In the closing days of World War II, Brigadier General Charles Canham, then assistant division commander of the 8th Infantry Division, was about to receive the surrender of a German Unit.
“I’m here to receive your surrender,” he told the three- star German commander, who replied “I won’t surrender until I see your credentials”.
Canham gestured to the Riflemen accompanying him:
“These are my credentials.”
Founders of Rugby at West Point — The Army Rugby Team – Spring of 1962:
The Class of 1962 are the Founders of Rugby at West Point. One of those first “Can Do” Rugby players was to become Army Chief of Staff. He understood the profound significance of General Canham’s response …. and the sacred and inherent obligation officers have to the soldiers under their command.
Currently the only names listed are Class of 1962 – The Can Do Class.
Extreme upper left in soccer uniform – Coach “Ric Cesped”;
70 John Taylor – Founder; 6X Mike Schredl – Left Prop; 65 Dean Stanley; XX Denis Reimer – Right Prop;
62 George Tank Telenko – RFC Scrum Lock; 40 Bob DeVries (Left Wing); 20 Bill Scherr – Scrum Half; 44 Russ DeVries (Right Wing); 93 Dick Duncan – Dave Mundt not in Team picture due to injury. Paul McNamara (Right Wing) also not in Team picture.
Probably Ric Cesped standing and Russ DeVries #44
John Taylor Class of ’62 the driving force in founding Rugby, dedicates what Rugby is in 2008/2009 to our Classmate “Ric Cesped” Rugby’s First Coach:
Rugby at West Point – An Article from the Irish Times – Saturday Dec 2008
!New! Army RUGBY ALUMNI page:
Click on “Photos”
to see some 70 photos from the decade pages:
Army Rugby, 60s
Army Rugby, 70s
Army Rugby, 80s
Army Rugby, 90s
Army Rugby, 00s
More photos and information are welcomed – send to email@example.com.
Note- These photos were once hosted by USCC but are no longer available at the Rugby club page. However, if you want to follow the current Men’s and Women’s Army Rugby teams i.e. view roster, schedule etc. (current as of 2013) go to:
click on Competitive Sports for Men’s and Women’s Rugby:
West Point Rugby on Facebook
West Point Women’s Rugby on Facebook:
The First Army Men’s Rugby Team – 1961
The Early Years: It was gloom period 1961. Since the previous summer John Taylor ’62 was intent in bringing the game of rugby-football to West Point. He knew that once started it would spread like wildfire adding to the long tradition of leaning how to win by competing in the fields of friendly strife. He faced a tough challenge. Little support from organized sports at the Academy, no funds, no experienced players, no coach, and no fields to call home. John persisted against all odds. He got the support of Pete Dawkins, who had made fame first as an All-American Football player and later as a successful rugby player while at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. He gathered positive feedback from the Corps, Finally John received a personal letter from General “William Westmoreland”, the Superintendent, authorizing the formation of a Class B competitive Club.
From the surveys that John conducted he learned of a classmate from Chile, “Ric Cesped”, who had played rugby. I first met John in March 1961. John infected me with his enthusiasm to add rugby-football to the sports practiced at West Point. Would I coach? Coaching was an art about which I knew nothing – although I had been blessed with wonderful coaches in my life. My rugby experienced was limited to playing wing forward for 6 years at the Grange School, an English Boarding School in Chile, with some success as a player. To coach in English, my second language was a daunting thought. But I could not refuse John’s request and thus I joined him in starting the Army Rugby-Football Club and in creating the first team of what would become the seed to the most successful sport in the history of West Point.
Authorized to start the Club John, raised enough funds to buy a few rugby balls, whistles, and rulebooks. In recalling those early days Bill Scherr ’62, Army Rugby’s first great scrum half recalls… (our first practices we didn’t have uniforms. During practices, half of us had to turn our USMA Sweat Shirts inside out to distinguish the two sides. One afternoon, walking back to the barracks after practice, I was written up by the OIC for being out of uniform because I was wearing my muddy sweatshirt inside out. My understanding TAC threw it out). Later, Coach Palone loaned us Army soccer equipment and much came from the B football team. We were assigned the furthest-most field on Post (Target Field located by the Hudson River) where only the NYC railroad trains would visit us, once in a while. If you got injured, your teammates would have to carry you back. John took the lead on all administrative tasks and in learning how to finds rugby teams to challenge. He also played whenever and wherever there was a need. At the time, rugby in the USA was played mainly in Ivy League schools, in the West Coast at Stanford and Cal, and by Clubs formed mostly by immigrant enthusiasts from traditional rugby countries like England, Ireland, France, Australia and South Africa. The Rugby Clubs were the best teams around and were known for having the best party traditions in American sport circles.
