. History Rugby Richmond LIONS Richmond Area Training Side Richmond
RICHMOND RFC HISTORY to Richmond UNITED to Richmond LION RFC History

In the end, we will NOT be remembered:

For our wealth

For our wisdom

For our good looks

For our magnificent Homes

For our beautiful wives and children

For our contributions to mankind and charity

But, rather , how hard we played the game

The history of The Richmond LIONS RFC is derived from the storied origins of the Richmond Rugby Football Club and the Richmond Area Training Side. The irony of our merger into the United RFC in 1995 lays in the fact that the RATS were founded by one of the early members of the Richmond RFC, Terry Curtler. The circle is closed again.

In January 2004, we changed our name from United RFC to Richmond Lions RFC to better reflect or geographic ID.

This file is a collage of stories and pictures. Club history can be fragile and will perish if not documented. We welcome pictures and stories from our rugby mates that will make this site truely valuable and interesting. Post to Cary so we can add your first person accounts.

Lynchburg v Richmond circa 1987In the front row for RRFC (left to right) Joe Smith, Dave Slocum, Ian Stewart (mostly hidden but the bald spot and legs give it away), maybe Bill Bolton, Bill Strauss..., not sure on the last two in the lineout Too much facial hair for the RRFC backs for identification...Joe Smith or others might remember that match.

Person after Ian is Chris Didlake and person at back of the line looks to be Strauss ( except strauss normally threw in) with that thick mop of hair. In backs it looks like either Scott Coffield or Todd Sowder, then Otoole then Bian Harris, not sure who the wing was. Joe,

Back Row: Basil Nisbet, Dick Taylor, Artie McGurn, Jimmy Sowers, Tommy Tichacek, Carl Salera, Bill Grogan, Joby Klotz, W&M Guy Front Row: Sam Hall, West Holdren (??), Dave Harwood, Buster Alston (??), Doug Bloomfield, Carlton Crooks Location Byrd Park probably 1972
"Bill--You are right that it is Harry Morrow...Was his nickname Buster? I usually see him at the Rut Golf outing or at Phils. This might be the photo prior to a Sunday rugby match where Artie McGurn collided with either Jimmy Sowers or Tom McWhorter during the B Side match. Afterswards, I drove Artie to old Johnston Willis for stitches or bandages or something for another McGurn Brother beauty mark." Tom Rose
"We were playing Washington RFC on this day at Byrd Park. The A side got hammered (Washington were a power house in those days), the B side (re-photo) won 24 - 4. Don't any of you argue, my memory is absolutely perfect. Just ask John Flemming!" Dave Harwood
Basil Nesbit's Rugby Club in Livingston Rhodesia

Courtney Hoopes,UVA backline legend, is in the center entering the ruck v Richmond Rugby Football Club circa 1968,other Richmond RFC players identifiable by their face left to right,Maurice Marks,Frank Pole,Billy Balowe,and Les Huey

" If Billy Balleau (SP) is in the photo that brings back some memories of him. You didn't want to be standing around a loose ruck when he was playing as he would just as soon knock you out of the way as an opponent. I never saw him do this, but legend has it that when he didn't have an opponent to bash he would bang his head against a tree for fun. He was one rough, tough, hard-nosed guy.

I believe that I was on the field that day against UVa in 1968. If I remember correctly, we lost by a small margin and it was a tough game played in the mud. At one point we had the ball on their goal line but couldn't push it over and I regret that to this day as it may have been our only loss that year. And, then again, I may be thinking about 1969. After 40 years, I am no longer certain.

A couple of months ago I got in touch with Bob Johnson who was one of our top players in the late 60s. He captained the Duke football team, was captain of the RRFC, was a practicing attorney and fashioned a successful career as an artist (painter) whose works are displayed in several galleries. He is truly a renaissance man.

All the best to you guys,


Robert G. Strauss
Global Director Proposals
Ph: 713 375 8074 2RW
email: rstrauss@CBI.com

Richmond Rugby 50th reunion

Virginia Rugby Union Selects 1972 @ Anacostia Park v Potomac Rugby Union,.it looks like Richard King (in a leg cast), Woody Woolfolk, xxx, a really cute Ed Browder, Tommy Valentine, George Morehouse, Tom Stanges, Jim Booker, maybe Tom Hudson standing up, in front kneeling Bill Munich, another possible Ed Browder, John Fleming, Steve Coffman, xxx, Dennis Marion and on the floor the late great Joe Flynn.

