The rain is audible on the turf of Yager field and the sky is a shade of grey that would keep most people cooped up inside. Not rugby players, though. Not Miami University’s Old Boys.
This Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Miami University Rugby Football Club (MURFC)’s founding. It was celebrated as it has been every year since 1977, with the Old Boys Weekend.
Miami’s rugby teams, old and young, competed for honor and bragging rights for the 41st time on Saturday. With no trophies or prizes on the line, the games were full of camaraderie and laughter. Alumni squared off with players, some half their age, with smiles and grit.
Alumni not playing in the games stood under tents and roofs shouting at the players for good and bad plays alike. Families and friends talked and laughed as if it hadn’t been years since they last saw one another. The day was damp and dreary, but the atmosphere at Yager stadium was bordering on jubilant. Everyone was happy to be there and, despite its best efforts, the weather wasn’t a bother.
After the games, players and their families convened at Mac and Joe’s for drinks and snacks before a formal dinner in Shriver Center. For the rugby alumni, “formal” meant hawaiian shirts.
“Doug Edwards is a huge part of why this is even happening tonight,” class of ‘89 alum Ferd Schneider said. “Doug would always wear hawaiian shirts, that’s about as formal as he got. So this [dinner] being semi-formal, hawaiian shirts are in play.”
Doug Edwards was one of the founding fathers of the rugby club, which began in 1968. He continued to coach the team from 1980 until he passed away in 2002.
His son, Sean Edwards, is now the president of the MURFC Alumni Association. The father and son’s devotion to the sport and to Miami is the reason the club is one of only four club teams to have been around for 50 years.
“[The club] is being held together by alumni that always come back and contribute to keep it alive,” class of ‘74 alum Jim Griffes said. “I actually was assistant coach here for over 20 years. I enjoy seeing the guys I played with and the guys I coached all meet.”
Alumni agree that rugby is an incredible experience for all who partake. For some, it’s about more than just the sport; it’s about the community.
“The men that I met and the friendship that I made have been maintained over the past 30 plus years,” Schneider said.
Old Boys Weekend is a time of joy and nostalgia for rugby club alums. Competing and catching up with friends and teammates after decades away from Miami is something that current and past members always look forward to.
“This is my strongest tie to Miami, the rugby club,” class of ‘83 alum Tom Parker said. “And I’ve made friends from various generations, that I didn’t play with, through coming back for Old Boys.”