1990’s – Clubhouse Built, Traditions Continued
Under the leadership of Mike Lee, who served as President in 1989 and 1990, the club lost (in ’89) and then regained the North Carolina State Championship in 1990. John Morgan and Phil Langdon were standouts, as were new players George Miller, Steve Ezell, and Tom Wilkinson. The 7’s program continued to do well, wining the Palmetto Tournament and the Raleigh Sevens.
Plans for the inevitable clubhouse to be built on the Skillbeck Athletic Grounds were drawn and money was raised for construction. Pat George served one term as President, followed by Robert MacLeod.
In 1991, the club had a tremendous fall, climaxing with a victory over Atlanta Renegades in the Group III Playoffs in Columbia SC. The victory earned the Olde Originals a trip to Baton Rouge, LA – the club’s second trip to the Eastern Final Four, where the club eventually lost to Life College in the finals. John Yaniero captained the team in this banner year.
The club again won the state tournament in 1992, but fell to Norfolk in the Group III Playoffs, this time hosted on the Skillbeck Athletic Grounds. New players continued to join the club and make an impact on the A side, including Eric Lindley, Mike Kirk, Chris Rorabaugh, Wayne Bradley, and Pat Mincer.
Construction of the clubhouse began in July 1992, when the hole for the foundation was dug. Except for a few technical aspects, the entire project was performed by the members of the club, under the leadership of then President Joe Nelis. By late 1992 the roof was up, and by 1993 framing was complete and the clubhouse was enclosed. When finished in February of 1994, the 5,800 square foot clubhouse included home and visitor locker rooms with showers, a trainer’s room, and the clubroom and bar (now named the Turton Taproom in honor of the late Andy Turton), as well as a 3 bed, 2 bath apartment for players. With the club focused on completing construction, 1993 was a rebuilding year, with a 9-3 spring season followed by a tough 3-6 fall. The club still hosted the Group III Playoffs in November, and lost to Hilton Head in the final.
The 7’s tradition continued, winning numerous tournaments in the early 90’s. Charlotte competed in the Eastern Finals in 1991 and 1992, and just missed qualifying for the National Finals in 1992. In June of 1993, the club sent a team to the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, where they reached the semi-finals of the 64 team tournament.
In January of 1994, Mike Lee was again head coach, with Eric Lindley the team captain. Robert MacLeod was club President, Joe Nelis Vice President, and Ken Ewing as Treasurer, a post held since 1986. George Miller, a 7’ standout, participated with the Eastern Sevens Select, the fourth Olde Original to do so, as well as two National 7’s events. George also participated in a made for cable TV All-star national tournament, filmed in 1993 and broadcast in the spring of 1994.
Mid 1990's - USA Rugby Reorganized
In the mid-1990's, USA Rugby reorganized with the creation of the Territorial Area Union's (TAU's), which are charged with governing rugby in a specific region of the country. Within these TAU's, there are also Local Area Unions (LAU's), which are responsible for governing a specific region within their respective TAU's. The LAU's generally pre-date the TAU's and carry on local history and traditions, while the TAU's administer leagues, tournaments and championship events. The Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU) was organized in August 1994, and USA Rugby South was formed in April 1996.
Currently there are 7 TAU's and 38 LAU's nationwide, including four independent LAU's (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho and Montana). As a member of the North Carolina Rugby Union at the time of reorganization, Charlotte became a member of and competed in USA Rugby South.
2000's - A New Century
After a number of years of USA Rugby South championships in Division 2, Charlotte moved into Division 1 in 2001. The winning continued, with the club reaching the national playoffs in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2001, The club reached the national sweet 16, only to fall to San Mateo. In 2002 and 2003, the club reached the national elite 8, only to fall in close matches, short of the National Championship goal.
In a quest to increase the level of competition the club faced in the regular season, a decision was made after the 2003 season to move from the North Carolina Rugby Union to the Virginia Rugby Union to compete in the Mid-Atlantic (MARFU) league. The decision was well rewarded, with the club reaching the National Semifinals in San Diego, California in the 2005 season. Charlotte was a heavy underdog, but put up a huge fight and almost came away with an upset victory over Back Bay, only to fall 17-25. The club claimed 4th place after falling to Worcester in the consolation final.
After the strong run in 2005, the club was invited to join the Rugby Super League for the 2006 season. Charlotte competed in the Rugby Super League from 2006 to 2010, reaching the playoffs in 2008.
Charlotte Rugby Club History (1990-2000)