Rivals become buddies on the rugby field

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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Ryan Sinclair of Colfax High, Grady Waller of Placer, and Dominic Piazza of Del Oro are all teammates. They are teammates on one of the fastest growing club sports in the foothills. Sierra Foothills Rugby has seen its growth explode along with a new found interest in rugby. Originally consisting of one team based out of Del Oro, the Sierra Foothills Rugby Club has grown to seven teams with 120 players. Sinclair, a junior and member of the soccer team at Colfax, saw a flyer for a free clinic sponsored by the Sierra Foothills Rugby club. “I came down to the free clinic,” Sinclair said. “I fell in love with the sport immediately. It is fast paced, it has contact, and it is a well created game.” Paul Kessler is the head coach of the program and its vice president. He credits the growth to advertising and inviting athletes from schools other than Del Oro to become involved. “We pretty much draw athletes from Rocklin and Lincoln, east to Colfax,” Kessler said. “We are a grassroots organization that has relied on advertising. In addition, USA Rugby — the national organization body — has advertised. Also, rugby will be an Olympic sport in the Rio De Janero games in 2016.” As a club sport, participants must be high school students. That is why the Sierra Foothills Rugby Club has players from most of the local high schools. According to Sinclair, “This is not just a school sport. I get to meet kids from different schools.” Waller, a junior football player on the Placer varsity team said he enjoys getting to know teammates from other schools. “We don’t like Colfax and Del Oro players, so this team brings us together,” Waller said. “Both of these guys, Sinclair and Piazza, are nice and fun to hang out with.” Piazza, a junior on the Del Oro football team, has his own reason for playing rugby. “I don’t get much playing time at Del Oro,” Piazza said. “In rugby, there is a position for everyone regardless of their size. This sport has become a passion.” Not well known in the United States, rugby is a combination of football, soccer, and basketball. Like football there is contact; like soccer there is no blocking and like basketball there are set plays. The nomenclature of the sport is alien to most sport fans. Terms like scrum, rucks, mauls, and line outs leave most American sports fan shaking their heads. There is only one referee for the game. There is no fighting, a far cry from better known sports such as hockey and football. This weekend, the largest rugby tournament in the United States will be held at Granite Park in Sacramento. Well over 100 teams from across the country will play. Besides the games, there will be coaching clinics, and appearances by the University of California Rugby team and the U.S. Eagles, the American national team. For further information, contact marketing director Judy Walsh at (916) 672-8225. Not feeling the love: In last week’s column, I mentioned that only girls’ volleyball and track and field at Placer had won as many consecutive PVL titles as the wrestling program. Fans of Placer cross country were quick to point out the dominance of their sport in the PVL. My apologies.