San Diego, CA (March 21, 2018) – The United States Rugby Foundation is pleased to announce the U.S. Rugby Hall of FameClass of 2018:
Dr. John Chase Reldon “Bing” Dawson
Don Haider Gary Lambert
Mike Saunders Denis Shanagher Sr.
Alexandra “Alex” Williams
The seven 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 in Houston on Friday, June 15, the night before the U.S. Eagles host Scotland. More induction dinner details will be provided once they are confirmed.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2018:
Dr. John Chase was first introduced to rugby while taking part in a surgical clerkship at Guy’s Hospital in London. Coached by former New Zealand All Black, Hugh Burry, Guy’s first fifteen would go on to win the prestigious London Hospital’s Cup in 1966. This experience led him to many notable moments for him as a player, beginning in the United States with the Denver Barbarians in 1967. From 1977-1997 Dr. Chase served as the team physician for the United States National Team. Dr. Chase accompanied the Eagles on their first tour to England, setting the precedent for other national teams traveling with their own sports medicine specialist. From 1983-1984, he worked as a medical advisor to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union on rugby safety and technical issues. An orthopedic surgeon, he was called to active duty during Desert Storm with the U.S. Air Force.
Reldon “Bing” Dawson’s football background was the catalyst to an iconic rugby coaching career that would impact the lives of hundreds of ruggers across the nation and world. During his coaching tenure at the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC), he created an elite rugby powerhouse and set the template for modern rugby clubs in America to follow. OMBAC won the inaugural United States Sevens Club Championships in 1985 and became the first team in the U.S. to win the National Club Championships in 7s and 15s, winning XVs titles in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1996, and the Rugby Super League Championship in 2006. The other 7s national titles were achieved in 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, and in 2006; making OMBAC the only U.S. club to win both 7s and 15s in the same year. Under Dawson’s tutelage, OMBAC provided the core of U.S. National Team players for much of the late 80s, the 90s and into the early 2000s as over 70 players went on to represent the U.S. in 7s or 15s.
Don Haider began playing rugby at Stanford University in 1961 as an undergraduate and concluded his playing career there with the 2014 alumni-undergraduate spring game. During a 50 plus year span, Haider played in the Eastern Rugby Union for the Westchester, New York and the Washington Rugby Clubs; coached and played old boys rugby in Chicago and played in the over fifties matches at the 1998 World Masters games. Don played on several ERU combined sides and with the Mid-Atlantic Touring Side against United Kingdom teams and France. He was an editor of Scrumdown Magazine and a founding member of the United States Rugby Foundation.
Gary Lambert got his start in rugby as a teenager playing for the White Plains RFC in upstate New York. He attended Life University in Marietta, Georgia where he was a member, captain, and player-coach of the collegiate powerhouse Life Rugby Club from 1983-1988. He earned representative honors on numerous occasions, including Met New York, Georgia Select Sides, the ERU, and the United States of America Eagle 7s and XVs teams from 1982-1991. Lambert’s career as an Eagle took him on tours around the globe and was a member of the U.S. Men’s first World Cup Team in 1987. He was also chosen for a World XV team which toured Australia during their Bicentennial in 1988. Gary has dedicated the past 20 years to promoting amateur rugby in prep schools and high schools and has served as a mentor and camp coach to many young ruggers.
Mike Saunders began his rugby career at the United States Naval Academy in 1979. After a year with the San Diego State University Rugby Club, Saunders joined up with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. During his time with OMBAC, Saunders led the team to the 7s National Club Championship in 1985 and captained the team to XVs titles in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993. Saunders went onto represent the United States in both 7s and 15s. He earned 12 caps for the XVs and was a member of the U.S. team at the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987. Saunders turned to coaching after his playing days and coached the U.S. Men’s 7s team for four years. In 1993, he began a 25 year run as coach of the Snake River Rugby Club. Mike took the club from a social side to one that won 15 Pacific Northwest League Championships and a 1996 U.S.A. Rugby National Championship. Mike is currently the 7s coach at Boise State University.
Denis Shanagher Sr. was the Captain of Dublin’s Bective Rangers when they won the Leinster Cup in 1955. He declined an invitation to play Hooker for Ireland in order to emigrate to the United States, and following an injury, decided that he could best contribute to American rugby by becoming a referee. He founded and Chaired the Northern California Referee’s Society, founded and was President of the Pacific Coast Rugby Union and was on the original Board of Directors of the USARFU. As a referee, he was the first U.S. referee to handle an international match, refereeing the US – Canada game in 1977. He was the original standard by which quality referees were evaluated in the United States and was the inspiration behind many young referees embracing the sport. His passion and dedication toward the growth of game was a key to the founding of the USARFU and the success of the sport in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Alexandra “Alex” Williams got her start in rugby at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Upon graduating from college, Williams would go on to play with one of the top clubs in the country, Beantown RFC, where she would win her first of several National Club Championships along with her first of two Club Championships MVP Awards. She moved to California in 2000 and helped the Berkeley All Blues win four National Club titles. She earned her first USA cap in 1994. Alex played in three Rugby World Cups (1994, 1998 and 2002) and when she retired from international play, her 25 caps was the second most among women’s Eagles. Alex was the USA women’s forward’s coach at the 2006 and 2010 Rugby World Cups and has continued to make numerous contributions to the sport as a successful coach and administrator.
Congratulations to the seven members of the Class of 2018 who are joining the 56 who have already been inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. The members of the Class of 2018 were elected by the USRF Board of Directors after receiving a record number of nominations. Like the seven classes that preceeded them, the Class of 2018 is comprised of individuals who have made a lasting mark on United States Rugby.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame and its Foundation is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of U.S. Rugby and we support the development of the game by funding programs for youth, high school and collegiate rugby, and individual player development programs.