History of our patches
History of Men's Team Patches
An appropriate phrase for the era (“mud blood and beer”) originate in the lyrics of a Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue” (1969 album “At San Quentin”) and 1971 grad Dave Porter used it in one of his drawings: (from Dave Porter) "My recollection is a bit hazy. I did a lot of cartooning (toga decorations, calendars, the magazine, etc.) and as I recall I designed a patch in 1969 or 1970 but don’t remember it going into production. There was an egg shaped character in the center with a rugby ball under one arm and holding a frothy beer in the other hand. He had a large red crack in his head and was wearing a blue and white jersey. The words – “USAFA Rugby - in the mud, the blood, and the beer” was around the outside of the patch. .. I think the cartoon first appeared not as a patch but as a small cartoon in the cadet calendar from 1969-1970, and then the drawing from the calendar was used to make the first patches." Known as "Fat Fred" this patch was popular (sometimes clandestinely until 1985)
Designed by Roger Smith, '77. (quote, by Gordon Alderton) When I took over from Tex in 76 (I think), the Rugby Club had a patch (Fat Fred) which exemplified a philosophy, which was at odds with that of the USAFA, At the same time there was a wish, especially amongst the junior members, for permission to wear a patch on their A jackets. I realised that that would never be achieved with Fat Fred and by adopting a new patch I saw this as an opportunity to bring the rugby club in from the cold. Accordingly, in the 75-76 season, I asked the cadets to design a patch which would achieve the two objectives. I should add that the majority of the First XV were opposed to the change and refused to participate in the competition. The best design came from Roger Smith and, armed with copy of it, asked the Commandant, BGen Beck, for permission to adopt this proposed new patch with permission to wear it on their A jackets. I was invited to make a presentation to the Commandant’s Board (I’m not sure of the correct title of this august body) and met a good deal of opposition from the members. Their objections were largely based on antipathy to the Academy Rugby Club, because of the extra- mural philosophy it engendered. Gen Beck gave the proposed patch his whole hearted support and surprise, surprise, the opposition melted away. Thus the Zoomies got their patch and we made the first steps towards official recognition. Initially, as I said the majority of Fourth Year Cadets boycotted the new patch, but by the end of the first season opposition has disappeared. We did have the badge when I took the squad to RAF College Cranwell and by July 77 it was being worn by virtually all members of the club. Incidentally, I cannot recall whether Roger & I ever decided what sort of bird it was. I think I am right in that I thought it was an eagle (representing the USA) and Roger thought it was a falcon (representing USAFA), but equally it might have been the other way round. Whatever species it was. it brought the Zoomies in from the cold and it has developed from there in your capable hands. So you can thank Roger for his design and General Beck for his common sense approach to the introduction of “Eddie the Eagle” (unquote) The falcon (eagle) patch was the only ZRFC rugby patch that continued between 1991 and 1995. (see next patch for more background)
A different patch was officially requested to be worn on our uniforms in 1991 for the 92 season by OIC Capt Keith Gay, who passed it on to the next OIC. The patch was designed to remedy a bad reputation the Team had. The patch never made much impact because the team did not like it or use it. Then again in 1993 when we were once again in the doghouse and the patch design was found but never caught on during those years except for some attempts to appease the higher ups. The falcon/eagle patch was the only ZRFC rugby patch continued between 1991 and 1995.
The falcon/eagle patch could be worn on a cadet's A-jacket if they were selected to the competitive club side of rugby (~30-35 cadets were selected each season, A- and B- side, and this selection allowed the chosen cadets to eat RAMPS (athletic team tables) and forego intramurals for club practice). This patch (Eddie the Eagle) was also the one worn on our FBJs (f*%#@' blue jackets). The 'official' patch to the left was a more refined image and patch that definitely did not fit the team "culture" of that time. There was a push to make that the A-jacket and FBJ patch (amongst opposition) but Eddie the Eagle persisted until 1998 or 2000 when Coach Holder began a harmonizing effort to make this patch the same patch on the polos, FBJ and AJ. Part of the design was later adopted on the alumni polo shirts.
In 2003, Tom Beers (05) designed a new logo that persisted on all sorts of clothing (hats, shirts, jackets, sweat suits, etc., available at Customink.com) One of his shirt designs had a falcon with rugby ball that Marc Ward later used on the Mud, Blood, Beer patch below.
Designed by Marc Ward in 2009, borrowing on a Tom Beers design (as above). He updated the old Mud Blood and Beer patch with the new falcon. The old “falcon” was a fat old one, so Mark had to make it look a little more ferocious. He liked to refer to the patch as “Mud, Blood, BLER” because you can’t see the first “E”.
(From Rich Bristol, father of 2014 grad). Coaches Joe Muehlbauer and Clayton Hayes penciled out a design to appear more professional and came up with the AF design (very similar to what is currently being used). We were trying to get the "stacked A and F" to use and set us apart from the athletic department logo. OIC Major Brad Bugg talked to some graphic designer and he worked up four to choose from. We chose two basically the same (stacked with lightning bolt). There may have been possible copyright infringement with just the AF and lightning bolt, and that's why the shield was adopted. Voted and adopted at a January 2012 staff meeting.
Adopted in 2015, this patch serves as the current patch for the Men's team
History of Women's Team Patches
This patch was also adopted by the women’s team in 1982 (their first patch) and it was worn on A – Jackets up through at least 2000, at which time it was used as a little memento to each ref for our women’s matches. It was in the cadet store and the gift shop until sometime around 2003 or 2004. Not sure of its current status.
History of the Alumni Patches
In the March 1979 AFA Alumni Newsletter, Harry Laws (69) presented three possibilities for our alumni patch and tie:
The Laying down player was suggested by a commercial artist (who later produced the patch and tie) and we forgot who submitted the other. The “Fat Fred” at the right was also shared by the supplier and Harry suggested we have an additional choice, to place Fat Fred into the #2 patch. In Jun 79 the votes were counted and the alumni chose Fat Fred to be placed on our ties and a patch to be worn on the uniforms which were grey/white 4” alternating hoops. [NOTE: In the Alumni Newsletter, Tex Byrd was erroneously referenced as making the drawings, which he appropriately denied.]
In order for the tie (at the left) to have the colors for mud, blood and beer to be brown, red and yellow, the player’s jersey could not be grey and white (or so the vendor said). The patch was a different story however, and the jersey colors of “Fat Fred” were made grey and white to match our alumni team colors.
In 1985, while stationed in the Philippines, Harry took the original patch to a local patch store and had a few hundred made up. In typical ‘not quite right’ fashion of the Philippines, the end result of the player's skin was different from the original. But it suited our alumni and we gave them away to anyone who would take them
In the (we think) mid 90s, this logo appeared on some polo shirts for sale by the alumni. It was a take off on a design that was then (91-03, as above) the official logo of the team.
This logo was adopted for the 50th Anniversary of AFA Men's rugby in 2018