Old Puget Sound Beach RFC
|Full name||Old Puget Sound Beach Rugby Football Club|
|Founded||1971 in Seattle, WA|
|League(s)||Rugby Super League|
The Old Puget Sound Beach RFC (OPSB) is a rugby union club based in Seattle, and was a charter member of the now-defunct USA Super League in the Pacific Coast USA Rugby territory. The club travels extensively throughout the US and into Canada. OPSB is also well known for its 7s program with four National Titles in its recent history. The club was recently ranked as the #1 USA Men's club despite spending the 2014 season playing in a second-tier Canadian league based in British Columbia.
The Old Puget Sound Beach Rugby Football Club of Seattle, WA, US, played its first game in the fall of 1971. New jerseys had been ordered for this offshoot of the University of Washington team, but they had not arrived. Fortunately, a team member was spending his days as an intern at the University of Washington Medical School and the lads took the field garbed in pale green surgical gowns.
Such a freewheeling start was in keeping with the anti-establishment aura of the club started by Kenny Wrights, Jeff Corkill, Will Jacobs and other graduate and professional students at the University of Washington. There was no coach, practices were infrequent and the position of captain was passed around from game to game.
The approach was successful from the start. Playing in the Vancouver Rugby Union’s second division, OPSB took first place. The club then defeated the University of Victoria to become the best second-division team in all of British Columbia for the 1971-1972 season. OPSB played in the Vancouver Rugby Union first division for one year before moving on to the Fraser Valley Rugby Union, made up mostly of teams south of Vancouver and closer to Seattle. In 1973-1974, ten of Beach Dogs made the Fraser Valley Representative Side. In 1974-1975, Kirk Jones was chosen the most outstanding player in the FVRU. In 1975-1976, OPSB was the top team in the Union and won the International Invitational Rugby Mudball and Montlake Dump tournament held at the University of Washington.
The Western Washington Rugby Football Union (WWRFU) was formed in the summer of 1976 and OPSB won both the first and second division championships. Eight OPSB players were on the first WWRFU Representative Side. OPSB won the next Mudball tournament, making it two in a row for the Beach Dogs and the first American side to successfully defend the title.
In the 1977-1978 season, Ian Gunn, OPSB fly half, was on the United States Cougar team that toured South Africa, and Wayne Means, Beach hooker, was selected to the Pacific Coast Grizzly Representative Side. The growth and success of the club led to the addition of a coach in 1978 with Sid Batt, a member of the United States Coaching Committee, taking on those duties. OPSB was again champion of the Western Washington RFU in the 1978-1979 season and went on to win the Pacific Northwest Union title.
The fall of 1979 saw several noteworthy events in the history of the club. For the first time the club field three sides. The first division side lost only one game, the finals in the Abbotsford, B.C., Tourney to the University of British Columbia. The second side also dropped only one game. Fourteen players were selected to the 25-man WWFRU Representative Side.
The 1980-1981 season saw OPSB runs its first division championship string to five straight and its second division string to two. The club avenged the loss in Abbotsford by taking the title from UBC. OPSB was, for the third straight year, Pacific Northwest Club Champions and participated in the National Club Championships. An even dozen Beach Dogs were selected to the WWRFU Ravens, and Ian Gunn, Wim Vanderspek, Scotty Williams and Dave Carpenter were selected to the Pacific Coast Grizzlies. Peter Wood was chosen to play for the U.S.A. against Italy and Fiji.
Pat Simmons, ex Rosslyn Park and former England squad member, appear on the local scene in the spring of 1980. In an incredible couple of months, he played for the WWRFU Ravens, the Pacific Northwest Loggers, with OPSB in the Pacific Northwest Championships in Portland, Ore., with OPSB in the West Coast Club Championships in San Francisco and with the Pacific Coast Grizzly side against Wales B in Bellingham, WA. Pat agreed to take on the coaching job in the fall of 1980 and guided OPSB to repeat titles in the first and second divisions of the WWRFU.
