2015 HOF – Rick Zubiate

Rick Zubiate played a number of sports, but while at NMSU, Rick heard of a sport called Rugby. NMSU supposedly had a pretty good team and people told him it was like playing full contact park football. Rick thought “awesome!!! I’ll give it a try”.

The first day at practice Rick was hooked. It was like all the sports he had played before wrapped up in one. He started on the first side as a flanker and was all over the field with his speed, tenacity and tackling ability. He moved to outside center and wing the following year. Wanting to get the ball in his hands more, Rick moved to scrumhalf and changed the way scrumhalf was traditionally played. Instead of only passing, he became a running and supporting scrumhalf. NMSU Chilies became a power-house college team going all the way to the Western Championships.

NMSU achieved one of Rick’s goals by defeating the Albuquerque Aardvarks, which had never done before and has never been done since. NMSU wanted to win the Rio Grande 7’s tourney which also had never done before or since. Rick was elected MVP of the tourney and MVP of the NMSU rugby club; a great honor.

After graduating from NMSU Rick moved to Albuquerque and played for the Aardvarks starting at scrumhalf. Playing alongside some of the best players in the country, he quickly elevated his game and really learned how to play the game of rugby. The Aard- varks became one of the best teams in the nation if not the best. One year they upset OMBAC the national champions. Several times, the Air Force Rugby club, the college national champs of that time, would come down to play the Varks who would always spank them like little college kids. Rick played for the Aardvarks on and off from 1986 to the early 2000’s earning over 10 MVP’s and/or all tourney team awards on various 7’s,10’s and 15’s teams. He also contributed to winning 5 High Desert Championships. It is believed Rick still holds the Aardvark record for scoring the most try’s in a game scoring 7 try’s in an A side game against the Black Hogs in the Semifinals of the 1989 Rio Grande Championships.

Rick left the Aardvarks briefly in 1991 moving to Las Vegas to advance his flying ca- reer and played for the Las Vegas Rugby Club. The experience gained playing for the Varks helped him contribute in making the Las Vegas rugby club the best team in their union. While playing for Vegas, he made several select side teams including the Ari- zona select side, the Inland Pacific select side and the Pacific Grizzly’s select side. While playing for the Grizzly’s, Rick was invited to play for the USA Eagle try outs on ITT’s select tournament in 15’s and in 7’s. After leaving Las Vegas in 1993 Rick re- turned to the Aardvarks. Although he hasn’t lived in Albuquerque since 1991 he still always makes great efforts to help the Varks on the field.

Rick continued playing throughout the years mostly Old Boys for Old Southwest and the Virginia Cardinals Rugby club in the Aspen Rugger Fest tourney who, for the last 5 years, won the Championship team in at least one of the divisions.

Although Rick Zubiate played all around the country for several teams, when asked who Rick played for, he says, “THE ALBUQUERQUE AARVARKS”.

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