The next Jarryd Hayne could be on campus.
Led by the efforts of 23-year-old Andrew Bailey, a math tutor at Las Positas College, rugby is coming to Las Positas College.
A graduate of UCLA, Bailey has experience with the sport. He began playing in his senior year at Amador Valley High School and continued to play for four years at UCLA, where he was named an All-American in 2014. When he returned home to Pleasanton, he joined a club team in Moraga called the East Bay Blues, also nicknamed ‘The Ole Gaels.’
Nagging injuries cut his career short, but Bailey still wanted to be involved in the game, so he decided to become a coach.
“I have some shoulder problems, a lower back issue that just came up this last season, so I’ve transitioned into coaching,” Bailey said. “I coached the Pleasanton Cavaliers high school club team last year. I was an assistant coach and I’ve also been reffing for the past year.”
Having grown up in Pleasanton as a youth, Bailey wants to bring it all home by starting up a rugby team at the college closest to his home. He is having the LPC rugby team work under the Cavaliers name until the club is officially formed on campus.
The rugby team wouldn’t be an official sport on campus, like basketball or soccer. But Bailey is creating a club, which requires filling out the proper paperwork. It also grants the team money to work with.
“Pleasanton Cavaliers is the main club we’re actually working out from because LPC is not officially a club yet,” Bailey said. “But we’ll be in a league that encompasses a lot of junior colleges in the area.”
The team is scheduled to play against schools such as Menlo and Sierra College, as well as four-year schools like University of the Pacific, University of San Francisco and Humboldt State.
Flyers have been posted around campus encouraging LPC students to join the rugby team. The turnout has been a bit underwhelming. Bailey says 25 players are needed to field a team every week. About 10 players are currently practicing with the team.
Bailey said he is optimistic more people will show up as the season gets closer.
“We were hoping for more, but it’s early,” Bailey said. “Our goal is to have 15 by the end of October and 25 by December because our first games begin midway through January. If we don’t hit those marks it’s gonna be tough, we might have to reconsider.”
Bailey said he thinks they are on pace. He still gets texts and Facebook messages of people asking to come play once they hear about the team.
One player he knows will be a part of the team is LPC student Ryan Elazegui.
A rugby player with the Pleasanton Cavaliers since the seventh grade, Elazegui is excited about the latest addition to LPC sports.
“It’s a chance for me and a few others to keep playing the sport we love,” Elazegui said.
Another reason as to why Bailey is confident about fielding a team is the untapped market that exists in the Bay Area. Schools like Cal-Berkeley and Saint Mary’s, who are both nationally ranked in the top 7, feature some of the top rugby talent in the country. A lot of that talent comes from high schools in the East Bay, but there are no community colleges around the area that offer a rugby team.
“In the East Bay we don’t have a real centralized rugby program for anyone older than the high schoolers,” Bailey said. “Us and Danville have 250 plus players in our youth programs that are growing up and going to junior colleges in the area and don’t have anywhere nearby to play. If we can create a way for them to do that, then we definitely believe we can sustain (rugby at LPC) for a long period of time.”
For those who don’t understand the concept of rugby, Bailey says an easy way to describe it is as a blend of football and soccer. You have the tackling and the hitting of football and the open play and contest for possession like soccer. The scoring system is also similar to football.
With Hayne, an Australian rugby star, now playing for the 49ers, people in the area could become more intrigued with the sport.
“Specifically Northern California, we are one of the hubs of rugby in the nation,” Bailey said. “The World Cup of Rugby is going on right now so people are getting excited about that. The College 7’s are being televised so it’s an exciting time for us.”
*Interested participants can contact Coach Andrew Bailey at (925) 858-5261 or email@example.com