San Francisco rugby team in pursuit of back-to-back crowns 

This is a busy, busy time in the sporting landscape. The Stanley Cup Finals begin today, while the NBA is quickly approaching their own set of finals. Baseball is in full swing and the World Cup, arguably Earth’s most celebrated sporting event, is less than two weeks away.

Most are probably unaware that the USA Rugby Super League holds its final today. The majority of San Franciscans probably don’t even realize their city’s team, the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club, is playing.

While it’s the upper echelon of rugby competition in the states, funding is hard to come by in the Super League, which still operates as an amateur league.

“It’s guys that love the sport,” said Greg Rocca, a founding member of the club and current chairman of SFGG’s board of directors. “It takes a tremendous amount of time and these guys are very fit, tough athletes. They play it because they love it — there’s no money involved.”

All politics go out the window when the team steps onto Rocca Field on Treasure Island at 3 p.m. today to play against the New York Athletic Club.

After capturing the Super League championship last year, SFGG has gone on a tear this season. They’ve maintained a perfect record, and averaged more than 50 points a game for much of the season. They face a formidable New York team that won the Super League championship in 2005 and 2008.

“They have the best defense in the league,” SFGG coach Paul Keeler said. “They’re very well coached. I’d say they’re strength is in their forward pack and their ability to play the big game.”

While Golden Gate is confident on both sides of the ball, their greatest strength is a balanced, athletic attack that scores in a variety of ways. Though they haven’t played the New York Athletic Club this year, SFGG is anticipating the Eastern powerhouse to play a slow game that will keep the ball out of their hands.

“Sometimes, because we play such a wide-open game and we like to go on attack, if you get a team like the New York Athletic Club that’s very disciplined and has a good solid forward pack, they may be able to slow it down and control the ball,” said Rocca. “Obviously if we don’t get the ball in hand we can’t score and that would definitely be our weak point.”

To combat the defense they’re expecting, Keeler says he’s thrown in some subtle changes, or “wrinkles,” to score.
“Hopefully we can execute those changes, play the way that we’re capable of and take it home,” he said.


USA Rugby Super League Final


WHO: San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club vs. New York Athletic Club

WHEN: Today, 3 p.m.

WHERE: Rocca Field, Treasure Island

TICKETS: $15 at the match; children 14 and under are free


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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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