As the clock ticked down on round 1 of Americas Rugby Championship last Saturday, Blaine Scully sealed a win for USA with his game-winning try against Uruguay. This summer will mark Scully’s sixth year playing for the Eagles, and after all this time, his passion for the game is still contagious. Certainly, Scully is one of the most exciting Eagles to watch – and now, if you make a gift to the Men’s National Team during the month of February, you will receive a signed photo of him. Read on to learn more about the Eagles captain.
To represent your country in any sport at the international level takes great dedication, determination and sacrifice. Blaine Scully knows this all too well, but in his eyes, it’s worth it. “Personally, it does not get better than representing the United States,” Scully says. “Receiving the jersey, running out behind the flag and listening to the national anthem are always such proud moments. It’s a true honor to share that with teammates.”
Scully was first introduced to rugby by a high school friend during his freshman year of college at the University of California, Los Angeles. His connection to the sport was immediate: “I knew this was the sport I was meant to play,” he says. After his first year at UCLA, he transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. He explains, “Here, I was not only able to obtain my degree, but immerse myself as a student of the game.” A four-time Collegiate All-American, Scully attributes much of his success in both rugby and his personal life to two very influential individuals who guided him, Coach Tom Billups and Coach Jack Clark. As many ruggers know, your coaches and teammates cannot only help transform you as a rugby player, but can also shape your life outside of rugby. Scully can attest to this, and he recognizes the impact his collegiate rugby coaches had on his life well-beyond college. “I am grateful to the personal contribution of these two men and their continued support and mentorship,” Scully expressed.
[su_article_image wrapper=”paper-card” src=”//wpcontent-usarugby.netdna-ssl.com/uploads/2017/02/ScullyandBillups.jpg” caption=”Coach Billups (left) and Blaine Scully (right) at Witter Rugby Field, home of Cal varsity rugby.”]
[su_attention url=”https://rugby.swiftprocessing.io/public/usarugby/?form_id=208″ text=”Our National Team players give their all to represent the United States on the international stage. Support athletes like Blaine Scully by making a gift to the Men’s XVs program.”]
In 2009, Scully made his Eagles Sevens debut and had an appearance for the Eagles XVs squad against the England Saxons in 2010, but his first full international cap was earned at the Churchill Cup in 2011. He recalls, “I remember receiving my jersey and being filled with a combination of excitement, emotion and nerves – this was the culmination of what I had been working towards for years. The night before the Test, I remember Dave Hodges (who now serves as Eagles General Manager) giving me a few words of advice that I have carried since that day, ‘The honor is not in the selection, but in the performance.’ Coming in at half-time, I was more fatigued and out of breath than I had ever been in my life. My body was shocked by the speed and intensity of test match rugby. We ended up holding on for the victory and I was presented with my cap that evening. All in all, a pretty special day.”
Since that first international cap, Scully has accepted numerous opportunities to develop his skills, both in the United States and internationally. Though Scully also plays rugby professionally abroad for the Cardiff Blues, 80 percent of the Men’s National Team are amateur athletes. This number playing professionally is at an all-time high due to the improved domestic development and training of American ruggers in the past few years, thanks in part to support from donors like you. Because our national team players are amateur athletes, they rely heavily on philanthropic funding and donations from the rugby community to support their training and travel expenses. Most athletes, including Scully, hold jobs outside of rugby in addition to their hectic training schedules to support themselves and their families.
With added support from the community, Scully sees great opportunity for rugby in the United States. “We are in the midst of a defining period where we have exciting growth potential and have experienced momentum. Now it will be about channeling that growth in an aligned direction,” he says. He also recognizes the important role donors play in achieving this potential when they make a contribution to USA Rugby Trust: “The first thing to say to donors is thank you. I know I speak for the team when I say that we are all so appreciative of their contribution and support. The continued generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to compete at the highest level. They are an essential part of growing the game in the United States!”
Outside of rugby, he says his first and foremost goal is to be a good husband to his wife Shannon. It is clear that Scully’s family means the world to him. He explains, “My family has been incredibly supportive of my athletic career. I would not have been able to do any of the things I have been fortunate enough to do without their unending support. I definitely think my mom was holding her breath when I started playing, but like most of us, she has fallen in love with the great game as well!”
[su_article_image wrapper=”paper-card” src=”//wpcontent-usarugby.netdna-ssl.com/uploads/2017/02/BlaineandShannon.jpg” caption=”Scully with wife Shannon.”]
Though it’s often difficult for Scully to balance his rugby career, home life and professional life – he works with the United States Rugby Players Association and a video technology startup company called vLoop in addition to his hectic rugby schedule. – Ultimately, he is focused on getting the most out of his experiences. Despite the hard work and sacrifices associated with being an athlete, he remains passionate about the game, and especially about playing for the Eagles: “The challenge of a test match is truly special and unique. Competition in that form is the pinnacle of sport. I am grateful for each opportunity I get to compete.”