SAN ANTONIO – Rugby is about to hit San Antonio this weekend on the highest level. The U.S.A. Rugby Men’s National Team will play Uruguay on Saturday at Toyota Field in the first round of the America’s Rugby Championship.
Part of the appeal for holding the game in San Antonio has to do with the city's potential for the sport's growth.
While U.S.A. Rugby, which governs rugby union teams in the United States, has seen the sport grow quickly in Texas, a spokesman said San Antonio is a little behind other cities in the state.
"It's nice to come to a new rugby area and promote the game," said head coach John Mitchell, whose home country of New Zealand "live(s) and breathe(s) it."
"If you play attractive rugby and winning rugby, then you attract other people as well," he said.
San Antonio has several rugby options already at club or youth levels. "Big" John Anderson, head coach of Texas A&M-San Antonio's rugby club, has been around the city's rugby scene, and he has bigger dreams for the sport here.
"We're hoping to have it in every school," he said. "We're hoping to have multiple men's teams, multiple women's teams, all the colleges have programs."
College is where Eagles co-captain Blaine Scully picked up the game.
"(I) ended up being an athlete without a sport and found rugby, and it was the game I was meant to play all along,” Scully said.
Scully said he was able to break the game down into components he could connect to sports he knew, such as football, basketball or soccer.
"There's an opportunity to connect it to sports you know, because it encompasses a lot of those different athletic abilities that an athlete needs," Scully said.
The hits and athleticism will be on display Saturday. Scully thinks exposing young athletes to the game will mean more and more of them will be interested in rugby.
"I would challenge you to go, and I think you'll probably find yourself falling in love with the game,” Scully said.