The Birth of Modesto’s Rugby Movement
By Noel Daniel
Although she’s no longer spearheading the Modesto Youth Rugby Club, Christina Gein left an indelible mark on sports in our region. In fact, Gein was the one who started rugby in the area—and with a purpose and passion that was rooted in her experience with the sport.
Gein grew up in Modesto with a passion for sports, but only discovered rugby while attending the University of the Pacific. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management, she moved to New Zealand—the “mecca of rugby”—and continued to pursue her newfound love of rugby by coaching and playing in the Waikato region.
“I fell in love with the culture of the sport,” Gein told the Modesto Bee.
“I would love to see as many girls as boys. I think rugby is great for girls because there really aren’t super physical sports for girls. They can play football or wrestle, but they usually have to do it with the boys. It’s different when it’s a team of fellow sisters battling on the field.”
Christina Gein to the Modesto Bee
After spending a year in New Zealand, Gein moved to Uganda for six months where she volunteered with the nonprofit Gainline Africa. While there, she worked to empower the youth through rugby, strengthening and growing their rugby programs in northern Uganda.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2016 that Gein returned to California and started to grow rugby in her hometown. It was then that the Modesto Youth Rugby Club was born. Gein figured there was no better place to start, as someone who wasn’t much for big cities. But in order to build her team, she needed to start a grassroots system and reach out to her target demographic through word of mouth.
Gein gathered email addresses at her gym, curated social media pages, and printed 400 flyers that she then tucked into doors. The group was established and has grown since then—and although it’s changed hands, the Modesto Youth Rugby Club still exists. And we can’t wait to see it grow even more.
“I would love to see as many girls as boys,” Gein told the Modesto Bee. “I think rugby is great for girls because there really aren’t super physical sports for girls. They can play football or wrestle, but they usually have to do it with the boys. It’s different when it’s a team of fellow sisters battling on the field.”
In terms of Gein’s other dreams for the club, she hopes that the Modesto Rugby Club teams will find competition in Sacramento, Fresno, and the Bay Area.
For more information about rugby in the area, visit www.RugbyNorCal.org.