We have some anecdotal stories about rugby in these early years:
During the winter/spring of 61/62, rugby was introduced at the Academy as an intramural sport....I (Charles M. (Mike) Butler, MajGen, USAF(ret) ’62) was selected to be the coach of 5th Squadron's team...we spent the first 3 sessions in the day room learning the rules....long story short, we won the first Wing Championship primarily because we knew the rules....later that spring, a select team played Cranwell during an exchange visit...as I recall, they beat us by 1 point...
The picture was in the winter61/spring62 time frame (I'm an original Red Tag-62)
From another grad: "Nothing new to add, but the photo brings back memories. I was in 5th Sqdn all four years so I recognize most of the guys. The photo must have been taken in late '61 or early '62 because there are no '66ers in it, but there are '63, '64, and '65 guys"
And another: Since I played in that game, I can confirm the rugby game against the Cranwell "Crannies"as we called them during 1961. I can also confirm that they won, but I think it was more by one point. We played it more like football. But while they beat us on the field, we beat them in drinking beer at the Golden Bee at the Broadmore later that night. They were great guys and a good time on and off the field was held by all.
Sadly, I only have fond memories of the game (including the bruises and grass burns) and no pictures. I believe that Phil Lane, Wyman Harris, and David Small (now decesased) all from 7th Squadron played in the game. If only we knew back then that what we were doing was going to be the start of something big.
Howie Kraye, '63 (7th Sqdrn)
Walter John Herrington, then a Squadron Leader in the RAF, was posted to the Academy in May 1962 as part of the military teaching staff. His boss on the staff discovered that he had played rugby at school and in representative teams within the RAF. He asked if he would help because although there was some rugby being played, he would 'have to get the casualty rate down', if the game was going to continue to be played. When he went to watch what the guys were doing, it was obvious that they were playing as though they were playing football - without the helmets and pads!
He identified a number of cadets to take responsibility for developing the game and started running regular coach development sessions, some involving watching film of international matches, which he had asked the RFU in England to send over, others based around the key skill areas in the game. He also developed a number of cadets as referees. He confirmed that the Academy lost to Cranwell by a single point in '62. The football team's kicker, who also played for the rugby team hit the post with a kick which would have won the game. My dad refereed the first half and the French Exchange officer refereed the second half. In his second year (63), the Academy team beat the visiting Cranwell team, (although he thinks playing at altitude may have helped with this.) He believes these games against Cranwell were the only Academy matches at this point.
He returned to the UK in May 1964, having been promoted to Wing Commander while in post. He eventually retired from the RAF having reached the rank of Air Vice-Marshal.
Simon Herrington (Son of Air Vice Marshal Herrington)
Our “club” was wiped out by the Sandhurst cadets in 62. We recruited the football team for 63 and smeared them! Bob Zepecki 65
From left - US Navy Commander Sam Rorex; the Australian Air Force exchange officer and RAF Walter Herrington, all posted to the Academy at the same time