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Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, meets with members of the Marine Corps Rugby team and their coach at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 13. Toolan presented the teammates with coins to recognize the player's hard work.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Anna Albrecht

I MEF commanding general visits Marine Corps Rugby Team

20 Sep 2013 | Lance Cpl. Anna Albrecht

The commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, recognized the skill and talent of the Marine Corps Rugby team during a coin presentation at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 13.

The Marines played against the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy in Glendale, Colo., Aug. 12-19 at the Serevi Tournament.  The winning teams competed against other international teams attending the tournament. The Marine’s team was unable to defend their winning title against the Air Force, who won 33-5.

Lt. Gen. John Toolan, a former rugby player himself, has a thorough understanding of the hard work that goes into the sport.  

“I think this sport is right up the Marine’s alley,” Toolan said. “We’re a small organization. We’re tough. We don’t necessarily like to go right into the lion’s mouth, we like to punch him in the mouth and go around it.”

Of the 12 Marine athletes on the team, eight of them are from I MEF. 

Last year, the Marine Corps Rugby team won the Serevi RugbyTown Sevens Tournament 33-31, for the first time in 20 years over an eight-year undefeated Air Force team. 

Cpl. Joshua Barry, a Marine Corps Rugby team member said the team took big steps over the last two years, especially with the manager and head coach of the Olympic team, Maj. Thomas Wagner and Matt Hawkins, coaching them along the way. 

The Marine Corps Rugby team provides the opportunity for players to get involved in the rugby community. 

“My personal goal is to make it on the Olympic team,” Barry said. “And if I make it to that it’s going to be here that I got my start really playing.“

Several Marines play on local teams to improve their skills until the team competes in another tournament.