Gordon Harper, during registration for thespring semester at UTEP, ran into football teammate Doug Park, future USA Eagle. Doug informed Gordon that he would be teaching a course called rugby for the Athletic Department. He said it might be of interest in the years to come. Little did Gordon know at the time just how meaningful that encounter would be in his life. After college, and still living in El Paso, Gordon had tried flag football to stay fit and fill the contact void…impossible! Remembering Doug and his class, Gordon found himself a new sport, that’s right, Rugby.
￼￼So in the fall of 1981 he played in the Santa Fe 7’s. The seed had been planted. Someone once said, “Rugby, you love it, or hate it.” Gordon was hooked!
When asked about his most memorable events as an Aardvark, he replied: “After my first practice as an Aardvark and finding out that the team bar was across the parking lot, he thought he’d died and gone to heaven.” Just kidding. Memories include the Nov. 6 1983, Michelob/Continental Rugby Classic Club Division. His first year as an Aardvark, defeating his old club in the championship and fondly remembering Motsu and his sage Moses. Then in 1986, at OU in Norman. Upon returning after a ten year stretch, there was the outstanding play of newly acquired Andy Murray from the UK. Another great time was when in the 1987, 16th High Desert, the Aardvarks finally won their own tournament. Everyone remembers the brilliant play by another relocated Brit, Bill Hayward. Finally the 1989, High Desert Classic when he played with the Tempe Old Devils in the championship game against the Aardvarks-no cigar.
Gordon’s club play spanned 9 years, and three clubs: EL Paso Scorpions, Albuquerque Aardvarks, Tempe Old Devils. He was also instrumental in the formation of the internationally known team ”Peeler Rugby”, which inspired everyone by the great hospitality and entertainment in Vancouver.
In 2000, Gordon got a call from former teammate Frank Pierce who was looking for someone to go accompany him to Aspen. Playing for anyone who would throw a jersey at him, Gordon returned every year through 2006. He made it to the Sunday Championship match twice. No cigar. Gordon played his last A-side match in 1992 @ 41, and his last Old Boy’s in 2006 in a over 55’s match when he reached the ripe age of 55.
Gordon would like to recognize the most important person in his life by saying, “my friend; my partner, and my love Darlene: for still being here by my side for the last 29 years: Putting up with me and my other love, Rugby. Please forgive me, and let me make up for all the heartache and lost time, for the rest of our lives. I love you, and always will. I would not be here today without your love and support”. Gordon would also like to thank all who were teammates and associates for being part of this family of ours, the Albuquerque Aardvarks Rugby Club. To the Organization, thank you for this recognition and great honor and all of the wonderful memories.