Cary, Good to see you Saturday at the beach. Hope you stay off ladders in the future !!! Here is what I know about the pix. Standing, L to R Richard King, Woody Woolfolk,------,------, Tommy Valentine,-----,-----,-----,----- Kneeling, L to R -----,-----, Johnny Fleming, Steve Myers, Mike Price, ----- Seated Joe Flynn (was supposed to be me) Will look at a couple of pictures at home and see if I can ID a couple of more for you . Johnny Ellis

more from John Ellis

Cary, Steve Coffman (not Myers), Tom Stanges (short guy two from Valentine’s left), kneeling front left: Bill (something German). Pretty sure on Valentine’s right is Carl (I will find out) a back from Norfolk. Johnny

Cary, This picture was 40 years ago! I think we had one practice and lost to a much more organized PRU team. I had ben playing mostly fullback with a little #8 for Old Dominion and they put Tommy Valentine and I at 2 row. Woody at #8. Tom Stanges had been playing flanker for ODC and played his first and maybe only game at hooker for the VRU select side. It was only at W&M and Norfolk I reached 2nd row weight, though I played mostly #8 for he Tribe. Jim Booker

Mighty Prop,Ian Stuart, passes away Jan 27th,2011

Standing left to right:Terry Curtler,Bubba Green,Clarence Culpepper,Terry Byrd,Mike Thompson,Pete Sweet,Steve Granger,Joe Kenny,Ray Equi,John Mellish

Knelling left to right:Bill Bolton,Les Straken,Steve Bartley, Mike Ossie Osborne,John Fleming in bandage

Sitting left to right:Pat Carlson,Otis Purvis,Bill Stephens,Bubba Floyd,Jim Bowden

Click here for RATS history

Scroll down for Richmond RFC history

Robert F. Steamboat Porter Cup Spring 1972

Front three : Johnny Ellis (10), Ralph Robertson (3), Woody Woolfolk (15). Squatting left : Monk Vaughan (11). Standing, L to R : Basil Nisbet (Coach), Mr. Referee ??, Richard King (7), Chalkie Eades (8), Stan Hall (9), Tommy Valentine (4), Barry Myers (12), Bill Bolton (5), Bill Tichacek (6) C, Sam Hall (2), Steve Myers (14), George Dintiman (13). Missing from Photo : John Fleming (1)..........getting stitches!!!

More about Richmond at the Porter Cup by Johnny Ellis

I found a bit more info surrounding the picture. We got the Richmond Fairgrounds to hold the Porter Cup, because we could lay out two fields side-by-side. There were only six sides in the 1972 competition, but damn good ones. They were Washington, Sudo Americano, Pittsburgh, First Troop of Philadelphia, Norfolk, and Richmond. Washington was the top seed, having been declared the best team in the East the prior Spring, and having won the prestigious Commonwealth Cup also. In the first game of the tournament, Washington and Norfolk played to a 10-10 tie !! Then RRFC lost to First Troop 12-18. Sudo Americano beat Pittsburgh 12-11. Washington beat First Troop 6-3. Norfolk beat Sudo Americano 12-8. RRFC lost to Pittsburgh 7-15. From the picture you can see how awful the conditions were on Saturday, and it then rained all night. The party, with food and a band, was at the Wigwam Restaurant on Route 1 in Glen Allen. After that I have no written record !! I suppose it really was a GREAT party !!! I do not know if Washington and Norfolk played for a championship on Sunday, or if we called it off because of the conditions. If there are Porter Cup results in the RRFC history, maybe the answer is available. We had two losses, but to two quality clubs of the time. This side for RRFC was very good, very balanced. Aggressive forward play and the hard running of our centers and wings were our trademark. That day the other sides were just a bit better, and against Pittsburgh we had to play down a prop when Fleming left the match with his head busted open. The conditions kept us from getting as much ball to our backs as we needed to win. I do remember the second rows of both First Troop and Pittsburgh being gigantic. My Porter Cup Tournament notes show we spent $400 on beer and $475 on everything else !!!!


Note: It was Steve "Coffman" (14), and John Fleming was Captain, not Bill Tichacek.

