2014 HOF – Bob Cole

Bob Cole (aka Bobby Cole) spent his young life playing many sports including football and basketball, but he did not discover the ultimate sport of rugby until he graduated from New Mexico State with a Mechanical Engi- neering degree. After moving back to Albuquerque in 1978, he received a tip from Rocky Aragon’s girlfriend’s sister and discovered the location of the Aardvark practice site. At the first drill, he was reunited with high school football stars Joe Azar and Steve Keene. In an attempt to meet more players, Bob immediately tackled the first man with the ball, only to be instructed that this was practice, not “real” rugby.

Bob’s first rugby weekend was a Seven’s event which started a lifelong fascina- tion for high speed impact at the Wing position.

During his career, he won 8 Seven’s tournaments and played alongside rugby greats such as Hal Hames and Billy Baldwin. One tournament featured Aardvark jerseys all with the number 120-11 which represented the Aardvark’s win/loss record for the decade.

In the spring of 1979, the Aardvarks (champions of the Rio Grande Union) en- tered the national tournament and beat both the Denver Barbarians and Houston Heathens to advance to the National Quarterfinals. Bob went with the team to play in Denver against St Louis but the Aardvarks were eliminated by 3 points. The next year Bob was privileged to be selected for the Western United States team. Over the next few years he faced several international teams including ones from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. One last minute road trip turned into a great weekend when the Aardvarks traveled to Arizona and ended up win- ning the entire Tucson Fifteen’s Tournament.

The high point of Bob’s career occurred in the semi-finals of the 1983 High De- sert Classic when he scored 6 times against the Houston Heathens. Unfortu- nately, the finals were a disappointment when Oklahoma easily beat the Aard- varks and Bob was involved in a misunderstanding with “Tarzan” from the op- posing team. However, international fame soon followed when Bob’s father-in- law was on business travel in Europe and ran into a rugby team from the States. It came to light that he was talking to “Tarzan” who quickly recalled Bobby Cole (and the mix-up).

At the age of 48, Bob stepped on the rugby field for the last time at the 2004 High Desert Tourney. Fate was kind that day and Bob ended his career with a 40 yard run into the end zone. It is estimated that he scored over 150 tries in his lifetime. His legacy of speed has continued through his son Ryan who played in the backfield for the New Mexico State rugby team.

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