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PADECKY: Football's loss is rugby's gain

Stephen Tomasin began May 31 like most Fridays he thought he would experience this summer. Tomasin, a former Cardinal Newman football star, had just finished his freshman year at San Diego State, where he played rugby for the Aztecs and earned a 2.8 GPA in school.

It was to be a good Friday, a nice, low-stress Friday, the kind of day college kids have in the summer when the anvil of class is not resting on their shoulders.

"I had no idea it was coming," said Tomasin about the events to follow.

When Tomasin arrived back at his San Diego house that night there was a message on his landline waiting for him.

"Stephen, the USA All-American team manager called and left me a message," said his mom, Shelly. "I don't know much about it except it has something to do with rugby and he wants you to call him."

Tuesday night, 11 days later, Tomasin took off from San Francisco International Airport for a 14-hour flight to New Zealand. After undergoing and passing a rigorous three-day selection process, Tomasin is a member of the USA Rugby Men's Collegiate All-Americans. Tomasin and 27 others are representing the United States in a three-match tour against universities in New Zealand, the first match being today against Massey University in Palmerston North.

The past two weeks for Tomasin have moved faster than pizza at a kindergarten class. He is still trying to get his mind around it.

"It's crazy," said the North Bay League's football most valuable player in 2011. "It's been a roller coaster. I'm very lucky."

Tomasin is the only freshman on the team.

He began playing rugby in February 2012.


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