By 1977, LSU Rugby Club was wrapping up its sixth dynamic year. Respected around the country as one of the top Ten Division I clubs (yes, clubs) in the nation. LSU played a combined college/club schedule (with a combined college/club roster). They always entered the toughest brackets at tournaments. Were there a Super League back then, LSU would have been in it.
During the spring of 1977, LSU went undefeated, so naturally they were favored to win the 4th Annual SEC tournament, held April 16-17 at the LSU Parade Grounds. That sunny weekend brought some strong competition to campus—namely Florida and Georgia. Florida boasted a beefy pack, led by legendary lock Sergio Lopez, whose long, blonde hair was taped to his head with wide stripes of athletic tape giving him a ‘Hulk Hogan’ look. Georgia had speed and skill going for them—their coach and founder was a KIWI who played fly half for them. Peter Kernan was their inside center and Eddie Horne was one of the wings. They both became standout for the Atlanta Old White and members of the ERU Select XV.
For obvious reasons, the tournament committee placed Florida and Georgia
in on bracket and LSU in the other. It was assumed that Georgia and Florida
would battle it out Saturday afternoon to determine who would face LSU in
the Sunday Final. To no one’s surprise, LSU cruised to victories over Kentucky
and Alabama, LSU fielded three future Eagles: Bob ‘Big Red’ Causey at lock
(Rugby Magazine had already written him up on 3 separate occasions); Center
Boyd Morrison; and Fly half Joey Husband.
Following LSU’s incredible success in its early years, the team had not only
retained 20 to 30 veterans, but had added 20 to 30 newcomers. That made
for not only hard hitting Thursday practices, which determined the ‘A’ side for
the weekend. It also made for a very tough ‘B’ side. To fill out the brackets,
LSU fielded its ‘B’ side in the bracket with Florida and Georgia. The LSU ‘B’ side,
to everyone’s surprise, crushed up Serge’s Florida pack by dominating line
outs and punished them in the loose. That same afternoon, the Bs ran all
over a fast, fit Georgia side and beat them by 4 tries. On Sunday, it would be
LSU A vs LSU B in the final.
That Sunday was a bright sunny day as LSU took the pitch against itself.
The Parade Ground was packed with excitement in the air. The fans would
not be disappointed. A ferocious first half ensued during which the A’s won
the scrimmages and line outs. However, the B’s scrappy play in the loose
enabled them to take a 14-9 half time lead. The A side was livid as they
formulated the second half game plan. Bill Bratton, A’s scrum halfback,
called to have the A’s hold the ball in to slow the tempo and wear down
the smaller B pack. The second half was full of kicking and punching.
When the dust cleared, the A side had pushed in a couple of pack tries
and won 21-14. That match made it clear LSU could field not just one,
but two excellent sides.
The Baton Rouge Rugby Club chartered a few months later and played its first match in the Fall of 1977.
In addition to Causey, Husband, and Bratton, other LSU ruggers who claimed to have competed on that Sunday : Jim Brugh, John McLean, Bob Lunsford, Phil Siccone, Mark Lawson, Les Bratton, Donnie Bratton, Ed Reinowski, Kamal Abdullah, Paul Lacine, Gary Meyers, Barry Haney, Bob Edmunson, Wayne Fontanelle, Dave Flotte, Reggie Davis, Ted McGehee, Hillar Moore, Frank Perkins, Jose Delgado, Owen Reemer, Tommy Martin, Rob Ackerman, Larry Antonini, Chiip Antonini, Steve Hazel and Clay Mahaffey.
After LSU dominating the Houston Rugby Tournament in Houston, Texas later that spring, and the fact that LSU was forcing the LSU Rugby Club to consist of undergraduate students, Jim Brugh, Bob Edmunson, Bob Causey discussed the possibility of forming a Baton Rouge Rugby Club. Jim Brugh and Ed Owens drew up a club charter that summer and Frank Perkins designed the Baton Rouge Rugby Club’s current crest. The Baton Rouge Rugby Club took the pitch for the first time in the Fall of 1977 wearing maroon jerseys with white collars.
