April 19, 2024
The San Diego Legion start their house schedule Saturday. Right here they’re of their season-opening loss to Seattle. Photograph credit score: sdlegion.com

Ryan James grew up in San Diego and went to Cathedral Catholic Excessive College the place he performed soccer.

However James discovered himself drawn to rugby in eighth grade, when he was 12. Quickly, with alternatives to play extra typically, he traded the gridiron for the pitch.

At this time, he’s a wing/fullback for the San Diego Legion, enjoying in entrance of household and pals at Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley.

“It’s undoubtedly a extremely good expertise and San Diego is likely one of the finest fan bases within the league,” mentioned James.

He and his teammates will take to the Snapdragon pitch at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Legion meets RFC Los Angeles for his or her 2024 house opener.

The Legion, a part of the 12-team Main League Rugby league, was based in 2017 and is getting back from a season that was profitable, however led to heartbreak.

They went 15-1 through the 2023 common season, together with a league file 13 wins in a row, however misplaced the July championship recreation 25-24 to the New England Freejacks.

Head coach Danny Lee mentioned the workforce is utilizing the loss within the finals to inspire them this 12 months.

“Everyone’s looking us, all people’s attempting to beat us,” Lee mentioned.

The Legion began its season with two street video games – a loss to the Seattle Seawolves 25-19 March 2 and a Sunday win, 30-23, in opposition to the Dallas Jackals.

The workforce just isn’t solely attempting to win – they’re attempting to win over followers. The game, nonetheless rising within the U.S., has deep fan bases in different elements of the world, together with Britain, New Zealand, Eire and South Africa.

“I believe San Diego has at all times been a sports-driven, sports-passionate metropolis,” mentioned James. “Particularly with the Chargers leaving, quite a lot of followers on the lookout for a bodily sport like that, rugby is the following neatest thing. Some may say it’s higher.”

To domesticate followers, the workforce web site has a Rugby 101 part that gives instructional
movies in regards to the sport.

Star middle Ma’a Nonu, a two-time Rugby World Cup Champion, mentioned he’s observed extra followers displaying up at Snapdragon.

“We get quite a lot of followers that cheer loads,” Nonu mentioned. “We’re attempting to make it our fortress, actually.”