Full Contact CEO The Captain America Mini-Series
Blaine headlines join in on the Captain America Mini Series. For a lot of US rugby fans, Blaine’s career trajectory is one of perfection. Winning national titles with Cal, captaining the Eagles, and heading overseas where he consistently started for two massive European clubs, Cardiff and Leicester. Mags digs a little deeper to learn about Blaine’s life after rugby which includes earning an MBA from Oxford, working in consulting, and even riding a John Deere lawnmower.
Blaine Grew up in Sacramento and played water polo, basketball, and swimming. He’d loved competing from a very young age. The plan was to play water polo in college but he found himself playing rugby. Transferring from UCLA to Cal Berkley.
That’s when Mags and Blaine first met.
“I think watching you play at the old national All-Star collegiate championships was so good. Right? 2008 maybe? And you just started picking up the game, but you had huge quads. Great speed.”
It was then that a tour to New Zealand with the All-Americans made Blaine realize this was a true “a-ha” moment.
“And, um, it ended up being the best decision (transferring) I ever made in my entire life.
Not least of which, you know, on the rugby side, but, you know, from the personal development side, from, you know, being a student and treating sport of study and being immersed in. What is one of the most incredible rugby traditions in North America? I just so happened to meet my wife Cal as well.”
Blaine’s USA Debut
Blaine captained his collegiate side at the CRC’s in 2011 and that same year earned his first US cap and it happened to be against the old Soviet foes, Russia.
Blaine soon would go on to play in the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand
“Yeah, you did the collegial Americans and then kind of a rocket ship through to the 2011 World Cup where you had the opportunity to play in pool matches against Ireland, Australia, Italy, and, Russia.”
“As it turns out Russia was my only world cup victory, which hurts pretty bad, but it just shows how, how difficult it is.”
After the World Cup Scully went on to accept one of the first contracts at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center where he trained for the Pan-American games and started to get on the Olympic Training Cycle. At that point, the Olympics just announced that 7s would be reintroduced back into the Games.
Come Home and We’ll Fix You
In 2012 Blaine, unfortunately, ruptures his Achilles and was out for 10 months. But what impressed Mags the most was Blaine’s ability to bounce back from injury and setback.
Blaine sadly lost his father at a young age and he was brought up by his mother who’s pretty impressive herself. She ran and won the Sacramento District Attorney election in 1994.
“Seeing the way she was able to prioritize what she needed to handle everything and not take any moment for granted with anybody and anything she did. For me, it was probably the most impactful thing I’ve ever seen. And if she could kind of handle something like that, then I could handle a, uh, a return to play after injury.”
“I was hugely supported by, you know, the Cal programs, Coach Clark and Coach Billups, who, uh, when I was on the table, coach Bill just kind of said, yeah, I’ll come home and we’ll fix you.
I’d say that was one of the most important years I’ve ever had. That was my character year. Um, you know, it’s easy to be a professional athlete when things are going well, and you’re playing well.
But you will always be hurting and you will always be dealing with some sort of internal pressure, you know, performance gap and something you need to improve. And you know, when I look at the people I’ve seen who have the most successful careers and I’ve seen a lot of talented people, talent doesn’t necessarily equal a good career.
Talent equals maybe a good game, maybe a good season, or a good string of matches, but what separates professionals who have really good careers and talented folks is I think the ability to overcome all the adversity and setbacks you’ll have because you will have them on each and every day of your professional career and find a way to get through it.”
Playing 15s Professionally
In 2013 after playing an extensive number of USA games Blaine had the trial opportunity pop up at Leicester. What started as a two-week trial progressed to four, then turned into 2 years. Of course, playing at Leicester turned into an Opportunity at Cardiff. At that point, it was very difficult to make it in Europe as an American player.
Blaine learned a lot from playing at two massive clubs including the fact that he liked Indian food thanks to the Irish legend Geordan Murphy who took him under his wing while at the club.
“So what I was going to do is I just made a promise to myself that I was going to compete every single day, um, and enjoy and maximize the experience.”
“I didn’t feel like it was actually that big of a jump. I was actually surprised by how ready I was for that moment.”
Blaine realized that he had to out-compete someone for a spot on the team. Whether that was a young talented English player, a former All-Black, or an Argentinian international.
Being a Good USA Captain
As captain Blaine had an over 60% percent win rate, which is incredibly significant.
What it ultimately comes down to according to Blaine is a few things. If you’re a leader or you want to make a difference or a positive impact on the environment, you have to be a model for it.
So you can’t just talk about it. Nobody wants to follow a captain who runs in the huddle and says, “don’t miss tackles.” And he’d been on a lot of those teams.
Blaine also says you have to know what you’re modeling and what’s important. And then you have to reward those behaviors. And then you also have to have a bunch of really good relationships. Those can be hard because people are different and have different priorities and are there for different reasons.
“I think at the end of the day it was the fact that we had to be super honest with each other and. And hopefully accountable to each other as well.”
Working at PWC
As Blaine says “consulting, it’s an interesting world.” In consulting, you’re staffed on a project and you build a team. So it has worked nicely with being a part of teams all his life. He compares his new role at PWC to being a rooking athlete.
“So I’m actually at the point now where I just focus on me and my performance, which is how I was, almost like a young athlete and a good teammate.”
His first 18 months were tough but now he feels like he’s in a better place and understands what he needs to do. A lot of that also came with becoming a new dad. He’s always needed a routine and now with a child, there’s certainly a routine.
Improving the US National Rugby Team and Program
“I think for us in particular, what is the optimum American model? I just don’t know if we’ve quite figured that out. How do we sort of create a robust infrastructure that’s strategically coherent and from a business perspective? And then also gives us the amount of talent, resources, and know-how, whether that’s a coach, referee or a player, or some support staff member.”
Mags and Blaine both agree at the end of the day, there are just a lot of programs within USA Rugby but It doesn’t really matter. There’s just not enough money coming in the door. But what are the potential solutions? Money obviously helps.
“I’d say one of the great values of the MLR is that you have professional folks who have a business interest in growing the game, building markets, and growing fan bases as well as developing players. So, I think that’s part of the solution.”
The big question is how do we capture young athletes? We have the most in the world per capita.
“I think there is a sort of an American system with the way we structure competitions, where we place them, the markets we focus on, and then just being really efficient and allocating our resources. In the best manner in an aligned manner. So, you know, really like whether you’re hosting a national team or an MLR event, there is some sort of synergy associated with the parties who all have limited resources and are trying to figure it out. But if there’s youth camps, clinics, you know, festivals that are going on. Maybe they can be attached to a national team event, male or female or MLR related.”
Blaine’s Quick Fire Questions
Who could fight a bear without weapons?
Something you’ve never done but want to try?
What was Richard Cockerill really like?
He is a great guy, got along really well with him and he gave me the chance to prove myself and the doubters. I also got to win the Challenge Cup and played Murray Field against his Edinburgh team.
Favorite rugby night out?
Bilbao after the Challenge Cup Final. But also his beating Scotland in 2018 was a great moment and evening with the team.
If Blaine was CEO of the Free Jacks, what would he focus on?
What is the coffee strategy for the office and does everyone have a Bosu ball?
To listen to Blaine’s episode click here!