Krystal Franklin may be the yougest player on her ORSU 7s team, but one of the most important

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Krystal Franklin is headed to rugby nationals.Krystal Franklin doesn’t look like a typical rugby player, but she’s certainly had some success since taking up the sport a few years ago as a sophomore in high school.

The somewhat diminutive athlete is the youngest player on the Oregon Sports Union Rugby (ORSU) Women’s 7s team bound for the 2013 Emirates Airlines USA Women’s 7s National Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug. 10-12.

Less than a year ago, Franklin was on the Oregon Women’s 15s team that took second in the national tournament. The 15s and 7s refer to the number of players on a team.

“This is actually my favorite team,” Franklin said. “I get along with the girls really well and we play really well as a team. I’m 19 and most of them are in their 30s with a few college girls.”

Franklin started playing rugby while still at St. Helens High School. She was a member of the Columbia County Crusaders team for three years, 2010-2012.

Coach of the Crusaders, Ashley Swanson Baggett, said Franklin was a huge part of the team. “During Krystal’s senior year she was responsible for team warm ups for practice and games. Krystal was great to coach. She excelled on the rugby pitch, she was fast, aggressive, and could tackle anyone. She led by example. She was a team player and was always encouraging her teammates to work hard. Krystal is a versatile player, playing positions in both the back line and in the forwards.”

Baggett also noted that Franklin was voted team captain her senior year and was responsible for a majority of the team fundraising.

Franklin says she made fundraising for the team her senior project—seeking donations from local businesses, organizing a Burgerville night, and a can drive. Franklin currently works at Burgerville.

“I was captain and Ashley really helped me do something for the high school team. She did a lot of fundraising and we were able to get new equipment, and jerseys and stuff.”

Franklin was an all-star while in high school, and played high flanker, and hooker and wing—rugby terms for backfield positions.

Don’t think she’s not an integral part of the national team.

Her coach, Charles Sanderson was lavish in his praise: “Krystal Franklin is a key to the ORSU Women’s 7s run towards the National Tournament. She has tremendous versatility. Despite her size, she’s fearless and physical enough to play in the forwards, yet she has the pace to constantly finish on the wing. She’ll hook; she’ll jump lineouts; she readily takes on any role and never makes excuses. At the Pacific Coast Championships she scored two of our four tries (rugby term for touchdowns) in the game that got us through to Nationals, and she scored our opening try earlier in the day against the Seattle Breakers, the defending National runner up.”

Sanderson noted that “Krystal played every minute of the entire Pacific Coast Tournament. This is something that doesn’t happen in 7s. With 12 player rosters, it’s vital to use your substitutions so players can stay fresh, but due to a missing player, I was in a bind and needed to lean on a player to go the whole tournament, and that player was Krystal.”

He continued, “It’s really clear to me that she learned the game the right way by being a part of Ashley Swanson’s Columbia County U19 team. ORSU is so fortunate to have a player and young woman of her caliber. The entire Columbia County community should be immensely proud. I have no doubt that Krystal is going to be an impact player at the National 7s Tournament.”

What does Franklin like about rugby?

“I like the contact, the intensity, and how fast the game moves,” she said. “And at the end of the game you (can be) best friends with the other teams. There’s not a lot of bad sportsmanship.”

She says she’s really excited to play on her second national tournament team.

Franklin scored two tries in the ORSU team’s win that earned them the berth to the national tournament.

She continues to work at Burgerville and is fundraising to pay for her trip to the national tournament in Pennsylvania. Each participant has to pay for their own expenses. The airfare alone is $650 and she anticipates total expenses including meals and motel to be over $1,000. She’s planning some car washes and can drives to help her raise enough funds for the trip. Donations can be dropped off at Burgerville in St. Helens.

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