Lance Van De Castle

Lance Van De Castle,husband of Karen,born Oct 6th,1952,mighty lock for The Virginia Cardinals,legendary rugby player throughout Virginia and beyond,steadfast mate to all that knew him, died today March 22,2007 in an road accident close to his home at approximately 10:30am.Official Obituary Lance Van De Castle.

Till we ruck over again,mate

Posted April 10th,2007

Contributions for The Lance Van de Castle Memorial Scholarship Fund, mail them to Karen Weaver, 322 Harper Drive , Orange , Virginia 22960 . Her number is 1-540-672-0810.

Flowers and cards may be sent to:Mrs. Karen Cordray-Van de Castle 583 Courtney Hollow Lane Madison, VA 22727

From Walter Reinhart:

Lance, Mike Puopolo, Phil Mitchell and I met at San Diego for the IRB Sevens five weeks ago. When I met Lance at the airport, the scene was vintage Lance - big broad hat, jeans, and a big bearded grin "Rhino - I guess these TSA security guys will let about anyone on a plane!" After a couple hours, he had me drinking 7 & 7s, which I normally can't abide. When Mike showed up, we had already chosen our favorite bar, where we spent several hours over the five days in San Diego.

For years, when I was fortunate enough to play with him rather than against him, I would do my best to follow Lance - because wherever Lance was, that was where the action was. At Aspen, in the Championship game for the over 50s, Lance passed the ball to me on attack at the 22 meter. I couldn't ram it in, but I always thought that there would be another opportunity with Lance in the game.

Almost seven years ago to the day, Lance came down to Durham to play in a tournament and stayed at my house. The guest room had no bedroom. Lance said "is there carpet?" AND "is there beer"? His play that day with my team earned him the game ball, which he carried with him on many a weekend. That weekend I met my girlfriend of the last seven years while I was gathering provisions for Lance's visit.

Ed Spelter, an estimator for Falconer, the construction company where Lance worked, told me that Lance had worked all night on preparing a bid for a big job at UVA, that he had gone home to shower and change clothes. He was returning to work when he sideswiped a loaded dump truck. Lance's truck was demolished. Lance probably died instantly.

I am devastated by this tragic accident. If anything is true and can be learned from the loss of a loved one, especially someone "larger than life" like Lance, it is that every day that we have on this planet is a gift, and that every hour should be cherished.

Lance Vandecastle and Walter Reinhardt

From Mike Herron:

When I got the word from Mike about Lance's untimely death, I just kept reading his e-mail over and over. The knowledge of what had happened to this special friend brought me to tears.

Lance Van de Castle was quite a man. He was a renowned Rugby player. He had absolutely no pretenses. He had broad interests. He eschewed the limelight. He was home loving. He was well-informed. He was sensitive. He had a manner of self-assurance. He was engaging and charismatic. He celebrated life. He was well-educated, erudite, faithful, and unassailable. He was unmistakably a gentleman. He was a take-charge person. He had irresistible charm. He had unlimited dedication. He had an inner strength, and inestimable good nature. Lance was his own man, unaffected. On some things he had encyclopedic knowledge. He never tried to be anything else but himself. He had indisputable integrity and impartiality. He kept traditions alive. He had a firm handshake and a warm smile. He was inspiring. He was sure to grab your affections. He was unlike any other. Time spent in his company passed far too swiftly. He was truly a giant among men.

Everyone who played Virginia in the late 70's remembers Lance. He stood out not just as a big guy on the pitch, but as such a great player. I played against Lance first with the Norfolk Irish and then with the Norfolk City Blues RFC. About a year ago, he had asked me if I had any pictures of the Norfolk Blues from our first year. I did. I mailed them to him about a week later. Within twenty-four hours, I got an excited e-mail back from Lance...I hadn't realized it, but the pictures I had sent him was from an early match at City Park, and the opponent was Virginia. Lance had picked himself out in several photographs. He always revered The Blues, and he admitted it was primarily because we had Otis Purvis in the backfield. In his view, any team with Otis should be viewed as a great team.

When Johnny Ellis put together the Sons of Beaches team that went and won Aspen in 2002, going 5 and 0, I knew that Lance had been invited (John went way back with Lance at Hampton-Sydney). For some reason he couldn't make the trip. When he heard the results, he was so upset that he hadn't been there. He guaranteed he would be there if we defended the title. When we went back the next year, Lance was in the middle of everything, on and off the field. We made the finals again, and our infamous loss was repudiated in Rugby Magazine. Lance had gotten back in his groove, and was ready to play more Rugby. Karen was always there in support.

