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Friday Love: Will Travel for Rugby

  • 15 Feb 2019

Cluff with Fresno State alumnae at Glendale 7s

I recently wrote a couple of pieces about San Jose State, and the current president, Tiffany Lopez, heaped thanks on Fresno State, specifically coach Amber Cluff, for lending guidance on building a sustainable club. I reached out to the Bulldogs coach to give her a heads-up on the praise, and Cluff matched the flattery:

Tiff is the type of person who found rugby and is like, ‘Who hid this from me? … She makes things happen!

I shared my first face-to-face conversation with Cluff at the 2018 LVI 7s, where she and her blanket-bundled players were watching the Women’s Elite division. Remember last year, the USA Falcons vs. Aussie Pearls series that took place at the LVI wasn’t announced until it was too late for anyone to really wrangle a trip to Las Vegas together. So it was a special treat for those who were heading to the desert anyway, including the Bulldogs. Cluff and crew are returning this year as sheer spectators, and she writes:

I’m taking a van full of 11 girls Wednesday night to Vegas! We’ll be specifically watching the Women’s Elite division, which we have done the past 2 years. It’s fun to watch, and more importantly, it gives my players perspective on how they aren’t completely different from these women! Last year during the Pearls vs Falcons matches, my girls got to stand on the sideline just feet away from Olympians as they battled! After that first match, our 8, Megan Walls, had worn her Australia shirt and as we were leaving the fields, we were stopped at the light next to the Aussie vans. Megan opened up the door and proudly showed her shirt and cheered for them, and they were waving and honking and cheering for her. It was so fun! 

My scrumhalf, Raquel Macias, got to hug and take a picture with Nicole Heavirland and see that they were about the same height! We ended up getting to talk, take pictures, and interact with both teams that weekend, and it was definitely an amazing experience for my players, and for me to witness as a coach. The men winning the tournament was a plus too! 

I’ve signed up to ref and AR at the LVI for my first time, so we’ll how they want to utilize me. But we’ll be out there being inspired, soaking up all the rugby we can, creating memories, and building life-long friendships!

Cluff has since stood in for TRB during a press conference with former USA 7s coach Richie Walker, and been spotted with players at other important women’s events, like the USA Women’s 7s tournament in Glendale last fall. Cluff is doing a great job of giving her players a broader understanding of the game in the U.S. and it’s important not only for the joy factor but for building life-long contributors to the sport.

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