Cliff Ernest Jean Iriart and Fred Borns started playing for the Phoenix Rugby Club in 1975. They learned the game from folks like Bob Blakey, Davy Richardson, Jack McCall, Ted Noyes, Tom Taylor, Mike Beale, Gordon Elley, Bob Shutts, etc. After 3 years Phoenix was faced with the fact that the club was getting too big for just one side. Rather than have a second side that might or might not have opponents on any given weekend we made the hard decision to try to spawn a new club. Jean and Fred told Phoenix that was our plan and that we would avoid trying asking any Phoenix players to follow us. It was brotherly separation.
In the fall of 1979 Jean and Fred started recruiting players for our new club. We started our practices in North Phoenix near 12th. Street and Indian School. Ronnie Hernandez was one of the first guys to join us as a Hooker from the Tempe “Old Devils”. Between Ronnie, Jean and Fred, we pretty much decided on the name “Camelback Rugby” Club. Jean had quite few young guys from his high school football coaching associations and it was through this group of youngsters that our nucleus was formed.
Soon we were getting some ASU and U of A grads (like John Snow, Kevin Daniels, etc) who had played at the University and wanted to keep playing. We had (barely) a full side when we started playing preseason games. Sometimes we had to rely on help from the Phoenix club to fill our positions, but not on a permanent basis. Our record that first season (1979-1980) wasn’t all that good but we did attend the Tucson Rugby Classic in December, the San Diego (OMBAC) tournament in January ’80, and the Santa Barbara Tournament in April ’80.
Our second season things really picked up, we got some Brits on the team that were working for Honeywell. We has a solid schedule, Fred got injured, Jean’s knee started giving him fits, but we had fun… Can’t remember our record, but it wasn’t to shabby, we hosted a traveling team from Australian Navy (HMS Perth) and had a two-day party starting Friday niter at the old A-1 Brewery on 12th. street and Washington and winding up at the Doubletree Inn in Scottsdale sometime early Sunday morning, we even played a couple of games in the intervening Saturday.
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. In 1982-1983 Camelback played Tempe for the Arizona Championship and fell short.
1982 found the original Phoenix Rugby Club joining Camelback and Bo Swartz first picked up the reins as coach of Camelback. The club had some break even records until 1985-86 when Camelback won the first of many Arizona Second Division Championships. Bo stepped away as coach and the club was held together by Mike Clough, Pat Regalia, Jim Hammond, and Cliff Harrington. In 1988, Bo was able to return as coach and focus on what we needed to do to win again, Camelback won the Second Division Championship for 1988-89, 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 season, Camelback regrouped to again win the Second Division Championship. During this time Camelback found a new home at Ceilito Park and would play in Ceilito until 2002. In 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, the following years found the tournament being relocated to Phoenix and run by Camelback.
Undefeated Arizona Division I Champions 1997-98.
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!