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THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON – SPRING 1961

By the end of spring 1960, Brown had organized a rugby club, played four matches that first season, winning one. But rugby on campus and in the Brown Daily Herald was regarded as a minor or novelty sport. To the many players new-to-rugby that first year, the club did not offer much coherent and consistent coaching, particularly for neophyte forwards. Additionally, home games could not be scheduled at the newly available Aldrich-Dexter Field. And, when on the pitch in tattered freshman football jerseys, the team lacked an authentic rugby team look. Slowly, over the next twelve months, one by one, all of these diverse elements would change for the better. By the following spring of 1961, a different and improved Brown RFC would take the field.

NEW CHANGES

Club Leadership: Bill Tingue’62 was elected captain and Dave Zucconi‘55 became club president. Both had played rugby in the UK and recognized that the sport enjoyed a historical international tradition that offered a unique on and off the field club culture.

New Coach: Denys Boshier a 31-year old New Zealand graduate student working toward a Ph.D in Biology, became coach. Affable, knowledgeable, and patient, the lanky and tall Boshier was particularly useful molding the forwards into a cohesive pack. He also answered the many questions about the arcane rules of why the whistle went.

NY RFC Sevens: In November 1960, a Brown sevens’ team (Gordon Lindsay’62, Tingue, Allen Parkman’62, Wendell “Buzz” Barnes’61, John Percesepe’63, David Merk’63, and John Phipps’61) traveled to the New York RFC’s Thanksgiving tournament, the oldest sevens event in the United States (1959). Brown beat Yale and lost to Westchester. Thirty teams participated as Brown made its official sevens’ debut. A Brown side also journeyed to New York to play indoor sevens in the old 95th Street Armory in February, 1961 on a pitch that always had to be cleared of manure before play.

Permanent Home Venue: The Athletic Department finally allowed the club to play home games at Aldrich-Dexter Field. The proximity to the campus first brought out friends and Pembrokers, and, as the spring season progressed, many more curious students came to watch the Saturday afternoon matches.

Rugby Uniform: Zucconi ordered official rugby hooped style jerseys along with matching red and white striped socks. This red stripe marked one of the first occasions where this orange/red color appeared on a Brown athletic uniform. (Red has been standard ever since.) Brown would finally take the field dressed like a rugby team.

Active Recruitment: Tingue and Zucconi became more proactive advertising for and finding new players to come out for rugby. They successfully recruited football players, including Harry Swanger’61, Gary Graham’62, John Phipps’61, Jon Meeker’63, and many others who had played fall football and were looking for a spring contact sport.