Fallbrook athletes play in Junior Olympic Games in Nanjing, China – Fallbrook High School’s Michel Navarro and Richelle Stephens play rugby internationally

Incoming Fallbrook High School seniors Michel Navarro and Richelle Stephens are closing out their summer vacations in Nanjing, China, where they are playing rugby in the Youth Olympic Games.

Navarro and Stephens were among 12 girls chosen to represent the United States in the seven-on-seven rugby competition which will be the first International Olympic Committee rugby activity since 1924.

“I’m really excited,” Stephens said.

“It was a great honor,” Navarro said. “I’m really excited and I’m very grateful to be getting this opportunity.”

Navarro and Stephens left for China on Aug. 11. The Youth Olympic Games will take place Aug. 16 through 28. Rugby will be played Aug. 17 to 20, although the athletes will stay in Nanjing for the entirety of the Youth Olympic Games and return to the United States on Aug. 29.

More than 50 girls sought berths on the Youth Olympic Games roster. “That was really prestigious,” Fallbrook Rugby Club co-coach Craig Pinnell said of having two Fallbrook players selected.

“I’m really actually kind of surprised I was chosen,” Stephens said.

“It’s so exciting. We’re providing opportunities for these kids that are just unheard of,” said Fallbrook Rugby Club co-coach Marin Pinnell.

Stephens, who plays fly half in rugby matches with a full 15 players on each squad, will be a fly half in the 7-on-7 tournament. Navarro is a flank on the 15-a-side version and will be a center on the sevens team.

The United States Olympic Committee is paying the expenses of the players selected. Rugby, which has not been an Olympic sport since the 1924 games, will return to the Olympic Games in its sevens format in 2016.

5 Responses to "Fallbrook athletes play in Junior Olympic Games in Nanjing, China – Fallbrook High School’s Michel Navarro and Richelle Stephens play rugby internationally"

  1. Uncle Eric   August 14, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Great job girls and best of luck this weekend!! Fallbrook is blessed with a WORLD CLASS girls rugby program, coached by WORLD CLASS coaches Marin and Craig Pinnell and a world class staff. Thank you Fallbrook Girls Rugby.

    PS- Michel is an incoming JUNIOR

  2. Reality Checker   August 16, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Wow. And looking at these athletes in the photos, al I can say is I never want to make them angry and accidentally run into them in a back alley at night! Holy cow. Talk about in shape!

  3. Coach Marin Pinnell   August 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    You can watch the games on demand at this website: http://nanjing.ovp.olympic.tv/
    The Fallbrook girls are Richelle (wearing 10) and Michel (wearing 7). They dominate the game!!!

  4. grumpy   August 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    great job girls…Fallbrook is so proud of you….

  5. Cindy G   August 18, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Love watching my rugby girls – in China or in Fallbrook or wherever they play!


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