From Mustangs to Dons, rugby roots fuel Legion teammates
There is wind and rain in a place known for sun and fun. And with no fancy stage to set up interviews, Aaron Mitchell’s staging area…is the extended roofing of the outhouse.
“It’ll get us ready for Seattle,” the six foot two heavyweight chuckles.
The wet weather must have worked, as his San Diego Legion upset the defending champions inside Torero Stadium. It’s testament to a reworked lineup from coach Rob Hoadley, and the dedication of fellows like Mitchell.
When it comes to how the Legion will find more fuel as the years go by in a league that continues to expand, the best resource is the closest one. San Diego’s rugby scene is vibrant, from youth clubs to school teams, all the way up to adult leagues.
But for Aaron Mitchell and Drew Gaffney, their path has been the same since childhood. San Diego Mustangs at the start. Cathedral for high school play. And now, rugby in San Diego again as professionals.
“It’s a great sport and San Diego’s a great club,” Gaffney said. “It means the world to come back and play sports for my hometown.”
Fans of the Prep Pigskin Report will recognize both players. Gaffney was a tight end on the Dons football team, while Mitchell is a member of Shack’s Pig Pen for elite lineman. Only Mitchell played football in college, starting 38 games for Fresno State. Gaffney would keep playing rugby for Cal.
When Major League Rugby announced it would come to San Diego for the 2018, the kids that met and played in red in for two different clubs would reunite once more.
“It’s full circle for me,” Mitchell said. “People always asked me if I liked rugby more…my answer was that I loved them both, but rugby holds dearest to my heart.”