Rugby is a true team sport, no matter how good one player is, he can’t do anything, without the help of his teammates. Diego Sanchez is a 21-year=old forward for the Humboldt State Mens Rugby team. Sanchez has been playing Rugby since he arrived at HSU in 2013. Rugby was brought to Sanchez’s attention during his freshman year, while he was walking through the quad and a couple of member of the team was tabling. His interest was stuck as he approached the table. Within a months span, Sanchez was out at practice. Now, let’s jump to present day.
Sanchez is a valuable part for the Jacks mens rugby team. He leads the team emotionally, physically, and mentally. Sanchez has seemed to master the fullback position.
“I have gotten better over the years,” Sanchez said. “I plan on getting even better because I’m going to keep training until I learn every position and that way I’ll be able to impact the game even more.”
Sanchez’s work ethic has shown in the way that he leads and plays. On March 11, in a tough, standstill match the Jacks performed well in conditions that most teams would fold in. Many would consider the match a Humboldt classic because of the weather conditions. The players took the field as the crowd yelled in anticipation of the match. The ball was placed for the kicker. When kicked, though the crowd howled, the ball was still heard by everyone as it was kicked into the air. Sanchez caught the ball. He took the ball up the field, and as he ran his hardest, he dodged the opposition as they threw their bodies at him. As he ran, he saw the triezone in front of him. The crowd yelled in excitement for Sanchez, who was fearlessly dodging the Seawolves. He broke one tackle and then another. As he was about to break free and just as he thought he avoided all that there was, he was abruptly side-blinded by a Seawolf that was not seen in the corner of his eye.
From the beginning of the match, the Jacks were pounding the Seawolves and had many chances to score, but failed to do so. During this intense match, Sanchez and his teammates had high hopes of dominating the opposing Seawolves.
“Many of us thought we were going to be the first ones to score a trie,” Sanchez said. “That wasn’t the case.”
The Seawolves scored in the last minutes of the first half scored, leaving the score 7-0. At the half Sanchez appeared to tell his team what they need to do better. Dalvine Jones, a teammate of Sanchez, gave a brief description of what was said by Sanchez.
“We played dismal and nonchalant in the last 10 minutes, looking as if they did not prepare all week,” Jones said. “Passes were dropped, tackles were missed, and no one was rucking like we wanted to win the half.”
In the second half the Sanchez and the Jacks came out hitting hard, running fast, and playing like they had something on the line. They scored with in the first five minutes, but failed to make their extra point kick. At this point in the game the score was 7-5. The Seawolves scored two more times and the Jacks appeared to fall off.
James Ball, a former HSU rugby player, has been attending HSU’s rugby games since he graduated in 2010. Ball knows many of the the current players on the team, and he gave pointers and insight to Sanchez when he first started playing. Ball had a lot to say about how Sanchez has grown over the years.
“Diego has gotten better,” Ball said. “He needs to keep the intensity up if he wants to continue to be a leader and compete for a championship.”
Ball believed that Sanchez could rally the Jacks come back effort for the win. The faith that Ball had in Sanchez and the Jacks seemed to be good faith because they turned it up a notch at the 60th minute and scoring 20 unanswered points to secure the win. After the game, Coach Vince Celotto, who has been Sanchez’s coach for the past three years, gave his team a motivational speech and delivered Sanchez the game ball.
“I am so impressed with our rookies and new recruits filling our needs on the field,” Celotto said. “Diego, you were all over the place today. Keep it up because your making us stronger. And for that, I would like to award with the you the game ball.”
Receiving the ball is a high honor for the teams player of the week. Although, Sanchez’s success is a testament to his talent, he would not have gotten to where he is today without the help of his teammates. He will need to continue to rely on them, as they prepare for the playoffs.
On April 1, the Jacks will travel to Vallejo to compete in the playoffs. In order for the Jacks to win, they will need the continuing leadership from Sanchez, to practice patience, communication, tackling, and simply executing their game plan. All of these things can help the Jacks secure a playoff win and a potential shot to travel to Pittsburgh, Pensilvania for a shot at the championship.