The late Monk Vaughn is described by his former mates on the original Richmond Rugby Club as a red-haired fury on the rugby pitch, a force of nature, so it is perhaps a fitting tribute that the tournament held in his honor on Saturday, June 13 was nearly stopped by the remnants of Hurricane Chantal as they passed by Richmond, Va.
Of the six gorgeous natural turf fields available at the Dorey Park complex, only one was deemed playable by Henrico County Parks and Rec. after the late afternoon deluge.
After the Sun emerged, finals in the Men’s Open and Premier divisions were played in muggy conditions on the lone sloppy pitch. The Raleigh Reapers emerged as the ultimate victors after defeating Schuykill River twice - once in their pool 21-5, and by a closer score of 17-15 in the final. The Reapers also topped Rocky Gorge 26-7, Pittsburgh 14-5 and NOVA 17-12 in the semi along the way.
The Men’s Open Division was taken by the Richmond Lions of the host club, as they defeated Severn River in the final by a score of 24-12. The Lions started the day strong taking Rappahannock 24-0 and following that up by beating Schuykill River’s B-side 12-7, Rocky Gorge’s 2nd team 22-7 then ended their run with a duplicate 24-0 drubbing of the Washington Irish in the semifinal.
Although the Cheeseteak 7s drew most of the top Women’s teams in the area to Philadelphia this weekend, two clubs brought a little firepower in the form of Eagles. The Severn River Women took the cup home with no little help from recently capped USA lock Carmen Farmer. Farmer dominated her competition on Saturday, drawing admiration from the young players of the Hampton Heat watching from the sidelines, who approached her for autographs after the match. Not to be outdone, the James River Women showed up with an Eagle of their own in the form of Samantha Pankey, capped four times for the USA fullback, center and flanker.
The 14 Men’s Social Clubs who showed up in Richmond were unable to determine a champion on the pitch because of weather conditions at the time of their scheduled final. The winner was determined to be the Service Members belonging to the Quantico Hooligans on the basis of their undefeated record and number of games played. Norfolk 2 was also unbeaten but had played 1 less match so they were awarded runner-up.
The combined age of the Hooligans should have qualified them as the 4th member of the Old Boys division which was taken by NOVA Old Grey. The 7 Deadly Sins were runners-up with the Virginia Gentlemen also getting credit for lacing up the old boots.
With a total of 35 adult teams and not counting the Youth tournament taking place at the same time, the Monk Vaughn 7s Tournament has come a long way since its inception 33 years ago. Sam Hall started playing rugby for the original Richmond Rugby Club in the fall of 1966. Sam knew Monk Vaughn and in his own words, “had many an illicit moment away from home with him.” Vaughn was killed by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle on Memorial Day week-end in 1978 and a tournament in his honor was started shortly after. Originally taking the form of a 15s format tournament, Sam remembers the first few years when only 6 or 8 teams attended.
Formed in 1963, the Richmond Rugby Club was the 3rd team constituted in the Mid-Atlantic region following in the path of Washington and the University of Virginia. Monk Vaughn showed up after a stint in the Army around 1967-68. He is remembered as an outstanding scrumhalf and according to the team website a “warrior, outstanding businessman and friend to the Bikers, Judges and Politicians of our fair city. Monk was respected by all for his playing ability and was loved by all for his spirit and thirst for living.”