Founding members include: Hookers, Phil Siccone and Tyrone Yokum; props, Jim Brugh, Reggie Davis, Steve Hazel, and Bob ‘Santa’ Lundsford; locks, Bob Causey and Tom Gagneaux; loose forwards, Barry Haney, Rob Wright, Gary Meyers, and Wayne Fontanelle; No. 8, Mark Lawson and Rick Odom; back, Frank Perkins, Johnny Mclean, Clay Mahaffey, Paul Lachain, Phil Lachain, Bob Dow, Les Bratton, Bill Bratton, Donnie Bratton, and the Hammond connection; Bob Tuminello, Gene Hampton, Bobby Guidera, and Jim Morris. Angola would not release the rest of the names.
Practices were held at Glasgow School and Olympia Stadium. Matches were held at Glasgow School and Highland Road Park where the team was well received by mosquitos. The club hosted and won the first the first Baton Rouge 7s Tournament in the Fall of 1978. Winning seasons the first couple of years created an upward spiral that peaked with a trip to the ERU Final Four in Washington, D.C. in May of 1979. This was the first national championship format. Baton Rouge lost to New York Old Blue 19-7 in the Final. However, Baton Rouge performed a pit stop miracle on the way to this match—with no jack, the scrummies held up the van while the backs changed a flat.
The Club’s Power Rugby tradition has changed little in the past 39 years. Never a kick and chase team, Baton Rouge favored the running game with strict ball control and stout defense. If they don’t score, you don’t lose has been the philosophy.
Having played for the first U.S. National side, the Cougars, Bob ‘Big Red’ Causey became an automatic selection for early Eagle teams. His 14 international matches spanned a 10 year period during which time he brought back home expertise sharing with Baton Rouge’s pack. Other former Baton Rouge RFC Eagles include Boyd Morrison, Gary Lambert, and Joey Husband.
In 1980, the club to a white jersey. The Atlanta Renegades beat BR in the 1982 regional finals as did the Atlanta Old White in 1984.
Red Jerseys with thin black hoops were introduced in 1982, but quickly gave way to the traditional black and white Barbarian look in 1983. The early ‘80s brought faces old and new to the pitch: hooker, Dennis White; props, Tony Brooks and Bruce Hehman; locks, Denis ‘Dirty Bert’ Bertrand, Lester ‘the Molester’ Duhe, and, Mark Goodner; loose forwards, Rob Ackerman, Aubrey Carter; No. 8, Fred Wisbar and Mike Burmis; backs, Jimmy Wetherford, Charlie ‘Tuna’ Fontanelle, Larry Antonini, Shelby Smith, Reade Baxley, Tommy Martin, Rick Gary, Mike Moore, Adrain Newbe, Bob d’Antoni, Dave Delgercio, Chris Fletcher, David Jensen, Bobby Robichaux, Keith Reagan, and a host of primitive lowbrows too savage to have Christian names. They were joined by foreign rugger contingent led by South Africans Tony Laurens and Rob Johnson, along with English schoolboy standouts Chris Williams and Duncan Schrauf. Baton Rouge made pilgrimages to the Aspen Ruggerfest in 1980 and 1983.
In 1985, the Baton Rouge Rugby Club beat the Atlanta Renegades and went to the ERU championships in Philadelphia where they lost to Philly-Whitemarsh. In the Fall of 1985, Baton Rouge won the Little Rock Tournament and wound up as the Runner up in the Houston Rugby Tournament. The next year, wearing black jerseys with one wide, white hoop, they hosted the regional playoff in Olympia Stadium. When the dust cleared Life Chiropractic Rugby was on top.