Sports Illustrated Article 1969 about Commonwealth Cup and Virginia Rugby Football Club
Ed Lee's history file on Richmond RFC in the 70s
Basil's Boot
To: cary@richmondrugby.net CC: trose@vcu.edu From: "Robert G Strauss" Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 10:14:40 -0500

I don't know if you guys have this. I found it in the closet the other day and scanned it for posterity. (See picture below) I believe that it came from the 1968 team.

People identified are:

Upper Row:
Derek Castle in jacket (far left)
Monk Vaughn (8th from left)
Ed Lee in jacket (14th from left)
Steamboat Porter (16th from left)
Johnny Fleming (17th from left)
Tim Wood (7th from right)
Bob Strauss (6th from right)
Fred Fagan (2nd from right)
Les Huey (far right)

Bottom Row knelling:
Sam Hall (far right)
Bob Petkus (4th from right)
Dave Harwood (2nd from left)

Lying Down:

Bob Johnson (left)
Jim Wynn (right)

I'd love to know who some of the other guys are and if they are still in the Old Boys network.

All the best,

Bob Strauss The Woodlands, Texas

More about Bob Strauss's picture above from Dave Harwood

This is what I remember about this picture. It was taken at the John Marshall HS playing field in the spring of '69 toward the end of the season. This team played Richmond England at the now UR stadium under the lights a week or two after the picture was taken by Les Huey. Les (standing in black on right) set his camera on automatic and joined the group. We had a very good season (8 wins - losing only to Washington and Richmond England). REngland beat us 28 - 3. The B game was decided by a try in favor of the tourist. A try in those days counted 3 points. Conversion was two.

Some names in the picture not mentioned that I remember:

Lying down in front - Co-captains Bob Johnson & Jim Wynn

kneeling L -R Gary Tolley, David Harwood, ?, Joe Flynn, ?, Joe Hardin, Bob Petcus, ?, Frank Pole, Sam Hall

Standing (first row) L- R Derrick Cassell,Bob Gilmer, ?, ?, Bobby 'Monk' Vaughn, Richard Simmons, Trip Clark, Ed Lee, Bob Porter, John Flemming, Bob Strauss, ?, ?, Les Huey

Standing (second row) L-R ?, ?, ?, Woody Woolfolk, ?, ?, John Morgan, ?, ?, Fred Fagan

Hope this helps!

Cheers, David Harwood

Hi Dave............
Its been a long time! 36 years since I left Richmond. Most of those names and faces are still very recognizable to me. One additional name to add to the list is Carlton Crooks, I believe. He would be the one next to Les Huey. Les was a professional photographer, and he was the old man on the team. He was about 36 and I considered him ancient at the time.

I played in the game vs. Richmond, England and it was like a blur. The Brits took it to us badly that night, although they left with a lot of bruises put on them by the likes of Bob Johnson. We had the party after the game at Ed Lee's house most likely. We knew we had to be on our good behavior if we had the party there, although I'm not sure that his wife, Sandy, was all that thrilled by it. I actually hosted a Rugby party or two at my apt on Westover Hills Blvd during my tenure in Richmond. Maybe you even attended??

All the best, Bob

We remember
Richmond Old Boys meet first friday of the month at Easy Street Restaurant.More from Tom Rose, "we are now going to Easy Street 2401 West Main Street phone 804.355.1198...plus my office number is 804.828.3365 I do not know who has the 828.8881 number but they might not be happy campers! The Penny Lane location on North 7th is a vacant lot nowadays as they moved to East Franklin! " trose@vcu.edu.

I ran across this old picture of the Club somewhere around '72-'74 (that's when I played). Thought there might just be a website out there...found it ....So here is the picture ! I am in the front row (standing) - I am 5th from the right black hair and moustache. The guy 3rd rom the right is Howard Skelton. The guy in black was our coach...can't remember name yet, he was from Rhodesia We practiced in the West End back then..... off of Cary Street.

Hope you post it. I will try to remember so of the names and send them to you if you like.....that was a lot of scrums & beers ago I will do my best.

Roger Clark - former Prop - back in the old days

This picture was taken July 2002 at the Club pigroast. On the left is Frank Bedell, one of the true originals from the 63 side and Basel Nesbit on the right, who started in 65 with old Richmond RFC.