In 1981, Pat became coach for the WWRFU Ravens and was a selector for the Pacific Northwest Loggers. In 1982, Pat coached the Loggers to victory over the Canada-West National Side and became a selector for the West Coast Grizzly Rep Side. In the fall of 1981, OPSB was lucky enough to obtain the services of Dai Davies, a Welsh exchange teacher, as coach. Dai was a senior level coach in his native country and returned to Wales in 1982.
OPSB toured New Zealand and Fiji with two teams in 1982 and returned with 3 wins, 3 losses and 2 ties. Six OPSB players – David Carpenter, Arlie French, Ian Gunn, Bruce Palmer, Scotty Williams and Peter Wood – were chosen to play for the U.S. Cougars against England in 1982.
Rick Ristau, ex University of Washington rugby coach and OPSB Old Boy, stepped up to the coaching job for the 1982-1983 and 1983-1984 seasons. OPSB won the first division of the WWRFU but lost to Old Blues, the eventual national champions, in the Pacific Coast Club Championships.
The 1983-1984 season was disheartening. Beach won more games than any other team in the Union, but was later disqualified for playing an ineligible player. This was the first year since the formation of the Union that OPSB was not the WWRFU Champion. Beach did win the Portland Tournament that year.
For the 1984-1985 season, player/coach Gene McCarthy Ramrodded the Beach Dogs to the Washington State Rugby Union (WSRU) Championship, the Pacific Northwest Championship, fifth in the Pacific Coast Championship, third in the San Diego Tournament and second in the Portland Tournament. Ted Oczkowski and Rich Morgan were chosen as Pacific Coast Junior Grizzlies and Jay Herron was selected as a Grizzle B player.
Coach “Gino” had quite an outstanding playing history. He played for Blackrock College, Ireland; Napier Marist in New Zealand; London Irish in England. He had been selected for Middlesex County and London Counties Rep Sides in England as well as Connaught Province Side in Ireland. McCarthy continued as coach in 1985-1986 and led the Beach Dogs to the Washington State Rugby Football Union Championship, Pacific Northwest Championship, fifth in the Pacific Coast Championships, second in the Portland Tournament. The second XV won the open division of the Portland Tournament.
In 1986-1987, ex Overlake School rugby coach and OPSB Old Boy Jeff Docter took over coaching duties for the club. The team placed third in the Aspen Tournament in Colorado.
The club continued its success in the local union, winning championship in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991.
This period also saw the rise of OPSB as a Sevens power as the club won the National Sevens Championships in 1988, 1990, 1991 and 1992. The club won its fifth National Sevens Championship in 2010.
In 1996, OPSB became a charter member of the Rugby Super League (RSL). From the RSL website: “The league was created by the management of 14 of the best rugby organizations in the United States. The hope was to create a high level, national rugby competition in America.”
Considered the premier division of men's rugby in the United States, the Super League has 14 teams in 11 major markets across the US. OPSB started RSL play in 1997 in the Western-Pacific Conference against such teams as Belmont Shore (CA), the Denver Barbarians, the Gentlemen of Aspen and the Old Blues and OMBAC in California. It was tough competition and lots of travel. OPSB did not win a RSL game until the 2000 season when it went 4-3 and finished fourth in the Western Division. For the next two year, OPSB won one game a season and then finished 3-4 in 2003. But the club’s 5-2 record in 2004 was good enough for third place in the Red Conference. Another winning season (4-3) followed in 2005.
In 2010, OPSB finished the regular RSL season at 3-3 and got into the finals for the first time, losing 38-29 in the quarterfinals to New York Athletic Club, the eventual champions.
In August 2010. OPSB won the USA Club 7's Championship, defeating Belmont Shore RFC. This was the 5th Championship is USA Club 7's following the wins in 1988, 1990,1991 and 1992.