As most of you are aware, there’s a small Rugby tournament coming to New Zealand later this year. It is the Rugby World Cup 2011 and will be by far the largest event this country has ever hosted.
The USA Eagles have qualified for the tournament and will be in New Plymouth, Wellington and Nelson. The team will be in Wellington before their big game against Australia on Sept. 23.
The U.S. Ambassador, David Huebner, has invited the team for dinner – and two of our lucky readers will be able to join them for what is sure to be a tremendous evening.
To see who gets to join the ambassador and the Eagles, we’re running a small competition. All you have to do is come up with a winning caption to our photo, by clicking here and then wait. We’ll announce the winner(s) on July 30. The only requirement, obviously, is that you are in or can bring yourself to Wellington on Sept. 21.
So, be creative and get writing. There are no limits to the amount of entries you submit. Just make them good and keep them clean.
A lot of people know Walter Camp as “the Father of American Football.” Not many people, though, know that Camp was a Yale man (like me) and a fine rugby player (unlike me).
Camp was an exceptionally gifted athlete of the first order. He played on every varsity sports team at Yale, including hurdles, rowing, swimming, and tennis. He was the captain of both the baseball and football teams.
But he was more than a jock. He attended Yale Medical School, worked his way up to the chairmanship of the New Haven Clock Company, moonlighted as a sports writer, coached university teams, and served on numerous civic committees including the rules committees governing collegiate football.
His first passion was rugby. Back in his early school years, the 1870s, rugby was the premier game that elite American universities played among themselves.
It was all about kicking in those days. A “try” meant that after the attacking team crossed the line and touched the ball down – for which they received no points – they could have a “try” at goal, worth one point. Many of those early collegiate games were decided by 1-0 scores, even if attacking teams had scored three or four of what today are known as tries.
The story, written by Ambassador David Huebner, continues here.
And, if you’re in Wellington on May 31, you are invited to come along. The game will be played at the historic River Basin stadium, the site of international cricket matches, and will begin at 3 p.m. It’s free (Note: if it is wet, the game will be held at Kelburn Park, Wellington).
The Keelhaulers will be sailing to Wellington aboard the Training Ship Golden Bear, docking at the Overseas Terminal on Sunday, May 29. On board will be almost 300 students and instructors from the prestigious California Maritime Academy. Located in Vallejo, near San Francisco, the Academy is recognized for excellence in the business, science, technology, engineering, operations, and policy aspects of the transportation industries. They are here at the personal invitation of U.S. Ambassador David Huebner.
He’s looking forward to the game.
“The Keelhaulers are one of the best teams in the U.S. Despite the small size of the school, they have been nationally ranked in club rugby and won the Pacific Coast League’s Western Division Championship in 2009 and 2010,” Huebner said. “I expect it to be a close game.”
The Keelhaulers vs. Fighting Billy Goats is part of the embassy’s year-long RWC celebration that has already seen an exchange of Kiwi and Hawaiian Rugby coaches and the launch of this blog.
The Golden Bear will depart Wellington on June 1, but will be back in New Zealand when she visits Auckland on July 28 for a three-day visit. The Keelhaulers are expected to take part in another Rugby match there as well.
Adrian Pratt, U.S. Embassy Wellington
In the run-up to this year’s Rugby World Cup, I thought I’d share every now and then one of my favorite American rugby stories. Of course, the only proper way to start is with the legendary Daniel Carroll. By Ambassador David Huebner
As I’ve mentioned before, the United States Eagles are the two-time defending Olympic rugby gold medalists. What I haven’t mentioned, and what too few people recall these days, is that rugby’s greatest Olympian — Dan Carroll — had a hand in both of those US gold medals.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that our Australian friends claim Dan as well. He was born in Flemington, Victoria, and won a rugby gold medal for the Australasians in 1908.
When the Wallabies later went on tour in the United States, he decided to stay on in America. He settled into American life and became a naturalized US citizen. When World War I broke out, he joined the US Army as a lieutenant, winning a Distinguished Service Cross.
After the war, Carroll went to Stanford University, in my home state of California. He studied geology and coached rugby at the university.
He was selected as a playing-coach for the US Olympic team that competed in the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp. The French were huge favorites to win the gold medal, but the United States scored an upset, 8-0, with Marcus Palmisano making the only try. Carroll played at first five-eighth. (For the rest of this amazing story, go here.
On February 19, under sunny skies and in full view of crunching tackles and a multitude of tries, Ambassador David Huebner watched the 2011 American Ambassador’s Cup Rugby 7s tournament at Trentham Memorial Park in Upper Hutt. In 1967, the then-American Ambassador John F. Henning donated a cup for Wellington’s Rugby clubs to contest at Rugby 7s. This year, Ambassador Huebner had the opportunity to present a new American Ambassador’s cup to the victor of the 2011 tournament. And that victor was the team from the Wainuiomata club, which defeated Oriental-Rongotai in a thrilling final. Congratulations to the Wellington Rugby Union for running a wonderful tournament and to all of the participating teams for the spirit and vigor with which they played. We cannot wait for the next tournament. – Craig Greaves.