West Pot’s Favorite Things

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1 week ago

West Potomac Rugby

For Veterans Day we are posting this article that was published in Rugby Magazine back in 2001 about West Potomac RFC and our large number of active and veteran miliatry personnel who have honored our club by being a part of us. The names have changed over the years but our current sides still have a large military presence.

The West Potomac RFC
By Buzz McClain
Rugby Magazine
2001

With the exception of the Combined Forces, we've never come across a team so loaded with active, reserve or retired military personnel as the West Potomac RFC of Washington, DC.

Their roster includes 34 players - about half of the team - who wear or have warn service uniforms when not in their red and white West Potomac hoops. Their ranks include a Rhodesian special forces officer and a member of the Royal Australian Navy, as well as a few Yanks with significant decorations fir battle.

It's almost anticlimactic that Scott McCallum, who played with West Potomac in the late 1960's and early '70s was recently sworn in as governor if Wisconsin.

Even though this disproportion of military-to-civilian ratio is high, "It's not as many as we've had in the past," says Jake Jacobson, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps. "We've had more."

The team practices at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, but other than "a few strays we've picked up there," says Jacobson, that's not the reason why West Pot's nickname should be the Patriots.
SAIS What?

"We started out as Sayas," says Ed Smith, who signed on with the club in 1977. Smitty is known wide and far in the international rugby community simply as Smitty.
The Seeas? “No, SAIS. It was a bunch of Brit Naval Officers who were enrolled in the International Diplomacy course at Johns Hopkins (School of International Studies) in DC.”

According to Smith, most of those original players were military, as were their American counterparts, and a few civilians got caught up in the mix as well. The year was 1963 and SAIS and Washington RFCs were the only teams around.

They Like Wives

Since those days, West Potomac has always had more than its share of men in uniform. And while there are some club presidents counting the military men on their own clubs right now to see if they can top West Potomac, try to top this statistic: West Potomac has more than 320 Campaign Medals among club members – and 17 divorces.

“I compare rugby to the military,” says Jacobson, who flew numerous combat missions in Vietnam in the back seat of F-4 Phantoms as an Intercept Officer. “The fellowship and camaraderie in a rugby club is very similar to that in a small unit organization like a military squadron or company, where you work and play together.

“Particularly with West Potomac, it’s not just a team, it’s a club. We have bachelor parties, baby showers, parties for the wives – it’s a family affair. There were more kids than adults at our Fat Run, the first practice of the spring in February.” Jacobson, who plays wing forward and second row, didn’t discover rugby until he was 36 and in grad school in California (his first team was the Monterey RFC). Now he plays with the West Potomac Old Boys and the Washington Area Rugby Traveling Side (WARTS), which is headed to the Golden Oldies Tournament in Toulouse, France, in May. “And I still whore a game with B-side when I can,” he says.

Rugby is Hell!

Ed Smith’s career as a second row began in Hawaii in the 1970s, when he was selected to sponsor an Australian company that spent time with his battalion. “That meant I spent two weeks with a bunch of crazy Australians,” he says. “And they played two rugby games while they were there. The company sergeant major said, ‘Hey Smith, get over there and play second row.’ I said, ‘Play what?’”

Smith, who plays with West Potomac, the Old Boys and the WARTS, agrees with Jacobson that rugby and the military share attributes – especial the camaraderie aspects – but he adds that rugby “is as close as you can get to combat. Your adrenaline starts pumping just like in combat. It challenges your courage every other second.”

I double- check the remark. Smith, after all, did three tours in Vietnam. Are you sure about that combat comparison” “Yes, it is similar,” Smith says. “And I’ve seen a lot of action.”

For those of us who have never been exposed to the “action” Smith refers to, you have to appreciate what it says about our favorite sport. Let’s turn to the book, “Seven Firefights in Vietnam,” an Army publication. “Suddenly materializing from their jungle concealment, fifteen to twenty of the enemy, their AK47s firing full automatic, rushed at the 2nd squad. Two paratroopers were hit; then the squad leader took a fatal round. Sergeant Smith rallied the squad and kept the perimeter intact. It was the first bitter taste of things to come….”

“…(T)he sleek F-100s hit an area just outside the 2nd squad…with 250-pound bombs, napalm and 22mm cannon shells. Crouching behind a log in front of the squad, Sergeant Smith and his companions in the outpost felt the concussion of the bombs roll over them. It was very close, almost too close for the sergeant. ‘That second air strike was right in there,’ Smith recalled. ‘If we’d been on the other side of the log, we wouldn’t be here now.’

“(Two others) who had been wounded in the firefight moved back from the outpost after the last bomb landed, leaving Smith, who was rapidly expending the last of his ammunition. Sergeant Smith was becoming a favorite target for enemy snipers concealed in tall trees. Spec 4 Grady L. Madison dashed forward, bringing him badly needed M16 and M79 ammunition. Smith reloaded and fired into some trees to his right. A sniper who had lashed himself to a tree limb tumbled out of his perch; head down, his body swayed grotesquely.”

The Sergeant Smith in the book is Ed Smith, but this is as much as you will get out of him or most of the others when it comes to war stories. Smith – who did not send me the “Firefights” book – declines to describe his military decorations. “It doesn’t matter whether anyone served in a frontline combat unit- and many have,” he writes in e-mail. “What matters is that they were willing to put their lives on the line for this, the greatest country in the world, in a time when they were needed. They also serve who do the daily manning reports.

“In Vietnam the men in the rear probably had a worse time then the men in the bush. At least the men in the bush could shoot back at the people shooting at them. The men in the rear usually had to hide in bunkers during mortar and rocket attacks.”

But get Smith talking about the George Washington University woman’s team, which is being coached by West Potomac members, and he happily gives a blow by blow account of the weekend’s tries.

WEST POTOMAC’S MEN IN UNIFORM

U.S. ARMY
Edward J. Smith
Marty Chazen
Charlie Pringle
Dallas Weaver*
Don Phillips
Ali Traish
Todd Tarnoff*
Brian Smith*
Ed Hooks*
Jason Peterson
U.S.M.C.
C.R. (Bill) Kinsey
Jake Jacobson
Lou Kobus
Denny Morgan
Ric Peregrino
U.S. Navy
Chuck Creedon
Marvin Ferguson
Rich McNamara
Phil Dixon
Pete Dundas*
John Masoti
Josh Williams*
U.S. Air Force
James Armstrong*
Dain Bentley*
Lou Danner*
Bob Max
Neal Dill
U.S. Coast Guard
Paul Gessner
Paul Potter
Jon Lewis*
Shad Scheirman*
U.S. Maritime Service
Matt Shanley
Rhodesia(SAS)
Murray Kruger
Australian Navy
Oliver York
*Denotes current active/reserves
... See MoreSee Less

 

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To all who served we appreciate you

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1 week ago

West Potomac Rugby

West Potomac RFC offers our sincere gratitude to all who have served, to keep our nation safe and free, including our many, many past and current players. Thank you.
Happy Veterans Day!
... See MoreSee Less

West Potomac RFC offers our sincere gratitude to all who have served, to keep our nation safe and free, including our many, many past and current players.  Thank you.  
Happy Veterans Day!

2 weeks ago

West Potomac Rugby

West Potomac has wrapped up our fall season with a great Mystery Box. Our winner, Identity Protected, got several items including a bottle of Old Gessner Bourbon. ... See MoreSee Less

West Potomac has wrapped up our fall season with a great Mystery Box. Our winner, Identity Protected, got several items including a bottle of Old Gessner Bourbon.

 

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that chin reveals everything tho

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1 month ago

West Potomac Rugby

Join West Potomac tomorrow for a double header at Gravelly Point Park in Arlington! A-side kicks off at 12pm with West Potomac taking on Western Suburbs immediatey followed by a B side contest pitting a combined West Potomac/Suburbs side against the Renegades! ... See MoreSee Less