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Glendale came up one point and one win shy of a dream season in 2014. The Raptors embarked on the inaugural Pacific Rugby Premiership voyage along with six other clubs. They held the best record at the end of the regular season, 11-1, falling only at San Francisco Golden Gate. Glendale then beat a scaled down SFGG side at home in the last match of the regular season, when both teams were already booked to meet in the final.
The Raptors led SFGG 24-15 at halftime in the inaugural PRP decider, but Gate stormed back and eventually staved off Glendale to win, 39-38. Chad London scored the final try in that contest, which proved to be moot, somewhat unceremoniously capping off a great season for the former All-American.
London led the PRP in tries with 12, averaging one a piece throughout the regular season. London’s been a force on the club scene for many years, first at Palmer and the last couple of years at Glendale, but 2014 was somewhat of a breakout season for the center.
Not only did he help give the Raptors one of, if not the, best backlines in the country, he earned his first cap for the United States. The South African-born-and-raised center debuted against Scotland in June. He’d been on the periphery before, but finally broke through in 2014.
London’s wide shoulders, low center of gravity and solid build make him a tough tackle for anyone, and his ball skills and rugby IQ make it safe to call him the best center in the domestic club game. London has been a good soldier for Glendale, and along with another relatively new Raptor, Preston Bryant, he gives the club another gear.
London’s and Glendale’s accomplishments are all the more impressive when you consider their schedule. Because of the time window of the PRP, and the fact that it’s pretty snowy and cold in Colorado in February and March, Glendale opened the season with three-consecutive road games. The Raptors are shoveling snow in the preseason while most of their opponents are trying to determine if their t-shirts should have sleeves or not on any given day.