Our History

by Fred Borns & Cliff Harrington

Rest in Peace-Jean Iriart and Fred Borns started Camelback Rugby Club after a brotherly separation playing for the Phoenix Rugby Club in 1979.

RIP-Ronnie Hernandez, John Snow, Kevin Daniels were some of the experienced players, alongside new players Bobby Stewart, Brothers Lederman, Joel & Dave, John & Scott Wareing, Jeff Griffin.

Between Ronnie, Jean and Fred, pretty much decided on the name “Camelback Rugby Club”.

First few years were growing years, but club leaders established traditions, and a style of play, playing hard until the whistle and never quitting that are followed to date!Attendance at the Tucson Rugby Classic, San Diego (OMBAC), Santa Barbara and Flagstaff tournaments were started.

We hosted a traveling team from Australian Navy (HMS Perth) and had a two-day party. Another tradition started, win or lose on the pitch, we win the party!

During 1981-1983, Ron Hernandez, Dave Lederman and Jon Mickel were selected for the Arizona Select Side. Jon Mickel went to play for the Eagles, our national team.

Bo Swartz first picked up the reins as coach of Camelback.

In 1982-1983 Camelback played Tempe for the Arizona Championship and fell short.

The club had some break even records until 1986 when Camelback won the first of many Arizona Second Division Championships.

Camelback won the Second Division Championship for 1989, this year marked the Ten Year Anniversary of the club and Ron Hernandez hosted a very fine evening at his home.

In 1988 The Camelback Annual Golf Tournament was born, thanks to Bo Swartz, Jim Hammond, Frank Boyce and Cliff Harrington.

The 1989-1990 season found Rod Spaulding as coach, with only 10 full time players returning, recruiting began in earnest, after a tough fall preseason, Camelback regrouped to again win the Second Division Championship.

This is the year 7 Old Men was created by Camelback as a way for the older fellas to get a run at Kachina 7’s. Over 30 years of age or 230 weight, was the only requirement!

During this time Camelback found a new home at Ceilito Park and would play in Ceilito until 2002.

Spring 1998 National Championship sweet 16th

  • Second Division, Newport Beach, Rhode Island
  • May 16th Sat VS Montauk of NY (loss to number two in nation) not mailing it in
  • May 17th, Sun VS MIchigan (Univ. of)

Note: Final Standings 13th Place Nationally!

  • 1990 Camelback co-hosted the first Second Division Rugby Tournament with Embry Riddle in Prescott. The final found the two hosts fighting for the cup, with Camelback beating Embry Riddle.

  • Camelback hosted Chicago Blaze and London Spartans in 1997.

  • Undefeated Arizona Division I Champions 1997-98.
  • Spring 1998 National Championship Sweet 16

  • Second Division, Newport Beach, Rhode Island
  • 2007 – D3 Champions

  • 2008 – D3 Champions

  • 2010 – D3 Champions

  • 2012 – D3 Champions

Don Reichenberger (Left) and
Founders: Jean Iriart (Center – RIP) and Fred Borns (Right)

In an away match vs Old Pueblo, club history was made when David and Steven Garcia, & Bo and Will Swartz all played as the first fathers & sons playing together.

The New Millennia 2000-2019 
by Andrew (Five-O) Sutandar & Alex Sutandar 

In the new millennia, Camelback saw most of the 1990s players leave. It was a time of transition for the club with David Silva, Steven Garcia, and a few others holding over to keep the club going. By 2004, the team mostly consisted of young 20 something year olds fairly new to the sport but eager to play. That year also saw the addition of a few older veteran Gen Xers Tony Schollaert, Andrew (Five-O) Sutandar, and Jason Hamilton. The following year Camelback continued to grow with more out of state talent joining in the form of Romanian born Adrian and Alex Enache, South African Nick, Australian Nick, T-Nick, Oregon boys Zack, Zack, and Kyle. Frank Boyce took over the Head coaching duties of this fairly young and inexperienced team.

The second half of the decade brought fresh college talent to Frank Boyce’s squad. NAU alums Zack Tait, Adam Steuter, Justin Ladd, Morgan Seigal, and Jeremy Cochran began the pipeline. The ground work laid out by Coach Boyce, 2007-09 saw the transition from Coach Boyce to Coaches Sione Vilingia and Pat Roach. With another influx of players, most notably 3 time MVP Jesse Reed, Camelback experienced the beginning of a string of Union championships and national playoff matches. This squad continued its success with championships and playoffs under Head Coach Kevin Elliot 2009-11 and Head Coach Andrew (Five-O) Sutandar 2011-2012.

2013 began with a new Head Coach with an old familiar face in Duwayne Thomas. Coach Thomas took over the reigns of a severely depleted Camelback team. Biggest impact was the loss of starters Jesse Reed, Morgan Seigal, Justin Ladd, Zach Tait, Seth Bradley, Dusty Brockett, Austin Ayers as well as several other players with that list being too long to mention. Thus began another rebuilding phase for Camelback rugby. Immediate help in numbers was found with the Phoenix Storm. Both squads coincidently were in a rebuilding phase and found co-practicing beneficial. Still in the midst of rebuilding, Camelback saw Skyler King and Mark Pekarik hold together the Club for the remainder of the decade. It proved to be a difficult time for maintaining players and recruiting new bodies not just for Camelback, but the entire Union. Teams such as Cave Creek, Yuma, and Gilbert became memories and forgotten names. Others such as Old Pueblo were on the verge of folding but thanks to the hard work of Skyler and Mark (and a few others) Camelback persevered to the next decade. Unfortunately, waiting for Camelback and the rest Rugby America was Covid 19.

by Richie Sefo

I met Danny Sauafea at Sunday touch, he invited me to the banquet (2019 banquet). Mark, Skyler and I had a discussion about recruiting. We invited Thomas Kitiona, Brendon Best, Molesi Vaoga (from player to MVP to Captain to today’s Coach), Vigi Gaopoa, Ruben Futi, National Club Champions, Scott Hebda & Loren Broussard.

With this influx of talented players adding to our core group of veterans, Camelback Rugby has been able to actively educate some newer players and develop a solid squad.

David Perez and his son, Teague played for Camelback in 2023, making them the third father/son duo to play together for the club!

Always recruiting, Camelback Rugby is pleased to announce

Our adopt a street partnership with the City of Phoenix.

1986, 1990, 1991, 1998
2007, 2008, 2010, 2012