Rugby alumni honor club’s 50th anniversary

Rugby alumni Jerome Crawford is tackled in the anniversary game played in the football practice field behind Strawberry Stadium.
Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar 

On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of university’s rugby club, alumni and former players came together to host rugby match.

On Nov.18, friends and family of rugby alumni cheered the players as they played in the football practice field behind Strawberry Stadium.

Professor of History and Director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies Samuel C. Hyde, Jr. described how he felt the event went.

“The game itself went great,” said Hyde. “We had so many people out here, we had a lot of subs. We had fill sides on each side. Couldn’t have asked for a better day, a better match and better people to play it with.”

Event organizer Jason Mapp, who refereed the game also shared what went through organizing the event.

“It’s 50 years of Southeastern Rugby,” said Mapp. “We had a little something back in January. Every semester, we do an alumni game. So this was the fall semester’s alumni match in a way. Sam Hyde got together with Alumni Association and getting the field lined up and coordinated and everything. Myself and Mauricio, we started contacting pretty much everybody we had contact for.”

Rick Odom, a member of the 1967 Rugby Club was also present during the event. He described how the club was originally formed.

“John Healy originally started it,” said Odom. “He was a history professor. He really started it. He was from up north. John worked in New Orleans. He was a professor at Dillard, UNO and Delgado basically at the same time. In ’98, I think it was, he was in Spain. He went to a monastery about 80 miles outside of Madrid check some papers and was killed in an automobile accident on his way back to Madrid. We had a big memorial for him down at the Mint in New Orleans. There was all kind of dignitaries there. He was the one that originally started this and he was a unbelievable guy.”

Odom also shared how his team used to play tournaments around the United States.

“Lots of tournaments,” said Odom. “We played tournaments in Park City, Utah , Wisconsin, St. Louis, Missouri, Austin, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee, Houston, Texas, North Carolina. Basically all over the United States. We used to have the largest rugby tournament in the world in Hammond at Mardi Gras time. We had teams from Canada, from all over.”

Hyde explained why hosting this event meant a lot to him.

“We had been watching that the 50th anniversary is coming up,” said Hyde. “It’s special for me because the guy that’s founded the team, his name was John Healy, and he was a history professor. There’s a story that is he lost his job because he went to Vietnam War protest here on the Southeastern campus. He founded the team before he left. We wanted to do something special for 50th anniversary.”

Hyde shared his vision for rugby in Hammond.

“Our idea is that if we can get the club started here on campus, then we want to bring the Mardi Gras tournament back and make Hammond and Southeastern one of the biggest rugby spots in North America,” said Hyde.

Mapp described that to initiate a club, students need to come forth to start a team.

“We can get all the paper work and everything,” said Mapp. “We’ve already got certified coaches and all that. We got enough alumni in the area that could help out. We just need kids that wanna play.”

Former players of the university's Rugby Club came together to play the match. Since the players came in numbers, both the sides could play full team. Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar