Hal Hames’ rugby career spanned the course of 28 years. His career began in the fall of 1973 at the urging of his best friend, Ruddy Chavez. Hal and Rudy played baseball together in high school and later at the University of New Mexico. Ruddy said to Hal, “I got a game for you!” and Aardvark history was created. Hal agreed to that Rudy and was a regular star of the team until he played his last game 2002.
Hal played all 28 years as an Aardvarks with a brief stint in Canada in 1979, where he met his wife Mary Beth.
Highlights of Hal’s play as an Aardvark included two wins at the Western National 7’s a-side Championships. He played in the Western Union Championship match in 1979, and was chosen twice to play for the Western Rugby Union Select Side Team. An outstanding player, Hal was selected to try out for the US national team. The Denver Highlanders Rugby Club also claim Hal, who played for them many times and was a Highlander in the finals at the Aspen Ruggerfest in 1981.
Famous in “Old Boy Rugby” circles, Hal founded an over 40 team, the “Peelers,” a team that took a life of its own. Touring British Columbia, Canada, the Peelers strengthened US and Canadian relationships, continued lifelong friendships, and extended many ruggers social careers both on and off the field.
Hal’s best rugby memories are the times spent with true friends and relationships that for out-lasted blown knees and injuries too numerous to mention. The highlight of his career was playing rugby with his older son, Sean, who arrived at Aardvark games in his dad’s kit bag. Sean continued the Hames rugby tradition and was on the field as a Vark in one of the years they won the High Desert Classic. I Hal’s words, “rugby doesn’t get better than that.”