The San Jose Seahawk Rugby Football Club was started in 1971 by several members of the Peninsula Ramblers Rugby Club who were looking to found a competitive rugby club in the San Jose/Santa Cruz area. These rugby players met in a house in the Santa Cruz Mountains and got down to the business of founding a top rugby club. After coming up with this great idea, the founders celebrated their new club in style and decided, after much thought and not a little beer, to name the new club the Seahawks. At the beginning most of the players lived “over the hill” in the Santa Cruz area to the club was based on the coast.
Since one of the founders also happened to be the scheduling secretary for the Ramblers he immediately set about setting up a fixture list. From the beginning The Seahawks fielded two sides, although the first season saw some stalwarts playing two games a week as the numbers were not quite up to hopes. For the 1972/3 season, due to trouble securing a pitch in the Santa Cruz area and an increasing number of players based in San Jose the games and trainings began to be held in San Jose. This season also saw the first time the club played outside of California for a match against Brigham Young University – 1000 miles for one match! Later that season the club earned its first hardware winning the Blue (second) division of the prestigious Santa Barbara Rugby Tournament. As the years went on the Seahawks grew in numbers and skill. During this time the Seahawks hosted their first international side, the Emus from Australia. In 1974 the Seahawks were invited to the Monterey National Tournament (at that time a de facto National Championship) for the first time and finished a respectable 10th. They were invited every year since then until the demise of the tournament in 1990. In 1975 a large number of San Jose State players joined the club and, realizing the changing demographics of the club, “San Jose” was added to the name of the club. The Seahawks were now a regular tour stop hosting Western Suburbs (Sydney Australia), Papakura (New Zealand), the Wanderers (Newcastle, Australia) and others. Now firmly established in the First Division and carrying three sides the Seahawks decided it was time to take the next step in their development and began to look overseas for more rugby opportunities. Thus, in 1977, was born the first overseas tour Down Under.
The Seahawks Down Under had a tour party of over 40 and saw them return several favors from previous tourists. The New Zealand itinerary included Papakura, St. Michaels of Rotorua, The Colonels of Pio Pio and Ponsonby in Auckland. Then they went across the Tasman Sea to Aussie and met up with Hunter Valley, the Wanderers and Western Suburbs. This tour also happened to coincide with the British Lions tour of New Zealand so the Hawks were able to catch some top notch international rugby between their own matches. The tour was a learning and growing experience for the club. 1978/79 saw the club grow some more with the addition of a women’s team (who have since split off into a separate club) and an over 35 side called the Silverhawks. The Silvers are recognized around the country as one of the toughest and best organized Old Boys clubs and they have continued to tour and spread the good word of the San Jose Seahawk RFC internationally, most recently with a tour of New Zealand in 2006 that saw them renew the club’s friendship with Papakura and add Taradale and North Shore to the list of friends.
The early 80s was another period of growth and saw several Seahawks found high school teams and start the Skyhawk conference. As time marched on these clubs evolved and gradually weaned themselves of the Seahawk influence. More and more local clubs also began their own high school programs and so the number of clubs directly linked to the Seahawks has been reduced to one, the College Park Rugby Club, although there are still several former Seahawks involved in coaching at the high school level. As a tribute the originators, however, the south bay high school league is still called the Skyhawk Conference. The Seahawks toured again to Australia and New Zealand in 1987 and this time the inaugural Rugby World Cup was in town as well. Nice timing, eh? This tour saw another match with Western Suburbs and Brisbane in Australia and Freiberg, Papakura (again!) and Kamo in New Zealand. The 80s ended on a high with San Jose defeating the Belmont Shore Rugby Club in the championship match of the Monterey National Tournament.
The 1990s started out on a high with the Seahawks always at the top of the Northern California Rugby Union, widely regarded as the toughest league in the country. The Seahawks also started seeing the benefits of the high school program as several players graduated on to the Senior side. Now with players who started playing at a younger age (and who didn’t have funny accents) the skill level was rising again to keep pace with the fast paced modern game. USA Rugby was also changing with the original four Territorial unions (Pacific Coast, West, Midwest, East) breaking up into 7 Territories (Pacific Coast, Southern California, West, Midwest, Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Southern) and expanding and refining the National Championship Tournament. A generational shift saw these former schoolboys form the core of a Seahawk side that placed in the Division 1 top 10 of the expanded USA Rugby national championships three years running from 2000 to 2002. With USA Rugby formalizing a National 7s Championship the Seahawks put together a fearsome and favored side that saw them miss out on a 7s title by 2 points in the quarterfinals. At this time a mini tour to Calgary renewed an old friendship with the Calgary Hornets and helped them celebrate their 40th anniversary.
The San Jose Seahawks remain a stalwart in Northern California and USA Rugby. As the oldest Division 2 club now active they have a rich history and a bright future and have been working closely with USA Rugby to help host the Churchill Cup and World Cup Qualifiers. Big things, as always, are expected.