For the Love of the Game : Men’s Club Rugby

Posted: October 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm, Last Updated: October 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

22006200610_e061901e73_kLooking back at 1965, Rick Stafford and George Wiltshire didn’t know that they would be starting the first intercollegiate sport at George Mason University – Men’s Rugby. When asked how it all began, Stafford took us on a trip down memory lane and explained that he was simply walking through the Ordinary (the student lounge in 1965) when he came across a sign that read: “Call this number if interested in playing rugby”. He and Wiltshire were curious and found themselves playing with the Washington Rugby Club. After the game, they both agreed that they were hooked. Stafford went far enough to say, “Rugby became an addiction”. Immediately, they began gathering players to create a team. Stafford and Wiltshire give credit to Neb Turner, the Dean of Students at the time, who helped recruit Mason students to play. “I have to give credit to Neb Turner” Wiltshire said; Turner played rugby at the University of Virginia and wanted a team at Mason. Stafford said that Turner would interview students and then “would pick the athletic guys and point them our way”. Turner was a big help to the two co-founders, adding to their success in recruiting students for the team. When they needed players, they went into the Ordinary, asked if anyone wanted to learn how to play and students would be willing to check it out. When asked about the recruiting process, Wiltshire replied with a chuckle. Despite being praised as the founders of the oldest intercollegiate sport in school history, Stafford and Wiltshire are humble men who give much credit to the people around them.

21573253153_0047832e6c_kIt has been 50 years since Rick Stafford and George Wiltshire started GMU’s Men’s Club Rugby team. This past weekend, all of the team’s alumni were invited to celebrate their 50th season as a club sport. Former players from every decade came out to the West Campus fields to watch the George Mason Patriots take on the John Hopkins Blue Jays. It was a celebration for both the alumni and current rugby team. The alumni celebrated their past work and the current players celebrated beating John Hopkins by a score of 36-24. Rick Stafford was asked about the team’s play and said, “ they have some good instincts and are clearly led by a quality coaching staff”; George Wiltshire added, “Mason was good at getting rid of the ball just like they were 50 years ago.” To end the day, Stafford and Wiltshire were asked if they ever play rugby nowadays. Both men chuckled at the thought with one of them saying, “Twenty-two years is enough.” At the end of the day, the alumni event was a great success – full of laughs, smiles, shared memories, and a winning team. Rick Stafford and George Wiltshire are a reminder to us all for why we play sports. It is not for the fame, it is not for the glory, and it is not to beat up your friends or opponents. We play, simply, for the love of the game.