Friday, August 7, 2015

Dayton Player Takes Time to Improve in New Zealand

One of the best parts of the rugby lifestyle is the opportunity to travel abroad while playing. Most times, players will get to travel extensively in their home country while others are lucky enough to spend some time in a foreign country. Zachary Tracey is only six years into his rugby career and took some time to sharpen his skills in New Zealand thanks to an opportunity given to him by his coach.

"I went over to New Zealand to become a better rugby player," he said. "The All Blacks are the best team internationally, and rugby over there is a national sport, so I wanted to learn from the best to become the best player I could possibly become."


Tracey played the first years of his rugby career in the Dayton area. Before heading to New Zealand, he played for the Springfield Reapers in high school and the Dayton Area Rugby Club after that. Tracey's father, Matt Tracey, played a heavy role in his initial experience with the sport. After his first year of playing, Matt created the Springfield Reapers and lack of experience made the inaugural season rather rough. After that, business picked up for Tracey and the Reapers. He was named Captain of the team and went to the Division II State Championship and got runner-up honors.

"I also made the Ohio Elite Rugby Team that went to Pittsburgh," Tracey said. "My senior year I was still Captain and I led my team all the way to state semifinals. Unfortunately, we lost in the semifinals but I had a great senior year."

Tracey also scored the most tries in his team's division and made the Ohio Elite team for a second year. After graduating he joined the Dayton Area Rugby Club and played a season alongside his father and a number of the people he grew up with.

While he was in New Zealand, Tracey played for the Stratford Under 21s and became immersed in the sport as it permeated every aspect of the culture. During his time living and playing abroad, Tracey took advantage of the knowledge and experience of the people around him.

"After being over there I feel like my scrumming has improved so much more and I see holes and gaps in the defense that I may not have seen before," he said.

Zach Tracey attacking the line with the Springfield Reapers
(via Facebook)
Though Tracey's time in New Zealand is through, he leaves having had some success with his team. According to Tracey, he was able to put up two tries during his time with Stratford and was able to get to the semifinals of their league as well. Tracey's time overseas only strengthened his love for rugby, and he plans to be back on the field as soon as possible, spreading some of the knowledge he gained.

"I love the sport and the only way I wouldn't be playing is if I was injured," he said. "I have seen many fitness and skill drills that I am going to help implement in the spring when I help coach at the high school level."

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