Subsequent military rugby history

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Only a few years after the committee chair was created and formalization of an all military club championship, we saw the formation of the first Combined Services team, and quickly thereafter, service teams and an intraservice championships. The US Combined Services Committee guided the growth in the decades that followed with the objective of making rugby an official DoD sport.


Years after the formation of the Combined Services Committee, 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]


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.

Effective in 2012, The Armed Forces Sports Council voted to switch to 7's format from 15's. The addition of 7's to the Olympics provided the justification, as well as easier funding of 7s vs 15s teams. 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.