History of the Miami University Rugby Football Club (MURFC)
The Miami University Rugby Football Club was founded in 1968 by Lionel Young. Lionel was an Englishman in his late forties who was an undergraduate at Miami University. He had recently arrived on Miami's campus along with his wife Jane, who was starting a two-year faculty appointment. Lionel had been a standout rugby player in England before immigrating to Canada, where he played a pivotal role in getting rugby started in the Toronto area.
To broaden his horizons while at Miami, Lionel decided to take advantage of the free tuition for spouses that came along with Jane's position. He enrolled in the elementary education program. This is an important part of the story, as Lionel, with his British accent, natural charm, and silver-fox good looks always seemed to have an entourage of attractive coed classmates. He would often meet his entourage for coffee at the Res. This spectacle naturally attracted the attention (and envy) of curious male students.
By chance, one of these fine young gentlemen had played rugby outside the U.S. (Bill Sommer-Australia). Bill, on hearing Lionel's accent, engagd him in a conversation that quickly turned to rugby From there, it did not take long for Lionel, Bill, and a few others to consider trying to get rugby started at Miami.
The intrepid and courageous men quickly set about organizing a rugby club. They put up fliers around campus and placed an advertisement in the Miami Student to generate interest. The first practice with six players (including Lionel) was held on a rough field at the Tallawanda Sports Recreation Center on Fairfield Road.
Subsequently, Lionel managed to convince the University to give the group access to a small field in front of the maintenance building by Cook Field. Curious onlookers began to watch practices. Lionel brought along his collection of old rugby boots, piling them up next to the field. He would grab anyone that showed the slightest interest, telling them to try on a pair of boots and join the fun.
The young men practiced all fall and winter of 1968, learning the fundamentals of the game from Lionel. They started to understand how to function as a team. Practices consisted mainly of scrimmaging, with Lionel (remember, he was in his late 40's) occasionally joining in to show how it was done. And show them he did. He would often befuddle the young men with a great sidestep, sensational swerve, and paralyzing straight-arm.
By spring of 1969, the club had about 20 players, and scheduled their first match against Ohio State's B-side. The match was not expected to be competitive. OSU had been playing rugby for several years. They were not expected to be very competitive, since OSU had been playing rugby for several years. They had a strong contingent of experienced foreign players. The young Miami players did not let this intimidate them.
on a cold, windy day in March Miami managed to pull out a narrow victory (11-10), with the go ahead try scored by Bill Hansel on a long run. Two weeks later, Miami had a return match with our new OSU friends in Oxford on Cook Field. This time around, Miami secured a resounding vicotry (43-10).
The Miami side continued to grow. Through the spring of 1970, Lionel Young continued to help the young men to develop as players and as a club, which was then fielding three sides. Sadly, Lionel and Jane moved to Florida that summer, and they were on their own without a coach. Fortunately, Lionel had left them with a strong base in terms of fundamentals and club organization, and they remained highly competitive throughout the early to mid 70's, fielding four sides, with more than 500 spectators watching some of their games.
The club continued to expand and grow. Many individuals stepped forward to lead the club, including most notably Doug Edwards. Doug Edwards led the club to many highpoints. He led the club to a Final Four appearance in 1984. Doug also developed many players including All-Americans such as Dike Ajiri and Eric Reed. Eric Reed became the first Miamian to become an Eagle in 2000. Doug's influence created a strong group of young men who carry on the Miami Tradition today.
Doug Edwards passed away in 2002 leaving a huge void in the leadership of the club. However, Doug's influence continued to show after his death. A determined group of Doug's former players, led by Mike Coco and others formed the Miami University Alumni Association following Doug's untimely passing. The Alumni Association continues to provide support to the club today.