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Anthem RC's Captain Jake Turnbull Ahead of LA

May 18, 2024 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Rugby FC Los Angeles News Release

Anthem RC captain Jake Turnbull hopes that this weekend's match with RFCLA will yield his team's first-ever win.

Hosting the California team at American Legion Memorial Stadium in front of the FS2 cameras on Saturday night, after ten winless games in their debut season, there is hope that 11th time is the charm for Turnbull and his teammates.

LA comes to the East Coast fresh from a 29-26 win over the Dallas Jackals in Week 11. It will certainly be a challenge for an Anthem team that has improved with every game.

"We have had this week marked on our calendar for a while after our bye week three rounds ago," Turnbull said.

"We had a player-only meeting, had some goal setting, and this is the game we were looking most forward to.

"We want to throw the kitchen sink at it. We want to come away with a win.

"I think we can do it. We have had a good week of training, but we need to put the pressure on ourselves to be like, 'Okay, if we are going to get a win, this is the one we are aiming for'.

"We are really excited for this game, and we spoke about the importance of pressure and how pressure is a privilege.

"I am really looking forward to this game; I think it is going to be a cracker."


It was in January that the establishment of Anthem was announced.

The team is part of a groundbreaking partnership between MLR, USA Rugby, and World Rugby, and it is focused on developing players for the Eagles.

Turnbull was the first player to sign for the North Carolina club.

While speaking with an Australian accent, the 30-year-old's links are firmly in the USA. His mother, Suzy, hails from Miami, Florida, while his father, Ross, who represented Australia in the 1960s, nurtured his love for rugby.

After splitting his time between Sydney, New South Wales, and North America for much of his childhood, the loosehead prop classes himself as American and is proud to lead Anthem in their inaugural campaign.

"For me, I love USA Rugby," Turnbull said. "USA Rugby has given me so much.

"It has given me the ability to play rugby full-time, meet amazing people, and become a better person.

"To wear the red, white, and blue means everything to me. When this opportunity came, I liked the concept and wanted to start something fresh that would serve the purpose of bettering the USA Eagles. It was a no-brainer for me.

"I jumped right into it, and I love it. To be part of something that I think in a few years will be special.

"It has been tough, but it is something I have loved. It has made me a better person and made me a better rugby player."

While Anthem is still on the hunt for a first win, their season has not been without positives.

Numerous players have been selected for the RTIC First XV of the Week and there have been numerous memorable tries scored by the likes of Junior Gafa, as the club has developed in a short space of time.

"What we wanted to develop was a love for the jersey, a pride for the jersey," Turnbull said.

"There would be times that we are going to get beaten on skill, but making sure that we never get beaten on effort and desire.

"A lot of it comes off-field, with just doing stuff together. The cool thing is we live pretty much in the same apartment block.

"Everyone is going off and having dinners with one another, linking up at the pool and having barbecues together.

"It might sound insignificant, but it adds up.

"Boys are constantly around each other and living in each other's pockets, and that just shows."


Already, Anthem is seeing rewards for their hard work.

In Scott Lawrence's extended player squad for the USA Rugby men's national team, three players from North Carolina have been selected.

Turnbull is among the cohort, as is scrum-half Conor McManus, while Lucas Gramlick has catapulted himself into Test match contention with impressive performances.

A former offensive lineman for UCLA and the Charlotte 49ers, the 6'8" lock forward has been earmarked as a potential Eagle for the years to come.

"It is huge to see that it has paid off, and to see three of us getting picked is massive," Turnbull said.

"It shows that it can work. Some guys probably wouldn't have played a lot of footy this year but have done so well.

"Their trajectory has gone through the roof because they have been given that game time.

"In other clubs, they probably wouldn't have developed as much because if you are not making the 23, you aren't playing that weekend.

"Here they are getting these perfect opportunities that they have taken with both hands and developed a lot quicker than anyone else thought they would have."

Written by JOE HARVEY

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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