By Alex Marino, Staff Writer
RAW! No better acronym could capture the physical and emotional clash between Thunderbird’s “Old Boys” and “New Boys” rugby clubs. At Thunderbird, it’s a time honored tradition for rugby alumni and current students to line up for battle on the pitch and match grit while building comradery. The “Old Boys” bring a squad of global leaders with a fiercely competitive spirit that exemplifies the ambitious and passionate nature of T-birds. For the “New Boys”, lining up on the pitch is a proving ground of will and determination to enter the notorious T-bird rugby community, with the match up acting as a prerequisite to entering the exclusive network. Now, it’s true that the Thunderbird alumni network is ranked # 1 in the world as a result of open connections among all T-birds, however, it’s also true that the rugby community shares a special and unique bond that raises the networking bar to extreme heights. Why so? Simple. When you go head to head against an adversary shedding blood, sweat, and tears together, a mutual respect and unbreakable comradery develops. The connections that ensue won’t be realized in the heat of battle on the pitch, but over an after-game beer at the fish or pub, where memories and stories are passed down from the “Old Boys” to the new generation of T-bird rugby elite.
At this years match up, after nearly coming to blows with the “Old Boys” on the pitch in the midst of fierce competition and high adrenaline, I had the opportunity to experience the networking afterglow at the fish and pub watering holes. The question I had for every alum was, “What real effect did attending Thunderbird have on your personal and professional life”? I asked this question to over a dozen alumni and the majority gave the same answer which I will paraphrase: I don’t know that Thunderbird as a business college gave me a leg up in my career, but the connections I made with people here over time contributed to helping me find opportunities and get my foot in the door in networks around the world, and those connections only increase throughout your career as a T-bird operating in the global landscape.
Rugby is a global sport and its passionate nature inevitably forms a strong connection among teammates and opponents, which is why it’s considered a “gentleman’s sport”. Adding the unifying T-bird alumni connection on top of that really creates priceless bonds that extend to so many levels both personal and professional. To add to the advantages, the “Old Boys” club, under the leadership of Chuck Hamilton, organizes matches around the world to engage rugby T-birds in global athletic competitions that bridge cultural gaps while representing the Thunderbird mystique in distant lands. Last summer, the crew traveled to Cuba to compete against local rugby clubs; an undertaking that truly exemplifies the ambitious nature of the T-bird spirit, considering the seclusion Cuba experiences as result of political exile since the 1959 Revolution. Thanks to alum like Chuck, opportunities for T-birds far and wide exceed those of any other graduate school community or rugby club.
This year, Thunderbird celebrated its 70th Anniversary, welcoming back to campus alumni from every decade since inception. In unison with the anniversary celebration, the Thunderbird Rugby chapter also reached a milestone, celebrating its 40th Anniversary as the university’s oldest active club. The collaboration of events unifying current students and alumni proved to be an incredible experience that expanded and solidified the notoriety of the Thunderbird network. In regards to the rugby match up, unfortunately for the “New Boys”, who proved to be tougher than expected, the resilient “Old Boys” ground out a 77-45 victory, giving them a two year winning streak. The post-game activities, however, were a victory for all T-birds as they built relationships, preserving the Thunderbird network for years to come. On a final note, the “New Boys” rugby club will be ready to snap the streak next year and take home the win!!