Memphis Rugby Hall of Famers
Ralph started his athletic career playing football in Memphis for Booker T Washington high school where he excelled as a safety. He was so good that he was recruited and attended Grambling State University and played under the famous Eddie Robinson.
He returned to Memphis and found rugby as an outlet for his talents at the age of 28 and started playing for Old #7. At that time he worked at a TV station as a cameraman.
One of his highlights was playing at the annual Cotton Carnival Rugby Tournament (held in May during the Memphis Cotton Carnival Festival) hosted by Old #7 that invited teams from around the world to participate. Many of the Cotton Carnival tournaments were held at Overton Park in Memphis.
After playing, Ralph picked up a whistle and refereed for 8 years advancing to C-2 level.
Ralph began his time as a coach with the Memphis Flamingo’s Rugby Team in 2008 where he remains a key figure of the team.
Ralph remembers fondly playing on the Tennessee Long Rifles touring side that visited New Zealand and Australia during the 1987 Rugby World Cup. The Long Rifles were managed by long-time Vanderbilt coach Joe Franklin. The touring side consisted mainly of players from Memphis and Nashville with a few friends mixed in. While in Australia Ralph was asked to play on a Brisbane club side. During the match he pulled a hamstring and had to retire, but until then he was having a blast.
A match that sticks in Ralphs’ mind is a match with the Ramblers in St. Louis. He scored 2 tries from wing and provided excellent outside defense to shut down the offense and secure the win. The post-match was held at a local establishment across from Forrest Park.
Ralph has had the opportunity to attend three world cups, Australia/New Zealand in 1987 and England in 1991 and 1999.
As a retired player, Ralph remained a member of Old #7 and hosted many Tournament parties at his Lake Park Apartment clubhouse. As the Cotton Carnival Tournament evolved into the Memphis in May Rugby Tournament, it grew in stature and fame. One year, Old #7 hosted the Bank of Ireland team who won the tournament and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty and style of our gorgeous women in Memphis. The parties at Lake Park were legendary… just ask anyone who thinks they remember being there.
Ralph remains involved with athletics and currently is the assistant coach of the Flamingos and is a softball umpire, a job he has enjoyed since 1997.
“I’ve met some of my best friends in rugby and they have remained my friends for over 30 years,” State Ralph. “Rugby friends look after each other on and off the pitch.”