First year of rugby:
Positions: Scrum half, fly half
Walt Whitman High (National Championship team), American University Eagles, Washington Irish, Wild Geese Old Boys RFC
Traveling to Dublin with the Washington Irish on my 50th Birthday (2008) with
my two sons and playing with them both in a match against Clontarf RFC. My
younger of the two sons scampered down the field for the first try with me huffing
and puffing from behind, but in support. We went on to a post party hosted by the
Clontarf RFC which provided one of the more memorable post match celebrations
and the opportunity to be interviewed live about the Washington Irish on BBC
Radio at the dinner celebration.~
In 1987, against the strong protests of my wife who was three weeks away from
delivering our second child, we travelled to Charlottesville for the Commonwealth
Cup. I had promised to wallpaper a bathroom before the baby arrived and chose the Irish match instead. It was pouring rain and the field had huge ponds spread throughout. We played Harvard in our first match and I went into a tackle head first in a fellow's thigh and it snapped my neck. The next thing you know I am face down in a puddle drowning with no feeling from the neck down. The match was stopped as I was rolled over. I was medevaced to the local teaching hospital and appeared on the evening news. Little did I know my sister in law was in television range and saw me on the news and called home asking if I was ok. I was discharged with a neck brace having subluxed and cracked two vertebrae.
Given this was pre-cell phone days I called home to check in and survived the
interrogation only by suggesting it was some other poor lad who was injured and
that he was on the mend. I returned home to a rather disgruntled and emotional
expectant mother who when she saw my neck brace informed me I was still
wallpapering the bathroom, neck brace or not. The wallpaper remained in that
bathroom at an 87 degree angle for ten years as a reminder to the choices we
make in life.
What makes the Irish different?
Four attributes of the Washington Irish differentiate the club from others. First, is
the character of the Washington Irish Rugger. The Irish have always attracted
solid citizens who make strong contributions on and off the field. This has
produced ambassadors, teachers, entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 CEOs, master
craftsmen, world class fathers and husbands, and warriors. The Irish must remain selective and prudent occasionally willing to cull the herd of the bad apples in
order to maintain that integrity and reputation.
Second, and closely linked is the way the club is a family and embraces families. As a young Irish player I always looked up to those older players with their kids running up and down the sidelines squealing away with a rugby ball in hand. Girlfriends, wives, life partners, kids, friends and neighbors all embraced by the Washington Irish family. In good times
and in life's worst challenges, my Washington Irish family has been there.
Thirdly, the respect for the Founders and their vision of a brotherhood and lifelong
camaraderie is what separates great clubs from those that are flash in the pans. It explains why many of us have been dear friends since the 1980's. The Irish
Classics is a great example of honoring those who laced the boots before and put
the foundation in place for the current day
Finally, the Washington Irish have
always benefitted from and bred great leaders. It is the leadership of the cub that
has kept it steady and on course over the years. Succession planning and
grooming the future club leaders will be essential over the long term. The
Washington Irish is not a club, it is a cult built around friendship and lifelong
relationships! Rugby is not a game, it is a way of life.
Outside of rugby:
Enjoying all aspects of rugby with my wife and kids; Jimmy Buffet songs, lazy
days at the beach. Post touch and post-match BBQs and drink ups with my rugby
“Follow what wise men follow, don't simply follow wise men. In that way you will honor them most."
- Ancient Chinese proverb