The chance for two local Los Angeles’ rugby players to sit on the bench for the Giltinis is exactly the pathway the club wants to create.
Backrower Cyrille Cama, 20 and scrumhalf Dylan James, 22, have been granted short-term call-ups for Saturday’s game on the road against Utah Warriors.
For James (above), it’s what the Santa Monica Dolphins’ player has been striving for after playing four times with the Giltinis Academy squad.
“I was at work minding my own business on Monday when I got the phone call. It’s pretty wild because I’ve been dreaming of this since I was little kid,” James said.
His Santa Monica teammates will be proud. When he was asked to introduce himself in front of seasoned internationals and Major League Rugby regulars, he told them he was from the Dolphins and promptly blurted out a dolphin sound.
Cama (pictured below) feels an equal thrill having committed to the Rhinos Rugby Academy in Sacramento to forge this sort of chance.
The athletic Fijian-born backrower is a USA Eagles Under-20s selection.
“At the Academy, I’m around rugby all the time. It’s helped me develop my skills and fitness,” said Cama, who acts as an assistant coach for rugby and strength & conditioning.
“I’ve trained with the Giltinis a few times this week. It’s a learning environment at a very fast, physical pace and (backrower) Pago Haini has been very helpful.”
Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman is delighted that the club’s foundation aim to develop local players is paying off.
“We’re seeing the exact potential of our program to bring on local Californian players,” Coleman said.
“Cyrille has good skills, he’s tough and plays well on the ball. He’s a young kid we have our eyes on.
“Dylan is fast, evasive, tackles like a little warrior and is another good story.”
Rhinos Rugby Academy Chief Executive Andreea Trufasu expressed her delight that Cama has been recognised.
“Our coaches, staff, players and student-athletes are proud of Cyrille, a Los Angeles native, earning this opportunity with the Giltinis,” Trufasu said.
“Cyrille has been part of the Rhinos for five years, progressing from the Academy to the High-Performance Residence Program and the Rhinos Tens Pro Team.
“We and his family are very proud of his journey of finding his pathway in rugby, college and life and his values as a person.
“He is also respected as a youth rugby coach and mentor to others.
“Thank you to the LA Giltinis for giving Cyrille a first chance and investing in Los Angeles talent.”
The LA Giltinis face the Utah Warriors on the road at Zions Bank Stadium on Saturday from 5pm (PT).
The match will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network in USA and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.