How a movie turned a family into a Memphis rugby dynasty
Source: Ethan Scott
Ethan Scott never heard of rugby. Then, one day his dad and older brother, Jacob, told him about the coolest sport they had seen while watching the movie Forever Strong.
"I thought they were talking about lacrosse," he told MLR Tennessee in a recent interview.
Little did he know that this movie would change the trajectory of his athletic career. From this, Scott and his brothers have turned into a powerful rugby trio that played at the University Memphis, and Scott himself being drafted into Major League Rugby (MLR).
Here is his story.
Starting Out in Memphis
While Scott thought his dad and Jacob were talking about lacrosse from the movie they saw, he decided to watch it for himself. "When I saw the film," he said. "I thought to myself, 'Wow. I want to play a contact sport.'"
Growing up in Memphis, Scott was always a baseball player, even though he wanted to play football. Baseball was more accessible to him since he was homeschooled and football was too expensive. Once he saw Forever Strong, he became more curious about rugby.
He began watching the Memphis Blues, the local men's club, with his dad and brothers. They loved the action. With a rugby ball birthday gift, Scott and his brother started to throw it around on the sidelines at the Blues' matches. Their attempts attracted coaches trying to start middle school programs in the area. These conversations led Scott to playing organized rugby.
"I quit baseball, and I never looked back once I starting playing rugby," he said.
Scott started playing with Jacob, and the two played throughout middle school and high school. "Having an older brother in the game made me want to push harder," Scott said thinking back. "[Rugby] became a family affair...that's how we connected, and why I invested playing in it."
Playing Collegiate Rugby
While at White Station high school, Jacob was recruited by the University of Memphis to play collegiate rugby. Scott says this is where he got his first chance to be looked at by a university program.
"My brother's accolades turned toward me," he said. "I was his scrumhalf counterpart making a dynamic scrumhalf/flyhalf duo."
Source: Ethan Scott
While the Tigers heavily recruited him, Scott was considering other options including Arkansas State. In the end, Scott said it was an easy decision to attend Memphis. Their rugby team was a place where he wanted to enjoy himself, attend college without student debt, and play with his brother at a higher level. He became the Tigers' starting scrumhalf his Freshman year.
Just like in middle and high school, Scott played with his brothers. Jacob re-enrolled when Scott was a senior so that he could play with Scott, their young brother, and a cousin. Together, they were a formidable line of backs who made the Tiger's strong. They broke the school's record for most points scored in a match and saw the fanbase grow to being the biggest ever.
For Scott, college became the perfect stepping stone to the next step in his athletic career: professional rugby.
Getting Drafted to the Seattle Seawolves
After having a standout year at Memphis, Scott saw an opportunity to throw his name in the MLR Draft. "I was [playing rugby] my whole life," he said about why he applied. "I thought I was good enough to apply, but not to get drafted. It was free, and I didn't expect anyone relevant to take notice of it."
Scott submitted his application and watched the live draft show from his home with his family. A teammate, Calvin Gentry, was locked in with playing for the Dallas Jackals expansion franchise, so Scott wanted to show his support. "I was just watching for entertainment," he said. Little did he know what would happen next.
In the third round, with the 29th pick, the two-time MLR Champion Seattle Seawolves selected Scott. When he saw his name come up on the screen, Scott yelled loudly while his family was in shock. The team reached out shortly after and said that they liked Scott for his extensive playing record and community coaching with Memphis Inner City Rugby.
Scott was now on a path to play professional rugby.
Developing to Be A Professional Athlete
Scott had been selected by the Seawolves and was beloved by the organization, but he faced an issue: the team could not directly sign him to the main squad and they did not have a development team in place. In order to try and make it as a professional, Scott would have to find another squad first.
Through a former college coach, Scott was connected with the Houston Sabercats and their academy squad, Rugby HTX. He eventually made the decision to move to the city and begin training with the team. "I've had a good time and learned a lot from being in the program," he said. "I want to give it a fair shake to see if I can make a breakthrough with the senior side. Since the senior side was so good in 2022, that means there will be more competition for spots, but also more opportunity for development."
Source: Ethan Scott
Scott continues to train and play within Houston's system waiting for the chance to make it to the big stage. He says when Tennessee gets an MLR franchise, he would love to come back and play for his home state. "I want to see Pathways open up for kids I coached. Having a team in Tennessee would make that more attainable," he said.
What Lies Next?
For now, Scott will continue to give back to the sport that has given him so much. With the 2022 MLR Draft coming up on August 18, he advises Tennessee players to get as much film as they can to show prospective teams. "It's really hard to get enough of it," he shares. "I knew that when I was compiling film for the Seawolves that I was missing some of my best stuff. I would have petitioned my club to have someone taking film at each match if I knew how valuable it would be."
Scott also shares that even if a player does not get drafted, there is still hope to make it as a professional player. "If you don't get drafted, there a lot of ways to get involved with the MLR. Combines are a decent pathway. Use whatever connections you have in school and reach out to pathway teams. They need players, and they are looking to expand their recruiting spread.
"If you put in the time and the work and your good enough than MLR is within grasp," he states.
Scott is one of the best rugby players to come out of Tennessee. Since his family's introduction to the game through a movie, he has been a powerful example to all those who want to make the most out of the sport. As he tries to make an MLR squad, he remains optimistic about his rugby future.
We are rooting for Scott to take the next big step on an MLR pitch. Then, one day, he might even get the chance to come back and play for his home state.
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