CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Minnesota natives Nate Augspurger and Garrett Bender never knew they would have a chance to make history.
“It means everything,” Bender said.
“It’s hard to put into words, honestly,” Augspurger said. “Sometimes it’s really surreal. I’m just so happy that I can be a part of it.”
It – is competing in rugby at the Olympics for the first time since 1924. The final Olympics roster won’t be announced until next Monday, but Garrett and Nate have a pretty good shot of being on it.
Though the two have been playing together since high school, their personalities are nothing alike.
“They’re like Laurel and Hardy,” USA rugby head coach Mike Friday said.
The larger Bender, is quiet and reserved. The smaller Augspurger – pretty much the complete opposite. They are rugby’s version of the odd couple, but they are the best of friends.
“Off the field and on the field, I can’t really be happier to have a guy that I can just be pure with, be honest with,” Augspurger said. “I can say things to him that I can’t say to other people. It helps us get through even just the smallest moments.”
The world of competitive rugby is full of pressure. Guys are constantly fighting for jobs, which is why Nate and Garrett say having a best friend around is so beneficial.
“We’re like brothers,” Bender said. “If I didn’t have him here, I don’t know if I would still even be on this team. We just know each other so well. We can always say whatever we need to say to each other. We help each other through a lot of stuff.”
And they hope to get into a lot more, and also finish what they started together years ago.