Successful Rugby Set-Up In California

When I left Leicester in March 2008 with a very bad shoulder injury, I thought my career in the sport of rugby was over.

At the time, I didn't see myself coaching and thought I would be the sort of person who needed a clean break when my time as a professional hooker came to an end.

But, in the time that followed, I headed out to the United States for a few months to play in the Super League. As luck would have it, I met a girl call Jessica and we started dating.  We eventually  got married and now we have set up home on the West Coast near Los Angeles.

While out here, I got involved with a rugby club called Belmont Shore and I have loved every minute of it.

I thought about playing again but, instead, I have got involved in coaching and that is where my future lies.

At the minute, there is little money to be made coaching the sport over here but that is changing. It is my aim now to continue  to make a living from rugby. Without Jess' support, I wouldn’t be able to chase that goal.

It will be a huge challenge. But I have always enjoyed a challenge. In my playing days, I went form Leinster to London Irish to Worcester and then to Leicester. All the time, I was taking myself out of my comfort zone.

Nothing has been as big a departure from that zone as this move to the States.

But the club I am involved with, Belmont Shore are terrific. They have a rich history of success out here and there are some exciting players coming through the ranks.

I am forwards coach at the club and have been getting a great deal of satisfaction out of what we do here and seeing the young guys develop as players and characters.

I would love some of my mates back in England and Ireland to see the clubs out here. There are no clubhouses as they would know it. And the pitches, especially here in California, are hard and fast.

There is a community here though hoping that something will happen and I believe the game here is going in just the right direction. It’s not just hope any more. There is more to it than that.

The first signs of a successful rugby set-up here are starting to happen. Five or six years ago, the only guys who would take up rugby would be from the collegiate system. Now, guys are getting to college with four or five years experience of playing the game and that is raising the standard across the board.

The weather and lifestyle here are amazing and for me to be able to have the freedom to work on something I believe so strongly in, is a great feeling.

Follow Gavin on twitter to get more on rugby's development State-side (@LineoutCoach).


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