Rugby Flyhalf Tries Foot at Kicking

BERKELEY -- How did Cal rugged Harry Adolphus get hooked up with the Cal football team? Turns out former Bear Giorgio Tavecchio had something to do with the international experiment.

BERKELEY -- The day before Giorgio Tavecchio took the field as California’s starting kicker for the 2008 opener against Michigan State, then-head coach Jeff Tedford didn’t even know his name.

Tavecchio – after a sparkling career with the Bears and a few stints in NFL camps – has begun to train a new kicker for his alma mater over the past four months, and was on-hand on Wednesday as Cal resumed spring practice with yet another new face, and – wouldn’t you know it? – the Bears’ current head coach forgot his name.

“I don’t have any idea what his name is,” laughed Sonny Dykes.

Tavecchio’s protégé is, like Tavecchio, an international addition, hailing from London, England. Tavecchio joked that this new leg – rugby flyhalf/outside center Harry Adolphus -- is a transfer from Hogwarts.

Adophus worked at punting, as well as kickoff duties, and Tavecchio – ever the technician – offered that Adolphus was rushing a bit. He does have a good leg, and when he's smooth, he can crush it, said the former Cal kicker.

“I think punting comes more naturally,” Adolphus said. “I don’t have the consistency to be up there with some of the kickers on the team. It is similar [to the rugby motion].”

Adolphus was key to the Cal ruggers’ 27-20 win over Saint Mary’s this past weekend, kicking and capturing a ball to feed Andrew Battaglia for the go-ahead try, and then hitting a 37-yard kick to seal the win.

“It’s got a bit of a bigger sweet spot,” smiled the Brit.

As for how his sojourn to the gridiron came about, Adolphus gave the credit to Tavecchio.

“Giorgio did it for me, put me in touch with coach [Mark] Tommerdahl, and we had some discussions,” said Adolphus, a native of southwest London – Guilford, to be exact. “Giorgio’s just a friend of mine. He’s known some of the guys on the team for a while, and he’s always in the gym and things, so I just got to know him like that.”

Late last year, Adolphus asked Tavecchio if he could work out with him on the field, and try his hand at this American football business.

“I just sent him a text and said it would be very interesting to come out and see the difference in styles, and see what it was like,” said Adolphus.

Four months later, and the little bird was allowed to leave the nest.

“I wouldn’t say I’m quite ready to go, but let’s give it a go,” he said.

What made the match a good one? Well, like any good baseball man, Dykes is fond of having a southpaw in the bullpen, as it were.

“He’s been out here kicking a little bit, but we’ll see what he can do,” Dykes said. “He’s a pretty unique guy, a left-footed rugby player that has a different style of punting that might give us a little something different than what we’ve got. Left-footed guys are different. The ball does a lot of different things off their foot, so as a result, it’s a lot more difficult to catch, sometimes, and can kind of help you out in turnovers.”

Adolphus is “certainly” still staying with rugby, because, after all, “that’s what I’m here to do,” but this is “a little adventure.”

“I love it,” Adolphus said. “It’s a very different atmosphere from the rugby team, but it’s good.”

At the very least, it’s much less hitting than he’s used to, but he can make a tackle, when necessary.

“If it gets to that point,” he laughed. “Hopefully, it doesn’t.”

Adolphus will be with the football team for the rest of spring practice, but will also be doing rugby in the mornings.

“We’ve got the build-up, because we’re in playoffs now,” said Adolphus. “Our last regular-season game against Saint Mary’s was this weekend, then we’ve got either Texas or Notre Dame the following Saturday, and if we win that, we’ve got Arkansas State at home, and then BYU in the final. The last two years, we’ve lost to BYU in the same game, so we’re all on the same route.”

Adolphus is majoring in Interdisciplinary Field Studies, concentrating on film and business. Top Stories