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The Exchange is a regular Q&A put together by Jake Feury that features interesting people in the American rugby community. Jake, a recent graduate from Middlebury College, has been involved in rugby for a number of years now. Some of his playing experience includes the Morris Lions (NJ), the GPS Gallopers (Australia), Middlebury College (VT), Trinity College (Dublin), Atlantis, the Northeast Academy and various age-grade All-American trials and tours.
This edition of The Exchange features Connor Wallace-Sims. Connor started playing rugby at nine-years-old. He played for his local club, Devonport Services, in England until he was sixteen. After making his debut for the men’s first side, he moved to Canterbury in the Southeast of England for two seasons. This led towards his time with the USA U-20 Junior All-Americans, which then led towards his time with New York Old Blue. Now he is training in Chula Vista full-time with the USA men’s sevens program.
JF: How are you enjoying life, officially, as a professional athlete now?
CW: It is honestly one of the best experiences ever. I was lucky enough to go on two tours to Sydney and Wellington. I didn’t get too much game time, but it was an awesome experience, as I got to see some of the best players in the world. When I did get on the field it was crazy. My blood was pumping. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. The training out here is hard and it is very much full-on. We are training two-to-three times per day. Most recently in the camp before Hong Kong and Singapore there were lots of high speed running and gameplay situations. It was good to help those boys prepare for their tour and hopefully it will pay off.
JF: Is rugby less fun now that it is your job and no-longer just a hobby?
CW: That’s a good question. I often just sit there after a long day and think about how grateful I am for where I am at, but I cannot wait to get back and go on one of those social sevens trips where there is more of an emphasis on the partying and having fun with the boys.
JF: Understandable. Speaking of the boys, who is the funniest teammate out in Chula Vista?
CW: Pat Blair is always loud and cracking a joke. He is definitely the joker of the team. Matai Leuta, Martin Iosefo and Maka Unufe are also guys I find pretty hilarious. There are a wide variety of funny guys on the team.
JF: Who is the best dancer?
CW: The best dancer? It has got to be Kevon Williams. I think he was in a step fraternity. I don’t know much about it, but he’s pretty good.
JF: Judging by your Instagram it looks like you have been drinking a lot of that green stuff. Do you want to fill the people in on what that is and why you are drinking it?
CW: Honestly the green stuff is just another way of getting your vegetables and fruit in. There’s no real secret ingredient, but its pretty funny just to put on Instagram because you get a couple direct messages after asking what the recipe is. All I have got for them is that it is just vegetables. It’s just healthy. I got to drink it.
JF: So did you enjoy your time in New York?
CW: Yeah, New York was awesome. It was a great experience. I don’t think that you can find a better team and brotherhood environment than New York Old Blue. Everybody is always looking out for each other. New York is not the easiest place to live in, but there are always people there that are going to offer you a hand if you need it. It was a good standard of rugby and it was great to travel around and compete against some of the top clubs in the country.
JF: Who has better footwork – you or Old Blue standout Rick Kirkland?
CW: Kirky has this in-and-out sort-of step and his acceleration is unreal. So, I’m going to give the title to him.
JF: That is really humble of you. Who is better looking – you or Old Blue standout Derek Lipscomb?
CW: I’m going to go with Derek. Derek always has that fresh haircut. He’s a lot bigger than I am too, so I’ve got a little bit of catching up.
JF: Also very humble, which is a great quality to have as a rugby player. What are you doing when you are not playing rugby?
CW: Honestly, Chula Vista is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. A lot of my down time is spent on Netflix or going to the pool near our housing area. I’ve managed to go out a few nights with the team, which is nice because I get to relax a little bit after a hard week of training. I’ve also hit the beach a couple of times, which is awesome down here.
JF: Who is your celebrity crush?
CW: Scarlett Johansen is definitely my celebrity crush. I think that started after the first Avengers movie. I am a big fan of Marvel movies. I also like Ellie Goulding. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about her I just find very attractive. Plus her music is good too.
JF: You had those names ready pretty quickly there.
CW: Yeah, [laughing] I was ready for those ones.