VRU select spring of 1976 played California Cougars which was loaded with Bay Area players from Old Blue and The BATS

Richmond Players IDed in the photo are John Flemming,Scott Coffield,and Bill Lucas

L to R standing Bill Lucas,Steve Granger,Clarence Culpepper,Terry Byrd,Welshman unnamed?,Danny Lonergan,Jody Walker,Bubba Green,John Mellish (Coach) front row L to R Otis Purvis,Norfolk guy unnamed?,John Fleming,George Boothby,Mike "Ozzie" Osborn,Dale,Scott Coffield Match was lost but both sides were loaded with talent. Otis Purvis went on to serve on our National side 3 years later. Clarence Culpepper was a capped Eagle and Captain of the National side during the time of this match. Terry Byrd from James River was and is rated as the best #8 to ever play in Virginia. George Boothby was the most committed and intense flanker within living memory. Everyone respected John Mellish,the coach and fine referee in the VRU. John Fleming,former golden gloves boxer, was contentious prop.

From Bob Strauss: "Believe this to be the 1968 RRFC Team photo. Captain Jim Wynn and Steamboat Porter. Faces in the crowd are Ed Lee, Bob Strauss, John Flemming, Steamboat, Jim Wynn, Jim McDaniel, Trip Clark, Les Huey,Sam Hall, Terry Curtler, and Fred Fagan. Where were you that day, Bob Petkus?"

Lance Vandercastle 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. ?? (Can't tell or remember, not a VRU regular)
6. Jody Walker (Norfolk)
7. Clarence Culpepper (Roanoke)
8. Lance Van de Castle (Virginia)
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.

Lance Van de Castle, Project Manager for Barton Malow Company
BMC 100 Tenth Street NE, Suite 100 Charlottesville, VA 22902
Desk: 434-984-8800 Mobile: 434-242-8542 Fax: 434-984-8815
E-mail: lance.vandecastle@bartonmalow.com

Pete Sweet comments on the picture above:

The second row Lance can not remember is himself. I was #6 ( in the red scrum cap) Jody Walker was #8 and Lance was 2nd row with Bill Bolton. We lost to the PRU which I felt was because Dickie kept kicking away all of our possession. I have a lot of these old VRU and team photo's if you want them for this site.


Posted Nov 27th,2004 by Tom Rose:

Thirty years ago, the RRFC was in Bermuda playing four matches on the island over Thanksgiving 1974 against the Bermuda Police, BAA, the Teachers and the Bermuda national side. We went over with about 25 players and wives and girlfriends staying at the Messina House in bunkbeds and in sleeping bags on the gym floor. The rental motorbikes were more dangerous to the players (like Richard King and his cabbage patch accident) zooming down the highway on the wrong side of the road too many times after the matches or from the Canadian AFB Officers Club. Tommy Tichacek must have damaged his leg cast once or twice in his more interesting motorbike adventures. Karlis Graubics at 35 and Archie Tyler at 37 were our Old Boys on the tour (so guess who is soon to be Medicare eligible on Dec 19th). George Borden was a god sent with his magic pills while he tended to the injuried. Remember Woody and John Fleming having to bicycle over from the airport at St George all the way across the island to Somerset. Absent friends now include Monk Vaughan and Mike Kuper. Hope we can corral a few of the Bermudans to attend this coming month's OB Lunch and recount how many tries each scored in the Saturday victory over the Presidents Select XV.

TMRose 12noon 11-24-2004 This is a recollection of who played

Fred Salzinger 
Chris Durr 
Steve Vaughan 
Gary Tolley 
Derek Wright 
Ralph Robertson 
Johnny Fleming 
Woody Woolfolk 
Howard Jennings 
Mike Kuper 
Dave Harwood 
Archie Tyler 
Karlis Graubics 
Bill Tichacek 
Tom Tichacek 
Orlando Lobo 
Monk Vaughan 
Richard King 
Bill Bolton 
George Borden (trainer) 
Carl Salera 
Joe Woodle 
Ned Dickinson 
Frank Foley 
Hey it has been 30 years... 

Virginia RFC History
Porter Cup 1982
Porter Cup 1984
Rugby History on The Legendary Pete Sweet

L to R Bob Strauss,Tim Wood, Sam Hall, Jim Wynn

From Bob Strauss: "Thirty years ago, on Saturday March 8, 1969, at Charlottesville, VA, these four lads, in the peak of their rugby playing days, posed after the game with UVa. It was a bitter disappointment as we lost 18-3 in a very even hard fought match on a muddy afternoon. The loss was the only one of the season, except for losing to the Richmond (England Touring) Club in City Stadium at the end of the season. Our record that season was 14-1, not counting the international match at the end of the season."

