By Nick Gasparro
Chula Vista, CA – On December 10th, 2023, rugby enthusiasts and athletes gathered at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center for a captivating 3-team competition featuring the San Diego Legion Academy, Chicago Hounds Academy, and the University of Oxford Men’s Rugby team. The event was a testament to the global appeal of rugby, bringing together teams from different corners of the world for an unforgettable day of fierce competition and camaraderie.
The atmosphere at the CVEATC was electric, with two visiting teams, the Chicago Hounds Academy and the University of Oxford Men’s Rugby team, enjoying the pro athlete lifestyle on-site. The teams were treated to the full experience, including overnight stays in the dormitories, access to the Dining Hall featuring three hearty meals a day, and the privilege of utilizing the state-of-the-art Strength and Conditioning complex. Meanwhile, the local team, San Diego Legion Academy, added their unique touch to the competition.
In the lead-up to the event, the University of Oxford Men’s Rugby Team, also know as “The Blues” shared their excitement and impressions of the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. Describing it as “Area 51,” the team marveled at the facilities, from the professional meal catering to having Gatorade on tap. A particularly surprising and delightful discovery for the team was the presence of vegetables in the dining hall, emphasizing the high standards set at the CVEATC.
On the day of the competition, the teams engaged in a ‘double header’ featuring 40-minute games amongst each other. The CVEATC provided a stunning backdrop, with its well-equipped pitches and eye-catching BMX tracks, while the lights of Tijuana, Mexico twinkled in the distance.
The Oxford Blues recounted their experiences on the field, acknowledging the physicality brought by the Chicago Hounds’ mobile and strong pack. Despite a challenging start with a score of 31-0 in favor of Chicago, the Blues demonstrated resilience and improvement in their subsequent game against San Diego Legion. A special moment came during a shirt presentation by San Diego Legion coach Jack Wiggins and England and Irish Lions legend Alex Cobsiero, who inspired the team with his presence.
The San Diego Legion game mirrored the intensity of the Chicago match, but the Oxford Blues showcased remarkable determination in the second half. After a disappointing first half the Oxford Blues, the game concluded with two outstanding tries, one executed through a set piece by Hector Skipworth and the other by Vasco Faria, displaying exceptional work rate in regathering his own clearance kick. Although Oxford faced stiff competition at the CEATC, they were able to leave with their heads held high and focused on the positives.
In the end, the 3-team rugby competition at Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center was a celebration of the sport’s diversity, uniting teams from different backgrounds in a thrilling display of skill and sportsmanship.