Kansas City Blues (USA Rugby)
|Full name||Kansas City Blues Rugby Football Club|
|Ground(s)||Sporting KC Training Facility|
|League(s)||USA Rugby Divisions 1 & 3|
The Kansas City Blues Rugby Football Club fields rugby union teams in USA Rugby Divisions 1 & 3, both based in Kansas City, Missouri. Up until 2007, the team played in the Super League, but were replaced that year by the Chicago Griffins. During the 2011-2012 season both the D1 and D3 sides reached the USA Rugby National Championship Series, becoming just the second club in USA Rugby history to advance two sides to the Divisional Elite Eight round.
Kansas City Blues RFC History
Based on a loose affiliation with both UMKC and Rockhurst College, the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club was established in 1966. Strides were taken to early on to develop a unique Club identity and culture by the founding members, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Blues elevated their rugby knowledge and skill level to become one of the dominant teams in the United States. In 2009, the Blues field an active roster of 65 players, an Old Boys side (35+ years) called the Blues Brothers, a high school side (Jr. Blues), a close affiliation with three additional high school age sides (Gentlemen of Olathe, Blue Valley RFC, St. Thomas Aquinas RFC), and an even larger supporting cast of non-playing members.
Since 1993, the Blues have participated in three Division 1 National Championships in 15's rugby, placing 4th in 1993 and 3rd in 1994. The Blues have also been a fixture in the 7's National Championships, qualifying in 9 of the last 20 years, placing 2nd in 1993, 5th in 1998 and 2nd in 2000. The Blues Brothers are perennial contenders at Aspen's Ruggerfest, having won the Over-35 Division in 5 of the last 8 years.
In 1997 the Blues were a founding member of the United States Rugby Super League (US). The Rugby Super League is the premier competition in the US, made up of the top 15 teams in the nation, spanning from Boston to San Diego. The spring of 2002 saw the Blues advance to the RSL Semi-Finals with an impressive 5-2-1 record in league play. The Blues made the decision of self-relegation from the Super League in 2007, one that has allowed the Club to re-tool in Division 1 and develop a program that has aspired to again reaching the National Championships. In 2008 the Blues and County Sundogs merged under the Blues umbrella, and the Club now competes in the West D1 and D2 leagues weekly.
Match Schedule and Travel
The fall season is composed of mostly local and regional match play for the Blues, highlighted of course by the annual trek to Aspen for the infamous Ruggerfest, as well as the start to the split-season West Division 1 North and Division 3 Heart of America League match play. The Club completes the League seasons in the early spring as playoffs loom, and throughout the fall and spring the Reserve side plays League matches against regional Div 3 clubs.
Representative and International Players
Over the years, countless Blues have represented the Western Territory at the National All-Star Championships, and on tours with the Western Territory to New Zealand and Canada. 2007 marked the final year of the Western Mustangs participation in the NASC's with no Blues on the roster, one Blue was able to play at the All-Star Championships however as flanker Clint Olearnick helped lead the Combined Services to a 7th-place finish. It is worth noting that over 40 current and former Blues have represented the Club and the West at the ITT's/NASC's from 1975-2007. Blues Conner Smith and Joe D'Agostino were also named to the still existing Western Mustangs 7s player pool in the summer of 2008, an honor no Blue has had since 2001. In 2013 Flanker Nate Conkey and Center Kenny Scott travelled to the Las Vegas International Sevens tournament to play for the All-Army Cannibals and Atlantis Elites respectively. That same year Eirik Hartley, a member of the Blues' talented backline, was selected to the Norwegian National Rugby Team in Oslo.
The Blues have also sent a number of players to the United States national rugby union team, The Eagles, in both 7's and 15's rugby. Establishing a tradition in the 1970s and 1980s with the Eagles through Hal Edwards (Reserve 1976-84), Vic Clark (Cougars 1978), Kirk Miles (2 caps 1982), Fred Paoli (20 caps 1982-91), Frank Kennedy (USA 'A' 1988), most recently Doug Brown, Michael Skahan, and Steve Robke all spent a considerable amount of time on tour with the Eagles 7's side in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Maika Sika has been capped over 45 times for both the 7's and 15's sides, and Tim Kluempers represented the US in 15's three times in 2001. Flanker Clint Olearnick was named to the 2008 Eagle Player Pool by USA Rugby Director Nigel Melville.
The Blues Off the Pitch
The Kansas City Blues are made up of men from all walks of life. The active roster boasts a range in player's ages from 19 – 43, consisting of students, doctors, lawyers, sales people, IT, corporate executives, teachers, and more.