From France to the U.S.: Baptiste Schavsinski tackles the rugby field
March 18, 2020
In the final few seconds of the game, junior Baptiste Schavsinski catches the ball on his way to score the game-winning points. Swerving in and out of opposing team members, he lunges and places the ball in the try zone, leading his team to victory.
As a seventh grader, Schavsinski moved to the United States from France and was not familiar with the English language. Despite this barrier, he let his play do the talking, as he dominated on the rugby field. Schavsinski began playing at age five and continued to pursue his favorite sport after coming to America.
Since then, Schavsinski has trained with the U.S. North Bay Rugby Club, Rugby Club du Pays de Meaux (RCPM) in France, San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby, Bay Area Sharks Rugby Academy and the USA Under 18 (u18) Rugby team, along with several more.
According to Schavsinski, watching rugby at a young age influenced his desire to pursue a professional career in the sport. Establishing a solid work ethic and learning new techniques helped him become a dominant player, and he eventually earned a spot on the prestigious U.S. u18 National Team.
“I try to put in the work. I watch a ton of films from games and study the sport which helps me improve my game,” Schavsinski said.
One of the greatest challenges of moving to the U.S. from France was the extreme difference in competition level. According to Schavsinski, rugby was one of the most popular sports played in France. Because rugby is not as popular in the U.S., Schavsinski became immediately impactful on all the teams he joined. His teammate of four years, junior J.T. Dyer, believes that Schavsinski’s experience from France is apparent on the field.
“[Schavsinski’s] overall game sense and IQ is unparalleled to any kids in America because he has been around rugby for so long. In any situation, he knows what the best thing to do is and is a really good decision-maker and on-field communicator,” Dyer said.
According to Dyer, not only was Schavsinski already accustomed to the game, but he has put in long hours to be the best he can be.
“[Schavsinski] is a really hard worker and is committed to small details. He is also very focused during training. If we score on a play and he feels he did something wrong, he’ll want to practice it 100 more times just so he does it right the next time,” Dyer said.
Tony Wells, Schavsinski’s coach at North Bay, says that although Schavsinski’s skill level is astounding, it is his character that shines.
“[Schavsinski] is talented. [He has] organizational skills and the ability to pass, run and kick well…[Schavsinski] is communicative, respectful [and] thoughtful and [he] always has fresh ideas, which are pretty rare in a young player,” Wells said.
At the end of this year, Schavsinski’s visa expires and he will be moving back to France. Although he would like to finish out his senior year in America and is sad about leaving his friends, Schavsinski is optimistic and believes it is a beginning to a new path. According to Schavsinski, his move back to France does not change his attitude toward achieving his goal of becoming a professional player.
“Moving back doesn’t make [rugby] any different. [My motivation] and character won’t change based on where I live. It’s built-in and is not something that changes,” Schavsinski said.
With Schavsiniski’s departure back to France, his rugby talent will not be the only thing missed. Wells acknowledges the team will lose an incredible person, something the team has definitely benefited from over the course of the years.
“We’ll miss him. He’s been a big part of the program since freshman year all the way through, the person that he is as well as the player. His friends and teammates will miss him… He’s such a nice person and likes to mess around a little bit. I think as rugby goes, you always like to have a little bit of fun, and he enjoys the fun aspect of the game as well as the serious side. We will miss him all around,” Wells said.