Flint Rogues Rugby Football Club celebrates 50 years

Editor's note: The interview with Seamus Bannon was conducted by Flintside contributing writer Omoro Collins. 

FLINT, Michigan — Founded in 1972, the Flint Rogues Rugby Football Club (FRRC) is the longest-running sports club still active in Flint. A Division III squad of USA Rugby and the Michigan Rugby Football Union, the club is celebrating its 50th anniversary. FRCC has brought on a new coach for the 2022 season, hoping to continue the club’s longevity and legacy. 

Seamus Bannon moved from Ireland to Flint in October 2020 and is a Program Liasion of Flint’s Mayor’s Office. As the new coach, he brings nearly 25 years of playing and coaching rugby in Ireland and the UK. Bannon says “there is a buzz of excitement about the club,” and hopes to propel it even further. “Within the next two years, we want to see this great sport of rugby grow throughout Flint by establishing a high school rugby team, and running rugby camps for the youth of Flint.”

Rob Moquin has seen firsthand just how impactful the Rugby Club has been locally. He’s been with the FRRC for 40 years and looks back at how the club has been able to stick around for five decades. 

“It means a lot to us that have spent decades playing for the Rogues,” Moquin said of the anniversary. “I was 20 when I started, I’ll be 60 in a few months. The Flint Rogues RFC is the longest-playing sports team in Flint. [I] can’t think of another team that has played under the same name for the time frame.”

“The core values of rugby are integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline, and respect." - Seamus Bannon

To celebrate the anniversary, the club launched a t-shirt fundraiser, and Moquin says they’re planning a number of community events and a big anniversary party on social media. 

Maintaining anything for 50 years is impressive, and Moquin says the team has seen their fair share of challenges and hurdles to overcome in order to persevere. He’s witnessed players come and go, going from 30+ players to about 18-19 players at a time. He looks to the younger generations to hopefully keep the club’s legacy going strong on and off the field. “We need to get and keep younger kids interested in the game,” he says. 

Moquin says 25-30 years ago, people were surprised to hear Flint had a rugby team, in fact, some people still don’t know, but Moquin hopes not for long. “We’re a growing sport and we always welcome anyone who would like to lace their boots and play. Don’t worry, we’ll teach you how,” he says.

The team warms up during practice on the indoor soccer field inside Iceland Arena.

The Rogues are still looking to add players to the squad, according to Coach Bannon. Spring games begin in April, and practices take place Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the indoor soccer field at Iceland Arenas. Warm-weather practices will move to the home field at Longway Park. “There is no experience necessary,” Bannon says. “We have lads on our squad who have never played the game before. Some played football, basketball, soccer, and wrestling, but never rugby.”

Bannon says the great thing about the sport of rugby is that it’s universal across the globe, and uses the same rules anywhere. He says the sport promotes much more than physical activity. “The core values of rugby are integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline, and respect. This is something that separates rugby from a lot of other sports,” he adds. 

“After every game, teams applaud each other off the field, then every home team hosts a meal for the opposing teams, players, and fans. You might be an enemy with one lad for 80 minutes, but you could possibly end up being friends for life.”

Stay up to date on the Flint Rogues Rugby Football Club by following them on Facebook.

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.