Legendary Match in City Stadium Fall 69, 2500 people thru the gate

More on that legendary match between Richmond and Richmond, England by Robert Strauss.

"The English put on quite a show. Richmond USA was really pumped up that evening as we were playing in front of hundreds of people at City Statium. The English took advantage of that. They would flip the ball to the backs who would run right at us. As we tackled them, and we really gave them a pasting, they would turn their back and dish the ball off to someone else. After they had us expecting that, they would dummy the ball to their teammate and run past us as we took the fake. I played right wing forward and they had me running all over the field. We had several former highcaliber football players on the team that night as I recall. We had George Dintiman, who payed pro football for the Baltimore Colts as a defensive back; Bob Johnson, who had captained Duke's football team a couple of years before; and Bob Petkus, who played for Illinois. I'm sure that the English had some bruises to work off.

The best part of the game was the party. My only regret was that I had to go to work at midnight in Hopewell to participate in a plant startup as supervising engineer. As I recall, it was one of the worst nights of my life."

In summer of 1988-I was asked by Capts.Chris Didilake &David Slocum to coach the Club for 2 seasons till USEagle player-Terry Wheyland arrived. My coaching resume’ included 15 seasons at UR & 2yrs as co-head coach of VRU Collegiate select side. Our overall record at University of Richmond was .750 & included victories over 2 of the 3 city clubs. The third declined to play us.

The Richmond team had some definite talent but cohesion was not in their lexicon. This team had a succession of 4 plus coaches in several years. They were hardly focused on serious,competitive rugby.For example-there had been no Norfolk victories in several years. After meeting with the team & holding a demanding practice, I determined that Fitness & Cohesion would be our defining Values. Only one prima donna decided to sit out the interim period. We had a won/lost record of 75% which included 2 upset wins over Norfolk.

In summary,I was able to blend character,chemistry & talent among this group who so honored me. Some said these seasons set the foundation for the 1989 winning of Ed Lee Cup. But Basil Nisbet's importation of 2 gifted S.Africans & several more new impact players were clearly definitive also. Club history Update-

Sam S. Hall

Richmond RFC 1989 Ed Lee Cup Victory as told by the legendary Tom Oxenham

"The fall 1989 season is one most Richmond RFC supporters remember fondly. Former Eagle prop Terry Whelan joined the club and took over the team's training. Richmond was enjoying a modestly successbul season, competing with Roanoke for the second seed behind perennial favorite Norfolk at the annual VRU Championships. However, some observers felt that Richmond needed a spark going into the Ed Lee Cup.

As he so often has Basil Nisbet came to the rescue. Using his connections with the South African rugby community, Basil arranged for a young Natal prop named Roddy Blue to come over for a short visit,coincidentally planned to correspond with the Ed Lee Cup. It was felt that props Blue and Whelan, combined with veteran hooker Bill Strauss, would give Richmond a front row that could compete with the big boys from Norfolk and Roanoke. At the last minute Roddy persuaded a rugby mate of his to accompany him on the trip. That mate was an outside center by the name of Dickie Muir.

The South African lads arrived the week of Richmond's last regular season match against Roanoke. Richmond's guests had made arrangements to conduct some coaching sessions with local colleges and, due to those arrangments arrived at the Mountain Road pitch after the match had begun. Roddy Blue was ximmediately inserted into the match due to a fortuitous "injury", but since no one knew about Muir, he sat on the sidelines until the B match.

Once the B match began, Dickie Muir put on a rugby exhibition of elusive running and powerful kicking beyond belief. It was all his Richmond teammates could do to keep up with him (quite likely he slowed down a few times so we could catch up). Club members were smiling from ear to ear the next week as we practiced in anticipation of unleashing our secret South African weapons on the rest of the VRU.

Saturday morning's first match at the Lake Taylor Fields was against the Richmond Area Training Side. The Richmond brain trust of Pete Sweet and Terry Whelan decided to rest the South Africans and play some mates who probabably would not see action for the remainder of the weekend. The result was a closely played match largely decided by the accurate goal kicking of fullback Bob Bell. Richmond advanced to the semifinals against Roanoke.

