June 8, 2024

By Tribune Staff

Mark Dunning, Lee’s Summit’s city manager, has another side and a past that many residents may not be aware of. Dunning is an award-winning rugby player, who has competed nationally and internationally for more than three decades.

His peers in the Kansas City Rugby Football Club recently recognized contributions and achievements as they voted Dunning the club’s number one player in a countdown of the club’s 60 greatest players. The rugby club just celebrated its 60th anniversary.

His accomplishments on the field, his contributions to the sport and leadership prove he is worthy of this recognition.

While attending Longview Community College in 1990, he began playing with a group of students from Missouri Southern State University.

He continued playing and took on leadership roles while playing for the UCM Rugby Football Club where he led as captain, then coached and then served as president.

After graduation, he began playing with the Kansas City Rugby Football Club (KCRFC). The club players named Dunning Most Valuable Player seven times during his playing career (1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003).

Dunning’s talent on the field took him beyond Lee’s Summit. It took him out of the country when he got the opportunity to suit up with the Dunvant Rugby Football Club in Wales, becoming the only overseas professional player in Kansas City history. He followed that up by playing with the United States National Rugby Football Team in 2000 and competing with the team throughout Scotland and Wales.

He has played with the Heart of America Rugby Football Union and with the Western Territorial Representative Rugby Football Union, which won four national championships.

In 2015, Dunning received the Kansas City Rugby Football Club’s Robert Rinehart Memorial Award, the highest award for exemplary service, dedication and encouragement of rugby and was inducted into the Club’s Hall of Fame in 2018.

Dunning’s experience on the field, his love of the game and respect for the players kept him involved at many levels serving as the president of the Kansas City Rugby Football Club since 2019, after having served as vice president and team captain.

Dunning sees rugby as more than a sport or a collection of separate teams. He sees the sport as a “world-wide fraternity and teams are a tight knit group.” He also likes the respect and the discipline its players have for each other as well as for the game.

His family, too, appreciate Dunning’s talent and dedication. In a Facebook post recognizing Dunning recent award his son Evan wrote, “Only thing that tops his rugby talent is his ability to be a great father. Couldn’t be more proud to be your son. Congrats dad!”

If you’d like to learn more about rugby or meet Mark Dunning, Lee’s Summit City Manager, he’ll be at the Sports booth during Downtown Days, from 7-9 p.m. on Friday night along with other members of the Kansas City Rugby Club.

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