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Local Rugby Teams Become One

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BANDONI

Max Diven

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The sport of Rugby is on the rise in the United States, and has seen consistently growing in numbers the past few years. Clubs and high schools alike have sprang up nationwide, and the youth has flocked to the sport.

Rugby is by definition, “a team game played with an oval ball that may be kicked, carried, and passed from hand to hand. Points are scored by grounding the ball behind the opponents’ goal line (thereby scoring a try) or by kicking it between the two posts and over the crossbar of the opponents’ goal.”

It is a game that is easy to pick up on, but hard to master. There are professional teams, such as the New Zealand All Blacks, that compete against one another.

The sport is popular in Australia, Africa, France, Ireland and New Zealand. It has yet to reach the same level of popularity in the United States, but it is on the rise.

No one in the United States has seen as much success or as much attention as the hot bed for youth rugby that lies in Northern California.

The Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley boast six teams ranked among the top 20 in the Nation. The Sacramento and the Bay Areas have seen a spike in numbers as well as huge successes for teams such as Danville Oaks in the Bay, with storied programs like Granite Bay and Jesuit in the Valley.

The rivalry between the two local clubs in the Valley, The Sierra Foothills Rugby Club (SRFC), and The Granite Bay Grizzlies Rugby Club (GBR), has been ongoing since the clubs first began. This year however, the two teams have fused together and hope that the brotherhood within the team will continue under the same GBR name.

Last year, both GBR and SRFC had star studded teams, with some of the best athletes that Rocklin High School and other local high schools in the area have to offer. GBR have gone to back to back national championships, claiming the title of National Champions in 2016, led by now Rocklin High alumni, Desi Streater and Gavin Janis. The star tandem of the team’s backline last year have now moved on to play rugby at UC Berkeley.

SFRC has had many Rocklin players as members of their club as well, including brothers Ryley and Noah Dyson, who lead and control the forward pack. But how do these two bitter rivals become brothers?

“It is not going to be easy. There will be more competition for playing time, and the workload for the Sierra guys will be harder compared to what they might be used to,” s

aid GBR All-American prop Doug Mitchell. Although he said there will be heavier competition, he also acknowledges that the team is ready to play with the other.

The merging is not only going to be a transition for the players, but for the families as well. GBR practices five days a week in Granite Bay with games on Saturdays. The SRFC had practice two days a week and usually had games on either day of the weekends.

The longer distance of travel for players and the later practice time also throws a wrench into players’ personal lives, leaving less time for homework and other activities.

The following years of Rugby will be exciting for the youth and the rest of the nation alike, as hopefully a United States national men and women’s team gain exposure and popularity among the people and the United States become a major player in the Rugby world.

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