UCR's Kent Currie talks to Blazej Kesy of Harvard

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Blazej Kesy has been one of the star players for Harvard this season. Playing with the added responsibility of captaining the team, he has stepped up to the plate and taken his game to a new level. I have the fortune of coaching Blazej and I've watched him develop into a quality rugby player.

I hope he stays in the game after he graduates next year. I believe American rugby needs the Blazej Kesy's of the College Rugby scene to keep an interest and to be encouraged to make a contribution to the development of the game in this country.

He's modest by nature, but I managed to persuade him to talk to UCR and get his thoughts on rugby.

Kent Currie: Hey Blazej do you have a minute?
Blazej Kesy: Yeah, but wait until I get my breath back.

KC: Sure, I don't have all day though.
BK: You can talk

KC: I just want you to answer some questions so I can put you on UCR
BK: Yeah sure, but only if you ask the questions using proper English - not Kiwi English

KC: Okay, we'll see.

KC: How long have you been playing rugby?
BK: I have been playing rugby for 3 years, ever since I matriculated at Harvard.

KC: What influenced you to start playing rugby?
BK: I played some hockey in high school and one day I was hanging out at the park with some people when a friend of mine, who had just returned from a trip to Ireland, showed up with a rugby ball and taught us how to play. The problem was that we were in a semi-wooded area and I got thrown face first into a tree. I'm sure it probably sounds insane or masochistic, but I fell in love with the game at that moment of my very first concussion, and I made sure that every college I applied had a rugby team.

KC: What are the best things about playing rugby?
BK: The friendships you develop with your teammates are the closest and strongest that I've ever encountered in any organized sport.

That's because it's not just a game of brute strength, or following orders, it's actually a game of finesse and free thinking. Your coaches can drill you all week, but come Saturday it's just the 15 of you out on that field together for 80 minutes, and if you don't trust the guys standing next to you, and if you don't fully believe that they will do everything in their power to support you and protect you, then it can be longest and most painful 80 minutes of your life.

KC: Do you think you will continue playing rugby once you have finished college?
BK: I hope that my passion for the game never dwindles and that I will continue to play rugby until I reach a ripe, old age. These last few years at Harvard a lot of us have made phenomenal rugby contacts in the southern hemisphere and it would be an amazing experience to gain employment in Australia and to get a chance to play or maybe even coach some rugby in a country that is really passionate about the game. That is, if I can even make the cut.

KC: Who have been the biggest influences in your career?
BK: My teammates have by far been the biggest influences on my rugby career. Guys like Josh Copp and Jean-Sebastien Cagnioncle have this amazing rugby work ethic and drive. During fitness drills, and in games, when you can barely breathe and you feel like your veins are pumping battery acid, you just look at these guys who play the game seemingly tirelessly and it inspires you to demand more from yourself as a player.
Also, Steve Mott, an HRFC alumni, gave me the best advice I've ever received as a forward's captain, \"It is a widely known, but mostly underestimated fact that you will go hard for people you love, and far less so for people you respect.\" I think that more than anything else, I've tried to model my career around this advice, and I truly hope that I've succeeded.

KC: What's your opinion on the state of American rugby?
BK: I have this dream of sitting in the living room of my house, 15 years into the future, with my son in my lap, watching international rugby being played on network television in the United States. But I don't think that this dream will ever come to fruition until US rugby reorganizes itself into a centralized institution. Many people complain that rugby in this country is played by \"meatheads,\" or that it has developed too close of an association with binge-drinking. And while I agree that at the college level teams need to behave more responsibly, I fundamentally believe that we are potentially on the cusp of a new rugby generation and a new opportunity. I did not have the benefit of growing up in a rugby household. I was born in Poland, so I was raised on soccer and boxing. But relatively soon, an entire generation of my peers and teammates will want to raise their children to love and play rugby, and there will be a great demand for a sport for which there is currently very little supply in this country. The future of rugby is not at Harvard, or Berkley, or Army, it's with 7 year old kids who just want to learn and play a fun game. It will be the task of USA rugby to organize itself successfully and cohesively enough to provide these kids with the opportunity and the facilities to do so. From there, the options are endless.

KC: Would you like to represent the USA Eagles at any stage?
BK: I don't think I'd ever be able to devote enough time to the intensive training that it would take to get me up to that level of play. But if given the opportunity to prove myself, I would definitely give it my best shot.

KC: Thanks for sharing your thoughts Blazej, but can you get to training on time tomorrow?
BK: No problem, yeah right you should fix your watch!

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