Seattle has gained a new sports team to call their own starting last year. The new rugby team, the Seattle Seawolves, got their start from the ground up, recruiting players from all over the country, and the world.
The Seawolves were formed in 2017, and their inaugural season starts on April 22 against the San Diego Legions. The teams has well prepared themselves for this first match by putting together a multi-generational team that bring a variety of skills to the team.
Carly MacKinnon, the marketing and public relations coordinator for the Seawolves, said she thinks that since Seattle is such a sports centric city, the Seawolves will fit right in. With that said, she said there has still been some challenges getting a new team started on the right foot.
“Luckily there’s a lot of really passionate Seattle fans when it comes to sports here. So we’ve actually got a lot of those Seahawks fans and some people that like watching the Storm and the Mariners, and the Sounders and everybody and they’re kind of like ‘Ooh another team to add to the collection,’ but there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about rugby,” MacKinnon said. “So just making sure that we’re kind of leading with our brand and our messaging and when our players are interviewing with the media and getting it out there that we’re being clear about what rugby is and what we’re trying to do. You know we don’t want to be a ‘Oh hey me too, don’t forget about us,’ we want to be like ‘Hey, we’re also here to stay and we’re a big deal too and not just the other guys. I think just making sure we’re being really open and honest with people about rugby and trying to get them to learn and kind of be on board with the type of sport we want them to fall in love with.”
The team has a number of seasoned players who have been playing rugby for most of their lives, and are ready to lead their team to victory for their first season. One of these players includes Eric Duechle, a 6 foot 5 inch “Beast” that was a former USA Eagle — The United States of America Rugby Football Union — and Air Force Captain.
Duechle is from Kentucky and said he has been playing rugby since he was a senior in high school, and has been on his fair-share of nationally recognized teams since then, giving him a cutting edge.
With all of the traveling he has done with the military, he said Seattle is his favorite place by far and that’s why he chose to play rugby here.
“I got a couple offers from major league rugby teams and Seattle was the place I wanted to be,” he said. “This is one of the greatest places on earth, like Seattle, Washington is just so amazing, I love it.”
Another one of the 30 team members that has a great deal of experience to show is assistant coach and scrum half, Phil Mack. A Canada native, he has been coaching on and off for a while now and was the first Canadian player to appear in the 50 HSBC World Sevens Series tournaments — Rugby World Cup — according to the Seawolves website.
He said he is excited for the season to start and has confidence that the team will do well in their first game of the season, but also said it’s all kind of up in the air right now.
“Well it’s exciting. I look around this team and I’ve played against a number of these players so for me it’s refreshing to actually suit up and play with them, but there’s just so much experience in this group and that’s just something we’re trying to bring out of each other,” Mack said. “It’s a big question mark. You know you put a lot of work in and we’re focusing a lot on details, the little things that should pay off, but you know it’s rugby and it’s a chaotic game. It’s all in our control and we could only ask for the best.”
Olive Kilifi, 31, is from the Seattle area and wanted to play rugby in his home city.
He said he has enjoyed being on a team that is just starting out, but has noticed some minor challenges, such as communication.
“It has it’s ups and downs, but it’s been a good experience,” Kilifi said. “All of us come from different places, so just having the right forms of communication and being on the same page, I think that’s been the biggest challenge of all, just trying to get everyone on the same page in such a short amount of time.”
According to MacKinnon, Rugby is one of the fasted growing team sports for women, and is very relatable for a number of people who are into sports.
A lot of what makes rugby relatable to people is the fact that it has a lot of different aspects to it, MacKinnon said.
“It’s got the strategy of football, it has the flow of soccer and basketball. It has the kicking, it has the passes, it has the epic hits, without guys too often getting carded off the field, the play keeps going,” she said. “There’s just a lot for fans to watch and I know it can be kind of scary to not know what’s going on, but I actually think that adds to the element and excitement. People can’t look away. It’s kind of like a good train wreck, you can’t look away because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Looking to their first game, the team is feeling confident that their hard work will pay off.
To get tickets to see the Seawolves play, go to https://seattleseawolves.showare.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=4.