It is a good thing rugby players don’t follow the first rule of Fight Club, or for that matter, the second. We are indebted to those bold ambassadors that not only talk about their footy club, but spread the gospel far and wide to all nonbelievers.
With the zeal of a used car salesman and the subtlety of a shotgun, they will usually fire off an explanation of how they acquired that shiner from the weekend’s game, and somehow turn it into a propaganda tool for recruiting others. These are the unsung heroes of the dramatic rise of rugby’s popularity in America, and to them is owed a debt of gratitude. They are also responsible for the introduction to rugby of this edition’s Player of the Month Guilherme Silva, who was proposed the idea while living overseas by a determined South African.
Full Name (and any nicknames): Guilherme Maia Silva
Year: Junior (3rd year)
Major: Plant Sciences
Rugby Position(s): Wing
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Favorite Rugby Team: Springboks
Favorite Rugby Player: Nehe Milner-Skudder
How did you get involved in rugby?
I got involved with rugby in the 7th grade when I lived in China. A South African friend of mine constantly asked me to play. I went out to one of the practices and played touch with the team and then never turned back. My first impression was that I loved how fast paced and naturally flowing the game was. Soccer was my main sport up until the end of 8th grade which was when I really started to understand rugby and pick up some skills. What kept me showing up to practices was the challenge it presented me with and simply how fun it was to get the ball and have a go at the defense.
Describe your most memorable moment on the pitch:
My most memorable moment on the pitch was during the 2016 National Championship game when we scored a try in the last 10 minutes that ended up winning us the title. When we kicked the ball out of bounds and the final whistle blew it was an indescribable feeling that I will never forget. A whole year of hard work and training had come to the perfect ending and that, I think will be the best moment on the pitch that I will ever have.
What are the best parts about participating with the UC Davis Men’s Rugby club?
The team culture we have is great, each player has a place on the team regardless of their skill level or athletic ability. We have built a culture of trust and accountability within the team on and off the pitch, meaning we always have each other’s backs and trust that everyone has the best intentions for the team and each other. The coaching staff really care for the players; not only do they care for our improvement on the field, but they care for our development as human beings. They always make sure we are doing well in school, have healthy relationships, and have a good support system. Another favorite part about this club is traveling with the boys. There is nothing better than traveling for an away game and preparing to play a tough match with your best friends. Regardless of the result of the match we always stick together and discuss what we have to improve. At the end of the day we are all trying to have a good time playing this sport, so as disappointed as we get if we lose a match, we still enjoy the process of getting better and training with each other to win.
How might you sell the sport to a beginning player?
I would tell him stories about us traveling as a team during playoffs and all our experiences together. If those alone don’t sell him, I would explain the sport more and show him how exciting it is to play it. All it took me to get hooked to the sport was playing touch, so I would try to convince him to come play a game of touch with some teammates. Our practices can get intense and very fast paced but we somehow manage to make them fun even during the worst conditioning sessions. The toughest practices make us even closer so regardless of what practice I manage to convince him to show up to, I am confident that he would fall in love with our work ethic and have a great time. Everyone during practice has fun playing the sport and getting better, it is a good mixture of hard work and a very fun escape from our tough academic life.
What role do you hope rugby has in your future?
Rugby has taught me a lot throughout the years. It taught me how to work hard for something and how to stay committed and determined through the worse circumstances. Because of that I do have the desire to keep playing after college. There is nothing like the feeling of getting a good hit or having a good line break, I don’t think I am prepared to let go of those feelings just yet. The overall rugby culture is also just so great, getting together with the other team after a hard-fought match and talking it over with some beer and food is something no other sport does. I hope to find a good men’s club team wherever I end up after college and hope that their team culture is just as good as ours here at UC Davis. I know my relationship with my current teammates and last and we will stay in contact. After all we’ve been through together, it would be hard to just graduate and never keep in contact, so the relationship will hopefully stay strong.”
A special thank you to Mr. Silva for taking the time to convey his thoughts on the team and best of luck to all Aggies as they continue their training this season. Those wishing to watch Silva step opponents like his favorite player, can access this season’s full schedule at www.ucdavisrugby.com