History

 

Old Blue is over 40 years old, established in the fall of 1963, by Columbia University Alumni to play winning rugby at the highest level playing rugby at the highest level possible. Old Blue started by winning it’s first 18 matches and have continued that tradition. Our 1st team winning 78% of games from 1990 to 2000. The rugby community identifies Old Blue with excellence. With over 50 championships, every game played against Old Blue is a championship game. Old Blue is made up of amateur players, coaches and administrators with a professional attitude and ethos.

 
Championships

USA Rugby Super League Finalists
1997 • 1998

USA Rugby Super League Semi-Finalists
2002 • 2005 • 2006

USA Rugby Super League Eastern Conference Champions
1997 • 1998

National Club Runner-Up
1981 • 1986 • 1997 • 1998

National Club Final Four
1979 • 1980 • 1999

National Club 7’s Champions
1993 • 2005

National Club 7’s Runner-Up
1993 • 2005

 

 

8 Consecutive Northeast U.S. Champion titles (1992-99)

USARFU playoffs qualifiers every year since inception in 1979

Saranac Lake Can-Am Tournament Champions
1974 • 1975 • 1983 • 1985 • 1991 • 1993 • 1998 • 2001
2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2008
Old Blue has won the Can-Am Tournament, the largest rugby
tournament in North America, a record twelve times, the most recent in August of 2008

Other tournament championships include:
Virginia Commonwealth • Cherry Blossom • Penn State
West Point • Schaeffer • Hartford • Jersey Shore • Long Island
New York 7s (6X) • Cape Fear 7s • Montauk 7s
Worcester 7s • Rockaway 7s • Princeton 7s

Brief History

OLD BLUE RFC - NATIONALLY RENOWNED STANDARD OF CLUB PLAY

The prestigious Old Blue Rugby Football Club offers its athletes the opportunity to compete in meaningful matches at whatever their level of interest, development and rugby skills. The club competes in both USA Rugby Super League and Men’s D-I Club play, the two highest levels of rugby in America . It enjoys this opportunity largely because of the enduring support of the Old Blue Rugby Foundation, created and sustained by the devotion, commitment and generosity of the club’s Founders and old boys (“SuperBlues”). Accordingly, the Old Blue RFC and Foundation carry out their mission to advance and set the standard of club rugby in the US . The Old Blue RFC is a founding member of the elite USA Rugby Super League. Old Blue appeared in the first two Super League Finals ever as its inaugural Eastern Conference champions in 1997 and 1998, both years in which it also played in the USARFU Men’s Clubs Finals – the only club ever to reach both elite men’s Finals in consecutive years. They have qualified for the Super League playoffs every year since 2002. In 2002, 2005 and 2006, they again reached the League’s Final Four. The Old Blue RFC D-I side is composed largely of its B and C-side players, with its top tier of players preoccupied with its commitment to the USA Rugby Super League. Old Blue also provides matches with a third side in Met NY Union B-team play, as well as an Old Boys side. The club and Foundation provide outreach at the collegiate and youth levels with coaching and financial support to the Columbia University RFC and to OB hooker and former Eagle Mark Griffin’s Play Rugby youth organization.

 
Genesis

OLD BLUE AND COLUMBIA COLLEGE RFC

The Old Blue Rugby Football Club’s initial impact forty-five years ago in official ERU league play proved to be an even more auspicious beginning than that of the Columbia College RFC from which it sprang. In the Spring of 1963, on and around the University’s Morningside Heights campus in New York City, the CCRFC held a series of meetings that ultimately precipitated the creation, previously often discussed, of a senior club in the Fall of 1963. It was to be separate but affiliated with the College club; and with the creation of the Old Blue RFC, aspiration finally became reality.

 
Club Overview

HISTORICAL STYLE, TOURS AND TOURNAMENTS

The Club’s uniforms are solid black, patterned after New Zealand’s national team, the All Blacks. Its home fields are Baker Field, 218th Street and Broadwa and Van Cortlandt Park, 252nd Street and Broadway in the Bronx. The Club fields four XVs, including Old Boys (“SuperBlues”). The club continues to nurture its relationship with the Columbia College RFC and can draw upon a pool of over 90 players. Because of its reputation and sustained high standard of play, the OBRFC continues to attract as well fine rugby players from other U.S. universities and from foreign countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, South Africa, France and Chile.

 
1960s Highlights

CREATION OF THE OLD BLUE RFC STYLE: THE MYSTIQUE: RELENTLESS. VICTORY. PURSUIT OF COMPETITION AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL.

 

 

Bill Campbell throws a lead block for the Columbia University
Football team. He would go on to become a founder of Old Blue RFC.


