San Diego, CA (March 20, 2018) – The United States Rugby Foundation is pleased to announce the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
J. Tyke Nollman
The eight newest members of the United States Rugby Hall of Fame will be honored at the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Induction Dinner to be held at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO on Friday, July 26, the night before the test match between the United States and Canada.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2019:
Vaea Anitoni – As the all-time leading try scorer for the United States Men’s National Team, it is no question that Vaea Anitoni is Hall of Fame worthy. His unmatched work ethic and passion for the game also set him apart. The speedy and elusive wing helped lead the United States in 15s and 7s from 1992-2000, playing in 46 test matches and scoring a record 26 tries. Anitoni also played for the Pomona Rugby Club, San Francisco’s Olympic Club and the San Mateo Club which claimed the National 7s Championship in 1997. He continues to give back, coaching a Men’s Division III team in Napa, CA.
Bob Causey – For more than four decades, Bob Causey shaped the game of rugby as both a player and coach. The Louisiana native began his rugby career at Louisiana State University in 1972, serving as captain and receiving MVP honors throughout his playing days with the Tigers. Causey was an integral part of representative sides with Eastern Rugby Union South, Eastern Rugby Union, and finally as a member of the United States Eagles from 1977 though 1987, culminating with an appearance in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup. After the conclusion of his playing career, Causey would continue to share his passion for the game by coaching his alma mater, LSU Rugby, to an impressive record of 187-30. Causey has dedicated much of his time to serving as an ambassador of the game in the southern region of the United States.
Jennifer Crawford is regarded as a central figure for the United States Women’s Eagles and one of the finest female players that North America has ever produced. She commanded the field as a center, wing and fullback for the United States from 1988 to 1998, playing in three World Cup Finals and captaining the team at the 1998 tournament. Crawford earned a then record 20 caps, when caps were few and far between. She continued to champion women’s rugby with the Berkeley All-Blues, leading the squad to nine consecutive U.S.A. Rugby National Women’s Club Championships as both a player and assistant coach.
John Decker’s leadership within the rugby community spans over 50 years. He has been instrumental in the development of rugby throughout the United States, including serving as a board member and trustee to the USRF for over 35 years. Decker was a standout player at a number of clubs including Washington Rugby Football Club, Old Blue Rugby Football Club, and Boulder Rugby Football Club. He was the co-founder/organizer of Potomac Rugby Union and Potomac Referees Society. He has helped drive rugby’s national growth through his focus on fundraising, board development and strategic initiatives.
Luke Gross – While Luke Gross’ rugby career began much later in life than the average international player, his accolades are nonetheless Hall of Fame worthy. Gross was originally a basketball student-athlete at Indiana State University and Marshall University from 1991-1993. Shortly thereafter, he took a liking to rugby and got his start with the Cincinnati Wolfhounds at age 24. Gross would continue to establish a dominant presence on the pitch, earning 62 caps for the United States between 1996 to 2003, including the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups. He continued his career in Europe playing for Rivigo in 1998 and winning the Italian Cup with Roma. He served as a coach and administrator, including stints with USA Rugby as the High-Performance Player Development Manager. Gross is currently serving as Director of Amateur Rugby for the City of Glendale, CO.
Shawn Lipman’s career is marked with high accolades as both a player and coach. The South African born rugger played for the University of Witwatersrand from 1983 to 1985. He moved stateside and began to play for the Santa Monica Rugby Club in 1986, garnering seven MVP honors during his 11-year tenure with the club. As a member of the U.S.A. Eagles from 1988 through 1991, he was capped nine times and represented the United States in the 1991 Rugby World Cup. He was a legendary player for the United States in the Maccabiah Games, having captained the U.S. team in 1993 and 1997. As a player, he has medaled multiple times in the Maccabiah Games including winning gold in 1985 and 1997. He served as the head coach of the gold medal U.S.A. Maccabiah Rugby Team in 2013 and 2017. He is the first person to ever win a gold medal for rugby at the Maccabiah Games as both a player and coach. He was inducted into the Maccabiah U.S.A. Rugby Hall of Fame in 2018.
J. Tyke Nollman was a catalyst for the development of rugby in the United States for nearly forty years. Nollman played football for the Northwestern University Wildcats from 1962-1966, prior to beginning his long rugby career with the Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club in 1969. He changed the game of rugby in the United States by establishing the inaugural USA Rugby Inter-Territorial Tournament (ITTs) and developed rugby’s national presence through the incorporation of business sponsorships and marketing strategies. Nollman was an active administrator in the rugby world and championed many philanthropic endeavors, including youth rugby in the State of Illinois.
Don Reordan stands at the top as one of the finest American referees in the game of rugby. His rugby career began on the pitch as a center for various rugby teams including; University of Southern California, UC San Diego, Santa Monica Rugby Club, Pasadena/Crown City RFC, and Del Mar RFC. Reordan transitioned his career from player to referee in 1980 and maintained an A-Panel rank for a record 18 years, the longest in American history. He refereed 12 international test matches from 1988 to 1997. He is the first American referee to ever officiate a World Cup match, a feat which he accomplished in 1991 and 1995. Don was presented with the Denis Shanagher Award in 2004, recognizing his distinguished service to American Rugby as a referee.
Congratulations to the eight members of the Class of 2019 who are joining the 63 who have already been inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. The members of the Class of 2019 were elected by the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Selection Committee, comprised of the USRF Board of Directors and selected Hall of Fame members. Like the eight classes that preceeded them, the Class of 2019 is comprised of individuals who have made a lasting mark on the game of rugby in the United States.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame was established by the U.S. Rugby Foundation in 2011. The USRF is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization. We are dedicated to preserving the history of rugby in the United States and developing U.S. rugby at the grassroots level by funding programs for youth, high school and collegiate rugby, and individual player development programs.