As you are all probably aware we had to postpone the Awards Banquet at which the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held. After some discussion, The Wichita Foundation Board has made the decision to make the announcement of this year’s Inductees via email and social media following up with a formal presentation of Tie and Plaque at a later date.
It is my pleasure to announce that Jason Blubaugh and Bryon Sturm will be inducted into the Wichita Rugby Hall of Fame as the Class of 2020. They were nominated by current and former members of Wichita rugby clubs and selected by a committee appointed by the Wichita Rugby Foundation Board which included current members of the Hall of Fame.
Wichita Rugby Hall of Fame
CLASS OF 2020
Jason Blubaugh (Wichita Barbarians 1995-2005)
Although his time with us was short in comparison to others in the Hall of Fame, his impact is still felt today as he is one of our biggest donors and most loyal fans.
Jason entered the fold at the perfect time (1995) in the history of the newly founded re-organization of the club. He was part of the very first rookie class that took the club from losing week in and week out to being competitive in the Heart Division II in a matter of months. He was there when we upset perennial power Topeka in their own home tournament, to our first club tour to Mardi Gras, to our first Heart Of America Tournament Division II Championship, and the list goes on and on. Jason had a motor that just wouldn’t stop. He was a relentless flanker that wreaked havoc in the opposition’s back line. He was a tacking machine that could form tackle, lift, and drop (when it was legal) the biggest baddest dude against us. He was the best supporting flanker off of 8 man picks I have ever seen with great hands, a great pass, speed, and vision. And most of all, his biggest claim to fame, was his ability to get under the ball, whether in a single tackle, a ruck, a maul, anything, in the try zone and, prevents an opposing try thus forcing a scrum down. Not to mention the times he did it 2-3 times in a row after each succeeding scrum down. The frustration by our opponents was legendary.
Since his retirement, he has been a consummate supporter. He is one of, if not the, biggest donor we have. Always willing to write a check whether it be for deep championship runs by the men needing money, seed money for the Foundation when needed, funds for the national championship run, and even money to support our high school and middle school clubs. Not to mention he is always purchasing gear for his entire family to proudly wear and support us from afar. And there was no one prouder in that stadium in Colorado when the kick went through and we won the national championship.
When notified of the award his response was “I am honored to receive this award “, and when asked about his best memory of playing Rugby he said:
“We won the 1999 heart of America Tournament. In the finals match against St Louis Bombers, I scored twice (blocked a kick from the fly-half and scored a try off the rebound). Our 8 man, Mark Nett had a great run crushing opponents right and left and I got an easy layup from him on the other try. I held up an in-goal try late in the second half. On the following 5 meter scrum, their 8 man picked up the ball and I held up his try in-goal. In the next 5 meter scrum, their 8 man picked up the ball again and I held up a 3rd consecutive try in-goal. The third 5 meter scrum resulted in our hooker, Zack Greene, stealing the ball and I can’t remember exactly (concussion probably) what our backline did but the Bombers never did score again and we won the tournament. “
Bryon Sturm (Wichita Barbarians 1999-2015)
Bryon "Sturm" Sturm was a talented rugby player even when he was basically a one-man team as a college student at Emporia. The club was excited when he took a job teaching in Wichita and joined the club. He had a deep knowledge of the game and could play anywhere he was needed and play it well. Sturm started his first game at second row but then moved to fullback. He played most of his games in the backs but continued to flirt with flanker occasionally. He started at least one sanctioned game at every position on the field. He had a great vision to pass to the open man and was a solid tackler and defender. He has consistently participated in just about every field workday and volunteer opportunity over the course of the past decade or so. He still claims that the Barbo’s owe him a washer for all the years that he looked after the club shirts. Sturm was also instrumental in early attempts at starting a High School/Youth team in Wichita. As well as the Barbo’s, he played for Emporia, Charlotte NC, Johnson County Sundogs, Steamboat/Craig SCABS, and whored for many others at tournaments. He was always looking for a game of rugby.
When notified of the award his response: “Oh wow I am tremendously honored “, and when asked about his best memory of playing Rugby he said:
“First Heart of America tourney having Jerry Armstrong following me to the car to get back the green and red striped jersey when I whored on with Wichita, and getting in games with eight teams that weekend (didn't know any better then)
Rolling up the KU scrum several times during Emporia States first official game back into the Heart in 1993 (after losing to us, we were then told we didn't count since we were a "probationary team")
On my first trip to Dallas sevens getting into the vans and seeing a tally sheet for beers (under the assumption that Wichita took things seriously)
Winning Ironman 2010-2011, Still having best attendance even with a blown knee to end the season
The feel of a perfect ruck, tackle, pass, or picked ball.
Playing under the lights at Wyandotte park or at Wichita and the snow at Wayne state.
Only scores that really sticks in my mind will probably burn some of the Barbo, but 2 pop kicks for tries as a sundog I think the score ended 12-10 that day (but hey was told that I was dead to some of you at that time, must have been my brother that scored that day)
I don’t think there is any rugger that played for Wichita between 1992-2016 I don't hold some cherished memory with, I don't think I could ever see myself as a superstar (even hall of fame type person), so most of my memories are of playing rugby with my teammates. Just grinding in the trenches doing my part as a teammate, playing rugby with my family.”
Congratulations to Jason Blubaugh and Bryon Sturm on being inducted into the Wichita Rugby Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
We look forward to presenting you with your awards in person when the presentation ceremony can be held.