The upstart American, former Columbia University football players, led by Founder Bill Campbell, introduced the Old Blue style first in the 7s game: on that November day in 1963 they swept through the field to go 5-0 and win the New York 7s championship in their inaugural competition as a club. They shut out all five opponents in a display of ferocious defense, then went on to repeat the feat with five more shutouts to win the 1964 NY 7s a second straight time, an accomplishment of unthinkable proportions. Ultimately, with another title in 1966, Old Blue won three NY 7s championships in four years, with fourteen shutouts in fifteen matches, yielding a single try. Possessed of a religious devotion to the game and winning, if initially not long in classical skills, the OBRFC welcomed others - both foreign and US-born alike - of a similar fanaticism to join their rugby family; and after their extraordinary undefeated initial XVs season in 1964, went on in the 60s to win the ERU Championship trophy three times in six years. The A-side went undefeated five times in 11 seasons, and swept their original and senior Met Union LAU rivals, Manhattan, New York and Westchester RFCs six times, including winning the inaugural Met Union Championship in 1967.

 
1970-1976

MORE WINS, AN ERU TITLE AND SARANAC LAKE

The seven years that followed the 60s saw the Old Blue defeat the Montreal Wanderers, London Irish, Drogheda (Ire), Montreal Irish and Ottawa Irish. They won the Schaeffer Tournament, back-to-back West Point titles in 1972 and 73, a second Cherry Blossom, a fourth NY 7s and a second Phyrst Cup. In 1971, Old Blue became the first club to tour Southern California, going 3-1. Old Blue was undefeated domestically in Spring 1973, winning 13 games in row on the way to the ERU Championship, with only a final match loss to touring Cork (Ire). Five Old Blue players were on the Met Union side that shocked the rugby world on November 24, 1970 when the LAU select side upset international power Fiji 12-11 at Randall’s Island in the bitter cold. Old Blue players were tapped again to play against the Wallabies (71), All Blacks (72) and France (75). In August 1974, the Old Blue won the first ever Saranac Lake Can-Am Tournament and repeated in 1975 to begin an annual pilgrimage that has become a club tradition. The B-side was undefeated in the Fall 1970 and the C-side went 11-0 in both the Fall 1973 and Fall 1976. In this time the A-side in fact won more than 70% of their matches notwithstanding the two losing seasons, but on a club that expects to win every match, this was unacceptable.

1977-1979

THE COLUMBIA CONNECTION: MET UNION CHAMPS, ERU CHAMPS, FIRST USARFU FINAL FOUR

In the Fall 1977 the recently graduated Columbia players joined Old Blue and their impact was singular. The OBRFC won the Met Union title three seasons in a row and back to back Hartford Octoberfest Cups. On May 25, 1978, the OBRFC, with ten Columbia alumni on the field, beat Orrell (Eng) 15-9 at Randall’s Island in one of the club’s greatest victories, and likely the greatest: Orrell was undefeated on their US tour, including a Cherry Blossom finals win over top Irish side Belvedere; and they were the two-time winners of the Lancashire County Cup, one of the toughest in England. In the Spring 1979, the Old Blue won the inaugural Eastern Rugby Union Club Championship - the best of 350 clubs - and advanced to the first ever USARFU Final Four in Kansas City, where they finished third in the United States, led by new captain Chuck Donigian, one of the many members of the Columbia connection responsible for the quantum level leap in the club’s development.

 

 

TERRITORIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AND THREE MORE FINAL FOURS

Old Blue, again captained by Donigian, won a second consecutive ERU Championship in 1980 to reach a second Final Four in a row in Long Beach. Again Old Blue lost a very close match to the eventual national champion, the Old Blues of Berkeley, California, in semifinal match ups of what were generally acknowledged as the two best teams at the Nationals each year. In 1981, the OBRFC won a third ERU title in a row and went to the Final Four for the third straight time. Old Blue defeated Midwest Champion Minneapolis 23-8 in the National Club Championship semifinal in Dayton, Ohio to advance to the final, where Old Blue lost to the Old Blues of Berkeley 3-9 to finish second in the nation.

 
1990s Old Blue Summary

LAU, TERRITORIAL, NATIONAL & SUPER LEAGUE SUCCESS

In Fall 1990, Old Blue regained the Met Union for the first time in three years, and never lost another one as long as the LAU playoff format remained, winning the final four titles in Met Union existence. It also returned for the first time in four years to both the Northeasterns, which it won, and to the Rugby-East playoffs. In Spring 1999, the OBRFC won its 7th straight Northeasterns, (13th overall). It extended its uninterrupted string of appearances in every USARFU tournament to 22 by competing in every Sweet Sixteen but one (1991) since 1990. In the 90s, Old Blue advanced to at least the playoffs’ elite eight clubs six straight times: the Final Eight in 1993 and 1994 (the last two Rugby-East Finals) and in 1995 (the first year of USARFU’S seven territories), and the Club Final Four in 1997 through 1999. In 1997 and 1998 the club appeared in all four of the elite rugby finals in the US. Old Blue made back-to-back USARFU Finals appearances, won the first two the Harp USA Rugby Super League Eastern Conference titles, and thus advanced to the first two Harp Super League Finals as well. Old Blue is the only club in the USA ever to do so.