We morphed into the Cardinals, and all of us began playing a lot of Rugby together. It has been so much fun. And Lance had always been our most ardent supporter. He passed the accolades everywhere...writing long summaries of our matches in articles and e-mails. He was vocal about what we had become, Champions. He loved every minute of it. We all loved Lance. We've all got memories of these tournaments, and we've got tons of Lance moments. Who can ever forget the breakfast he cooked up in Aspen in the Van de Castle bedroom, for the entire team, and several strangers that just happened by. How about his presentation, complete with poster boards, about the World Cup, after our practice in Fort Lauderdale last year. Vintage Lance. We could all go on and on.

I will cherish the memories of Lance's efforts related to our banquets. They were enormous. No one cared as much as Lance. And again. we loved him for it. I'll never forget his touching emotion when he presented John Ellis our Achievement Award last year. Clearly, he just loved his friends so much. He let it show in so many ways.

I have always felt blessed to have connected and re-connected with this group. Elyse has loved it as well. We forged new friendships and deep ones. Our many visits to Charlottesville have been joyous.

As many of you know, Elyse and I spent our summer vacation last year with Terry and Eileen Whelan, and Lance and Karen, in that wonderful cottage on the lake in Lake Placid. It was so wonderful. One special moment among many was when Lance and I went fly-fishing. Even though neither one of us got a bite, we just had a fabulous time. I know Terry will remember us watching his Big Labowski DVD. Lance kept cracking up every time "The Dude" told someone to call him "The Dude". You may remember, Lance himself loved to refer to people using "Dude". Oh gosh, what a great time. I still remember Lance's face when Connie was demonstrating her lap dance...on the Rugby party we threw at the cottage. Thank God we took photos.

For all of you, I got to see Lance again recently when we went up to see Eric Clapton in Charlottesville. He was so content. I'm going to remember him that way.

As Alan Larivee said to me yesterday; "Lance just strode through this world like Hercules". He did, didn't he.

He was a great player, a great husband, a great friend, and a really really great guy.

Lance Van de Castle, you will always have a special place in history, as you will always be Mr. Cardinal to all of us.

To Karen; my deepest sympathies. Know that Elyse and I both love you. Mike Herron.

From Scotty Norris:

I am very, very sorry to hear this. Just saw Lance in San Diego … loved that big lug. All my best to his wife and my fellow ruggers. He will be missed,


From Blitz Antlitz:


Lance was quickly one of my favorite Cardinals he treated me so good as a new comer to the cardianl group...I enjoyed sharing some laughs with him in Aspen. Please keep me informed of the family arrangements, I would like to attend his funeral. Its so sad to lose one of our own....we need to support his loved ones. Please let me know if there is anything I can do!

love, Blitz

From Steve Burgess:

I never knew Lance until practice before Ft. Lauderdale in 2004. He became a friend both to me and to my wife Ann. I will never forget his enthusiasm for life and for rugby, and I am so sad. We are not promised the next five seconds. Please keep safe. God Bless You Lance.

From Colin Crawford:

Man, this is so shocking and sad...I feel like I just lost a brother!

With so many years being side by side in the 2nd row or him at 8 man Lance was one you could depend on for total effort. I and Connie have grown very close to Lance and Karen and especialy since the Cardinal family/team came together . We all were really starting to enjoy this pre retirement life. He was a leader in so many ways, a true spokesman for Rugby and a true friend!

Being the organizer he was, I can only imagine but Lance is probably already telling God where to put the Pitch so it will be ready for the rest of us someday. Farewell old friend!

From Frank Yakimchuk:

I met Lance when I played rugby with the Cardinal Over 50's in Fort Lauderdale,2006. I didn't know him well but he played the game with strength and purpose, he showed respect for all players.

From Tim Spruill:

Lance will be missed by all!!

Lance and wife,Karen,Lance Van De Castle

From Jon Knight:

I have only played with you guys once, in Saranac last year, and Lance was one of the guys who went out of his way to make me feel welcome on the team. A great player and a great guy, I just saw him in SanDiego and talked about the World Cup in France( that Lance,family ,and friends were going to)

From Tom Oxenham:

heard the tragic news about Lance on the evening news last night. I was, and still am, in shock. If rugby truly is the game they play in heaven, they just got one hell of a player. Lance’s passing leaves a huge void in the Virginia rugby community. He will be missed but never forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers should be with Lance’s family, especially Karen.

Tom Oxenham

Brad Mills,Mike Puopolo,Lance Van De Castle

Lance at The Commonwealth Cup May 2003

Lance produced the Try of the day--check out the sequence in the three images below:

The images really do not convey the magnificance of this try. This was no "old boy" try--the drive was instant, low, powerful , and full of nuance--it was over before you realized it was underway. Long live the 70's, Lance.

Lance and Karen at Aspen Ruggerfest

From Otis Purvis,Norfolk RFC legend and USA Eagle:

Like Bob Gebron said, I played with him and I played against him, a true warrior. Lance was one of the most dedicated rugby players I knew. I went to the 1977 U.S.A. trials with him in colorado, we had a great time.Lance is sure to be missed, I sure will miss him. I always looked forward to seeing him every year at the James River golf outing. God Bless, he was a good man.