In the other bracket Norfolk decided to select a weakened side against Blacksburg. The decision backfired and the men from Hokie land defeated the mighty Blues to set up Richmond-UVA final.

The lads from Charlottesville had their own "superstar" in Scotsman Bill Russel (dead ringer for Rod "The God" Stewart of pop music fame). Bill was a Doctorate candidate with a powerful foot and overwhelming running style. He later was capped as an Eagle Seven and coached the National 7 a side on several international tours. The match-up was set.The fans were not to be disappointed.

In one of the finest individual displays of rugby talent ever displayed at the Ed Lee Cup in living memory, Dickie Muir showed what a workd-class rugby player can do against club competition. Whenever Bill Russel would put up a long clearing kick, it seemed Dickie would answer with a longer one. Russell once kicked the ball dead into the try zone. Dickie brings the ball out to the 22 and blasts a drop kick that goes into touch at the Richmond 5 meter! With UVA defense loosened up by the aerial barrage, Muir began to counterattack. No one who witnessed the match can forget a second half counter when Dickie fielded a Russell punt, counterattacked and left Russell lying prone on the turf grasping air from a lightning sidestep executed at a full gallop. The frustrated Scotsman remained on the turf pounding the grass with his fists and boots. T'is painfull to see such a gifted player laid so low.

Jeff Herb ,the rotund but blazing flanker for Richmond, had simple instructions from Dickie if he got the ball. "If you get your hands on the ball move to the center of the field, I will be there." Well Jeff did get the ball and did move to the center, Dickie struck from a position, at least 25 meters deep. Got the off load from Jeff and swept into the try zone untouched. The move was trully beyond belief because I have never seen anyone catch Jeff who was moving at a full sprint down the center of the pitch. Jeff is a blazer in his own right and just recently lead Orlando to the National Club 7's Final 4 (1999). Jeff was fast and blessed with fast twitch fibers; his dad had played for the Baltimore Colts. It was a 40 meter try in less time to draw a breath. The eyes were unbelieving.

Richmond claimed their second ED LEE Cup, at the time, the only club other than Norfolk to claim the prize more than once. While Roddy Blue was a skilled and able player, no prop can dominate a game the way a highly talented center can (rebutal to that statement click here). Thus, the 1989 ED Lee Cup Tournament became Dickie Muir's tournament. Dickie returned to South Africa and continued to play rugby at the highest level. He was a regular in the Super 12 league, Currie Cup, and was eventually "capped" for the Springboks. Dickie retired as an active player in 1998 due to age and a chronic neck injury. For the old-time Richmond supporters the fall of 1989 was a special time and Dickie Muir will always be magic."

A few ammendments to the Dickie Muir legend by Danny Patterson

"I am enjoying the club history. Not to be too much of a stickler----but it is history.

Rod and Dickie first showed up when we were playing the RATS. Dickie came into the second half of the B game and immediately set me up for a 50 meter try. That's some set up for me to score a long try. I had 3 that game before a frustrated RAT kicked me square in the face and knocked me out. I scored 2 of the trys before Dickie came into the game. First and only hat trick for me.

Dickie was not a show off and did only what he had to do to outpace his opponents. During his second week we were scrimmaging in practice and I challenged him on the outside. Of course,he caught me in about 3 steps, but the point is, I actually entertained the ridiculous thought that there was a chance I could beat him because he had not shown his speed yet. Not until the finals of the ED LEE CUP did Dickie turn it loose and short of poetry, your description does his performance justice.

Dickie did play in the first game of the ED LEE CUP against the RATS. I was inside center and he was outside center. The memory is very clear. One doesn't forget playing with a Springbok."

Danny Patterson

Footnotes to the l990 campaign by Tom Oxenham

Richmond faced the 1990 fall season needing to answer the question of whether its previous year's VRU championship was a fluke due to the talents of its South African guest players. At the beginning of the season, the addition of some new players was reason for optimisim. In 1989, Mike Toney had defected from James River in the hope of stimulating a merger. He had been accompanied by scrumhalf Doug Clarke and prop Mike Kirk. In 1990, three more James River defectors joined Richmond, prop Marc Butler, flanker Joe Pai, and lock Jerry Gilfoyle.

