I had known about Mark Ormsby from following the BYU rugby page (he serves as a coach) and also from some knowledge about the U.S. national side, the Eagles. But I was happily surprised to discover that he works for the BYU electrical engineering department I had graduated from in 1984. While on vacation in July 2001, I paid a visit to the Clyde Building on campus and met him. I introduced myself and my wife to him, and we had a pleasant chat. I was only somewhat non-plussed when my wife commented, "He's a hunk." (Not to worry - so am I.) Anyway, I asked if he'd do this Internet interview for me, and he agreed. Here it is. - Wes
Interview with Mark Ormsby
So... tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand in 1960. I grew up on a farm in the Bay of Plenty, and raised cattle for beef, milked a herd of 150 jersey cows, and ran a flock of 300 sheep. Because I did such physical work on my dad's farm I didn't have to do weight training like all the other kids had to while I was playing for my high school.
What were your early rugby days like in New Zealand?
I first discovered rugby by watching my older brothers playing when I was five. I played representative rugby from a very early age:
Tauranga Tai Mitchell Under 15's
Tauranga Boy's College 1st XV 1974 to 1978
Northern Districts Secondary Schools (vs Australian Secondary Schools 1978,
won by Northern Districts)
New Zealand Secondary Schools (vs Australian Secondary Schools 1978, won by New
Track and Field Standout for Tauranga Athletic and Waikato Athletic Clubs,
along with High school representation, in both the 100m and 200m's (Best Times: 100m = 10.65 sec 200m = 21.8sec)
USA Eagle 1983
BYU Representative 1981 to 1984
Loggers Representative, 1981
I was invited to travel with the West Coast Grizzlies to New Zealand in 1984, but had to decline as I was already going down with my family.
Flying (I'm a Private Pilot)
Spending most of my time with my family!
Did you serve a mission for the LDS church?
No, I did not serve a mission.
What is your current occupation?
Ever since I left university in 1986 I have been placed in management positions. I currently serve as the Department Administrator for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
What's your connection with rugby at BYU? Any highlights or lowlights?
I have coached BYU Rugby (as the Head Coach) from Sept of 1989 to April 1990, then I coached BYU rugby again from 1996 to Feb 2001. I coached with David Smyth during that time.
Highlights of coaching rugby at BYU were the associations I had with players and coaches. To see those players that hadn't touched a rugby ball in their lives develop into competent rugby players by the time they finished with the program was something special.
Lowlights of coaching BYU rugby was not being able to participate in any of the Collegiate Playoff Tournaments leading to the National Championships on an annual basis. The only time BYU participated in the Sweet 16 since the National Tournament went to a Saturday-Sunday format was in April of 1999. We (BYU) beat the U of Arizona in double overtime, but could not play the following day against Army, and so had to bow out. The real low point to this situation was that because we beat Arizona and didn't forfeit to them, they (Arizona) wrote BYU a letter stating that they were no longer going to play us ever again. (Note: BYU and U of Arizona have played each other for at least 22 years.) This was a sad day in rugby, when it should have been a high day in rugby for BYU players, past and present!
Another lowlight was the way I ended my coaching with the BYU program.
What's your opinion about the BYU side?
My opinion of the BYU side past and present is that there is good rugby talent coming through the program. This talent comes in the form of both domestic players as well as international players. I only hope that BYU players that are deemed good enough to go on to representative play be highlighted to selectors in those forums.
We had the opportunity to play Berkeley this year and that had a major role in identifying three to four of our players to national selectors. I also had the opportunity to correspond with Jack Clark about one of our players before that game and I have no doubt he kept an eye on that player during the Berkeley/BYU game.
A major emphasis at BYU is fitness along with teaching good rugby basics. What has set BYU apart from a lot of teams we have played over the years is a mindset that exists. Past teams have set a level of excellence that current teams at BYU want to uphold. Period!
Tell us about your experience as an Eagle (the first LDS one, I believe).
I represented the USA in June of 1983 as a winger. I played only one game (vs. Canada, in Vancouver, British Columbia). My tenure was brief due to a decision I made not to tour with the team to Australia. The reason for this was that I saw myself as a potential target of misfortune: I did not want to get myself into situations where my values could be compromised. I had heard of an All-Black who was a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) who had committed a moral sin while on tour,
and so I decided that I wasn't going to fall into the same trap. I had women making advances at me at the after-match function, and I decided that I wasn't going to go through with this sort of thing for the next four weeks. Representative rugby is good if people's values are respected. But when
the potential for disaster is great, then representative rugby is not worth it.
Thoughts on being the first Mormon to represent the U.S.: I hope and pray that if more LDS folk get onto the National Team that they have another Mormon with them to support them.
How did you feel lined up with the other Eagles when the National Anthem was played?
Listening to the National Anthem before the start of the two national games I have played has been something I will cherish for as long as I can remember. It is something you have to experience to believe. Talk about a tear-jerker! All I could say to myself was "this is the big one!"
Any opinions about the Eagles currently?
I don't know much about the current Eagle selection process, but what I do know is that there is a ton of talent that is not being looked at. I firmly believe that what the Eagles need to develop more than anything is a "BELIEF IN THE USA TEAM! If you were to ask me what separates the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, French, and the English from all the other rugby playing nations, my answer would be "six inches". These teams don't do much more by way of practice or running than all other teams. What they have is a true belief that they will more often than not WIN... Period!
The US has always been sub-par with regards to their forward play. If they could fix this area of their game along with developing their BELIEF IN THE USA TEAM then they will hit their stride. My opinion is that players that are selected to the national team forget what they are really there for "TO WIN". I feel that for many players making the National Team is the "Pot at the End of the Rainbow" rather than the win against teams.
What are your future plans?
My future plan is to spend more time with my family. My wife has been a Rugby Widow for too long! I would love to continue refereeing rugby at a higher level. Hopefully, one day I could make it to the "A-Panel" of Referees.