The Chicago Blaze Rugby Club based in Lemont, Ill., will be celebrating their 30th anniversary on May 11-12. The Blaze was formed in 1982 when the Amoco Rugby Club and Windy City Nomads decided to merge their teams. President of Amoco Pete Thornley along with President of Windy City George Selimos met in a closed door session and decided to become the Chicago Blaze Rugby Club.
The Blaze started playing Division 1 rugby in Chicago and realized that it would be a great idea to have their own property to enjoy the great sport of rugby and the camaraderie of the matches after. In 1985 they were able to acquire 10 acres of farmland in South Suburban Chicago that consisted of a small house, garage, and small barn. After 5 years of work on the fields and house transitioning it into their clubhouse, they hosted their first game on April 22, 1990.
The facility is always being upgraded, purchasing 10 more acres, having their own locker rooms and showers, a multiple purpose room, concessions, three fields two of which are lighted, and a picnic shelter.
Their future goal is to knock down their beloved clubhouse and build a million dollar state of the art rugby complex that will consist of three locker rooms, multipurpose room, on the first floor and a banquet room and bar on second floor with balcony over looking the main pitch from the west try zone. The goal is open new facility in summer of 2013.
The Blaze has two competitive teams playing in Division 1 & 3 and an alumni team the Fossils.
They have hosted numerous Midwest and Sweet 16 National Tourneys as well as the Illinois Youth Rugby State Championships every Memorial Day and their annual Firehouse Sevens Tournament held annually in June. With the building of the new facility they hope to host the National Finals within the next 5 years.
The Blaze has a rich history of competing for USA Rugby’s National title having played in numerous sweet 16’s, which is their goal every season, having come the closet in 1990 when they went to the Final Four.
To commemorate 30 years on May 11 they will host a golf outing and social at the clubhouse on Friday evening and games Fossils, D 1 & 3 vs. Lincoln Park on May 12. On June 3rd, the Blaze will play an exhibition at halftime of the Arena Football Leagues Chicago Rush.