RNC ED Blog post #1: Why Northern California Rugby is Great

Now that I am approximately 4 months into my new role as the executive director for Rugby NorCal, I figured that it is high time that I introduce myself to anyone who is willing to read this post and that I have not introduced myself to already. My Name is Lou Stanfill. I am 33 years old, a husband and father of one. Both my wife and I were born, raised, and reside in Sacramento, CA. I am in my fourth year of coaching for Jesuit High School. I learned to play rugby in both high school and college (Jesuit High School and UC Berkeley, respectively), and spent my formative years playing on the USA men’s national team for 10 years, chasing opportunities all around the globe to improve my playing abilities. I love the sport of rugby only second to my family and want nothing more than to do all I can to grow our great sport both in participation and quality. My vision is that every youth participant’s experience in rugby is positive in helping to develop them into more confident leaders and positive members of society. Rugby is a game to be denied to none and should be enjoyed by all!

Having played in many regions, I feel that I am reasonably qualified to speak to why Northern California (and the greater California region, really), is the best geographical region to play the sport. First off, lets talk the obvious: weather. No snow, a bit of rain (which is some of the best rugby to play in), and an early spring make for the best rugby memories I’ve had. Rugby in New York City in the middle of January is quite difficult, even on turf. The hard thing is you can’t see the frozen bits until your feet are already over your head!

Next, you have the history. Rugby has been a part of northern California since the turn of the 20th century. In the early, 1900s, football was deemed “too violent” and the sport was cancelled for a few seasons. Universities like Cal and Stanford took the opportunity to get their fix for contact sports through rugby: The game “designed for hooligans but played by gentlemen”. This started a rich history of regions keeping rugby alive through football’s reintroduction to academic institutions. Only the northeast has as long of rugby tradition as California.
Thirdly, you have quality. In terms of youth and high school rugby, you will not find better athletes who represent the game, in both ability and in values, than you would in California. Northern California has produced more members to our Men’s national team than any other region. On the women’s team, northern California has produced a great deal of Women’s Eagles, as well as many of them coming to California to improve their craft as senior level players. The high quality of rugby being played and produced in our great region is undeniable.

Lastly, northern California (and southern California as well), is such a fantastic place to play because of the people. Nowhere else in the country, and quite possibly the world, can you find a more eclectic group of ethnicities playing rugby. Caucasian, Polynesian, Hispanic, African American, Asian, people from New Zealand, England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and many, many more participate in rugby in our great state. And in great numbers, albeit! This collection of our different backgrounds, tendencies, and playing styles, truly makes our game more exciting and needs to be celebrated more. And lets not forget all the other cultural elements that follow the rugby: the music, the cheering, the fashion, and the food (oh my, how I do love lou sipi!).

These reasons and many others are testament why we should celebrate and continue to support rugby at all levels of youth and high school. Coaches, board members, volunteers, recruiters, club supporters, carpool leaders, team moms and other organizers are all imperative to keeping our leagues operating so that our our daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends of like can continue to grow to be better citizens to our great region with rugby as their vessel.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I am honored and grateful to have the opportunity to earn a living in rugby, let alone work to improve it on many levels in my home region. At Rugby NorCal, we strive daily to improve the quality of the experience, both for the athletes and the supports, of rugby in our region. We greatly appreciate all those who devote time, energy, money, and resources to make sure that their clubs, and the sport, continue to grow and improve. I will aim to put out a blog post every two weeks covering different subject matter. Next post, I will cover the other side of rugby in northern California: how we can improve. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to email me at lstanfill@rugbynorcal.org or call our office line at (916) 550-0376