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San Francisco Golden Gate will travel to San Diego this weekend to take on OMBAC in a match of two high-profile American clubs undergoing some significant change.
SFGG will be without five of their most celebrated players, with the prospect of only one returning this season. Samu Manoa and Chris Biller are playing professionally in England, Folau Niua is expected to be announced as one of the USA 7s team players under contract at the Olympic Training Center, former captain Danny LaPrevotte is taking a break from rugby, and Mile Pulu is injured.
But the Bay Area club is also welcoming some new recruits. Reports have a couple of Cal grads about to join the club. Already Notre Dame All American lock Nick Civetta is on board. He will have big shoes to fill in Manoa and LaPrevotte, and will be brought along carefully.
Former BYU All American and BYU captain played for SFGG last fall and while he hasn’t CIPP’d by the club, he’s not with anyone else, either. And it’s unclear if the halfback combination of Mose Timoteo and Volney Rouse will be playing. This trip will certainly be an opportunity for the club to blood some younger players, and see where they are in their rebuilding phase.
Vets like Hector Quiles and Tevita Okusi should be suiting up for SFGG.
OMBAC, too, has made a lot of changes, and are bringing in a lot of young players. Former All American flanker Joe Fontana will captain the squad while former SFGG player Damien Fatongia is expected to play flyhalf.
Some new faces include Martin Knoetze, Jr., a 19-year-old who has made the move to the USA from South Africa and whose father, Martin Sr., was a longtime Currie Cup flyhalf. Oddly, Knoetze spent his youth playing soccer.
Taylor Lanigan, a former defensive back with Murray State, and who shares an agent with USA 7s player Miles Craigwell, is at OMBAC and learning rugby.
The players new to the sport will have new additions Andy Gates and Lee Miller, both Leicester Academy vets, to lean on. OMBAC regulars Chris Clever, Ethan Willis and Brendan Purcell are expected back. OMBAC will also be breaking in their new Head Coach, former Boston head man Eugene Mountjoy.
This is clearly going to be a friendly. There are no trophies at stake. But it’s a crucial first step for both teams as they look toward the all-too-soon season.
Kickoff is Saturday 3pm at the Little Q in San Diego.