Two-time rugby Olympian (and member of the USA Sevens Eagles team) Danny Barrett contemplated retiring last year after eight years of international competition. But, sometimes, it only takes some loving to make a person change their mind. Such is the case with the 31-year-old Barrett.
Recently, Barrett signed a one-year contract to play for Major League Rugby’s Houston SaberCats team. The professional rugby league was formed in 2018. Houston competes in the Western Conference with teams from Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Utah, Boston, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and New York. This season opened Feb. 5. Instead of a team having seven players, like the Eagles Sevens, each MLR team plays with 15 players.
“I decided to continue playing, as I thought the opportunity to play in a professional rugby league in our own country was very appealing,” said Barrett. “Having played on the international stage for so long, traveling across the globe a number of times over, being able to play in the States and be close to my family, but at a high level, was something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Getting married a year ago and having a daughter born in January certainly contributed to his decision to give up international rugby and stay closer to home. His parents, Tim and Keri Barrett, still live in Pacifica. Danny and his family have moved to Texas.
“I think the biggest thing for me is being around my family with my wife, Megan, and daughter Hailey (born Jan. 24). I’m tired of being away for weeks at a time,” said Barrett. “Fun fact: Until our second game of this season, Feb. 12, I hadn’t spent the night after a game in my own bed since 2013. What a feeling that was and continues to be.”
Barrett’s signing with Houston came about through a conversation in the changing room in Tokyo after the USA Eagles’ last game of the season.
“The South Africa Sevens manager, whom I had known for a few years, approached me mentioning that his friend and former South Africa 15s head coach, now SaberCats director of rugby Heyneke Meyer, would like to speak to me about playing for him. Along with Houston, I was approached by a few other teams in the league, but I liked the culture and family environment they were trying to build. That was something I wanted to be a part of,” stated Barrett, whose contract includes an option year.
“It was quite hard to give up playing for my country, but I also understand the demands of the sevens game on and off the field as well as with my life and family at home. I loved almost nothing more than being able to represent my country for as long as I have, but the game will be around a lot longer than I will be able to play it,” said Barrett. “With that said, never ever say never, ever. I am still in contact with many of the players and the coaches over in the sevens program, and, if they need me, I will consider it. I have a soft spot for the sevens program.”
Back at Oracle Park: Well, it took a while but Major League Baseball and the players’ union finally worked out an agreement that will let the baseball season remain with a 162-game schedule. The lockout ended last week. One group happy with that decision is the thousands of workers at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants’ home opener will be April 8 against the Miami Marlins, and it can’t come too soon for the workers. It hasn’t been a pleasant couple of years for them. Many workers decided not to work due to the pandemic. Many settled for unemployment checks.
But now it appears baseball is back. For 21 years I have been working as an usher at the park. As ushers, we serve as host for the guests at the park, helping them with various needs after entering the park. It’s a great part-time job in retirement.
If you are retired, are you perhaps getting bored sitting at home? Do you want to work part time? Are you up for having fun? Do you like baseball?
If you answered yes to those questions, I have just the treatment for you. Join me at the park this season. You now have the opportunity to apply for a position, as the Giants are currently hiring. Visit the Giants’ website at www.sfgiants.com and click on the “Job Opportunities” link at the bottom of the website.
Tell them I referred you. Maybe I’ll see you at the park. Look for me at Section 118.
— Horace Hinshaw is Tribune sports editor emeritus.