Va Beach RFC to Hold Reunion at URugby Sevens Event | URugby | College Rugby and High School Rugby

Va Beach RFC to Hold Reunion at URugby Sevens Event

The Virginia Beach Rugby Football Club is holding a reunion during the weekend of April 25-26 to coincide with the URugby Sevens Virginia Beach tournament, which takes place at the Princess Anne Athletic Complex/Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

The weekend will feature dinner and a social and, of course, lots of rugby. Organizer Steven (Jo Jo) Gunn has reserved two catered luxury boxes at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex during the tournament.

Organizers Jo Jo, Steve Bisbing and Greg Robinette need a total number of attendees and have started a contact list. They also need cell numbers/email address for each old boy.

Jo Jo Gunn: 615-243-7188
Steve Bisbing: 252-207-2371
Greg Robinette: 757-407-7683

Jo Jo has written a history of the Va Beach RFC followed by more details about the weekend.

VA Beach RFC: Brief history and reunion

Let me start by saying this information is from memory only so some of the facts may not be 100% accurate. Remember in those days there was no internet, no personal computers and no cell phones. This may be more like my own rugby bio but I do not know how to write this without it sounding this way, so my apologies!

In the Beginning

Before Virginia Beach RFC there were four rugby clubs in the Norfolk / Va Beach area. These clubs were Norfolk Rugby Club, Norfolk Irish Rugby Club, Old Dominion University Rugby Club and Tidewater Rugby Club.

While in the US Navy I played a season with ODU in 1976 where I first meet Kenny Hughes and Mike Wright who were student ruggers at ODU. I was then deployed on a Mediterranean six month cruise on the USS America CV66. On my return I had no rugby contacts and happened to locate Norfolk Rugby Club, most likely meeting someone in a bar who was wearing rugby gear. I joined that club for a season in 1977 before again being deployed and losing all rugby contacts in the area. On my return I again meet a rugger, again in a local watering hole.

I am not sure who that was but it must have been someone associated with Tidewater RFC. All I cared about was getting back on the rugby pitch again. As most ruggers have a serious addiction to the sport, I am no different!

Per the Norfolk Blues RFC website, the Norfolk Rugby Club and Norfolk Irish Rugby Club merged in the spring of 1978. About that same time Tidewater Rugby Club was dwindling in members, being close to folding. A former Old Dominion University Rugby Club player named Rick Marlette (I hope the spelling is correct) and some of the remaining Tidewater club members met to discuss starting a new club.

I believe Bob Hames was one of the former Tidewater ruggers involved with this meeting. I was ask to join them in this new club start-up and was more than glad to help grow rugby, so I agreed to help start the club.

The new club would be named Cape Henry RFC and be based in Virginia Beach. This if my memory does not fail me was in the fall of 1978 or spring of 1979. After my discharge from the Navy in March of 1979, I decided to stay in the area to attend an electronics school instead of going back to college.

I played for Cape Henry RFC for about three years before we decided to change the name to Virginia Beach RFC so during away games and tournaments other clubs would know where we were from. I was very involved with the club on and off the pitch serving in many club positions over eight years until I moved to the Philadelphia area in the spring of 1986 and joined the newly merged (spring 1985) clubs Whitemarsh RFC and Philadelphia RFC, who named the new east coast power house club, Philadelphia Whitemarsh Rugby Football Club.

Lifelong Rugby Friends

Philadelphia Whitemarsh Rugby Football Club traveled to Virginia Beach and Norfolk multiple times over the next five to eight years for both sevens tournaments at the beach and fifteens matches against Norfolk Blues RFC. I can tell many stories about Philadelphia Whitemarsh Rugby Football Club over my 21 years in Philly, but that is for another time.

So I was able to keep up with my VA BEACH RFC club mates and friends the likes of the Hames brothers Bob, Billy, Jeff, along with Steve Bisbing, Dean Knight, The Robinette brothers Greg and Hillary (the Hanson brothers from “slap shot”) .... 

... and way too many other colorful characters from the VA Beach RFC early years to mention here. Plus who wants much of their past on the Internet!

First Virginia Beach RFC Reunion

The first ever VA BEACH RFC reunion came about thanks to Facebook. Kenny Hughes’ former wife was my former wife’s (their names are left out for their privacy) ODU college roommate and best friend. She located me on Facebook and asked for my phone number which I provided in the summer of 2014. I get a call and it is Kenny Hughes reaching out to me after about 16 years.

Kenny suggested a VA Beach RFC reunion, but does not use the Internet! WHAT? I being in IT decided to start reaching out to whoever I could connect with on Facebook and reconnected with Greg Robinette and Steve Bisbing. So between the three of us we decide this event was way overdue and the work began.

My good friend and Philadelphia Whitemarsh Rugby Football Club team mate Stephen Siano is the catalyst and driving force behind the URugby Sevens Virginia Beach tournament. Steve, Greg and I discussed it and decided it was the perfect time of year to organize this VA Beach RFC reunion and the work really started to find old friends and get the word out.

Date – time – location – events

The reunion is scheduled to coincide with URugby Sevens Virginia Beach featuring the ACRC7s, on the weekend of April 25th and 26th. Former VA Beach RFC members have been contacted on Facebook, phone and word of mouth. Hopefully guys are making travel and accommodation arrangements to arrive on Friday April 24th.

I will arrive on that date and have arranged to rent a house on the beach for myself, Kenny Hughes and a few others coming to the event. We plan to stay until Monday April 27th before leaving after a long weekend of rugby sevens, old rugby stories (LIES) and even a few cocktails!

Greg has ask to bring your old pictures, news clippings or other closet memories to share with us that may bring up some good old stories!

Saturday April 25th

We will meet Saturday the 25th of April at the Virginia Beach Sports complex at Princess Ann Park any time after 9 AM. The address is 2181 North Landstown Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

This is the location of URugby Virginia Beach Featuring the ACRC7s. Expect to pay for parking and a small fee to enter the stadium. The rugby starts at 9 AM and goes to 3 PM both Saturday and Sunday. We have two boxes reserved in my name that hold 15 people each (Thanks Stephen Siano!)

I plan to arrange some food and drinks for the two boxes for Saturday only and will be making those arrangements in the next week, so please bring cash to pay your share. It is $10.00 to $20.00 per person. Take a look at this link for details:

Saturday April 25th day - Evening

There will be a Saturday evening get together dinner and social at The Eagles Nest, located at 600 Nevan Rd. in Virginia Beach. We are hoping to meet at the location between 4 PM to 7 PM Saturday afternoon and evening.

Steve will have the details and post it on Facebook, and Greg can send them out by email. We request you reach out to the three of us by email as soon as possible so we have a total number of attendees as possible for the Saturday/Sunday boxes and old boy dinner/social. Greg has started a contact list and we need cell numbers/email address for each old boy.

Jo Jo Gunn – 615-243-7188
Steve Bisbing – 252-207-2371
Greg Robinette – 757-407-7683

Sunday April 26th

The gates at the stadium open about 8:30 AM and everyone is welcome to arrive at their leisure. After the rugby some guys will be heading home and we suggest whoever is left make their own plans for the evening.

In Closing

We encourage all former VA Beach RFC ruggers and current players to join us at this reunion.

We have been in contact with the current club contacts asking them to bring current club gear (T’s, hats, Jersey’s… all XXL) to the event to sell to us to help support the current club.

The current club contacts have also been in contact with Sevens tournament coordinator Stephen Siano to provide assistance at the event in whatever capacity is needed to promote rugby, Va Beach RFC, and hand out club recruitment flyers to the multitude of college ruggers taking part in this tournament.