The Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club was formed in January, 1971 and named in honor of the venerable Harlequin FC of London, England. The Club grew quickly from a handful of members to become a force in the Texas Northern Counties Rugby Football Union, the Texas Rugby Football Union, the Western Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Super League (competition commenced in 1997), and the USA Rugby Football Union.
For over twenty years, the Harlequins have been one of the top clubs in the United States, having earned their way to the "Final Four" of the National Rugby Championships six times. In 1983, the club reached the Championship finals in Chicago and, in 1984, the Harlequins won the National Club championship in Hartford, Connecticut, defeating the Los Angeles Rugby Club by 31 points to 12. Since that time, the Harlequins have finished third in the National Championships four times: 1986 in Tampa, 1991 in San Diego, 1992 in Denver and 1995 in Austin. In 1997 the Harlequins contributed to founding the Rugby Super League, the highest level of club rugby in the USA. Since inception the Harlequins have made the RSL playoffs in 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2009. Of the more than 1700 rugby clubs in the United States, few have matched the Harlequins' success at the national level.
The club has done even better at the regional level. The Harlequins 1st side won the Texas Rugby Football Union Championships for the first time in 1975 and, since 1981, has dominated Texas Rugby by winning the Texas RFU Championships a staggering twenty times: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. The Harlequins 2nd side has won its bracket of the Championships on ten occasions: 1974, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1998. The Harlequins have been the only Texas RFU club to win the Western RFU Championships (covering territory from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains), having done so six times: 1983, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1991 and 1995.
The Harlequins became the first Texas RFU club to defeat a visiting team from outside the United States when they defeated the Baillou Club of Nassau, Bahamas in 1972. The club also has hosted visiting international sides from Argentina, Kenya, South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia and the Cayman Islands. In 1983, the Dallas Harlequins RFC became the only western hemisphere club to be formally affiliated with the team for whom they were named: the prestigious Harlequin FC of London, England.
The Building Blocks of Success
During this unprecedented string of club achievements, there have been a significant number of outstanding individual accomplishments as well. Many Harlequin players have been selected for the Northern Counties RFU, the Texas RFU, the Western RFU, and most prestigious honor of all the USA National teams (age-grade Junior Eagles and the senior Eagles). In 1985, lock Bob Olsonoski became the first Harlequin selected to play for the National team and had an outstanding tour of Japan with the Eagles, scoring two tries. Since then, wing Jimmy Aston, hooker Bruce Monroe, scrumhalf Greg Goodman, center Mike Waterman, 8th man Brannon Smoot, wing Leni Sanft, fly-half Mark Gale, flanker David Care, and wing Justin Boyd have been selected to play for the US Eagles. Justin Boyd is the latest Harlequin to represent the Eagles in 15’s play gaining 2 full international caps against Ireland in 2008 and again in 2009.
In the summer of 2000, 8th man Brett Pedersen became the first Harlequin to represent the USA in the 7s code, playing with the Eagles in France at the Paris 7s. Justin Boyd and Taylor Mokate are our current representatives on the 7’s Eagles squad participating on the IRB international 7’s circuit.
Dennis Gonzales and Michael Caulder joined the Harlequins after each earned three caps in their successful careers with the Eagles, and former Eagle flyhalf Matt Alexander manned the #10 jersey for the Quins for two seasons.
Harlequin team members Bruce Monroe, Brett Taylor, Keith Engelbrecht, Mark Gale, Norbert Mueller, Michael Engelbrecht, Greg Goodman, Ross Miller, Peter Jones, Jimmy Aston, Michael Waterman, Charlie Tyack, Jason Rogers, Corne Cronje, and David Care have also represented the Classic Eagles (Team America) in competition internationally. Long time Harlequin center Vaughn Crowe has the honor of representing Australia as a member of the Classic Wallabies.
Our storied club history continues with many of our youngsters from the Harlequin Colts program attaining age-grade recognition representing the USA Junior Eagles (USA U19 and USA U20) in international competition including IRB Junior World Cups. This list includes cousin’s Jason Engelbrecht (most U19 caps ever and 2006 co-captain) and Keegan Engelbrecht, Blake Rodgers, Taylor Mokate, and Justin Boyd. Jimmy Jewison from Plano Youth Rugby and now a senior member of the Quins also attained USA U19 honors. Taylor Mokate and Keegan Engelbrecht have gone on to represent the Collegiate All Americans with Engelbrecht currently being the top points scorer in Collegiate All American history.
The Club's roster has included members with international credentials as well, including: Kenneth Dalgleish (Scotland), Barry Bresnihan (Ireland and the British Lions), Gawie Visagie and Naas Botha (South Africa), Sang Shin (Korea), Fernando Albieri (Brazil), Dirk Lawrence (Trinidad and Tobago) and Sione Tu'uta (Tonga).
As the Sport Grows, Harlequin Excellence Continues...
In 1997, the Dallas Harlequins became one of the founding members of the USA Premier Rugby Super League. The Super League was formed to promote competition among the strongest clubs across the country on an annual basis. The Super League continues to draw national attention to this fast growing sport. The Harlequins play other perennial national rugby powerhouses - such as San Francisco Golden Gate, New York Athletic Club, and the Denver Barbarians - in head to head competition. The league is now supported under the umbrella of USA Rugby, and serves as the top club competition in the USA.
The Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club currently fields a Rugby Super League side, a Division I side, a Division III side, an over 35 Gentlemen's side, and a women's side. A club with a varied membership, the Harlequins range in age from 18 to early 40's and include: teachers and coaches, business executives and professionals, construction workers and craftsmen. While many players are native Texans, the roster has featured many players from other states with additional flavor coming from Great Britain, Ireland, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Tonga, Kenya, Jamaica, Korea, Japan and Canada. Visiting and resident "ruggers", whether active or former players, administrators or coaches, are always welcome at the pitch and in the pub. The Harlequins train each Tuesday and Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Glencoe Park in Dallas just east of North Central Expressway at McCommas. All home matches are also played at Glencoe Park.