JACKALS READY TO BOUNCE BACK
“I have really good memories over there [in Utah].”
Jackals wing James Vaifale said over a Zoom call earlier this week.
Vaifale is one of three former Utah Warriors who joined the Dallas Jackals via trade or free agency in the offseason.
Carson Shoemaker and Danny Christensen also have connections to the Beehive State.
“I’m pretty excited to face off against boys I used to play with. That’s always pretty fun and show that I do belong on the field with them,” Shoemaker explained.
“It was cool experience. I basically worked my way up from the local rugby guy to playing pro,” Christensen reflected.
Christensen joined Utah’s academy program before ultimately reaching MLR heights.
Vaifale, Shoemaker, and Christensen have come to enjoy life in the DFW after exchanging the red and black for the Pack green. Like many playing in Major League Rugby, they have friends on other teams.
“The [rugby] community is small so everyone pretty much knows each other,” Vaifale said.
“A lot of those guys to this day are still some of my best friends… I have three or four of them who go to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner and eat with the family.” Christensen stated.
With a wide smile, Christensen added, “It’s always fun to go out and throw a shoulder into some of my good buddies.”
These sides last met in Round Two on a cloudy day in Utah with snow piles outlining the edge of the pitch. The match, despite the final score, went back and forth. The Jackals gained momentum toward the end, punctuated by back to back tries from wing Eric Naposki.
Dallas is excited to return to action after last Saturday’s shortened affair.
“Two or three times [officials] came in the locker room and said we’re going on the field in 10 minutes or 20 minutes before the [head referee] finally walked in and told us the game was called,” Shoemaker recalled.
“[We’re] Pretty upset from last weekend, but that gives us more fire for this weekend,” Vaifale admitted.
“One of the big things is just putting our foot down and keeping our foot down,” Christensen said. “Nobody wants to play a 40 minute game. At the end of the day we lost the game.”
“It doesn’t matter if you lose a game in the 79th minute, the 40th minute, the 45th, the 50th, the 27th, it doesn’t matter. It’s about keeping our foot to the pedal.”
Christensen, one of the older mates in the locker room, put on a clinic when Utah visited Choctaw Stadium last season. The problem is he did it as a member of the Warriors.
“The last time the Utah Warriors were at Choctaw I scored three tries so I’m feeling pretty good about it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for another hat trick.”
Perhaps Christensen will put on another show, or Shoemaker will prove those who doubted him wrong, or Vaifale will display his Jackal-like speed.
Come see the Dallas Jackals this Saturday to find out. Match will officially begin at 5:05 pm (CT). Get your tickets today!
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