2011 HOF – Fred Harper

Fred Harper started playing rugby in 1971 at Yale University.  He needed some physical activity after the swim season ended and went to the Yale playing fields for a run. At the fields he ran into his Biology professor, Arnold Cowmeadow from Coventry England who invited him to Rugby Practice. At that time, Yale rugby was highly regarded due to the influence of graduate students from England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Also, the Yale football defense was forced to play (one of the coaches played and made it a requirement). Fred loved the sport and played all 4 years at Yale (was the Captain in the senior year). He started in the backs, but quickly moved into the scrum at the wing forward position.

Prior to returning to Albuquerque to work at Sandia National Laboratories, Fred played with the South Jersey RFC, the University of Virginia RFC (during graduate school), and the Sud Americana RFC (now the Potomac Athletic Club). He was on the Virginia Rugby Union select side and played several interna- tional matches.

Fred returned to Albuquerque in 1980 with a paralyzed left arm from a spinal injury. While drinking beer at the Distillery he ran into some old friends (David Herring and Larry Ydens) who convinced him to come out to Aardvark practice on Tuesday. The Varks introduced him to Champagne Rugby – he was accustomed to Beer Rugby. The Varks kindly allowed him to play touch with one hand (over the protests of Griffin Lewis) until he could lift the other hand. That first week, he was talked into hosting a birthday party for Ray Marrone at his apartment (food by Robby Day). Aardvark parties were a popular draw in those days. 50 – 100 people showed up with virtually no notice – the place was trashed al- though the party ended on a positive note: Ray and his date (Carmen) found Heaven rolling around in the grass in front of the apartment (later to find out that that they had landed in some vomitus from one of Tony Pino‟s femme fatales). The experience seemed to solidify their relationship.

Fred met his wife Donna in Denver in 1981 at the infamous Aardvark/Highlander party fueled by Shultz and Schnapps. Fred played with the Varks until his career ender in 1992. He missed a few team meet- ings and consequently served as captain and coach through much of mid and late 80‟s. During that time the Varks played some great rugby: several Rio Grande Union Championships, several trips to the Westerns, made it to final round of the national 7‟s championship, etc. The Varks had a few down years on the field during that time which was when they finally learned how to sing rugby songs worth a damn. With Donna, published the Vark newsletter sporadically for several years –it seemed funny at the time.

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