The New York Athletic Club will launch a rugby hall of fame on Friday by inducting two founding members.
Bob Cullom Sr., past president of the entire Winged Foot organization, and Bill Smith, also a founder of the Columbia College and Old Blue clubs, are the inaugural inductees, co-coach Bruce McClean said in an email. As many as 200 guests are expected at a dinner event.
Separately, the University of California last week recognized its 2006 American titlists as part of the Berkeley school’s first-ever “National Championship Week.” The program included presentation at halftime of a football game attended by 73,000 and commemoration in a hall of fame room.
The two landmarks are symbolic of growing efforts to commemorate achievements, in ways that are familiar to domestic sports culture. Earlier this year, the Southern California union staged an end-of-season dinner complete with player-of-the-year honors and a guest speaker in past New Zealand flanker Josh Kronfeld.
New York’s Xavier High School, which shares
coaches management with NYAC in Mike Tolkin and McClean, last year staged a 30th anniversary dinner that drew more than 30 percent of the school’s 800 rugby alumni. Across town, archrival Old Blue has long since established a hall of fame.
NYAC was founded in 1973; Old Blue and Columbia more than a decade earlier.
Cullom and Smith “were instrumental in starting and maintaining the program … [and] building our home field. They coached [us], supported us, got us significant financing. We didn't feel it fitting to have anyone else go in with them or before them,” McClean said.