San Diego, CA (April 17, 2020) – The United States Rugby Foundation is pleased to announce the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame (http://www.usrugbyhalloffame.org) Class of 2020:
In addition, long-time stalwarts of the game: Mike Dunafon, Bob Erwin and Matt Godek have been selected to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards, while the 1976 U.S. Men’s National Team that faced off against Australia in the first U.S. Eagles match in the Modern Era has been selected for the Chairman’s Award.
The six newest members of the United States Rugby Hall of Fame (http://www.usrugbyhalloffame.org) and four special award recipients are to be honored at the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Induction Dinner which has been tentatively scheduled to be held at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO on Friday, August 14, 2020, the night before the scheduled test match between the United States and Canada. If the game is cancelled by World Rugby, we will look to reschedule the dinner this Fall in connection with another test match.
The U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2020
Rick Bailey was the dominant loose-head prop for the Eagles in the 1980s. He was a four-sport letterman for Napa High School and then played football for both Brigham Young University and then the University of California at Berkeley. He appeared on the pitch for the Cal Golden Bears from 1974-1977. His high level of play won him the nod at loose-head prop on the U.S.A Eagles in 1979 and he held that position until 1987, including a spot on the inaugural US Men’s Rugby World Cup team in 1987. He was a member of the Old Blues of Berkeley and played on seven National Club Championship teams between 1978-1987, being named the MVP at the 1986 National Club Championships. Bailey made a successful transition from player to coach, serving as a Cal assistant rugby coach from 1991-1994 with the Bears winning four National Collegiate titles. In 2015, Bailey was presented the Craig Sweeney Award, awarded to “an individual who had played for the Eagles, who was respected by his peers and the rugby community, has made significant contributions back to the game following his playing career, and be a person of exemplary character.”
Tam Breckenridge was arguably the premier lock in all of women’s rugby in the late 80s and early 90s. Championships run in her blood. Her athletic career was marked with numerous accolades from the very beginning. Breckenridge was a multi-sport athlete at Crescenta Valley High School in Glendale, California and then played basketball for the UCLA Bruins, where she was part of the 1978 National Championship team. Breckenridge transitioned to rugby after a shoulder injury derailed her basketball career. She represented the U.S. from 1988-94. She helped the Eagles take home the first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup title in 1991. Off the pitch, Tam served in the UCLA Athletics Department for over 20 years, including as Assistant Athletic Director. She worked extensively to advance the sport of rugby at the community and national levels. Prior to her induction into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame, Breckenridge was inducted into the Crescenta Valley High School Athletic Hall of Fame and her 1978 UCLA Bruin team was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Her victorious 1991 USA Women’s RWC team was inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017.
Jamie Burke was a prop of exceptional ability and is one of the most accomplished women ever to grace the rugby pitch for the United States. As a four-year (2000-2003) All-American and the 2003 Woodley Award winner for the University of Virginia, she made her presence known early on. Burke became the first and only woman to earn 50 caps for the USA and is the most capped 15s player in Women Eagle history, having earned 51 caps over a decade’s worth of play on the Women’s National Team, including three Women’s Rugby World Cup appearances (2006, 2010, 2014). She received numerous accolades during her career, including being named to the 2010 IRB World Cup Dream Team and to Rugby Magazine’s Team of the Year and Team of the Decade in 2010. After retiring as a player, Burke transitioned to coaching. She currently serves as an assistant coach for the National Champion Glendale Merlins of the Women’s Premier League and occupies a role as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team, as well as director of the Glendale Youth Rugby programs.
Bill Campbell is an American rugby blue blood. The Columbia University grad was well versed in football and was eventually recruited to the rugby pitch. He co-founded the Columbia University RFC (in 1961) because he understood the impact rugby could make in a community. With the help of other Columbia graduates, Campbell also helped found the renowned Old Blue RFC in New York City in 1963. His vision for Old Blue was to connect Columbia alumni athletes with a combination of championship caliber rugby and camaraderie. He captained and served as president of Old Blue, leading the club to numerous 15s and 7s championships over many years. His impact on Old Blue and U.S.A. rugby extends far beyond the pitch. Campbell was a passionate philanthropist within the rugby community, funding resources for Old Blue, Columbia, and U.S.A. Rugby. Campbell is remembered and celebrated for both his brawn and brains; a dynamic rugger and a highly regarded Silicon Valley executive.
Chris Lippert was a world-class loose-head prop for the Eagles in the 1990s. He began his rugby career at the University of California, Irvine. Lippert later transfered to San Diego State University, where he led the Aztecs to the 1987 National Collegiate Championship while earning All-American honors. After college, Lippert became a pivotal player for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, helping OMBAC to five national championships in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994 (Captain) and 1996. He became a mainstay for the U.S.A. Eagles from 1989-1998, was a member of the 1991 U.S. Rugby World Cup team, and captained the Eagles in three test matches in 1996. In 1994 and 1995 Lippert made three appearances for the world-famous invitational side, the Barbarians, an honor bestowed on only two previous American players. He retired from international rugby in 1998 with 38 caps, then the most for a U.S.A. player. Lippert finished his playing career with the Huntington Beach Unicorns in 2000. He transitioned to serving stints as the manager for both the Eagle 7s and 15s teams from 2001-2003, including the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He also has worked on the coaching staffs at OMBAC and SDSU, and as a referee for the Southern California Rugby Football Union.
