Forming the TucciGang - Interview with Pro Rugby & Esports Player, Alex Tucci

"We scrum for possession, run for the try zone, bleed for the team, and live for the game." (Anonymous)

Such is the game of rugby...and such is the career of Alex Tucci. Considered one of the most interesting sports figures in Utah, Tucci knows what it is like to scrum, score, and bleed for his team. He has played three seasons for the Utah Warriors professional rugby team of Major League Rugby, and scored the pivotal try that helped sway the tide for the Warriors to clinch their first ever playoff berth.

Not only does Tucci know how to grind and succeed on the rugby pitch, but he also knows how to win in the virtual world. Tucci is a Twitch affiliate with a great following and a 4-2 record in Major League Rugby's 2020 Virtual Tournament

I recently had the chance to talk with Tucci about his story and his new line of exclusive merchandise sold only at Stadium Gear & Apparel.

Forming the TucciGang - Story of Alex Tucci

You are considered one of the most interesting sports figures in Utah and a fan favorite on the Utah Warriors. What does a typical day look like for you in the off-season and during rugby season?

During the off-season, my day is pretty much jam-packed between cooking, working out, and working. I work at VASA Fitness (a gym out here in Utah), and I work there typically eight hours a day. For my day basically, I wake up in the morning, get some food in me as fast as I can, and get to the gym right away. I take my pre-workout and I'm there in the gym working out for about an hour/hour-and-a-half possibly two hours. After that, I come home and cook my meals for the day, since I am going to be working most in streaming. After I'm done cooking, I go right into my room, get on Twitch and start playing Call of Duty, Fortnite, or Among Us for the most part.

After that, I stream for about three hours and then I come off stream and get ready for work for eight hours. I get off work at around 12 AM, and so I sleep to get prepared for the next day.

During rugby season, my schedule is a little different and is more rugby focused. Work is cut down a lot (so is streaming), but at the same time I try to get those streams and get a little bit of work done where I can, but rugby is the main focus. [Something that does stay the same is] cooking. I cook a lot—I'm a strong believer in cooking my own meals. These usually consist of some type of protein like chicken or steak, sometimes ground turkey or pork, a vegetable of some kind like stir fry or kale sauteed, and a carb of some sort whether that is rice, quinoa, etc. and protein shakes.

How did you first get involved with rugby?

First got involved with rugby when I was 15/14. I had a friend who hit me up after my first year of football, sophomore year, when I was looking for something to do in the off-season. My friend sent me the, 'Here Comes the Boom," for rugby, and told me, "Dude, you get to run the ball in get to run the ball in rugby." I was pretty much sold.

I played for the Western Lancasters run by Josh Cross and Ernie (I'm so bad at pronouncing his last name), and they helped me in my rugby journey as a little lad. I can't thank them enough.

Tell us the story of how you came to Utah to play for the first professional rugby team here?

I got done playing [college] football and I knew that I wasn't really going to try for the NFL anymore. I had a workout with the [Miami] Dolphins and after that, I said, "Let's get back into rugby." I said I was going to do it and go play professional rugby once I got done with football and give it a shot. 

I played a year for the Weston Okapi in Western Florida and then got a chance to go play in Ireland with one my friends, Steven, who told me about the opportunity. He knew a friend that he had played with in college that had a club in Ireland that was willing to have us come out and play for a couple months with them.

During that whole time, I was sending film back from Ireland to my agent, Gavin McLeavy, and he got in contact with the Utah Warriors [where he] and the owner Kimball had a couple of conversations, worked out a contract, and before I knew it, I was on a plane back home to Florida. I spent a month back at home and then went out to Utah.

I figured Utah was going to be like Colorado in essence, like my college, but on the other side of the mountains. I love Utah; [it] has been great to me. I'm obsessed with the mountains even though I am not a big hiker. I still love driving next to them.

What has been your favorite memory playing for the Warriors?

