LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Prior to the kickoff of the Women’s Cup Final at the 2017 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., Emil Signes was honored at the 50-meter line for his monumental influence over the growth and development of Rugby Sevens in the United States.
As an early pioneer of the Sevens code, Signes’ importance to Rugby Sevens cannot be understated, and his tireless promotion and tutelage of the sport has been felt equally amongst the men’s and women’s rugby-playing communities, both in America and abroad.
For his selfless efforts, the championship trophy for the USA Rugby Men’s and Women’s Club 7s National Championships are now known as the Emil Signes Cup.
“The naming of the Club 7s Championship trophy after Emil is well deserved and earned through decades of service to the game of rugby in America,” applauded USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne. “We greatly appreciate all he has done for the game we love. On behalf of the tens of thousands of players he has impressed, mentored and conveyed his love of rugby to, while inspiring others to feel the same, we say ‘thank you, Emil!.'”
Often referred to as ‘The Emperor’, Signes began coaching rugby in 1974 – educating both men and women at all levels. In his time as a coach and technical advisor, Signes accumulated 126 championships, including the successful victory in the Cup Final of the 1999 Men’s Club 7s National Championship with Philadelphia Whitemarsh.
The 2015 inductee into the United States Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame is most often known for his long-time affiliation with the Sevens program he founded, Atlantis Rugby, as well as his roles as both the Men’s National Sevens Team head coach from 1987-1990, and the Women’s National Sevens Team head coach from 1996-2005.
Perhaps most importantly, Signes had an historic impact on the expansion of Sevens worldwide through his early advocacy to regard women’s rugby with the same respect and attention the men received. Not only did Signes found and coach the first Women’s Sevens National Team, but he’s also credited with inspiring the organization of the initial international Women’s Sevens tournaments.
As American rugby journalist and historian Alex Goff once wrote,”Rugby would not be an Olympic sport without the women, and women would not have an international sevens presence were it not for one man – Emil Signes”
It is for these reasons – and more – and that USA Rugby honors and recognized Emil Signes.