Atlanta, Georgia – This week, on ‘The RATL Roundup,’ Rugby ATL had on some of the earliest members of the franchise, in Sam Peri, Samuel Chaney, and Eamonn Matthews. A little over a year ago, each man dropped what he was doing at the time for a shot at becoming a professional athlete in the MLR, joining Rugby ATL for the fall development season with the 404.
Eamonn left his home in New Jersey, after a foundational rugby experience at the illustrious Xavier High School of New York, and a college career as the star scrumhalf at St. Bonaventure University, represented the United States at the Under 20 level and captained his university side for his final two years of school. Through his coach, Eamonn got in touch with Coach Scott Lawrence, and after a visit in April of 2019, he committed to coming down to Atlanta for the fall development season.
Sam Peri came to Atlanta’s rugby scene after establishing himself as a lock and back rower with Lamorinda Rugby Club and making the high school All-Americans, before playing for the University of Arizona Wildcats, San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club, and most notably the San Diego Legion. Picking up the game at ten years old, Sam’s let the game lead him along his life path, motivating him to develop into his best self as a person and a player. When Sam finished his college career, high caliber west coast teams like the San Diego Legion of the MLR and San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club of the Pacific Rugby Premiership were lucky to take on a player of his pedigree, but when the chance came to challenge himself once again by joining the 404 and playing with Rugby ATL.
Samuel Chaney came to Rugby ATL with a different story than the two city-based rugby players who sat next to him. Raised in West Helena, Arkansas, “Rev” grew up in a community centered around football and faith. Samuel first began playing the game of rugby at college in Ohio, about seven years ago. Schooled in theology, and rotating through a couple of universities, “Rev” played in the front row for Cedarville University, the University of Arkansas, John Brown University, and following school for the Little Rock Stormers, and the Stars Selects on tours to play Lindenwood, Dallas, and the NOLA Gold. Sitting out on a Samoan beach, Sam had to cut his house-building mission trip short to try out for Rugby ATL with the 404.
As three men who came together in confluence here at Rugby ATL, each admitted that this experience has been a source of pronounced growth for them, attributing it to the wealth of knowledge around the facility, the culture around the organization, and the resource of the community. Giving themselves to the structure of professional rugby in Atlanta, these men are a testament to the willpower necessary for American rugby players to continue to rise through the ranks of their environments and #PushthePACE.