Tulane rugby celebrates 50th anniversary with alumni game


The Old Boys were victorious over the undergrads in the alumni match held in October of 1992. The men’s rugby team competes in the Deep South Regional Conference and will play Florida State for the first time at City Park next weekend.

“They would trip people or yank people down by their shorts,” fourth-year architecture student Gian-Carlo Hernandez-San Martin said. “Or the play would be over and they would grab your ankles and they wouldn’t let loose. And they would be like, ‘I’m sorry man, let me just do what I gotta do to win.'”

Last Saturday morning, City Park hosted one of the most competitive games of the year for some Tulanians: the men’s rugby game against alumni. The team has now been around for half a century. Former team members, including some from the original team of 1967, came from all over the country to join forces against the current team.

“It was a brutal game,” senior Andrew Markel, president of the rugby team, said. “Because these are all just old guys, so they’re all fat, and they have that old man strength, you know what I’m talking about, so it’s just brutal on the human body. We had a couple injuries.”

Originally, the rugby team nearly did not make it into existence at all. Founding members Michael Keyes and Howard Goldberg intended to form a field hockey team. On account of a lack of funding, coaching and teams to compete with — according to an article Keyes wrote for The Hullabaloo — they decided on rugby instead.

The game this year saw so many alumni return that players were subbed in every few minutes to give everyone a chance to play. After a full 80-minute game, the current student team emerged victorious for the second year in a row.

“I would say it’s one of the more competitive games of the year. They want to show us that they still have it, and we want to show them that we’re keeping up the tradition of being a pretty good team,” sophomore Miles Russo, one of the rugby team secretaries, said. “We won this year, and we won last year. It’s a really great tradition, and this year we had a huge turnout, more than last year, I would say, because of the significance of the year.”

In youthful contrast to the alumni, the rugby team has added a number of freshmen that made up a surprisingly young team this year. About half the team consists of newcomers or rookies.

“We got a lot of freshmen to try out,” Russo said. “And usually we have a lot of freshmen try out and then at least half of them drop within the first couple weeks and just figure it’s not for them. But this year the rookies were more resilient. A lot of them stuck with us.”

The tradition does not seem to have an end date in the near future. Asked whether he would be participating in the alumni game next year, Markel replied with a strong affirmative.

“Yeah,” Markel said. “It’s a great time. Especially this match, it was especially humbling just being able to meet the guys that started the whole thing and also just seeing these different generations of players meeting the guys that paved the way for where we are today. To allow us to reach, and still fuck around and play rugby.”

The men’s rugby team competes in the Deep South Regional Conference and will play Florida State for the first time at City Park next weekend.