San Diego, CA (May 19, 2014) – The United States Rugby Foundation is pleased to announce that the Craig Sweeney Award will now be housed in the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame (www.usrugbyhalloffame.org). The USRF also announced that the Award, named after America’s second captain in the modern era, Craig Sweeney (pictured, left), will be presented at the Annual U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame Induction Dinner.
This year’s Hall of Fame Dinner will take place at the Westin Houston Downtown on Saturday, June 7, just prior to the match between the United States and Scotland. There are just a few seats remaining so register now if you’d like to reserve your seat at what promises to be a memorable event.
Craig Sweeney played in the first four test matches for the United States in the modern era, captaining the team in the third and fourth tests. Unfortunately, not too many months after returning from England where he earned his fourth cap, Craig was training on the track at Santa Monica and suffered a fatal heart attack.
Keith Seaber, who was the Chairman of the National Selectors at the time and is currently the Convenor of Selectors for the Sweeney Award, remembers Sweeney fondly. “While extremely talented, Craig was also modest and revered by his teammates. He was a great captain and a wonderful ambassador for the game, U.S. Rugby and the United States of America.
“After the initial shock, we, the Union, decided to have an award in his memory. The National Selectors were given the responsibility of selecting 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.”
There have been just nine recipients of the Sweeney Award to date. Former Eagle prop Mickey Ording was the first ever Sweeney Award winner, accepting the honor in 1979. He was followed by backrowers Tom Selfridge (1980), Clarence Culpepper (1982), Jeff Lombard (1984) and Brad Andrews (1985).
Former U.S. National Team head coach and current Cal head coach, Jack Clark, was presented the Sweeney Award in 2001. He was followed by Mike Purcell (2004), John Jelaco(2007) and Fred Khasigian (2009).
“It is with great gratitude that, I and the previous recipients of The Sweeney Award, accept the USRF invitation to have this prestigious award housed in their Hall of Fame,” said Seaber. “We are extremely pleased that the Award and its history will now be available for all to see.
“We are also very proud that this award will be presented annually at the Hall of Fame Dinner. It will mean that these two awards that acknowledge the very significant dedication given by U.S. rugby people on and off the field, receive the recognition they deserve.”