The Austin Rugby Football Club is known as the Austin Blacks. It’s a large and successful amateur club based on the eastern side of Austin, Texas.
They have a longstanding rivalry with the Austin Huns, whose playing fields are in the same area of the city. So, if you’re looking for a club to join or follow, you may be wondering which would suit you best. This article takes a look at different aspects of the Austin Blacks.
Where Do The Austin Blacks Train?
The Austin Blacks actually own their playing fields, which is relatively rare for a rugby club in the USA. They have 30 acres in east Austin, on a site called Burr Field. The site has three regulation size rugby pitches.
The address is Burr Field, 6013 Loyola Lane, Austin, TX 78724.
Training is usually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Their Facebook group has the latest details.
What Are The Club Facilities Like?
Austin Blacks are one of a handful of American rugby clubs that have their own clubhouse by the playing fields. The clubhouse has snacks and drinks on match days. It’s also a great advantage for social events and fundraisers.
The grounds also have two comfortable changing rooms.
The club usually charge $5 for car parking on match days. But if you’re driving to training, you can park for free near the clubhouse.
Which Competitions Do Austin Blacks Compete In?
Austin Blacks compete in all three men’s divisions. This makes them one of the bigger clubs nationwide.
Division 1 and 2
If you’ve played a good standard of college rugby or are coming from a strong overseas club, you’ll find high standards at this Austin club.
They have traditionally been very competitive in Division 1 and 2, the higher two divisions. Their teams don’t just finish in the top 8, they regularly get to finals.
The D2 players tend to be a bit younger than on the D1 team. But the two teams push each other, and the D2 young guns keep the top team on their toes.
The club has experienced growth in the last few years, with people from other sports backgrounds joining to learn rugby. So, the club set up a Division 3 team to accommodate these newcomers.
But the high club standards didn’t drop! The D3 team won the Finals in 2018 and 2019. They ran up big scores in 2020, regularly putting over 50 points on the board.
Does The Club Have Sevens, Youth, Or Touch Teams?
The club’s focus is on the men’s fifteens game.
This wasn’t always the case, and the club had successful sevens teams a few years ago. It’s worth checking out their Facebook group during the summer. If they are running sevens training sessions, they will post the information there.
Does The Austin Rugby Club Have Women’s Teams?
The club has been a bit erratic on the women’s side of the sport. They’ve had a womens’ sevens team in previous years. They also launched women’s training back in 2017.
The challenge for clubs is to get enough women involved to allow proper training sessions. If you’re close to the club grounds, it’s worth checking whether they’re running a women’s program. They have previously posted invitations for women’s training on their Facebook group.
I suggest that women also take a look at the Austin Valkyries Women’s Rugby Club.
Who Coaches The Austin Blacks?
There is a distinct Scottish influence within the club.
Coach Stevie Swindall represented Scotland at youth level. He played for the Under-18s, Under 19s, and Under 21s Scottish sides. His preferred position was flanker.
Swindall went on to play with Glasgow Warriors, one of the two big Scottish clubs. He got his first professional contract in 2005 and played his final season with the Warriors in 2010/2011. Stevie was on the cusp of international honors, getting capped with the Scotland A side.
When Swindall left Scotland, he played in the Italian leagues for a few seasons before moving to Austin.
Like his fellow Scot, Tane Jericevich also represented Scotland at Under 19s level. Tane was a full back, and also a fine placekicker. He also excelled at sevens, getting capped for the national team at a series.
Tane went to play in the Italian league, where he met Stevie Swindall. Stevie later persuaded Tane to join him at Austin Blacks.
Supporting The Austin Blacks
Are you looking for a team to support through the season? The Austin Blacks are an easy choice, as they play a high standard of rugby.
The Division 1 home games are about $5 at the gate. There’s usually a food truck, and a place to buy some beers. If you like the comfortable lifestyle, you can bring lawn chairs up close to the field.
You can also bring a dog, as long as you keep it on a leash. And If you have children, there’s sure to be other kids running about.
A Brief History Of The Austin Blacks
The Austin Blacks are proud of their history as the first rugby club in Texas. They were founded in 1967 and played their early matches against college teams.
Carlos Puentes was one of the leading figures in the history of the club. The Argentinian played at lock for the famous Alumni rugby club in Buenos Aires. He moved to Texas where he established a successful tech company.
Puentes organized a group of fellow Texas rugby enthusiasts to support the Austin rugby club. In 1978, their consortium purchased 30 acres of land for the club. This allowed the maintenance of three rugby pitches.
The club built its clubhouse in 1985. That puts them on a very short list of rugby clubs in the US that own both a clubhouse and playing fields.
Online Presence And Social Media
You can check out their club website.
But their public Facebook group is the best choice for the most up-to-date news on schedules. There is also a private group for players.
Austin Blacks And The Austin Gilgronis
The new professional franchise in Texas, the Austin Gilgronis, is making strong efforts to build relationships with local clubs. On big match days, they’ve run complimentary buses from the Austin Blacks grounds.
If you want to learn a bit more about the somewhat oddly named professional club, check out our articles: