Rugby Stories ... and Other Misadventures
By David Stephenson
Reviewed by Stu Krohn
Former Eagle wing Dave Stephenson has recently published his rugby memoir:
Rugby Stories…. and other misadventures.
It can be purchased online at:
Dave Stephenson’s book focuses on the early days of the Santa Monica Rugby Club in California. This period coincided with the resurgence of the US National Team, the Eagles, a side that Dave and many of the Santa Monica originals populated.
I read Dave’s 149 page book in two sittings. Dave has an easy style, making it feel like somebody is telling their life story while you sit by a fire.
The story begins in England, where Dave grew up. We follow his early introduction to rugby at Dulwich College. There, as a scholarship student, Dave's natural speed, creativity, and ball playing ability made him a rugby stand out.
When he was a teenager in the early 60s, Dave's family moved to Inglewood, California. The description of LA at that time is worth the read from a historical perspective.
In between, there was another family move to Darwin, Australia, as his dad tried his luck, wherever he could, to secure work. The family then moved back to LA when things didn't pan out. These moves weren’t easy on the family or Dave.
Following graduation from high school, Dave was accepted into Georgetown University. Unable to attend for financial reasons, Dave stayed home and commuted to UCLA.
It was at UCLA where Dave’s rugby career took off. The team included a band of current UCLA football players who, at that time, were encouraged to play rugby to stay in shape It also included several expats who already knew the game, including Bobby Thrussell, and future Santa Monica coach, Ron Nisbet.
Former UCLA players went on to form the Santa Monica RFC in 1972 and Dave and his merry band were a dominant force in US rugby through the 1970s. Many of them were selected on to the US National Team and the California Cougars. They were rock stars wherever they went and partied like it. They played the best teams in Australia and the UK, beating many of them.
While commitment to rugby came naturally to Dave, commitments to other areas of his life were a work in process. These areas evolved after injury forced Dave's rugby retirement.
At that point his pursuits in teaching, photography, business, and romance became more focused. But, like most of us, Dave continued to fight battles. His battles were mostly internal, likely a result of his childhood, and at the end we get to know somebody who has finally come to terms with who he is.