Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
While Trojan lore will always hold a special place for sophomore two-meter Jeremy Davie - who helped USC capture the coveted three-peat with 41 goals last year - the native of Christchurch, New Zealand, had plenty of reason to cheer this past weekend for a different kind of champion.
"Rugby is religion in my house," Davie said. "I didn't play very much growing up because I'm not a good athlete on land, but the game just meant so much to my family."
The Davie family has a strong connection to New Zealand's national team, which is commonly referred to as the "All Blacks." In 1983, Jeremy's uncle, Murray Davie, was actually a member of the All Blacks, recording four points during the course of his career. Davie's second uncle was also an All Black in the mid-1980s, while his father, John, played competitively for the Canterbury Junior team.
For the first time since 1987, New Zealand took back the World Cup title on Sunday with a grind-it-out 8-7 victory over France, the closest final in the history of the sport.
"Rugby in New Zealand, is like American football, basketball, baseball and hockey rolled into one," said Davie. "It's been a big international joke that we are big chokers when it comes to rugby, because we favor the sport and haven't won in 24 years. So, this is huge for our country and for me. I wouldn't have heard the end of it from my Australian friends if we lost."
While Davie wasn't one of the 250,000 Kiwis who showed up for the All Blacks (photo by NBC Universal) victory parade in Auckland on Monday, the sophomore believes the championship spirit will definitely make its way to the McDonald's Swim Stadium this weekend, where the USC men's water polo team faces a stiff home test against Stanford at 2:30 p.m.
"Rugby always gets me pumped up to go in the pool," said Davie. "The Haka (New Zealand's war dance the All Blacks perform before every game) will definitely be in my iPod ready to go before the game. It'll get me in the right frame of mind that this is our house, and no one comes in and has an easy game against us."