Eagle Alumni Network Spotlight: Brian Barnard

First taking the pitch in 2001 at California Polytechnic State in San Luis Obispo, Brian Barnard fell in love with rugby and continues to play today as a member of the Classic Eagles. Learn more about his rugby journey.

USA Rugby Trust:When and where did you play rugby?
Brian Barnard: I started playing in 2001 as a junior in college at Cal Poly SLO and from there I played for the All-Americans, in New Zealand, San Francisco Golden Gate, Frankfurt, Germany, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC), Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, Olympic Club and Classic Eagles. Also did North America 4 (NA4) and played for multiple territory all-star teams.

USART: When did you play with the Eagles?
BB: I played with XVs primarily in 2006 and in the lead up to the 2007 World Cup. With Sevens, I was in the pool off and on until 2011.

USART: What is your favorite rugby memory?
BB: Getting selected for the Eagles is up there, but on the field I’d say it has to be the huge second-half comeback win against Air Force in the Final Four.

USART: Where are you now?
BB: I live in San Francisco with my wife Sara and work in tech sales.

USART: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
BB: Obviously grassroots is critical because more people playing sooner will yield dividends. We have some really great educators developing successful youth/age-grade leagues and academies. That said, I’d say that we need to improve the high performance/professional path domestically. The latter has proven time and again to be extremely challenging, but I think we are close and I like [USA Rugby CEO] Dan Payne as a leader.

Eagle Alumni Spotlight: Tracey Davies

First introduced to rugby at Northeast Missouri State University, Tracey Davies has been long involved with the game in multiple different roles, from Collegiate All-American to coach. Tracey spoke with USA Rugby Trust to share her rugby story and discuss how we can continue to grow and develop rugby in the United States.

USA Rugby Trust: When and where did you play rugby?
Tracey Davies:

  • 1994-1998 – Started playing rugby at Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University with Bullets Rugby
  • 1997-2003 – Western Territorial All Star Team
  • 1997 – Collegiate All American
  • 1999 – Became a member of the Kansas City Jazz Rugby Club (played for the Jazz through 2003 and then intermittently until my last game in April 2015)

USART: When did you play with the Eagles?

  • 1998 – USA Rugby National Under-23 Team – Undefeated Tour to England, December 1998
  • 1999-2001, 2003 – USA Rugby National Developmental Team/Senior Side

USART: What is your favorite rugby memory?
TD: There are far too many memories to name for the 23 years since I first picked up a rugby ball. I will never forget what it was like to stand on foreign soil and listen to our National Anthem being played before a match; however, most of my favorite rugby memories come from watching the high school rugby players that I coach and now my sons with a rugby ball in hand and falling in love with the game. Introducing people to rugby and watching their confidence soar and watching them realize just what rugby can offer them is inspiring. It is why I have coached high school rugby for the last 18 years.

I also remember what it was like as a 155-pound freshman in college, trying to make my first tackle. It was my first or second practice and I hadn’t been taught to tackle at all but the coaches asked for anyone who wanted to hit and I quickly raised my hand. One of the experienced players, who was probably about 70 pounds bigger than me, ran at me and I tackled her but pulled her right on my chest, knocking the wind out of me. I learned two things in that moment: that I wished I had been taught to tackle properly and holy cow, I loved this game.

USART: Where are you now?
TD: I first became certified to coach in 1997 as a player coach of my college team, Truman State University Bullets. When I graduated in December 1998, I moved to Kansas City to play for the KC Jazz. I was approached by some girls at the high school where I was working as a Campus Supervisor about starting a high school girls team. From there, I continued to recruit like-minded coaches who bought into what we were trying to accomplish and we continued to build more rugby teams. I moved from Kansas City to Liberty, Missouri in 2009 and currently live in Liberty.

