The RFC has enjoyed enormous success over a glorious 43-year history. Touring is the highlight of the semester for many team members, and over the years the squad has devastated opponents from around the globe. The overwhelming success has created a major problem, however. What to do with all that shiny hardware? The pile of gold-plated cups, trophies, medals and trinkets adds up, after all.
Fortunately, members of the HBS community everywhere can now fully appreciate the accomplishments of the school’s most active and popular club. Through generous support from the administration and the unrelenting efforts of many of the Old Boy Alumni, the club’s most notable victories are eternalized in a new trophy case on the second floor of Shad.
The Harbus took the opportunity to interview Old Boys Alumni Chair, Mike Rush (HBS ’72), who was instrumental in setting up the new display, and is also actively involved in the design of the new website (www.hbsrugby.com), and organizing an HBS ruggers alumni database:
Harbus: Mike, tell us a little more about the history of HBS Rugby.
Mike Rush: HBS Rugby began in the fall of 1963 when two enterprising Scots knew that six days of class and the dreaded WACC was not a healthy lifestyle. The Harbus sports page was running articles on softball, bowling and ping-pong. To that pathetic mix, Jim Johnstone ’66 and Morris McInnes ’65 sought a better, more fulfilling alternative for the HBS community, and started an organization to engage the young men on campus and provide a sense pride for the school at-large.
Harbus: Rest assured, Mike, the Harbus is in better hands these days… How did that first rugby season go?
Mike Rush: Well, through advertisements, coercion and the promise of female spectators, those lads were able to field a contingent of 40 or so interested men to train at Soldiers Field. Despite the negative advice of the HBS Dean of Students and an attempt to merge the HBS side with the Harvard College side by force, Jim and Morris persevered. The spring 1964 record of 5-2-1 was the harbinger of a glorious tradition of Eastern rugby strength, melding American athletes with the rugby culture of international players.
Harbus: What about your work leading the Old Boys Alumni network? Is it a pretty active group?
Mike Rush: You bet. The Old Boys touring side formally began with a trip to the Freeport Bahamas Easter Festival in 1978 and has been going strong ever since. We’ve been all over the country. Our favorite spot, however, is the islands-St. John’s, the Bahamas, Jamaica-warm, beautiful, and we play some good rugby there against alums from other schools. The experience is a true family affair, with wives and children all getting involved.
Harbus: Where did the Old Boys go this year?
Mike Rush: This year we returned to Germany for our 28th consecutive annual tour. Other HBS ruggers have also toured the globe and play for various local sides throughout the world.
Harbus: You obviously have a passion for the sport and HBS. How have you kept it going for so many years?
Mike Rush: You realize, early on, that you’re part of something bigger here. Rugby is the only competitive, extramural team sport at HBS and over 1,000 students have trod the pitch wearing some combination of crimson and white. The Columbus Day weekend in October at HBS, is a particularly meaningful weekend-an annual gathering of rugby alumni and current students to celebrate a tradition and renew a bond that few others have experienced at HBS.
Harbus: Thank you for your time. Good luck in next year’s Old Boys tour. We hope to talk to you soon.
Mike Rush: Thank you.