Houston Chronicle article and photos of Eagle training session

The following was taken from the Houston Chronicle Online version @ www.chron.com:

http://www.chron.com/sports/photogallery/US_rugby_camp.html#21110018

U.S. rugby team might have a local flair
A&M’s Leland in training camp, hoping to land spot on squad
By JASON MCDANIEL
For the Chronicle
April 3, 2010, 8:50PM
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Bob Levey For The Chronicle
Katy native Hunter Leyland has been practicing with the national team in preparations for the Churchill Cup.

Share Print Share Del.icio.usDiggTwitterYahoo! BuzzFacebookStumbleUpon• Photos from training camp at Strake Jesuit

Katy native Hunter Leland could have quit. Rugby’s a rugged sport, and no one would have blamed him.

In fact, several people, including some of his Texas A&M professors, encouraged him to find something else to do after he tore his ACL two years ago and the labrum in his shoulder last year.

But Leland never considered it, and now the 22-year-old back is finally suiting up for the Aggies — who are making a run to the national tournament — and being considered for the U.S. men’s national rugby team.

Paying dividends:
“I put a lot of hard work into rehab, and it’s been tedious, but it’s finally paying off,” Leland said.

The U.S. Eagles are holding their first training camp this weekend at Strake Jesuit High School in preparation for the Churchill Cup in June, and Leland is one of 35 players invited to attend.

They’ll hold one more camp in May at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and if Leland makes the cut, he’ll join them for the Churchill Cup and possibly the Rugby World Cup.

“This is a big achievement for me to make it to training camp just because I’ve been playing rugby a long time and I’ve always said, ‘Oh, that’d be cool to play on the men’s team,’ ” Leland said.

Making the weekend even more special, the camp is in the 2006 Cinco Ranch graduate’s hometown, just a short drive from College Station.

“A lot of my teammates are from Houston, and they said they’d all come out, so I’ll have a fan club I guess,” he said.

His A&M coaches are fans, too. They encouraged him to jump at this opportunity despite an important week coming up for the Aggies.

How sweet it is:
Last week, Texas A&M beat Colorado State and rival LSU (20-14) to win the Western championship for the first time and take its highest seed ever to the Sweet 16 on April 17 at Atlanta.

The Aggies did it with Leland, who was making his first appearance with the team’s first side .

“It was one of the best feelings I’ve had as a rugby player,” Leland said. “The A&M girls team was playing right next to us for their championship, and we both won it, so they all ran over and we all gave each other hugs. It was a cool moment for A&M rugby as a whole.”

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