From Brad Mills:

What a shame to lose such a great teammate. I was re-introduced to Lance's dynamic performance on and off the field at the first re-constituted Commonwealth Cup I attended a few years ago: prepping the pitch, building the stand for the team photos, and, as always, playing with intensity and dedication. I'll be thinking of him tomorrow when I lace my boots up.

From Bob Gebron, Norfolk City and Norlk Blue Fullback 70s and Teamate of Lance with VRU,early 80s

Lance and I played alot of Rugby together. We played for the VRU. We took that team to Europe . I played against him several times. Partying with Lance was fun. He wasn't just a rugger, he had a cerebral skill to find and bring laughter to any gathering of people. He was sincere in his gist for life, and he had a true sense of honor within him that you only became aware of when you got to spend time together. Here's to life and to fallen comrades...acceptin g everything that comes and goes. I am reminded, after your letter and the particular date:

"Cowards die many times before their death;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders I yet have heard, it seems
To me most strange, that men should fear death,
A necessary end, for it will come when it will come."

From Gene Adams and Terry Lee:

The guys from Buffalo add their deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Lance. We both echo the other postings of how welcoming Lance was to newcomers and what an impression he made on all whose lives he touched- even briefly.Please post any wake/funeral arrangements so we can send some flowers and/or cards. Gene and Terry

From Paedar Little:

Thirty years ago, when I first played with Lance for Virginia, he showed the mettle he was made of. Always on the front foot, always encouraging the pack, and always protecting his scrum-half. He had a big heart, and an appetite for life to go with it. We enjoyed those glory days, and he was still in the thick of things right up to this week, trying to help the Club finance their way to the Nationals in San Diego. His boots will never be filled!! We mourn him like a brother, and give thanks for our good fortune in knowing him. May God give Karen comfort in her enormous loss. May he Rest in Peace

From Carl Ostermann:

Although I am probably one of the newest members of the Virginia Cardinal Family, I also was very much sadden to hear of Lance's passing. I also have to say that he was one of the many Cardinal's that made me feel very welcome in Aspen, that I was truly a part of the team.

From Will Thornton:

This really stings.Lance was a good man. He went out of his way to make me feel welcome when I began playing with the 45's. This Ft. Lauderdale was the first time I ever played without him. My heart and sympathy go out to his lovely bride and his family. Lance was a stalwart of our club. He brought people together. He will be surely missed.

From Chris Porter:

As a young player (for old boys) I am truly saddened by the loss of Lance. After every game he always had a positive word for me. I am glad I had the opportunity to know him for the short time I did and will always cherish the last time I got to play him in shuffle board in Aspen.

From Rich Etzkorn:

Gents, being new to the side, I am saddened by this. Having just "met" Lance (I'm sure we've been on opposite sides many times over the years) a few short weeks ago, it reminds's too all you can whenever you never know when it'll end. St. Louis Rich (fellow Lock forever!)

From Roger "Tree" Tremont:

Lance was a true "Ruggers Rugger" on and off the pitch and in the rugby society. Always a gentleman, always with a bev in hand when I saw him, a nod and a smile,an air about him,that would say, "let's go, bring it on" He stood and will always stand tall as a lock, 8 man, for occaissional fame, but a rugger for Virginia... Can we get an adress to contribute,fund,food....-tree-

Lance Van de Castle remembers the above photo:The photo was taken at a game between the VRU Select Side and the Potomac Union Select Side at the Washington RFC fields at Kenilworth Park in Washington, D.C. Ray Equi, John Mellish and Joe Seals were the VRU coaches. The game was in early November of 76 as part of the ERU challenge cup called the Familton Cup. I know it was then because it was before I grew my beard, which was in December of 76. Note that Ozzie Osbourne was still playing center. I would have to really dig to try to find documentation of the score, I can't even remember if we won or lost. Also significant is that the VRU team had three Eagles (Culpepper, Cook and Purvis) and two more who made the USA National trials by being on the ERU select side (Dickinson and Van de Castle). I say that the game was against the PRU, but it is possible that it was against the EPRU as well as there were four select sides at the field that day. Let me try to do some digging in my ancient files to see if I can find out. If it was against the Potomac team, they had Rob Bordley, Dan Wack and Mike Conroy on it, so there would have been 6 Eagles on the field that day in D.C., not an everyday occurrence that close to Virginia. The VRU team was:
1. John Fleming (Richmond)
2. Willie O'Keefe (Roanoke)
3. Clint Francis (Virginia)
4. Billy Bolton (Richmond)
5. Lance Van de Castle
6. Pete Sweet (Richmond)
7. Clarence Culpepper (Roanoke)
8. Jody Walker (Norfolk)
9. Dickie Cook (Virginia)
10. Rich Waddell (Roanoke)
11. Jim "Rabbit" Dickinson (Virginia)
12. Ozzie Osbourne (Norfolk)
13. Otis Purvis (Norfolk)
14. Bubba Cochran (Norfolk)
15. Doug Korber (Virginia)

Didn't have any reserves, because that was back in the days when there was not such a thing. If you got hurt or left the field, the rest of your team played a man down.


