Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
USA Rugby hosted its first-ever fundraising dinner and auction, “Rucks & Rings” on November 19. The evening was a sensation and raised $20,000 to support USA Rugby’s goal of having men’s and women’s sevens sides that will medal at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
The event was held at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Denver and included a cocktail hour with silent auction, dinner, and a very energetic live auction with a hilarious game of “Heads or Tails” that had to do more with human anatomy than flipping a coin.
USA Rugby was proud to honor three Colorado rugby legends with awards during the dinner. The first ever “Servant of the Game” award was given to Terry Fleener for his lifelong dedication to the game of rugby.
“Outstanding Rugby Partner” was given to Mike Dunafon and the City of Glendale for working in the community to grow the sport of rugby. The “Rookie Rugby Commitment to Youth” commendation was presented to Herk Koranski for his devotion to the growth of youth Rugby.
USA Rugby was honored to have Olympic gold medalist and former CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Jim Scherr, speak at the event. The former wrestling star highlighted how the Olympics have changed the lives of athletes and expressed his excitement for rugby’s re-introduction to the Games.
Bob Latham, Vice-Chair of USA Rugby’s Board of Directors, also spoke at the event. Latham has been a passionate advocate for the sport and was instrumental in developing a strong relationship with the USOC. In his speech, Latham acknowledged the enormous strides American rugby has made in recent years and how the Olympic inclusion will forever change the sport in the US.
To cap off the night, USA Rugby was delighted to have a young and passionate local rugby advocate, Josh Tafoya, tell the crowd his touching story of starting a youth program in Denver. Tafoya played for East High School but was stricken with a serious liver ailment that prevented him from playing. His passion for rugby fueled his path back to the field and beyond. After hearing his story, Sports Authority was compelled to donate $5,000 worth of equipment to support Tafoya’s newly formed organization “303 Youth Rugby.”
USA Rugby thanks everyone who attended “Rucks & Rings” and who helped make the night a great celebration of rugby! The hope is to grow on the event’s success in the coming years and expand into different states to help raise funds for Olympic Rugby and recognize the volunteers and advocates that personify all that is great about rugby.