The Kingwood Crusaders Rugby Club, which has been playing its home games and practicing at Creekwood Middle School in Kingwood and at Falls Park in Humble since its founding in 2015, has a new home in River Grove Park.
Effective June 1, under a recently approved Joint Use Agreement with the Kingwood Alliance Soccer Club and the Kingwood Service Association, the Crusaders will have use of a field located at the south end of the park’s designated joint-use fields. There will also be a general public field located just to the south of the rugby field.
“River Grove is a big step up for us,” said Harve Hulett, who has been an active member of the club since it was formed and is its current president. He said that the club has needed a good rugby field in a central location within the Kingwood area in order to continue to grow. The club was originally founded by Alex Ramirez, who was the Kingwood High School Rugby Club coach prior to creating the adult club. Hulett, who had preceded Ramirez at the high school as its rugby coach, eagerly joined the effort when Ramirez organized the Crusaders. When Ramirez left the Kingwood area, Hulett became the main force behind the club and has been its president since 2017. Right now the club has 45 active players and is looking to grow.
“We are looking for more players. This is our fourth season. We want to attract young adults,” Hulett said. Many of the current players have come from the original Kingwood High School club, now renamed the Lake Houston Rugby Club, to include other high school clubs in the area. Other avid players include those who have played the game before and move into Kingwood in the course of their careers. Hulett pointed out that rugby is a highly popular game in all its forms in most other English-speaking countries.
The Crusaders play the full-sized competitive Rugby Union game during the U.S. rugby season, generally from September through April. The game has 15 players on the field for each team along with eight substitutions. During the off-season, the club schedules in-house and more informal competitions in “Sevens” and “Flag” formats with fewer players on a side. Hulett said that the game of Sevens is now an Olympic sport.
Hulett explained that there is also a practice common in rugby that has become a Crusaders tradition.
He said, “There is in fact a social aspect of rugby, too. After the games, we take the visiting team out to the Back Pew Brewery in Porter and share a few beers.”
Hulett himself is a dedicated lover of the game. He has been playing it since being introduced to it in England when in the Air Force decades ago. Following his Air Force service, Hulett returned home to southern California in 1984 and was active on several competitive rugby teams. As a result of meeting people from Australia who played on those teams, he moved to Sydney while still a young man.
“I lived in Australia doing odd jobs in order to play rugby there,” Hulett said.
After returning to the United States, he was injured in a car accident and sidelined from rugby for 14 years. However, as he explained it, with advances in medicine his shoulder injury was eventually adequately repaired and treated and he resumed playing rugby several years ago. He continues to do so today even though he is now retired from work in the Federal Air Marshal Service. He has lived in Kingwood since being based out of Houston in the early 2000s. He is married and has three children in Kingwood schools.