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Sacramento Homecoming for Eagles

National Teams

Sacramento Homecoming for Eagles

Sacramento seems like a no-brainer for a USA test match simply because of the density of young players and fans in the region. 
 
It’s not just that Jesuit has been at the forefront of boys High School rugby for years. It’s the fact that Sacramento has its own conferences in the single-school, HS club, and silver divisions, and number 24 teams there. The middle-school rugby is even denser.
 
And then you look at where those players go. Three players showed up at the USA v Canada pre-game press conference who are from Sacramento. Lou Stanfill and Eric Fry were stars for Jesuit before going on to Cal and the Eagles and pro rugby. Blaine Scully actually didn’t play rugby while at Jesuit. He didn’t pick it up until he started at UCLA and then transferred to Cal. But many of his friends played rugby, and he understood what the game was about.
 
That’s just the beginning. Colin Hawley, Kirk Khasigian, Kort Schubert, and Ray Lehner, have all played for the Eagles and all started playing in the California state capital.
 
Stanfill, for one, was thrilled to be back.
 
“It’s always nice to have a little bit of a homecoming, to come back to Sacramento where I took up rugby and learned it,” said the longtime Eagle, who is bearing down on 50 USA caps.”It’s very important for us to play in front of our families and friends and not have them trek across the country or across the globe to come see us.”
 
“In the Sacramento area [rugby] has gotten a foothold and has been a hotbed of talent,” added Scully. “You see that tradition continuing with all the local youth clubs and the high schools that are starting to develop a pathway and a pipeline. And for me, there’s not a lot of opportunity for family and friends to travel around the world to see you play. I think my mom bought about 70 or 80 tickets.”
 
Stanfill said the development of players in Sacramento is due to the coaching, and the number of people who devote their time to developing the game.
 
Head Coach Mike Tolkin agreed.
 
“To see where we are now with youth and high school, it’s phenomenal,” he said. “We have pockets now all over the country, and having the kids playing much earlier is helping. The guys coming to the Eagles now have so much more experience.”