Subsequent military rugby history
1975. With the formation of USA Rugby, the new leadership put a Combined Services Committee (CSC) into the organizational structure, but the chairman was not a military person and the committee was inactive.
1979. Reacting to an article in Rugby Magazine about the UK Combined Services match in Boston, USAF LtCol Harry Laws was appointed CSC Chairman and soon thereafter, an all military committee structure was put in place and the organization flourished. Communication was continuous with USA Rugby, and they began to fund the committee’s communication expenses, and later, were more generous in their support of events, having an appointed a person to serve as a link within USA Rugby.
1996 January – USA Rugby decided to offer an official board seat to the CSC. Mike Malone was elected and sworn in to the USARFU board in this newly created Military Representative seat. He was re-elected by the CSC to successive terms starting January 1998 and January 2000
There was an effort by each of the Service teams to have rugby recognized by the Armed Forces Sports Council as an official sport. In 1998, the Council voted not to adopt Rugby as an official sport after USMC and USAF pushed to have the sport added. However, the Council received a letter from General Schoomaker on 22 Feb 1999 soliciting support and provided a very comprehensive information paper. On 11 March 1999, the Council voted 4-0 to add rugby to the Armed Forces Sports calendar. The term Armed Forces Rugby, a term used by the Combined Services Committee, was then adopted by the DoD sports office. [A fact that helped the adoption of rugby as a DoD sport was that in April of 1998, the US Olympic Committee Board of Directors voted to accept USA Rugby as an affiliate member, opening up USOC training facilities to our national team and creating a path towards Olympic participation, which the DoD is charged to support] Air Force Rugby Service Director Larry Grant was the first service chairman to truly get the attention of his service's sports officials. He worked very hard to get funding for his side, created a tryout system with an outside coach, got funded orders for his players, and funded kit. Air Force won Interservice Championships for several years as a result. Larry was generous with his knowledge of how to make these things happen in the military and shared his expertise with the other service leaders to the benefit of all.
When several of the services began working to get Armed Forces Sports Council (AFSC) funding for their programs in the 1999-2000 timeframe, the AFSC informed them that its funding of military rugby would not allow the continued involvement of players on the USCS team who were not on active duty. Also, that reservists and guard members not on active duty, even though serving inactively as a reservist or guard member, and retired members would no longer be permitted to play for the team. 2000 July 18th. Mike Malone and Paul Capasso Col, USAF, CSC vice-chairman appeared before the AFSC, at the behest of the CS Committee, to appeal the AFSC decision not to allow inactive reserve and guard members on the military teams, requesting the waiver of that requirement as allowed by AFSC regulations. They were informed that the waiver would not be granted. They were further informed that at some point the AFSC would seek to have its representative seated on the USARFU board of directors.
2000 November 10th. Two members of the AFSC appeared at the November meeting of the USARFU board and they informed Mike Malone that they were present to make a pitch to the board for one of their choosing to replace him as the elected Military Representative. They made it clear this was a prerequisite to any funding being given by the AFSC in support of the each of the individual service teams, as well as the USCS teams. When this pitch was made at the session of the board meeting, there was opposition voiced by some of the board members to the seating of the board member not elected by the constituency that was represented by the board member. No decision was made that day. In order to avoid the board possibly voting against the seating of an appointed AFSC representative to the elected Military Representative seat and thereby potentially blocking of funding of each of the service teams by the AFSC, Mike Malone informed LtCol. Mark Neice, USAF, the USCS Committee chairman, of his intention to resign his position on the USARFU board, which he did on 11 November 2000
The Combined Services Committee continued to function.
2000 . Larry Grant was appointed to be the Armed Forces Sports Council’s representative to USA Rugby. When Larry retired in 2003, Mr. Steve Brown, Air Force Sports Director, took over as the representative at the direction of the AFSC (because the Air Force was the first Service to fund rugby two years prior to it becoming an Armed Forces Sport). The DoD made rugby an official sport when either two or three of the Services made rugby a varsity sport, which triggered it as a DoD official sport, and that happened around 2000 or so when there were both the last CSC Interservice tourney and the first AFC tourney.
In the following months, members of the Combined Services Committee and the Armed Forces Sports Service Reps worked together to hammer out the details on how the competition would be run (roster size, rules, etc...). Ultimately, it was agreed that Armed Forces Sports would manage the program in compliance with all DoD regulations (which did not allow reservists, guard or retirees to participate, which the CS committee did). After many communications with Col Paul Capasso and Mike Malone (Malone being the voting member of USARFU), on 7 Sep 2000, the full Council approved that USA Rugby would recognize Armed Forces Sports as the program lead from the Combined Services Committee and the AFSC member would then replace the Combined Services USARFU representative. The Armed Forces Rugby Championship would serve as the feeder into the Combined Services Team that would compete at the National Tournament. Eventually, the dynamics of USA Rugby national tournaments went away and the Combined Services Committee slowly became redundant. In 2002 USA Rugby formally dissolved the Combined Services Committee as a function of our National Governing Body and stopped recognizing the annual Service tournament as a USA Rugby Championship Event.
USA Rugby then became an official National Governing Body of the US Olympic Committee, which further changed the landscape of Armed Forces Rugby. Today, Armed Forces Rugby is officially recognized by USA Rugby as the U.S. Armed Forces Rugby Football Club for both our men's and women's teams. The Armed Forces Rugby Championship was then officially sanctioned by USA Rugby and the first official Armed Forces Championship under the DoD leadership was in 2000. Larry Grant, USAF, served as the US Armed Forces Representative to USA Rugby from 2000-2003.
2002 June 27th. USA Rugby Board agreed that the military seat on the board would be tendered to the AFSC. This decision appeared to have dissolved the Combined Services Committee but in reality, it only announced that it was the consensus of the USARFU Executive Committee to propose to the full board at 2002 November’s meeting that the military seat on the board would be tendered to the AFSC. The USCS Committee would continue to chair the Military Rugby Committee under USARFU by-laws.
2009 October. "At the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in October 2009, IOC members voted overwhelmingly in favour of Rugby Sevens inclusion on the Olympic Games Sports Programme for 2016 and 2020, 81 votes in favour with only eight against." https://www.world.rugby/olympics/history
Once rugby became a varsity sport in enough Services to be declared an official DoD sport, the responsibility for funding and managing fell to the Services via decisions made by the Armed Services Sports Council. The Olympic winds caused the the AFSC to drop 15's for 7's prior to the 2012 tourney, which came after several years of some of the Services wanting to change the format to 7's to conserve funds (dating back to the mid 2000's -- It was after one of the AFC tourney's in 2006 or 2007 that we were asked to re-deploy to a 7's tourney immediately after the AFC at Camp Lejeune). The USAF Sports office was a hold-out to keep 15's until the very end when the AFSC ruled that they would only support Olympic sports.
The first DoD 7's tourney was in 2012, as a result of the Armed Forces Sports Council (AFSC) voting to switch formats (about six months prior). LtCol Gary Helfeldt, USAF, was the planning officer for the 2012 Armed Forces Championship (AFC) 15's tourney in 2011/2012 and had to make the switch to 7's sometime in early 2012. That also drove the decision to nest the Armed Forces Championship inside a bigger 7's tourney, because a 5-team 7's tourney was not very viable. The five Service rugby directors, who previously comprised the permanent Combined Services committee members, continue to lead collaboration on behalf of their respective players under the authority of their respective Service sports offices for all formal military rugby events.