The Albuquerque Aardvarks have a long history of rugby in the western United States. The Aardvarks were founded in 1973 by Ray Marrone and a group of Ruggers, Hal Hames, Herb Howell, Marty Watts, John Irick, Griffin Lewis, Bill Orzen, Richard Barclay, Tim Gorham, and David Herring that resided in the city of Albuquerque New Mexico. At that time the rugby team consisted of a few local residents and a large number of students from the University of New Mexico. The team played under the simple name of Albuquerque Rugby and traveled from town to town to play the game and spread the spirit of rugby amongst other things. It was not long before they decided they needed a club name and set up a team meeting at a local pub named “Jacks”. Chairman Marrone quickly established strict rules: First, no drinks and pizza were to be consumed until a sensible and unique name was unanimously voted on, and secondly the name would come from the Webster’s Dictionary. Of course like every team there was complaining because ruggers wanted refreshments and food so the committee opened the dictionary to the “A’s” and there it was, the first complete word “Aardvark”. The vote was unanimous; they would be the Albuquerque Aardvarks. They closed the book and proceeded with Club business (drinking and telling stories).
There has been hundreds of rugby players come and go through the years of existence… some you never see again but some past Varks keep active in the club and have created a great support unit of old boys. The old boys travel to most of the games and help the club in various ways: fundraising, team merchandise, and keeping the team tournament on its feet for over 30 years. The team bar “Gecko’s” is owned by an Aardvark old boy Wally Minoli who sponsors and supports the club as well.
There have been many who have taken on the demanding role of running the club over the years: Ray Marrone passing the mantle on to the likes of Eric Heinicke, Dr. Nick Ritcher, Carl Hawkins, Demetrio Cardiel, Andy Murray, Bill Hayward, Mark Teel, Reggie Clark, Aubrey Edge, Pat McBride, Ben Portillo, John Avila, Jeremy Armstrong, Joseph Lane, Bob Supergan, Dick Greene, George Echavarria.
The team is also actively participating in our community through fundraisers, special events, and volunteer work. Organizations include The Ronald McDonald House, Dennis Chavez Community Center and Albuquerque Youth Rugby. Our rugby club and team members work with local youth organizations to develop an appreciation of rugby at the local and national levels. There are players on the team that assists the University of New Mexico’s Men’s and Women’s rugby clubs as well as the high school and youth clubs.
The Team has been an active member of a Rugby Youth Program and High School Rugby.
The Winning Tradition and looking to the future
The Aardvarks have known championship rugby from the very beginning; there have been many union and tournament championships through the years. Presently, the club has 45 active players from all walks of life, like rugby teams everywhere. Club members are business owners, scientists, accountants, lawyers, engineers, contractors, business professionals, and graduate students, who come from across the country and from around the world to play in one of American’s finest cities, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Currently we are a Division II rugby club trying to build to compete in the national rankings. The team is currently moving forward to make rugby in Albuquerque strong by playing hard and carrying a winning tradition that was passed to us from earlier Aardvark generations.
At this time the Aardvarks are preparing USA Championships. The Aardvarks made it to the final four and finished 2nd in the nation in 2009. We have made it to the sweet 16 United States 5 different times and have been ranked in the Nations top 20 for the past 10 years. There has been may union and western championships over the years.