As one might suspect the history of SCRFU is aligned with Hollywood! It has been stated in all of the histories we can find that the first President of SCRFU was the famous horror movie star Boris Karloff, an ex-partite from good old England. It is also reported that our first fundraising efforts in 1936 before officially becoming SCRFU, to raise $10,000 for hosting a tour of Oxford University here, was accomplished by working the Hollywood friends of Boris. Unfortunately, the Treasurer absconded with the funds and the tour didn’t happen, though Boris apparently made good on the loss to his benevolent friends who had loaned the money to support the tour. The incident apparently led to the incorporation of SCRFU in 1937 with Boris as the President. With this crazy beginning, we became the wonderful power that we are today with less famous administrators.
While the rugby game was very active in California in the early 1900s and players from here, especially Cal and Stanford, comprised the majority of the teams who won the Olympics in 1920 and 1924 (the last year that rugby was an Olympic sport), the sport had many dormant years from the mid 30’s to the mid 50’s when a resurrection occurred and the modern era of what we know as our current reasonably popular sport on college and university campuses and men’s and women’s clubs got its rebirth.
The oldest club in SCRFU is the Eagle Rock Athletic Club (founded in 1937) who had semi-professional football success for many years that developed into rugby success, especially in the 50s and 60s and early 70s. The second oldest is the LARC (Universities RFC formed in 1958 that changed their name to Los Angeles Rugby Club in 1966).
During the late 60s and early 70s, the dominant team in SCRFU and USA was the UCLA team under the coaching of Dennis Storer, later the first Eagles Coach when USARFU was formed in 1975. This was possible before the USARFU developed rules for eligibility for colleges and teams like UCLA were able to play not only students but graduate and part-time students such as the best players from clubs willing to take one course to play. UCLA dominated the rugby scene with the best players who eventually went on to form the Santa Monica RFC with many from this dominant UCLA team. SMRFC then became the dominant team in SCRFU and USA followed closely by LARC throughout the mid 70’s and early 80’s. The first SCRFU club to participate in the National Championship in 1984 was LARC who broke the dominance of the NCRFU with the help of the new “kid on the block” Belmont Shore who knocked out the reigning champ Old Blues of NCRFU in the semis of the PCRFU Championship.
The first Eagles match under the newly formed USARFU (finally formed in 1975 at a meeting in Chicago after many years of “infighting” amongst the four “divisions” of Pacific Coast and West and Midwest and East) was played in Anaheim in 1976 against Australia and the USA Eagles coached by Storer were dominated by 11 of the 15 starters from SCRFU. The match was exciting and close, though we lost 24-12. As history will tell, this is as close as the Eagles came in a match against a full international side from the major IRB countries until the Australia match in Riverside in 1994 when the USA lost 22-26, which is closest ever. SCRFU went on to host several other International matches with the Eagles playing Wales “B” and New Zealand in 1980, and England “B” in 1982 and Japan in 1986 and Argentina in 1990 and 1994 as well as Canada also in 1994. Many SCRFU players, too numerous to list here, have represented the USA as Eagles over the years.
Great teams from Belmont and OMBAC dominated the ensuing years in SCRFU, with LARC a close pursuer. OMBAC took over the dominance of NCRFU and went on to many national Championships, fighting Belmont for the right to represent SCRFU in the fight to get through the PCRFU Championships to represent PCRFU in the Nationals. Since SCRFU became a TU Belmont and OMBAC continued to dominate as the top teams in Men’s rugby.
PCRFU is mentioned constantly because SCRFU was an LAU of PCRFU until 1994 when SCRFU had the audacity to apply to USARFU in 1993 to become a separate Territory to change the structure of four territories entrenched since 1975 and were accepted in 1994. This was an amazingly audacious move by SCRFU led by Brian Sorci the then SCRFU President. This eventual approval has changed the make-up of USAR since. USA Rugby now has 7 Territories and others applying to make it more. SCRFU takes great pride in making this momentous move.
A wonderful part of SCRFU history is the start of Women’s Rugby in 1972 that actually was an impetus for others around the country to do the same. The Pasadena RFC was the first to welcome women to their organization and that got it all started. The best finish for a SCRFU team was the 1990 National Club Final with Belmont Shore Women winning the USA Rugby National Championship. Though Women’s rugby in SCRFU has been an integral part of PCRFU even after the SCRFU being accepted as a Territorial Union in 1994 and deciding to remain a part of PCRFU for a few years, they eventually went out on their own and accepted the obligations of being a part of the SCRFU Territory and are in a rebuilding mode to gain competitive footing on the national level.