  • 1999-2009 – Head Coach and Founder of the Park Hill High School Girls Rugby Football Club, now the Park Hill Lady Dragons Rugby Football Club
  • 2008-2011 – Head Coach and Founder of the Kansas City Titans Rugby Football Club, now the Park Hill Titans Rugby Football Club
  • 2009-Current – Head Coach and Founder of the Liberty Jays Rugby Football Club (also Liberty United RFC), recognized by the high school as a club
  • 2011-2012 – Head Coach of the Kansas City Jazz Rugby Club
  • 2012-Current – Head Coach of the Liberty United Girls Rugby Football Club, now Liberty Lady Jays Rugby Football Club, recognized by the high school as a club.

USART: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
TD: The most important factor in growing the game in the US is inspiring people to give back to the game and to get involved after playing. At the end of each season, I give my seniors a whistle. I encourage them to give back to the game, either as a referee or a coach. It is a small reminder to them as they graduate that the only way this game grows is for those who love it to give back.

I was criticized by some for hanging up my boots too soon, but I know it was the right thing to do for the growth of the game. My love of the game grows exponentially through the players my coaches and I introduce to the game. Coaching is not a sacrifice, it is not a burden, it is a gift. It is a gift to grow the traditions of rugby and share our passion for it. The camaraderie, the respect, the sportsmanship, the honor, the character building and dedication to family is what this game should be about and that is what we continue to build in our programs.

Regarding what USA Rugby can do, in my opinion, it is important that they realize that there are many geographical areas in various stages of development across this great country. Remembering that not all areas are at the same stages of development is important. Sometimes growing pains and change are necessary but I encourage USA Rugby to be more attentive to whether those policy changes are actually detrimental to the morale of the volunteers at that start up level. Remembering that a majority of coaches involved with rugby in the US are volunteers is crucial to understanding how to respect and help them grow the game in their individual areas.

Eagle Alumni Spotlight: Meet Naima Reddick

USA Rugby Trust: When and where did you play rugby?

Naima Reddick:I started playing rugby in 1999 at Piedmont HS in Piedmont, CA. We named ourselves the Sirens as this was the first year the high school had a girls team. From there I went to Chico State and played for the college team. During my 5-year tenure with the team, I played U23 Grizzlies. In chronological order the Women’s clubs I’ve played for are: Berkeley All Blues, NorCal Triple Threat, Northern United (Porirua, NZ) I also played on the Wellington Pride provincial side], back to NorCal, then SFGG, and finally the Seattle Saracens. I played Senior Grizzlies throughout that time except when I blew out my knee and when I was out of the country.

USART: When did you play/participate with the Eagles?

NR: I played in the first year of the U19 Eagles in 2003 and I played 2 years of U23s in 2006 and 2007. I earned my first senior cap in January 2010 in the Atlantic Cup against Canada in Florida. I went to the 2010 World Cup; after which I took a 2-year break that included a year of living in NZ. I came back to the pool in 2013 and played through until World Cup 2014. After that I took some time off to get my life together and rest some injuries. I hope to re-enter the pool this coming January.

USART: What is your favorite rugby memory?

NR: My favorite rugby memory of ALL TIME is playing with Chico State and beating Stanford in the 2004 Northern California League playoff. We were 4 points down with about a minute left on the clock and Kelly Neilson (our 10) puts a wiper through to the corner of the try zone. Carrie White, playing on the wing (another Eagle and World Cup veteran of 2014) sprints through, dives on the ball in the face of a defender and scores. This was before the scoreboard changed and we all l thought we were still a point down and needed the kick to win. Carrie lined it up and sailed it right between the posts. Best rugby moment, hands down.

USART: Where are you now?

NR: I am currently in Seattle playing for the Saracens and working at Atavus. I’ve been here a year now and it’s been pretty great. I start at the UW Professional and Continuing Education School in September to get a Certificate in Project Management. Overall, moving here was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my life and my rugby.

USART: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby within the US?

NR: The most important factor in growing the game is increasing our youth participation. The more kids we can get involved and the more families, the more successful rugby is going to be in the US across the board. Not just talent wise, but financially and structurally. Seeing how much things have changed from when I started playing in 1999 to now, makes me excited to see what the next 18 years brings.