Monday, January 24, 2011

Rugby: Golden Gate, Argentina, Italy

Over the weekend I attended a rugby match between the local team, the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club, and a team from Victoria, British Columbia, James Bay Athletic Association. Golden Gate won the match by an overwhelming margin, although I don't recall the exact score. Golden Gate had won the American Rugby Super League championship in 2009. The hub of local rugby is Rocca Field, located on Treasure Island in San Francisco. Actually, it's on an island on the bay, between San Francisco and Oakland (via the Bay Bridge).

Northern California has been America's chief rugby milieu for decades. The United States national team is called the Eagles, and draws players from different American club teams. All amateur. Rugby is the old English sport that American football developed out of. Local rugby here is particularly popular among Irish-Americans, and Polynesians who once lived under English rule, therefore have long been familiar with the sport. The University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears are long known to have one of the best collegiate teams in rugby, as well.

Although the best teams internationally have been from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom; Italy and Argentina, both made up of mainly Padan-descended players, are two up-and-coming teams on the world scene. On top of international competition, including the Rugby World Cup every four years, there are many club teams which tour around the world, which is a way to gauge the level of play.

The growth of American rugby has been slow and steady over many years, but only fairly recently has gotten well organized with the Super League. One of the very best rugby players of all time was David Campese, an Australian of half Padan descent. He wasn't merely "good," but was possibly the single best player of all time.


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