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Monday, March 9, 2009

The Agony of Defeat: USF Rugby Falls to San Jose State -- First Win for SJSU in Five Years

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 2:36 PM

While winless on the field of play, USF rugby has redefined the term "game face."
  • While winless on the field of play, USF rugby has redefined the term "game face."
On August 29, 1977, Cleveland Indians second baseman Duane Kuiper swatted a home run -- his only homer in an 11-year-career comprising 3,379 at-bats. The pitcher: Steve Stone.

And, on March 7, 2009, the University of San Francisco rugby team fell, 27-12, to San Jose State. That USF lost wasn't news -- the team is now 0-5. But for SJSU, the victory snapped a Washington Generals-like sojourn of ineptitude; it was the Spartans' first win in five years.

USF rugby , Steve Stone, Steve Stone, USF rugby.

"It was a surprise. It was a big shock to us -- since I've been playing, we haven't lost to them," said Vincent Nunez, a prop on the USF squad and the rugby club's president. When asked if it was a morose bus ride back from San Jose, he replies that he reckons it was -- though he can't be certain because he hitched a ride with some pals.

(An aside: The young journalist covering this historic match for San Jose State's student newspaper actually used the term "like a finely tuned machine" to describe the Spartans' dismantling of USF. Needling a student sportswriter -- especially one relegated to covering the games of a team that last won when he was likely too young to drive a car -- is bad form, but we will say this: The terms "like a finely tuned machine" and "five-year losing streak" do not harmonize. And, in general, avoid cliches).

Getting run off the field by the collegiate rugby equivalent of Charlie Brown's baseball team has been something of a new high in lows for the USF ruggers -- who, perversely adhering to many in the Catholic hierarchy's assessment of this city, are nicknamed "The Defenders of the Faith."

Nunez acknowledges that it's a "rebuilding year" for the Defenders, though "building" may be a more apt categorization. Over the past two seasons, the team has only gone 1-6 and 1-5 -- meaning SJSU represented their sole win each year. Still, hope springs eternal on the USF campus -- and with 11 freshman on this year's squad the day may yet arrive that foes like the California Maritime Academy and U.C. Santa Cruz are vanquished with regularity. If you will it, it is no dream.

In the meantime, while the Defenders of the Faith have yet to succeed in scoring tries and tries again, no one can accuse them of not having fun. On the team's Web page, inexplicably, every player is wearing a fake mustache -- with the offerings ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Super Mario Brothers to Lothar of the Hill People  to psychotic Middle-Eastern Dictator

Who knows? Perhaps the Defenders of the Faith may yet prove the maxim of former Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos -- who, in justifying his bizarre sartorial sense, noted "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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