The late ‘80s brought more uncivilized ruggers to the Capital City. Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent: hookers Steve ‘Mini’ Moore, Alan McGlynn, and Jim Code; prop, Dave ‘pigpen’ Dawson; locks, Mike Brugh and Wes Hollis; loose forwards, Nick Geary and Danny McGlynn; No.8, Chris ‘Chocolate Pig’ Collins; backs, Scott McLean, Mark Avery, Dan Anderson, Ben Sideway, Martin Marchifava, Robert Singleton, and John Telling. They were joined by a growing band of USL old boys—Paul ‘Mad Dog’ Monier, Ty Landry, Larry Leblanc, Dean Bidstrup, Greg ‘chico’ Mistric, Jamie LeFleur, Dave Cerne, Riddick ‘Fish’ Stevens and other morally bankrupt Lafayettsters.
In the Spring of 1988, a nattily attired BR side led by St. Vincent de Paul fashion plate Denis Bertrand descented on Boca Raton for the Regional Playoffs. Even with Gary Giepert, the team succumbed to the Tampa Bay Pelicans. In 1989, the team returned to its field at the rear of Highland Road Park as the DPW work order to grade it finally went through after six years.
The ‘90s saw the gradual extinction of most of the old Mastodons. After creating the Louisiana Rugby Foundation in 1990, the men who helped build the local rugby machine (and who once single-handedly supported the city of Milwaukee) began to fade away. During a 1991-1992 lull, Baton Rouge Rugby was redesignated to a Division II team. By the Spring of 1993, the team had rebuilt from the ground up and made strong showings in the Mardi Gras and Deep South Tournaments. That summer, the BR sevens squad advanced to the ERU Finals.
Fall of 1993 was perhaps BR’s best season to date. The 12-1-1 record placed them at the head of the Division II calls with Deep South, Region IV, and ERU Championships. In May, the club traveled to Austin, Texas to compete in the National Final 4 to end up as National Division II Runners up. Much credit goes to playing Coach Kirby White, Nick Digerolamo, Dennis Peyroux, David Peyroux, and Ryan Peyroux, and Kevin Bentivegna even though they were considered ‘Shawn Penns’ of rugby.
1995 held a jail break from Angola and these players found a home with the Baton Rouge Rugby bunch. They included; Todd ‘lunch box’ Heston, Jeff Cunulette, Paul Varnado, Guy Johnson, Matt Hebert, Ricki Leach, Mark Smith, Jim Brugh, Mike Moore, David Moore, Chip Curtis, Bobby Seals and Val Saurage.
The 1997-98 seasons seemed to attack more of the Milwaukee supporting type of players who, also, were Mastodons in the own right. They include: hookers, Syd Dobson and Monty Spenc; props, Brian Clayton, Jim Brugh, Mike Harris, Derrick Jones, Todd Heston, Richard Woolbert and Paul Varnado; locks, Denis Bertrand, Bob Causey, Joe McFarland, Rob Miller, Adam Miller, Ted McGehee; loose forwards, Jason “Skittet” Ansemon, Jeff Canulette, Frank Honore, Guy Johnson, Ricki Leach, Mark Smith; backs, Jimbo Bullen, Twig Chris, Craig Gothreaux (just out of high school),Ben Haswell, Jason Holley, Leo Jessup, Matt Lawrence, Gordon McKennon, Dave Moore, Mike Moore, Brad Patterson, Val Saurage, Bobby Seals, and Jordan Tabor.
Currently, Baton Rouge Rugby is a Division II Team playing in the True South Conference.
Founded in 1977, the club has been a cornerstone of the rugby community boasting healthy numbers and excellent play. Being in Louisiana has it's advantages, with food, culture, sport and legacy Rugby has been an excellent addition to the Baton Rouge Area. Our team has attracted diverse players over the years boasting Men who have worked in Oil/Chemical, Engineers, Lawyers, Doctors, Nurses, Beer Distributors, Semi-Pro Athletes just to name a few. Many of our players are from the surrounding areas: Lafayette, Mandeville, Hammond and New Orleans but we also boast international invites and have had players from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
Since it's inception, the club boasts a unique brotherhood like many other city clubs, promoting togetherness and a bond rarely found in other sports. We invite all players, new, experienced, old and young to come out to our pitch and play. Rugby is the ultimate team sport and you won't ever regret it!