Club History

The Des Moines Rugby Club was founded in the spring of 1970 by four local businessmen, Hal Chase Jr., Tom Ross, John Spence Jr., and Hobie Bannister. At that time there were only 4 other rugby clubs in the state of Iowa. The first spring 16 players committed their time to lay the foundation for one of the best clubs in the Midwest. Throughout the 70¹s Des Moines Rugby Club was considered one of the top clubs in the Midwest, consistently sending their players to represent the Western Rugby Union in select side competitions. In 1978 Dr. Thomas Altemeier earned a cap and played with Eagles in their victory over Canada and Vic Clark toured South Africa with the national team.

As the years passed Des Moines Rugby Club consistently put top sides on the field won many major national and regional tournaments. The next step in the development of the Des Moines Rugby Club was to obtain their own clubhouse and playing field. After years of hunting for practice and playing fields around the city of Des Moines, including matches played on the helicopter landing pad at Camp Dodge, Des Moines Rugby Club got serious about purchasing their own land. The results were $50,000 raised by club members for the purchase of 4 acres of land to turn into a rugby complex. Dr. David Robinson, former head of Drake University physics department was our head coach beginning in the Spring of 1971 through the Fall of 1973. Barry Bartlett and his family arrived in Des Moines during the Fall season in 1973 and Barry began coaching the team in the spring of 1974. He was our coach through the 1980 Spring season. The complex was named the Barry Bartlett Memorial Rugby Complex in honor of Barry Bartlett. The first game on Bartlett field was played in May 1988 against the Chicago Lions.

Since the inception of Des Moines Rugby Club numerous changes have confronted both Des Moines and the sport of rugby. Des Moines has adapted to these changes like all strong clubs do. We have added both women¹s and youth sides in our attempt to promote the sport to all people. Des Moines has started to utilize foreign resources to raise the our skill level so that we can continue to play the high standard of rugby that Des Moines Rugby Club has become accustomed. We are a non profit 501( c ) charitable community oriented organization that strives to gather members from the community who are willing to give back to the community. We are active in local charities such as Toys 4 Tots and the American Heart Association.

We have been in existence for 45 years and look forward to the next 45 as the Des Moines Rugby Club will continue to develop and strengthen our fine organization.

You are not finished when you lose, you are finished when you quit.