.
Ram understands that rugby and education must work together and as the coach at ISU he has amassed an 80% graduation rate. Ram and his teams have been involved with various community organizations including the Human Rights Commission in Oregon, the Idaho Food Bank, Aid for Friends homeless shelter, the NAACP, diabetes camps for kids, and the Native American Club. In 2015, the Idaho State University rugby program is celebrating their 20th anniversary which has all been under Ram’s leadership.
Rugby has built amazing friendships for Ram and he has seen young people grow as players and human beings from playing the game. As William Webb Ellis would say, he has given to rugby “with a fine disregard.”