AMERICAN IMPORT: Sam Taggart has impressed at five-eighth for Grafton Redmen this season. PHOTO: BILL NORTH
AMERICAN IMPORT: Sam Taggart has impressed at five-eighth for Grafton Redmen this season. PHOTO: BILL NORTH

Taggart on target for Redmen

SAM Taggart is from Springfield, Missouri - one of several towns disputed to be the home of The Simpsons.

"We claim it, but I don't think it's official," he said.

There is a fellow member of Springfield Rugby Football Club named Bart, but Taggart claims his friend is not as wild as the namesake in the animated cartoon series.

The US midwest is not exactly where you'd expect the Grafton Redmen's latest recruit to hail from, either. But rugby union does have a small stronghold from which Taggart has risen.

"There's one team in my city, four in St Louis, three in Kansas City," Taggart said. "All up, there'd be less than 20 teams within a five-hour radius."

Taggart grew up on a diet of baseball, soccer, basketball and, of course, American football.

A "very small running back", Taggart particularly enjoyed playing the defensive positions of corner back and safety, which helped the transition when he was finally tempted across to the game played in heaven.

"I didn't have rugby at my school or college," the 24-year-old said.

"My best friend played rugby since he was 14 and kept trying to convince me to play. But there's a big stigma in the US that it's all big guys with cauliflower ears and no teeth.

"Six years ago I finally gave it a shot and loved it. I love putting hits on people."

On the contrary, as a five-eighth Taggart is the natural target for opposition flankers with similar disposition. So far, however, he has managed to avoid being caught in their crosshairs, meanwhile scoring and setting up tries with regularity in the opening rounds of the 2014 Far North Coast rugby season.

"The game is a lot faster and cleaner here. There are fewer penalties and it's less sloppy. Bigger hits, too, which is always fun."

Taggart represents something of a bond which has been formed between the Redmen and Springfield clubs. He was there to meet Grafton players Trent Dickson, Shane Denshire and Chris Jackson at the airport when they ventured to Missouri for three months in 2012.

So, in return, how has Taggart found Grafton's hospitality?

"Super nice.

"They've treated me really well and always make sure my beer glass is full."

 

www.fncru.rugbynet.com.au

 

SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

Helped give birth to the Wild West era when the town square was the site of Wild Bill Hickok's "quick draw" shootout with Davis Tutt in 1865.

Birthplace of US Route 66 - the name given to the Chicago to Los Angeles highway.

The Chamber of Commerce presented dignitaries with the Ozark Hillbilly Medallion.

Brad Pitt grew up in Springfield, Missouri, describing it as "Mark Twain country".



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