Butler took over at tighthead prop for the departed Roddy Blue forming a front row with loosehead Terry Whelan and hooker Bill Strauss. Gilfoyle joined holdover veteran Dave Slocum and Terry's younger brother Sean, another newcomer, to create a formidable second row rotation. The backrow was anchored by #8 Chris Didlake and also included flankers Toney, Pai, additional newcomers JB Hillman and Sean Coll, and Richmond Veteran Tim Herrity, Richmond's backs were "the usual suspects" including Pete Sweet, the "Punky Brothers" Chris Farley, Dr. Woody Woolfolk, and Todd Sowder. Another newcomer was a Kiwi, by way of South Carolina whose name escapes me (I remember now, Rex Ingram).

Despite these promising personnel additions, Richmond had a mediocre regular season and went into the Ed Lee Cup seeded fourth. That seeding placed Richmond in the same bracket as the first place Norfolk Blues and meant a first round match against the fifth seeded RATS. Just like the year before, the opening match was tightly played with the key to Richmond's victory being a drop goal by the alway dangerous Pete Sweet. Norfolk, having learned its lesson from the previous year, did not take Blacksburg lightly and won. The Richmond-Norfolk match-up was set for Saturday afternoon' semifinal.

As one would expect the match was dominated by the forwards. Neither back line could get untracked. Richmond selected the pile driving Joe Pai at center to give it more striking power. The Kiwi for Richmond had a spell of cold kicking and points from the fringing Norfolk pack went begging. A controversial call from perenial Norfolk touch judge and ageless B-side hooker, Tom West, interpreting Lake Taylor's overlapping try zones, denied Brian Payne a try. In the end Richmond lost a close match and was forced into the consolation game with Roanoke. Norfold would go on to defeat UVA for the Ed Lee Cup. The Cup, by the way, won by Richmond the previous year mysteriously disappeared. Nesbit was asked to shed light on its whereabouts but refused to submit to a polygraph exam.

There was, however, one extremely bright moment in the otherwise disappointing match. Apparently midway in the second half the ref signalled for a scrum. The two packs had been jousting all match. This time the Richmond pack decided to settle the issue. As stunned spectators observed from both sidelines, The Richmond forwards proceeded to lift the entire Norfolk front row into the air. As Marc Butler later observed, "I looked across and all I could see was six feet dangling in the air." While Richmond would lose the war, at least it had won this impressive battle."


Richmond's Undefeated 1993 Season

So far, no one has mentioned anything about Richmond's 1993 undefeated season. At the risk of being accused of monopolizing the club history, here are my recollections of that season.

Regards to all,
Tom Oxenham

Sport fans are among the most optimistic people in the world. At the beginning of every new season, hope is renewed and a team's rooters become convinced that ours can beat theirs, at least until the games begin in earnest. At the beginning of the 1993 VRU fall league season, Richmond supporters were no different. In the previous spring Brett Burdick had taken over as coach. The players had reacted well to his hard but productive practices, and Brett brught a knowledge of the game and a willingness to innovate that excited the team. Partly through the use of Brett's new split-back formation with credits to rugby philosopher Jim Greenwood, Richmond had ended the spring season with victories on successive weekends over cross-town rivals James River and the Richmond Area Training Side.

Still, there were some problem areas that needed to be addressed, not the least of which was the aging of the players. Brett had finished the season wearing the number 10 shirt, and I was in the number 15. I can't speak for Brett, but I was certain I would not last an entire season on the first side at age 43.** Fortunately, help was on the way. Scottish-born but Richmond raised scrum half,Marcus Scarth, had returned home after his service in the Marine Corps, where he had resumed his rugby career with some distinction. A new fullback had had arrived in town from Philadelphis, Ross Kent who had experience with Second Troop. Locally, former VCU lock Art Mills joined the Club where he teamed with VMI grad Steve Simulcik to provide Richmond with a powerful second row. And once again,the Basil Nesbit connection paid off. Using his contacts with Cornwall coach Dave Thomas, Basil had arranged for a promising young Cornish fly half, Scott Randle, to play for the Club for the fall season. Scott was due to arrive the week following Labor Day, and the players were awaiting his arrival with great anticipation.

Of the newcomers, only Marcus and Art were available for the Mountain Cup Tournament in Blacksburg over Labor Day Weekend which the Club was using as a warm-up to the regular season. With Brett once more at 10 and me at 15, the Club had mixed success. We did break in a couple of English exchange students studying at MCV, one of whom, Will Whitaker, showed some promise as a wing. It was apparent, however, that the Club needed a spark. It arrived that week in the presence of Scott Randle who was the most talented player I had the privilege to step on the pitch with for the exception of Springbok, Dickie Muir.