Gerry Seymour was a rugby visionary who is credited with advancing the sport of rugby in middle America and beyond. Born in London, England in 1927, Seymour graduated from Westminster College prior to serving in the British Armed Forces. He came to the United States in 1960 as a member of the British Consul Office and called Kansas City, Missouri his home. In 1964 he organized Kansas City’s first rugby club, the Kansas City Rugby Football Club. Later, he organized and served as president of the Heart of America RFU from 1967-1976. He was the HOARFU representative when the Western Rugby Football Union was formed in 1975 and represented the Western RFU at the meeting in Chicago where the U.S.A. Rugby Football Union was formed. Seymour represented the U.S.A. as its ambassador at the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 and ultimately served as a director of U.S.A. Rugby for 14 years. In addition to being a rugby enthusiast, he was a highly respected and beloved member of the Kansas City community. 2020 Chairman’s Award:
1976 USA Men’s Team vs Australia – On January 31, 1976 in Anaheim, California, the U.S.A. Eagles played against Australia in their first test match of the Modern Era. The USARFU was founded in 1975 with the purpose of acting as the governing body responsible for the promotion and development of rugby in the United States and in 1976, they introduced the Eagles to the rugby world. Australia won the hard fought game 24-12, as the U. S. served notice they were a force to be reckoned with. Selected by Dennis Storer (head coach), Ray Cornbill, Keith Seaber and Dale Toohey, the following players were part of the 1976 team and helped pave the way for rugby in America:
15-Kip Oxman, 14-Del Chipman, 13-Dave Stephenson, 12-Greg Schneeweis, 11-Steve Auerbach, 10-Rob Bordley, 9-Mike Swiderski, 8-Tom Selfridge, 7-Tom Klein, 6-Skip Niebauer, 5-Craig Sweeney, 4-Gary Brackett, 3-Mickey Ording, 2-Fred Khasigian, 1-Eric Swanson Reserves: Bill Fraumann, Steve Gray, Jessie Lopez, Dennis Murphy, Terry Scott, and Barry Waite. Many of the players, coaches and selectors went on to play important roles in U.S. rugby. 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients:
Mike Dunafon’s American football career started in the 1960s and ended in 1977 after a stint with the Denver Broncos. He discovered rugby after moving to the British Virgin Islands in 1978, and played there until 1992. Mike went on to manage the United States U-19 National Team from 2000 – 2001, taking them on three international tours to Australia, a World Cup Qualifier in Trinidad, and the 2001 Junior World Cup in Chile. Mike’s real impact on rugby in America, though, is in the development of RugbyTown USA in Glendale, Colorado. As Mayor of Glendale, Mike’s vision was to revitalize a community by embracing the ethos that he saw in rugby—the camaraderie, sportsmanship, and commitment to community. Infinity Park, the only municipally-owned, rugby-specific stadium in the US, is the fulfillment of that vision; and is widely considered to be the finest rugby training facility in the country. Bob Erwin played for and was involved in the formation of numerous rugby clubs throughout Texas, Indiana, and Minnesota. He gained experience as the president of the Minnesota Rugby Football Club from 1974-1976 and served on the board of the Minnesota Rugby Union in 1977. During this period, Bob worked with a committee of passionate ruggers to help organize the United States of America Rugby Football Union in 1975. Erwin continued to lead as rugby administrator. He served as president of the Midwest Rugby Union from 1977-1978 and was an active member of the USARFU Board of Governors. After hanging up his boots, Erwin remained involved in the rugby community serving as a member and supporter of the Texas XXX’s, the Minnesota Area Rugby Foundation, Team America, Chicago Lions, Chicago Hope School, and The Lost Afternoon Luncheon.
Matt Godek is regarded as one of the most influential ambassadors of the sport of rugby in America and the pioneer in the development of rugby equipment and supply. After playing rugby in college and the U.S. Army in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he opened Godek Rugby and Soccer Supply in Merrifield, Virginia in 1978. Ever since, his name has been synonymous with rugby expertise and knowledge. His vision for the rugby kit, service, and camaraderie is what set him apart. He is known the world over for his unsurpassed willingness to dedicate his time and service to the sport. If you needed a job done, no matter how big or unique, he would get the job done. His impact is nearly as big as the game itself, as many ruggers’ memories are associated with the equipment, service, advice and encouragement supplied by Matt Godek.
Congratulations to the special award recipients, and the six members of the Class of 2020 who are joining the 71 inductees already in the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. The members of the Class of 2020 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 nine classes that preceded them, the Class of 2020 is comprised of individuals and teams 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. Contact us if you want to help.