Before Disney came to town, a lone man by the name of Michael T.P. Hanson arrived from Atlanta, Georgia. He accepted the position of Branch Manager and Regional Sales Representative for Westinghouse, Inc. Leaving his family behind until a suitable home was found, Hanson soon came to the realization, this cow town needed a rugby club. Having been a veteran with Atlanta RFC, he accepted the challenge of bringing the great sport of rugby to Central Florida. In the fall of 1970, Orlando Rugby Football Club was established. Through humble beginnings, in which ORFC could barely qualify as a team, he pursued all available avenues to recruit, promote, and grow the organization. Recruitment began (and probably ended) at the local watering holes. There, over many pitchers of beer, he regaled them with glorious stories of rugby matches and the occasional debauchery. With questionable success, the club had recruited seven backs, without a single forward. However motley this crew appeared, they were determined to see the club prosper.
Jones High School was the site of the first pitch as someone, who knew someone, who in fact, knew someone else, granted the club permission to play. For some unknown reason, the club was never asked to return. Shocking to say the least, considering ruggers are typically nothing less than refined gentlemen with the utmost of intentions. Orlando’s first match was against the University of Florida RFC. While the final score has been lost to posterity, probably for the best, they ultimately succeeded in their endeavor to establish the Orlando Rugby Football Club.
Today, Orlando RFC is a solid force within the Florida Rugby Union, as well as the USARFU South Division II. The Club has fielded sides that have gone as far as winning the South’s Division I 15’s in 1998 as well as finishing 4th in the nation in the 1999 7’s finals. Additionally, the club has won numerous Florida Cup Championships. In the fall of 2005, ORFC established the Lady Griffins, the women’s counterpart to the successful men’s side and winning came quickly, including a Division II National Championship in 2009. In 2010, Orlando Rugby gained tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status through the creation of the U-19 foundation, which has also continued in the winning tradition of Orlando Rugby.
For over 40 years, the Orlando Rugby Football Club has fielded sides that have experienced success both on and off the pitch. We are always looking for additional players. Everyone is welcome, regardless of experience.