The History of Mother Lode Rugby
Rugby came to El Dorado County in 1995 when Jack Harnden started the Oak Ridge Rugby Club with eighteen players, grades 9-12. They learned the game as they played (and were soundly beaten) by A-Side teams in the Sacramento Valley Rugby Football Conference. The following year, a team was added for girls, and Oak Ridge became an official member of the league. The team grew in numbers and skill, making the playoffs in its third year and losing close matches in the semi-finals of the NORCAL Championship the next two years in a row. At one point, there were approximately 150 boys, girls and graduates (as the Oak Ridge Men’s Club) playing rugby in El Dorado County.
In 2005, after ten years as the Oak Ridge Rugby Club, the decision was made to invite players from other area high schools to enjoy the game of rugby, so the name was changed to the Mother Lode Rugby Football Club. Since that time, teams have continued to earn the respect of their opponents through hard-hitting, well-disciplined play. In 2008, Mother Lode became the NORCAL Champions, representing California in the regional playoffs in Salt Lake City. They lost to the team who went on to place second in the Nationals.
In the true tradition of rugby, international touring sides have been hosted many times over the years. Our players and their families have opened their homes to teams visiting from all over Canada, as well as New Zealand. We have also gone on tour to play rugby in other countries: several times to B. C., Canada, New Zealand in 2001 and Ireland in 2003. Mother Lode has also played in tournaments in Northern and Southern California and our players have often been selected for All-Star or Rep-Side teams.
Many fine rugby players have been part of this tradition, now in it's twenty third season. Many Girl's and Boy's have gone on to play rugby in college or with clubs, and several have returned to coach the game they first learned to love as players with Oak Ridge and Mother Lode Rugby.