Keith Mclean and Lance Van de Castle chat it up at FTL Ruggerfest 2006

Cheeko,Terry,Karen,Lance,Lex at FTL Ruggerfest 2006

From Rob Greenough:

Lance and I played together only once in Aspen last year but he went out of his way both from a playing viewpoint and socially to include me in the team and make me feel at home . I regret that we will not be able to renew and extend relationship . I will be thinking you all on the 31st .

From Tatonka:

I have been a Cardinal only a short few years and Lance (and his lovely wife) have made one of the biggest impacts on me. I still love the way she says "Tatonka"! And the way he said "Tonk"! Lance went out of his way in Saranac to get my hole-in-one article published. He called the newspaper directly and made sure the article mentioned that I was a member of the Cardinals. Please give my best to Karen and all the gang. See you all soon

From Jon Oliver:

Lance was one of those players who could, and did, put a team on his back and carry them through a match. He did that not just with his imposing size and strength and talent on the field, but with the equally imposing energy and will that propelled him, and in turn propelled his teammates. He loved playing rugby, and he relished each game, and, as is the case with all great players, he elevated the play of his teammates by the way played. He had great heart, and great spirit, and it was a pleasure and privilege to play the game with him. His early departure leaves a large void. He will be sorely missed by many people.

From Chip and Alice Fenn:

Words cannot express our shock and sorrow. Our most heartfelt condolences to Karen and the rest of the(bigger than life Lance)family

From Bob Carswell:

Stunning loss. As new teammate he made me feel right at home

From Burt Hale:

My condolences to Lance's family and friends. While I only met him in quickly in Aspen, to share a beer, he struck me as a great guy. After reading the outpouring of tributes, it is obvious that a tremendous man was taken in a tragic accident. Anytime the Rugby community looses such a person, it strikes at your heart

From Tony Brooks:

I played a game this Saturday for Life against Kansas City Blues. I wore my Cardinal T-shirt for the day and dedicated my play as a small tribute to a good man. I felt wonderful. I was tireless ,doing things around the pitch that quite honestly I haven't done for a long time.I hadn't played hooker for my club in 4 years. My lineout throws were perfect. My hook was swift and clean .I smashed people in the rucks and mauls all day long. I really feel that God answered my prayers and that Lance was the wind at my back urging me forward,leading me to the next break down. It was the most inspired I have felt in years. The 63-3 win was of no real consideration. I energy given to me through God on behalf of Lance is something I will cherish forever..... ........ God bless you Lance ,and thanks for everything.

From Sam Hall:

I'm so sorry to hear about Lance

From Ray Funderburk:

He was an old friend of mine I knew Lance since we reported to preseason football practice as freshmen at Hampden-Sydney in August 1970-- and he played his first rugby match with me in 1974. Saw him last at homecoming in 2004- talked old days, rugby and life. A life too short.

From Cary Kennedy:

It has been 10 days since Lance was killed;the memorial service was concluded yesterday,Sat March 31st. Karen was strong. Over 700 friends,family,and rugby players attended Lance's memorial and I was struck by the respect we all held for Lance and the consistency of the many stories shared that day. Lance treated everyone with honor,character,and sincere interest. The tears and laughter flowed yesterday. The Star Hill wake saturaday night was epic. We saw players that had not been sighted in over 25 years;last previous contact was looking up at their boots in some muddy game back in the 70's. We shared many toasts with Lances' father and son. It was good.

Lance watched over us in life and his spirit continued in that role this weekend. God speed.
Karen is in the center held up by all of Lance's rugby mates

pictured are:Hennie Van Zyl,Tim Spruill,Allen Larivee,Chip Curtis,Mike Puopolo,Karen,Roy Manual,Tom Oxenham,Tracy Burge,Terry Whelan,Danny Lonergan,Ian Mills,Cary Kennedy,Dave Hamberg,Bubba Cochran,Otis Purvis,Ossie,Blitz Antlitz,Mike Ireland,Walt Reinhardt,Zeke Early,Ric Kempton,Keith Wright,Marc Butler,Colin Crawford,Rob Christian,Mike Old,Will Thornton,Mike Wright,Scott Coffield,Jerry Gilfoyle,Mike Herron,James Painter,Billy Cauthorn,Terry Byrd,John Ellis

More Friends remember Lance