Those who volunteered to start the Rugby Club finally gathered at our lonely playing field. About 40 cadets from all four classes showed up on that cold April day. Their backgrounds were B squad football, 150 lb. football, soccer, and ice hockey and intramurder jocks. Not one of the prospective players knew what rugby was all about. Within minutes John and I realized that creating a respectful Army rugby team would be a bigger challenge than we ever imagined, specially doing so safely and without serious injury. Learning the basics on how to tackle (not block), how to use your feet (after all the game is called rugby-football because the feet play an important part in winning the game), how to constantly pass the ball to your team-mates (and not hang-on to the ball while trying to gain as many yards as possible), how to play without rest in 45 minutes halves, how to form loose scrums to retain control of the ball, etc would be the key to our mission… and so, we started with the basics. But the volunteers wanted to “play” the game, and so, we started playing a little at a time, with the one practice ball we had, selecting in the process an A and a B team, without regards to class standing, and without loosing focus of the need to master the basics. We all learned at the same time, not only how to play the game but how to do a better job of coaching the game and administering the emerging organization. By late April 1961 we were ready to try our new skills, against one of the best rugby clubs in the East — the Westchester NY Rugby Club (NYRC). It would be a learning experience — Army lost, but the score was very close, and our heads were held high. In the process, we gained confidence and we became a better team. Rugby had become part of our life at West Point.
In our second year, spring 1962, we again focused on the basics while learning to improve our teamwork. John had organized a full schedule of games ending the season with a match against “our teachers of an earlier year… the Westchester NYRC. We started fielding one team. We had about 40 – 50 club members by then. General “William Westmoreland” and his wife took interest in our Club and we got more support including a medic and an ambulance in case of serious injury. Once in a while they would show up during practice and encourage us on.
We became a pretty good team, blessed with tons of enthusiasm, lots of energy and speed, fearless low tackling, a serious lack of weight and size in the forward line, and an incredible “Can Do” attitude. We needed no coaching in having a good time together or in partying in NYC when we played away. Lack of discipline in our trips was noted by the Sup. As the team departed for NYC to play Columbia it was stopped by the MPs and returned to barracks for inspection, by General Westmoreland, no less. The bus commander, Mike Schredl ’62, was requested to call him at his quarters on the team’s return to WP. In Mike’s words… “When I called him at home that Sunday evening and told him that we lost, I was expecting disciplinary action. I had visions of a 15&15 and possibly a delayed graduation. Completely opposite of the tact taken when inspecting us he expressed his sorrow over our loss and then complemented us for a good season. I am sure that he sensed the anxiety in my voice. He then commended me for seating at the front of the bus and explained that good leaders lead by example and are highly visible but, at the same time, are always aware of what the troops in the back are doing. I found General Westmoreland to be a warm, caring and compassionate man and he then told that there would be no further actions taken….”
Our second season was our first winning season. We had lost only one game by the time we again met the NYRC. It was Saturday, May 12, 1962 when we were scheduled to play the NYRC, our last game of the season. That same day General Douglas MacArthur would make his famous trip to West Point to deliver his last speech to the Corps of Cadets. (“Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be duty, honor, country….Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the corps, and the corps, and the corps. I bid you farewell.”) No doubt, MacArthur’s speech had a profound impact on all of us. Maybe it was listening to the author of such inspiring words. Maybe it was just what West Point is all about. On that day, the Army Rugby-Football team would play and beat the best team in the Country, giving those who would follow us the legacy that our rugby team was destined to stand not only among the best in America, but ultimately rank with the best in the world.
Success in the rugby fields requires total commitment to teamwork and rarely one player makes the difference, perhaps with one exception –the fullback position. This is the last line of defense, the one person who has … to stop the hordes at the gate…. and we were blessed by the best fullback in the Eastern Rugby League — Rizzio, who knew no fear and kept the opponents from scoring in numerous occasions. He would be selected to the All Eastern Rugby Team to play the All Canada Rugby team.
A few weeks later, the oldest of the Founding Classes would graduate. On June 6, 1962 we bid a fond adieu to some of the best friends we made while at the Academy, our Rugby-Football teammates.
Written by Ricardo E Cesped, First Army Rugby Coach, with invaluable help from John Taylor and many members of the Founder’s Team June 2003
This rememberance is also posted at:
The First Women’s Rugby Team – 2003
Just as John Taylor 62′ and the members of the first men’s Rugby Team experienced a difficult start so did “Kafi Joseph” 03′ and the members of the first Women’s Rugby Team. There was little support from the Corps Squads, no funds, no coach, no field to call home, and no experienced players. Kafi received verbal approval from the Commandant, General Brook after obtaining a very positive commitment from the Corps of Cadets.
