Rugby is officially back in Arizona and GCU is the perfect club to set the tone for the upcoming competitive year.
This past Saturday we had the opportunity to go watch rugby and hang out with the GCU Rugby club as they started their preseason with an intrasquad scrimmage. The scrimmage took place at the GCU field located on campus.
We also had the privilege to meet the great Coach Sean O'Leary. Coach O (as his players call him) is the head of the rugby program at GCU and the team's head coach. He has an extensive list of achievements and experience in the rugby world and to talk about this great coaching career thus far alone we would need to write a whole new, long article but for now, we will focus on the teams and the start of the preseason.
The second you walk on that field at GCU you know it is going to be a great day of rugby. The telltale signs of a successful program are all there. The coaching and technical staff are confident and all smiles. Team communication is completely positive towards players and focuses on the positive mood for the day. The players are calm, focused, relaxed and eager to put on a show for the crowd that came to be entertained.
The setting was perfect for the incoming freshmen players like Nick Bauman (who was flying all over the field ) and the 2022 NAI7 winners Luke Neely and Dylan Mercer who just joined the program to showcase their skills and for returning players like Tucker Trickey, Jackson Grey, and Joshua Peavy to get things going as they get ready for another successful year.
The game did not disappoint. After a mixed warm-up half, the incoming freshmen got to play against returning players. As expected, despite being the 1st game of the year, the play looked fluid on both sides and the athletes were well-coached. It made for a great showdown with massive hits, exciting runs, well-placed kicks and great teamwork.
After the game, Coach O addressed the team and expressed his satisfaction with the way the team and club are developing. He thanked the players for their hard work and dedication as well as the technical and medical staff for looking after the players and the club and also for their help in building the successful program. Coach O gave a special mention to the new strength and conditioning coach who joined the program this year, Javi Hernandez. Javi was praised for doing a phenomenal job working with the team on the field and in the gym to get the players fit and help them to prevent injury.
Coach O'Leary, his assistants, technical and medical staff, and the players are the perfect example that a successful rugby program starts far away from the actual rugby pitch. Their professionalism, dedication and desire to be great while maintaining a family environment is a HUGE breath of fresh air for the local rugby lovers who want the sport to develop in a positive manner.
Last year GCU had its best year so far. This year the program is looking even better. We are excited to see where this year's journey will take this great squad and will try to be there to bring you more updates and coverage.
Below are pictures and raw footage from the day for your enjoyment.
Note: the pictures are free for players and their families to download and are for personal use only.