4-18-2006 – Billups Resigns As Men’s Nat’l Team Coach
BOULDER, Colo.- In a letter dated April 14 to USA Rugby Chairman Bob Latham, Tom Billups has resigned his position as USA Rugby Men’s National Team Head Coach effective April 30.
“It is with a great deal of regret that I must announce Tom Billups’ resignation as Eagles coach,” said Latham. “I do not know of anyone who is more associated with the Eagles jersey than Tom, first as a player, then as captain, then as coach. In all those capacities, Tom has dedicated himself completely to the team and to the program. We will miss that dedication.”
After serving as interim head man in an inspiring South Africa test in December 2001, Billups was named the Eagle’s head coach at the start of 2002 and has logged 10 wins from 28 matches, including a 4-4 record on domestic ground, as he was about to embark on his fourth season.
He is the only Eagles coach to own a winning career record against “Tier 2” and “Tier 3” countries, with a 10-7 mark. In 2003, he posted a 7-6 mark, an American record for single-season wins and winning percentage (.538), including four straight victories. At that year’s World Cup, he steered the Eagles to their first victory in 16 years, against Japan, as well as an admirable one-point loss against Fiji (19-18). The USA’s second-place finish at August’s Pan-American Championship was its best-ever showing. His teams went 1-6 in 2004, including two three-point defeats to Canada and a 39-31 loss to France in July, America’s best-ever showing against the Tricolors.
Prior to his interim title, he was an assistant during the 2000 season, the 2001 Pan-American Championship, and also England’s June 2001 tour of the United States. That same year he was also the head coach of USA Rugby’s Collegiate All-American team in 2001, guiding the team to a 2-0 tour of Ireland.
The former USA hooker and captain, he is the winner of 44 caps. He represented the United States at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
He captained Berkeley, California’s Old Blues before playing professionally for Wales’s Pontypridd and London’s Harlequins in the late 1990s.
Billups was introduced to the sport of rugby his sophomore year of college by then Augustana tight ends coach Cecil Youngblood who played on the territorial level while simultaneously coaching the Quad City Irish, the team Billups joined the spring of that sophomore year. After realizing that he was going to be a better rugby player than football he married football in the fall, wrestling in the winter with rugby in the spring, following the latter as soon as he graduated in 1987.
He played for the Cougars in 1988 and represented the United States for the first time at the Hong Kong Sevens a year later. He broke his collarbone during 1990’s national team trials and went on to play in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. He returned to the States in 1991 to play for the San Francisco Old Blues which won the USA Rugby Club Championship in 1992, a year before he made his international test debut against Canada.
Billups’ resignation turns USA Rugby’s attention to a head coach search to be completed in time for the Eagles’ first assembly of the year, the Churchill Cup scheduled for the first week of June. Details of the manner and time frame for such a search will be forthcoming.