Scott LaValla ran on with 20 minutes to go to help Stade Francais beat Castres 38-21 in French Top 14 action Saturday.
LaValla is still basking in the good feelings of extending his contract with the club from one year to three years.
“I’m just delighted that I had enough opportunities to kind of prove what I could do,” LaValla told RUGBYMag.com, adding that being able to start early in the season while French players were still at the World Cup was a big factor in his showing coaches his abilities.
LaValla has been playing a lot of lock but most think of him as more of a back row.
“I am playing more back row; at the end of the day I’m not going to get any taller and today most second rows are three or four inches taller than I am,” he said.
LaValla ran on at blindside flanker on Saturday, replacing David Lyons in the 60th minute.
It’s a long way from Olympia, Wash., where LaValla got his start with the Budd Bay Rugby Club U19 program before going on to captain the USA U19s, U20s, and Dublin University, to Paris, the City of Light.
“It’s cool,” said LaValla of his new home. “I wanted something different and a bit challenging and I found it. I’ve never had to learn a foreign language before. I took Spanish in high school but this is completely different.”
LaValla said he is picking up the French well enough. He works at it every day. There are several players from English-speaking countries on the club, and same with the coaches, and for a while all instructions were presented in French and English. But as the season has progressed, players are expected to follow instructions in French, and only get a translation if they ask for it.
“You can either choose to work on it every day or not,” said LaValla. “When you do it becomes a lot better. I can talk to people now. You can’t take it for granted that when you go out or ask for food that you can communicate with people.”