Women’s Rugby received the official sanction to become an Army Club sport when, despite three feet of snow on the ground, the newly formed team played a scrimmage to demonstrate their determination to compete at the intercollegiate level. The Charter was signed immediately – probably November 2002.
After a practice session in Ike Hall, we didn’t have dedicated practice space and at times had to practice in the ball room and ran laps around the upper floor of Ike Hall. The second is after our first Victory, which was against Rutgers.
The Second Year
Their 2d season was a winning season just as with the Men’s Team 41 years before.
The Team won the MET-NY Championship, defeating the previous six-time champions in the process. The Team’s early accomplishments also include beating Navy 31 to 3 (2004), placing 3rd at the DC Cherry Blossom Tournament, and sending 6 ruggers to the NERFU U-23 team tryouts and had a player selected for the U-19 development camp. Women’s Army Rugby has continued to pursue excellence in its trips to Ireland, where the team took on the Women’s Irish Defense Forces team, and to San Diego, where they finished first in the Champagne Classic.
Good Afternoon! I am Kafi Joseph, founder of Women’s Army Rugby – I wanted to add a submission to the Women’s Rugby portion of the page. A lot of folks don’t know how the Women’s team got it’s name and I’d like to contribute that, if I may.
Women’s Army Rugby – W.A.R…Declare It!
“W.A.R. is about Desire…W.A.R. is about Leadership…W.A.R. is about Camaraderie…W.A.R. is building and leaving a tradition for future W.A.R.riors to live up to.”
Above are excerpts from the Original W.A.R.rior Creed drafted by the Founding Forty (and original members of the first team) after spending hours of in a Washington Hall Lecture Room. It is those words that highlight the VERY reasons why we call ourselves “W.A.R.” and the essence behind why we “Declare It!”
For those that don’t know, here’s a W.A.R. Story (aka history about the team and its name):
As you may or may not know, the men’s rugby team calls themselves “the Brothers” which is derived from a the speech given by King Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt in the Hundred Years War. There is a particular segment of that speech around which the Men’s Rugby Team rallies. It reads:
“…We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;”
When we (the women’s rugby team) were deciding on a name, in one of the Mac Long day rooms, we KNEW wanted something just as powerful as the “Brothers shedding blood together in pursuit of victory” around which we could also rally. While the thought of naming ourselves the “Sisters” crossed our minds, there was nothing in a simple sisterhood that specifically tied us to being Soldiers, being ruggers…then Gennelle Lee looking at the folder I was holding saw the words written on it as such:
Women’s Army Rugby
And exclaimed, “What about W.A.R.?!” And that was it for us…we coined the phrase “Declare It!” as our battle-cry (and pre-game chant) because each time you step on the the pitch you are facing an opponent, you are battling for victory! We affectionately reffered to members of the team as W.A.R.riors and we drafted the WARriors Creed…which was no accident. We hammered out that ENTIRE W.A.R.rior’s Creed to leave behind as a legacy, as the beginning of a TRADITION…
Those who do not know the history behind the name, think of it as simply a slogan, but for those that are WARriors – we benefit from the bonds of friendship and camraderie that has been borne from this team; we know that these bonds won’t be broken in the years to come BECAUSE of this team; and understand in part, that is due to “Declaring It” and being WARriors.
W.A.R. is not just a name, it IS a TRADITION and we are WARriors now and we always will be.
WE DECLARE W.A.R.!!!
The Women’s Rugby Creed
Anderson Rugby Complex
On May 12, 2007 Army’s Anderson Rugby Complex was dedicated at a ceremony attended by the principal donors, officials from West Point and from the Association of Graduates, many Old Grads who played rugby while cadets at West Point, friends of West Point and both men and women cadets who are members of the 2007 Army Rugby teams.
Saturday May 12 2007 was exactly 45 years since General Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous speech to the Corps of Cadets on the occasion of his accepting the prestigious Thayer Award.
It was also the day when the first Army Rugby team beat the then best rugby team in the nation launching what would become the most successful sport in West Point history.
The new Anderson Rugby Complex is a spectacular sports facility and the best of its kind in the Nation. The day was one to remember. The weather made for a perfect spring day. West Point and all that it stands for was at its very best.
The Founding Members made the decision to not include the Train as part of the Rugby Page. I like Trains and as Editor I decided to include the Train. The rails run along the west side of the Hudson through a tunnel under the Plain and rail traffic is a part of Rugby.