1991-1994

TONS OF WINS, STREAKS, REGIONAL SUPER LEAGUES, AND THE 1993 US 7’S TITLE

In the Fall 1991, the club enjoyed the best season in its history. The club went 33-1-2, as the A’s, in addition to their fifth Can-Am title, went undefeated in the regular season, along with the B’s and C’s. In 1991, the 1st XV won 20 consecutive matches from April 14 to November 16, the longest A’s winning streak in Old Blue history. In Summer 1992, the Old Blue 7’s side won four Tournaments, including the inaugural Old Blue 7’s.

 
1995-1999

NRU DOMINANCE, A STRING OF US FINAL FOURS & HARP SUPER LEAGUE FINALS

In the Fall of 1995, Rugby-East split into three separate USARFU regions, following the split of the Pacific into 2 new regions. Playing in the Northeast Rugby Union’s Premier Coastal League, the Old Blue swept to an undefeated 7-0 regular season, becoming the first Northeast RU Champion, its 10th Northeastern title.

In the Spring 1996, The Old Blue advanced to a third straight Elite Eight, along the way defeating PAC (the ’95 National Champion), Palmer College, and the Dallas Harlequins -3 of the 4 Final Four teams in 1995. The OBRFC lost in the last moments of play to old nemesis Old Blues of Berkeley, the eventual national club finalist. For the 4th time in six years, a strong Old Blue 1st XV had come up just short of the Final Four. In the Fall of 1996, Old Blue again finished undefeated and became NRU Coastal Champion for the second straight year.

 

 

 

 

Old Blue and US Rugby

THE NEW MILLENNIUM: CONTINUED EXCELLENCE AND CHANGE

Old Blue 1999

In the Fall 1999, the club appeared in an unprecedented fifth straight Can-Am final. Old Blue ran its NRU premier club record to 34-1, again finishing in first (in a tie), by first sweeping its NY Met Union foes and all but Boston of the NERFU entries. This assured the club of the distinction, as the 20th century concluded, of successfully qualifying for every rugby national tourney for USA Rugby men’s Division I clubs from 1979 through 2000, after which Super League clubs were excluded from Division I playoffs. In the Spring 2000 the club went 3-3-1 in what would prove to be the final independent Super League season, defeating eventual NRU Champion Boston 30-17, Chicago Lions and Washington, tying Philly-Whitemarsh. By defeating Mystic River in the opening round of the NRU tournament, the OBRFC advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the eighth straight time, where they beat the Chicago Griffins after falling to eventual USARFU champs Aspen.

 
Profiles OBRFC Members,

The Old Blue RFC from its inception was the most idiosyncratic club - an astounding collection of the most idiosyncratic individuals - in an idiosyncratic sport. There have been countless extraordinary players and accomplished and successful individuals from the most eclectic and fascinating backgrounds, professions and experiences. Here are just a few:

 
Profiles of the Founders

The Old Blue Founders
I was asked to provide a brief rugby biography for each of the Founders of the Old Blue RFC. Just three or four lines in reference to rugby. Any larger testimonial to them as individuals and in the context of the club and of the game, or any recapitulation of their professional lives and careers, would require pages to fairly reflect their character, incalculable contributions to the Old Blue RFC and to rugby in the United States. The enormous societal contributions that they have made to education and administration, medicine, business and journalism, and the significant success and reputation that they have accordingly attained, would demand pages more. So fair enough. I shall attempt to offer a thumbnail sketch rugby biography of our club’s founders. But first I must say this: The American game over forty years ago was completely undeveloped.

 

BILL CAMPBELL:  FOUNDING MEMBER, ENTREPRENEUR

 

imgcambell

 

From 1959 through 1961, Bill Campbell was a linebacker at Columbia University, where he also started playing rugby. After helping Columbia to its last Ivy League football title in 1961, Campbell became an assistant football coach, first at Columbia, then at Boston College.

He became Columbia’s head coach in 1974, only to encounter the rigid academic and acceptance standards of the Ivy League. Campbell resigned from Columbia after a six-year record of 12-41-1 and, at 39, went job-hunting.

His first post-football job was at J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency, and since then he has been involved at Kodak, Claris, Apple, Go and Google. He is now the Chairman of Intuit, the maker of financial software.

During Campbell’s tenure, the company's market value grew from approximately $700 million to nearly $3 billion as Intuit solidified its position as the clear leader in tax, personal finance and small business accounting software.