The Ozark Tournament is the annual rugby tournament in Little Rock and has taken place every year for the past 35 years. In 1974 the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville R.F.C and the two teams in Little Rock (RiverCity and Lyons) decided to host an ‘All Arkansas Rugby Tournament.’ It was decided that the Fayetteville team would organize the event but it would take place in Little Rock at Henderson Junior High. Thanks to the success of the tournament, ti was held again the next year, named the Ozark Tournament and has taken place every single year since then.
In 1976 at the 3rd Annual Ozark tournament there was a women’s bracket for the first time in which our very own Ozark Ladies took part. The tournament was again held at Henderson Junior High, but as it would turn out, it would be the last time it was held there since the fields were being put to use as soccer fields. The ruggers approached Burns Park officials in North Little Rock and were given permission to hold the tournament on the park grounds – the venue for the Ozark tourney for the next 29 years!
Up until 1978 all the money that was made at the Annual Ozark Tournament went to helping the Ozark Union which was founded by Little Rock players. In 1978 that changed. This was the year that the three Little Rock based teams got together and formed Greater Little Rock R.C Inc. The main purpose of the organization was to start a fund to purchase land, so that year instead of all the proceeds from the tournament going to the Ozark Union, it was decided that $400 would be given to the Union while the rest would be deposited into a Land Fund.
Throughout the 1980’s and into the early 90’s the Ozark Tournament was an event not to be missed! At one point hosting up to 30 teams and running 5 fields simultaneously. Unfortunately as the game of rugby has grown and with most teams having more competative schedules within their L.A.U's they don't need to go to tournaments to get competative matches, the number of teams willing to travel to Little Rock has decreased but the spirit and atmosphere of the tournament is one that is still talked about and enjoyed by all. Most teams come to our tournament now as an end of season fun/social event.
28 years since starting the Land Fund and 8 years after actually buying land, the Ozark Tournament moved to the place that will be its home for many years to come! 2007 was a big year for Little Rock Rugby and the Ozark Tournament. All three fields out at the land were put to work on the 10th and 11th of November for the 34th Annual Ozark, the first of many at the Greater Little Rock Rugby Complex.
The Ozark Tournament is an event that every rugger here in Little Rock looks forward to and enjoys immensely. After 35 years of hard work, it has become a tradition that we are all proud of and value; we can only look forward to it getting bigger and better from here on out!