Boca Raton Rugby Football Club is a rugby union side located in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. The club was founded in the fall of 1974 by Alan Seader, a veteran rugger from Portland, Maine. The club currently competes in USA Rugby‘s Division One and Division Two classifications and is also part of the Florida Rugby Football Union and USA Rugby South territory.
In 1974, Seader, who wished to share the many joys of the sport with others in the area, recruited a few friends to join him in practice sessions at the St. Andrews playing fields in Boca Raton.
Initially the Club was composed primarily of FAU students and played its first game against the state champions, the University of Miami. Boca lost the game, despite scoring a try in the first two minutes and leading at the half.
The club joined the Florida Rugby Union in the fall of 1976 and posted the best record for any first year club. The Club went on to post a 7–17 record during its first full season. The Club’s colors were originally kelly green and white. Other clubs in competition at the time were the Miami Smugglers, Miami Tridents, Iron Horse, Orlando, Tallahassee, Jacksonville and the best Fort Lauderdale Knights.
Through the next few seasons the club struggled to establish an organization, grow its membership, and develop a competitive side.
In the fall of 1978, Tim Jones, an original Club member, assumed leadership as president and coach. The club’s colors were changed to red, white, and blue. Recruitment of a few experienced players from Colorado and New York helped in coaching and the finer points of the game.
During its fourth season (1979–1980), the Club came into its own, posting a 23-6-1 season and winning the Division Two Championship of the Florida Rugby Union and advancing to Division One. Games during these years were played at the polo fields in Boca Raton. During its first year of competition in Division One, Boca finished second in the Union.
In 1981, Bing Towne took over as president of the club. Membership continued to grow, and the overall general organization continued to develop. Boca won the state championship in 1982.
Steve Sanger was elected Captain in 1984 and Towne took over as Coach. The team were state runners-up in 1984 and 1985.
Working together, the team completed a very successful 1985–1986 season. The team had a record of 23 wins and 2 losses while scoring a record 861 points and having only 148 points against them. The team also won the Fort Lauderdale Tournament, Citrus Bowl Tournament, the George Rodgers’ Tournament, and finished the season first in the Florida Rugby Union.
The team advanced the Eastern Rugby Union Division 1 playoffs in 1987 and 1988. In 1987, the team lost in the second round to the Atlanta Renegades and in 1988 the loss was to Life Chiropractic College.
In 1990, Boca Raton won their third straight Citrus Bowl Tournament and fourth in 5 years, beating Orlando Rugby in 1990, 1989 and 1988.
Boca were Division Two champions again in 1990, 199 and 1999, and state runners up in 87, 88, and 89 and finished third in 1991. Boca won the state championship again in 1993 and 1996.
In 2001, Boca Raton Rugby Club achieved what no Florida rugby club had ever done. By defeating Nashville (39-21) and the Bay Area Pelicans (20-11) in Cocoa Beach, May 5–6, Boca became the first team in Florida to win the USA Rugby South Division II championship. The win advanced Boca to USA Rugby’s Sweet 16 in Fort Worth, Texas, where it represented the South. Boca lost two close games against Brandywine (Penn.) 18-15 and New Haven, Conn., and was eliminated.
In 2003, Boca Raton Rugby Club exceeded its past achievements by defeating Cape Fear (41-25) in Greenville, South Carolina to proceed to the Sweet 16 in Newport, R.I. In Newport, Boca beat the No. 1 seed from the North East division, Connecticut Yankees, 19–14, and become the first Florida club to get through to the Elite Eight. Then, the following day, Boca beat Buffalo 11–6 to qualify for the Final Four.
In the Final Four competition in Pittsburgh, Boca played a hard first game against the Southern California number one seed—Riverside, who were the eventual winners of the competition. Boca lost a hard-fought battle by just 5 points, 20–15.
Most people agreed that this game should have been the final as it was very closely contested and could have gone either way. The actual final against Tempe was won by Riverside 41-15 but Tempe did not test Riverside as Boca had done the previous day.
The third-place play-off was against the Mid-West top seed, Chicago Westside Condors. Boca lost by just eight points, 20–12. Once again, Boca had its chances to win the game. So, the final result was that Boca has achieved what no Florida club had done before, finishing fourth in USA Division Two.
In 2004, Boca once again qualified for the Final Four and faced Nashville in the first game. Nashville got out to a 13–0 lead and, although Boca fought back, time was against them and the final score was 13–7. After the game, Nashville said that all their preparations had been focused on beating Boca.
So once again, Boca were beaten in the semifinals and had to regroup for the third-place play-off the following day against Indianapolis. This time, Boca were determined to get something from the game and Boca took the score to 15-0 before Indianapolis replied. The final score ended 18–10. So in 2004, Boca went one better by coming in third.
2005 brought with it a few administration changes. Nigel Trueman was elected president and Roger Combes from Wales was brought in as coach. Bing Towne had contributed many years hard service to the club in a multitude of administrative, coaching and playing roles.
Boca then sealed its third Final Four placing by beating Buffalo 31-13 and the Santa Barbara Grunions 25-18 after a converted try in the dying seconds of the game. Boca Raton lost to Haggis 26–12 in the semis but then won the third-place play-off game against Lancaster, 24–22.
2006 saw Boca Raton move up to USA Rugby’s Division One under new coach Stuart Low, where they would face off against Fort Lauderdale, Miami Tridents, Nashville, Atlanta Renegades and Life College. Boca lost twice to Miami and were defeated at the Fort Lauderdale Tournament by Life. The match against Nashville was forfeited due to too many injured players, and a depleted 14-man side lost to the Renegades in Jacksonville on the final day of the season.
Trueman resigned from the club at the end of the season after a number of years as player/administrator/webmaster and was replaced by Mark Nelson, the current president.
In 2007, Boca again competed in Division One, with player-coach Joe Perez starting the season in charge. With Perez heading off to attend Life University, new coach Andy Tolson took control midseason under the direction of coach Frank Tito from New Zealand. After defeating Division One newcomers, Daytona Beach, in the first game of the season, things looked up for Boca. However, the Coconuts won the return fixture a week later and Boca would finish the year at 1-5 after also losing both games to Fort Lauderdale and Miami Tridents.
Over the last few seasons, Boca has remained very competitive at the Division One level, reaching the Round of 32 in both 2009 and 2010 under the direction of former Head Coach and current Director of Coaching Frank Tito, who has been the coach of Boca Rugby since 2007.