Rugby gaining popularity in Northern California

Sierra Foothills JV Gold takes State Cup
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Rugby is rapidly catching on in California and thanks to the Sierra Foothills Rugby Club Northern California is already producing champions like the club?s JV Gold that won the California JV State Cup played at Jesuit High School May 19. Coached by longtime rugby players and coaches Steve Hudson and Doug Mooneyham, the JV Gold team racked up a 16-0 season and finalized it by winning the state championship 25-24 over Southern California?s South Bay Spartans. ?Both teams entered the game with an undefeated record,? Coach Mooneyham wrote later. ?(It) turned out to be an extremely physical game that featured hard-nosed running and tackling.? The game was tight as the scoring went back and forth. Rocklin?s Cody Clayton scored three times for the JV Gold. The Spartans scored twice on two interceptions, one returned for 99 yards. A penalty kick by Mason McCrory of Loomis and a point-after conversion by Rocklin?s Conner Mooneyham helped the JV Gold build a lead in the second half. The Sierra Foothill?s team gained their margin of victory on a final score by Jonah Mekebri of Loomis. South Bay would score again to close the gap to 25-24 but their point-after failed giving the Sierra Foothill?s team the victory and the state championship. JV Gold used a solid defense and ended the game on a sure tackle. Besides those who scored, outstanding play was also turned in by Lincoln?s Brandon Johnson, Dylan Kainrath of Loomis and Rocklin?s Josh Hopoi. ?These kids are brothers,? said Hudson, referring to the bond each team forms. ?You become reliant on your team. It?s camaraderie and brotherhood.? The club teams are boys 10 and under, 12 and under, junior varsity and varsity. There is also a girls varsity team and a mens team. Hudson said most of the SFRC players come out of Rocklin, Lincoln, Auburn and Loomis. He said they also draw from Roseville. Hudson said Sierra Foothills has some very good athletes and the sport is growing all over the country. Colleges are now looking for good rugby players and offering scholarships to play at the collegiate level. Hudson described rugby as a contact sport comparing it to football, which he called a collision sport. He said there is tackling but it?s not like football. In rugby, the idea of the tackle is to gain possession of the ball. The players are taught how to make proper contact and then wrap up their opponent, something that?s useful for high school football players. The sport was started in England and is older than soccer. The players wear no pads but the play is closely regulated to help prevent injury. However, Hudson admits a player can end up with a few bumps and bruises after a game but the real safety net is sportsmanship ? a rugby tradition. ?I can?t say enough about the game; I just love it,? Hudson said of the sport. ?And not just the game but all that goes with it.? Next year, the state championship will be held in Southern California. After the championship game, the JV Gold club treated the Spartans to food and drink, also a tradition in rugby. ?We have a feed after each game and the host provides the food,? said Hudson. South Bay is out of Carson and gave the JV Gold their toughest battle all year. Sierra Foothills Rugby Club JV Gold ? California JV State Cup Champions Championship Game SFRC JV Gold 25, South Bay Spartans 24 SCORING First Half JV Gold score (conversion fails) ? 5-0 Spartans score (conversion good) ? 7-5 JV Gold penalty kick ? 8-7 Second Half Spartans score intercept (conversion good) ? 14-8 JV Gold score (conversion fails) ? 14-13 Spartans score intercept (conversion fails) ? 19-13 JV Gold score (conversion good) ? 20-19 JV Gold score (conversion fails) ? 25-19 Spartans score (conversion fails) ? 25-24 2012 Game Schedule JV Gold 41, McClatchy 10 JV Gold 46, Christian Brothers 5 JV Gold 32, Mother Lode 0 JV Gold 53, Kennedy 0 JV Gold 41, KOT 0 JV Gold 19, Granite Bay 5 JV Gold 31, Islanders 0 JV Gold def. Cougars (forfeit) JV Gold 25, Ridgeview 3 JV Gold 56, Ponderosa 7 JV Gold 34, Mother Lode 5 JV Gold 25, Jesuit 20 Playoffs JV Gold 77, Marin 0 JV Gold 38, Danville Oaks 22 JV Gold 59, Lamo 27 JV Gold 25, South Bay 24 ? Championship