Brett had implemented a policy of not starting a new player on the A side until he had proved himself in a least one B match. Our first regular match was against Newport News, and Scott was relegated to B side duty. Brett played the first match at fly and Richmond won easily. In fact, Brett still brags to this day that Scott Randle was never a unanimous selection at fly; since Brett was on the selection committee. I wonder who cast the dissenting vote? Everyone waited for the second match. Scott did not disappoint the Richmond crowd. He single handedly destroyed NewPort News B side. The legend of the "fanchise" was born.

The next week against Va. Beach RFC was a sterner test. Beach was still a competitive side in those days. Because of work committments, Ross Kent had missed the Newport News match and had to serve his B side apprenticeship at the Beach match(which left a shakey overaged #15 on the pitch). ** The match began as a tightly played contest as Scott adjusted to his new mates. But talent won out as Scott's running , kicking, and decision making lead Richmond to victory going away.

The next few matches were little challenge, and Richmond began thinking seriously about the VRU Championship. As it almost always demands, in 1993, the road to the champioship ran through Norfolk, both literally and figuratively. Norfolk had an early season blemish on its record courtesy of Roanoke and needed a victory over Richmond to remain VRU champs. With a win over Norfolk, Richmond would be the favorites to win the league despite playing Roanoke in the season finale. Selections were especially critical as two Richmond starters, hooker Dean Andrews and lock Art Mills, were unavailabe for the match. After a great deal of discussion, the selection committe chose experience over youth to replace the missing starters, going with veterans Bill Strauss and Jerry Gilfoyle. Those selections would pay dividends during the match.

The team that Richmond put out that day a Lafayette Park in Norfolk was perhaps the best kicking team Richmond ever put on the pitch. In addition to Scott Randle, Maus Scarth was an effective goal kicker, and on the wing Richmond had ex-VCU rugby and soccer star John Dugan. John is currently player-coach for the A League professional Raleigh Flyers. In fact, all of Richmond's 15 points on the day would come off the boot, including two drop goals from Scott, one right footed and one left footed!. The 15 points were just enough to offset Norfolk's 12 from 2 trys on unconverted.

For many, a key point in the match came late in the first half. Richmond was clinging to slim lead when the cover defense failed to handle a deep kick by Norfolk. Richmond carried the ball into goal and had to touch it down for a 5 meter scrum to Norfolk. With Norfolk's powerful pck, it appeared Norfolk could count on a try from the restart, but props March Butler and Kevin Scott with hooker , Bill Strauss had a different plan. Bill stole the put in and Adam Kuhn cleared it to Randle for a monstrous punt from his own try zone deep into Norfolk territory for touch. Instead of a try which would have allowed them to take control of the match, Norfolk was forced to defend its own territory.

The killer for Norfolk had to be Scott's second drop goal with the left foot. Richmond had a slim lead and Norfolks persistent pressure was wearing down Richmond's defense. A try would tie the game, and the conversion would give Norfolk the lead. Instead, Norfolk went down by 8, insuring that it would need two scores to take the match. When the final whistle sounded, an exhausted Richmond side claimed a rare victory over the legendary Blues. I vividly remember how absolutely drained Jerry Gilfoyle was. He had battled Norfolk's massive Tim Trivett in the lineouts all day and won plenty of ball for Richmond. That was before the days of lifting when real men thrashed for the lineout ball rather than sending flying fairies into the air. Like Jerry the players were too exhausted to express joy, at least, until they got to the party.

Richmond went on to defeat Roanoke in an anticlimactic seasn final. The Ed Lee Cup was canceled that year due to torrential rains. Richmond was therefore declared undefeated VRU Champions for 1993!

Richmond advanced to the play-offs but lost a difficult match in Charlotte with an understrength side. Scott Randle had a leg injury. Scott was later named most valuable back at the annual banquet; he returned to England and is pursuing a professional rugby career.


**Webmaster comment: Otis is too modest about his playing contributions to the club during the early 90's. Although forty something, Tom nurtured an overwhelming defensive element to his game. He laid on the hits without remorse and would tackle anything he could reach. Nobody ran through Tom. And that's why he remained a first side fullback well beyond the normal playing years of the rest of us mortals.