Everyone remembers when they first encounter it.
For UC Davis winger and this edition’s Player of the Month Bradley Maples, it happened in a busy college barbershop in downtown Davis, as he patiently awaited his turn to meet the shears. For the author, it was in the cavernous living room of a UC Davis frat house as a barrel-chested South African named Angus plied him and the rest of his captive audience with reasons for why it was a good idea. For others, it can happen during a barstool conversation at the local pub, or in the midst of recounting the weekend’s events with a bruised co-worker. For some it even happens when riding your bike past a mob of hooligans lifting each other in the air and passing the ball backwards.
Everyone remembers when they first encounter the prospect of playing rugby.
For this latest edition of the newsletter I was lucky enough to sit down with Mr. Maples and discuss his own introduction to the sport, his participation thus far, and his hopes for the future of the club.
Full Name (and any nicknames):
Bradley Warren Maples (a lot of my teammates call me Mapes)
Why did you choose Rugby?
Well actually I didn’t even really choose rugby, it kind of chose me. I was getting my haircut at a barber shop in downtown Davis waiting for my turn, when I overheard another guy speaking about where he was from. It turns out that this guy was from the same area as me, and our high schools are major rivals with each other. Furthermore, this guy also played summer league baseball with my older brother in high school. This guy’s name was Colten Collings, at the time the president of the UC Davis Men’s Rugby club. So, we kept talking small talk and about how we both wrestled and played football in high school and he gave me his number on the spot and I texted him the next day about it, went to the next practice and fell in love instantly.
What have you liked about UCD Rugby specifically?
UC Davis Rugby is special. The first day I was at practice, I had never played before, and had maybe watched a full 5 minutes of rugby before in my life. I was clueless. Despite all that, I felt like I had been playing with these guys for years after that first practice. I couldn’t even count all the guys that came up out of nowhere and introduced themselves to me and made me feel at home. Another thing I love about UC Davis Rugby is the culture we have. We’re a family. We eat together, train together, sleep together, study together, bleed and cry together. The coaching staff is amazing and I can’t thank all my coaches enough this year that helped me learn and love the game.
Most Memorable moment of last season?
My most memorable moment this season was against Fresno State in Fresno. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at wing on the right side and for the last couple minutes I had been yelling at our fly-half, Josh Farnsworth, to swing the ball out wide to me. We were about 10 meters out from the try zone, and I looked over at Josh, and he gave me the nod like he always does. Cole Collings, our scrum half, slung him the ball, and Josh booted the ball in the air all the way to the corner of the try zone. While the ball was still in the air, I jumped up and snagged the ball out of the air and over my defender. I had been dreaming of doing something like that ever since I had started the sport. And FYI, we ended up winning that game.
Advice to someone considering playing rugby but still on the fence:
My advice for somebody considering rugby is to just test the waters out and see if you like it, there’s really no other way to know for sure until you have been on the field and have butted heads with an opponent. It’s a physical sport, probably the most physical sport I’ve played. But go to a practice, or even just go watch a practice or game in person, that’s how I did it and I fell in love.
What do you imagine/would like your relationship with the club to be after you graduate?
After I graduate from Davis, I would love to maintain a close relationship with the club. I would hope to stay in contact with members of the club personally, but also, I would like to receive information, maybe through email, about games and fundraising events (because trust me, we fundraise A LOT and would gladly accept any help we can get) and other things. I want to stay personally connected with the club and maintain personal relationships with the coaches and players associated with the club.
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, Maples also received the All-American nod for his performance in last year’s 2016-2017 season. Wishing him and the rest of the Aggies all the best as they continue their preparations under the tutelage of coaches Andy Malpass, Kal Incendy, and Eugene Mountjoy.