Happy 4th of July to you all. As we take this day to soak in the awesomeness of America, let’s remember if it’s weren’t for the British who we fought for our freedom, we wouldn’t have the sport of Rugby. America has much to celebrate this year in the rugby world. We are putting in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2018. Our USA Eagles are making a huge showing on the International Circuit, The Women’s Eagles Sevens went into the World Cup Quarterfinals UNDEFEATED! The Men’s Eagles Sevens almost caused one of the biggest upsets in Eagles’ history last Saturday at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens by almost beating New Zealand in a 26-19 game.
In Illinois, we have many athletes who are proudly representing the U.S.A. all over the country as well as internationally. We have players on the USA Women’s Team, USA Men’s team, we have younger players also, on the All American High School team. I recently had a chance to talk to Nolan Day who is the coach for the Illinois Tornadoes, and who will also be coaching in the Stars and Strips AAHS game that USA Rugby puts on.
The Tornadoes can proudly celebrate this 4th, knowing that they are one of the best teams in the U.S.A. as the proudly took home the Cody Cup as well as winning the 2013 Challenge Cup. Coach Day told me that this tournament really showed the strength of the Tornadoes. The U-17 team came in 6th in the tournament, and were able to hold their own, especially in games where they were playing teams that had kids bigger than most of the U19 teams. As for the U19 team, who won the Challenge Cup in Pittsburgh, Nolan Day told me that despite the limited amount of practice that the team gets before travel, the team worked so well and cohesively together, and the sheer talent of players is why they won.
“How often do we train? Not very often. About four times before tournaments, 6 times throughout the year. We try to get in three before regional and Corn Bowl, Cody Cup, and Pittsburgh. Against Indiana, there was some great playing, they had the ball was flowing as easily as a branch in the breeze. The Tornadoes backline meshed well and looked beautiful. One boy [Lucas Jeauxseph] scored four tries from over 40 meters.”
Lucas Jeauxeph helped get the team into the semifinals, and it was Malcolm May, who scored three tries in Pittsburgh, including the one that tied up the final game for the Tornadoes when no time was remaining. For Nolan Day, it was the most exciting final win by a Tornado team ever! In U-19 games, they have a kick off if a game ends in a tie.
The team not only demonstrated USA Rugby’s new, very American motto, “Work for It”, but the team showed their maturity and politeness when they traveled, earning compliments from hotel staff and guests. Their help in the small time consuming tasks were also greatly appreciated by the coaching staff Their behavior has motivated the coaches to commit to a UK-France, Belgium and Netherlands tour next summer. Coach Nolan
Day also told me, that the reason he has decided to dedicate his time to coaching the Tornadoes is because, he likes helping kids find a sport they can play for life. Now in his 50s, he’s an old boy, he will always be connected with his sport, teams he played for and the life long friends and teammates he made. It provides for these young players a camaraderie that you need in any sport and in the world. Coach Day also added that on the subject of camaraderie,
“You look at their [former Tornadoes] Facebook pages and even from tours 4 years ago, it’s still as their main picture. We've had kids that have never been on a plane or out of the state and what a great chance for them. We’ve had a lot of old boys step up to donate and help get those kids there. They donate money, and their time to help out these kids who might not ever get a chance to do something like this. It's amazing to see rugby friends get together and really step up so these kids can have these awesome chances to experience the great culture that is rugby”
With that, I don’t know what else to say about the greatness of rugby culture and how American it is to come together and help one another. The Tornadoes, and their parents will be extending their kindness and be ambassadors to host Churchers College players from England the nights of July 7th and 8th. The favor will be returned when the Tornadoes tour there next year. The experience of this special camaraderie is like no other sport. Windsor Boys' School will also be coming for a visit over July 26-28. This match will be what Day believes to be the longest UK-US high school rivalry once they play them in England next summer for the 5th time. You can check out the Churchers v Tornades game, Monday at the Blaze fields in Lemont at 7pm.
Happy 4th of July!