A few weeks ago we featured 17 year old Ryan James, Jr of San Diego, who had been one of four California players selected to join the Glendale Merlin's U-20 team (Academy squad). Ryan James is 6'1 and 175-lbs... still 17 years old.
This past weekend James made his first appearance for the program at the RugbyTown 7s . Just two-weeks into his U-20s Elite Development Program/Academy under the Glendale Merlin's Head Coach David Synott, Ryan was given the opportunity not only by his Coach David Synott, but by the Major League Rugby (MLR) Glendale Raptors Coach Dave Williams to join the Glendale 7s side that appeared in the RugbyTown 7s this past weekend. This is the tournament that included Fiji's National team, current and former Eagles, Tiger Rugby, the legend Waisale Serevi and the USA Rugby All Americans to name a few.
Upon learning of her 17 year old son's debut into the world of Men's 7s pugby James' mum anxiously, with mixed feelings returned to Glendale, CO this past weekend to witness with her own eyes her son's performance among men! James was no longer a high schooler of a U-18s or even U-20s side... but was playing among Men!
Sonya James (Ryan's mum) provided us with a full update. On day one of three, during Glendale's second game of the day the Glendale Merlins faced Negro Y Azul (a team from Texas). In that game Ryan was lifted by Justin Pauga (this was the first time Ryan James had ever been lifted) to catch the ball at kick-off, once Ryan's feet landed, touching the ground safely he took off like he does in Ryan James style with speed ... with that he made his first try in a Men's Division 7s tournament. He's 17! He scored a try in a top level men's seven tournament on this first touch. Sonya says she knew then, "my motherly/parental fears or doubts had to go ... it was evident to me at that very moment that although still 17, 18 next month mind you ... that I had to let go of the boy I once knew as my son; and let him go become the man of the sport of rugby he is becoming". It was a huge and great weekend for James, and a roller-coaster of emotions for his mother.
Sonya said "Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of my son and likewise even more grateful for the leadership and rugby coaching staff Ryan has had in his corner from day one. Club Coach of Aztec Warriors Patrick Schustere U12s - U18s; SoCal EIRA Coach Jeff Bonnett and Cameron Frater, (all four years of High School 2013 - 2017) and likewise High School All American Coach, Coach Salty Thompson 2013 - 2017; as well and special mention of NIKE Rugby Summer Camps with Coach Ethan Willis and Ian Denham from 2011-2017". However, that weekend was extra special for Sonya and Ryan James as it was a culmination of all those other years of playing. James' mum acknowledge that her son would not be the type of rugby athlete he is today if it were not for all those Coaches and Elite Rugby programs/organizations who have been involved with him over the years.
Just before joining Glendale, James was playing with the EIRA team in a tournament in Utah. As part of the that EIRA's teams' performance in Utah (back on Aug. 3-5th) James and three other EIRA athletes (Patrick Madden, Eric Naposki and Jack Bradfield) have been invited to be part of a 12 man team to represent Team USA U-19s in Dubai this November 27 - December 4th.
You can check out video coverage of James' first try at the RugbyTown Seven's this past weekend; and if you want to see more of James' action for yourself checkout the videos at infinityparkatglendale.com and even the rugbychannel.com. Look for Day 2-Match 36. Its theCayman Islands. vs Glendale Merlins. That was the only game the Merlins won throughout the entire tournament and James scored a hat-trick (3-tries) and a conversion.
We want to say thank you to Sonya James for providing us with a follow up to Ryan James' debut. We though this was necessary to share with you all, so you can understand why we featured him earlier this month and why you need to know who is Ryan James. Ryan James...know that name!