The 2007/2008 Army Women’s Rugby Team
2007/2008 Women’s Annual Snow Game
U.S. National Collegiate Championships – Army
In 1980 the USA Rugby Collegiate Championship playoff system was established. Since then, the Army Rugby team has qualified for every Sweet 16 tournament and has also reached more than ten Final Fours. The Army Rugby team has finished second in the nation 3 times. 2 Army Rugby players have played for the Eagles, and 6 players earned All American honors.
1989 D1 Collegiate Championship- 3d place
1990 D1 Collegiate Championship- Runner-up
Air Force 18, ARMY 12
1991 D1 Collegiate Championship- Runner-up
California 20, ARMY 14
1992 D1 Collegiate Championship- Runner-up
California 27, ARMY 17
1995 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
1999 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
2000 D1 Collegiate Championship- 3d place
2001 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
2002 D1 Collegiate Championship- 3d place
2003 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
2009 D1 Collegiate Championship- Semifinals
2010 D1 Collegiate Championship- Semifinals
“Division 1-A Rugby (formerly known as the College Premier Division) is the highest level of college rugby within the United States and is administered by USA Rugby….The competition’s first season was played during 2011 and consisted of teams from 31 schools from across the United States.”
2011 D1 Rugby East Conference Champion
2011 D1 Collegiate Championship- Quarterfinals
2012 D1 Rugby East Conference Champion
2012 D1 Collegiate Championship- Quarterfinals
2013 D1 Rugby East Conference Champion
2013 D1 Collegiate Championship- Quarterfinals
2011 – Army 33, Penn State 29 – NATIONAL CHAMPS!
USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship
2011 – ARMY 14 – Penn State 5 – NATIONAL CHAMPS!
Army beat Penn State 14-5 in the women’s title game of the 2011 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships
2010 – Quaterfinals
2011 – Dartmouth 32 – ARMY 10 – 2nd
2012 – Quarterfinals
1994 Jon “Petro” Petrucelli (No.8, Lock, Prop)
1996 Jason Jerreris (Inside Center)
1996 Justin “JP” Pelkey (Lock)
1996 Austin White (No. 8)
2006 Andrew Lock (Flyhalf)
2013 Will Holder (Flyhalf)
1980 Mike Stephenson
1986 Wade Jost
1987 Dave Duffy
1988 Mike Tetu
1988 Brian Mennes
1996 Dave Averett
1996 Jack Senneff
1996 Justin “JP” Pelkey
1998 Thomas “TJ” Iak
2007 Andy Locke
Anthony M. Ridnell ’82: 14 starts from 1987-1993
Will Holder ’13: 1 start from 2012-
2009 – someone please identify this brother!
Work Area below this Point
1 – This page needs a lot of work. Anyone who has ideas on how best to organize the Rugby section – Please advise. Click on 1915 and 1962 for a method. Everything is tossed together for now so it is not lost. The ’62 page along with the photos of the Anderson Rugby Complex (with approval of his Class) should go on the first page with links to the other classes — or it could be set up similiar to the 150, Lightweight, Sprint Football page.
So as not to confuse CLICK ON — 1915 1962 and 150, Lightweight, Sprint Football
2 – Kafi ’03
P.S. – I will scan and send you a copy of the original W.A.R.rior Creed for the website as well as a picture of the founding 40. I would like my individual picture replaced with the team pic because I could not have done this without my fellow W.A.R.riors.
Attached is a scan of the WARrior Creed…and 2 pics of the Founding Team. The first is after a practice session in Ike Hall, we didn’t have dedicated practice space and at times had to practice in the ball room and ran laps around the upper floor of Ike Hall. The second is after our first Victory, which was against Rutgers. While it is much “cooler” looking, the picture you have on the website is not actually of the founding team, but of the second team.
WRT dates…I guess I’m officially “old” as I can’t recall actual dates…I believe we picked the name around the time we were “officially” authorized by Gen Brooks. The official birth month and year we give the team is Nov 2002. None of can really remember the actual date…
As far as ideas for organizing the Rugby page…I believe that telling the men’s story with a segue to the women’s team established 40 + years later is great. I’ll chew on it some more ad get back with you? Hopefully before your backlog is relieved
3 – Russ Grimm’76
Page updated on 05/23/13 with links to the new Army Rugby Alumni, which enables access to 70 some photos previously on the now defunct USCC hosted-page, Facebook links, and Club records added. I also re-ordered this page for readability and “flow” – i.e. removed duplicate pics. No text was changed. However, if there are strong objections to my reorganization (assumed from mandate above) – I can and will resubmit the older html file I have saved in Stories.