I'd say my favorite memory was probably when I scored my try against the Houston Sabercats [on June 23, 2018]. I was coming off of injury (tweaked hamstring), and I didn't really have the greatest week up until that game, but I ended up having a really good run. I just was going to run a hard line, and I broke the line, found myself in open space, and ended up scoring.

There's a ton of other memories I have with team, more so in practice and traveling with the guys; it's probably my favorite part about the game. The traveling, being around the guys, those are the ones that you remember most, and I am looking forward to next season to making even more memories. Hopefully, I will have a new favorite memory.

The team just announced a new 10,000 seat stadium that will be built in the next few years. What are you most excited about with the stadium and how it will grow the team in Utah?

I'm super excited for this stadium to come because I feel it will put more eyes on us and get more fan exposure. We already have a great fan base in Utah, but to get more fans would be awesome. 10,000 seats—that's a pretty big stadium, so I can only imagine what it would be like to play in front of 10,000 fans at a rugby game. I've only done that once when we played at Rio Tinto.

I'm excited to see where the stadium is going to be built, because if it is built closer to downtown [Salt Lake City], I feel that's great! More people will be inclined to come to a rugby game.

I think this will grow rugby in Utah. If people know that the rugby team has its own stadium, they are going to come. Rugby is a great game to watch; my mom watches it, barely knows anything about the game, but she loves watching it way more than football!

How did you get involved with gaming?

I've been a gamer since I was super young. I've played all types of games, and I say I got involved into streaming by watching. I remember I was on Facebook one time, and I say there was a streamer (Darkness) and they were streaming Fortnite. I was like, "What is this? This is so cool!"

I found that I could stream from my Xbox, so I downloaded the Twitch app, clicked "Start Streaming," and boom! Streaming.

Slim Tucci - Twitch Affiliate of Alex Tucci

Why did you choose Call of Duty as your main game for streams?

I choose Call of Duty for my choice of streams right now because I feel like I am able to move my character in a better, more controlled way. I used to play on a controller, and then I moved over to mouse and keyboard with that game, so it's the first game I've been able to play fully on mouse and keyboard. The experience is just 100 times better.

I still do play Fortnite, a lot. I love that game, that's probably the first game, the first Battle Royale game, that I've played that I fell in love with. I still love the game, but it's at a point that I feel like I need to transition to a new game, and Call of Duty is that game for me right now.

Also, I do play Among Us on stream a lot, but Call of Duty is my go to game. I have a lot of fun; the battles are intense and it gets my heart rate going a lot.

You participated in Major League Rugby's Virtual Tournament this past Spring, and almost took the Virtual Plate from the Seawolves. What was that experience like using your gaming skills in a rugby backdrop?

It was awesome! I bought the game, Rugby20, and I got to play it before anyone else got to play it. It was an awesome experience and thought MLR took great advantage over the opportunity they had with this. It was so much fun to play against the other [league] players and just chat with them during COVID, since we were all quarantined.

We got the short-end of the stick with the team I got [Uruguay national team], but we still won a lot of games and had a lot of fun.

What advice do you have for people that are looking to play professional rugby in the United States?

I'm going to give you a couple of tips I have.

  1. Know the game - Watch a lot of film. That's probably been the thing that's helped me out the most about the game: watching professionals, people better than me, play the game and surrounding myself with people that know about the game. I can always ask them questions.
  2. Work on your fitness as much as you can, because the game is a fit game - It goes on for 80 minutes, two 40 minute halves, where you are going most of the time.
  3. Your diet is huge - I'm a huge believer in a smart diet. Not necessarily eating clean all the time, but a smart [diet].

Study all those things and I guarantee you that it'll help you out in your rugby career.

What advice do you have for people looking to grow their following and becoming great gamers?

Take advantage of all social media. Do not leave a social media [platform] out, because you can always pull at least one follower from each [platform].

Post clips, content, connect with as many people as you can. Go into other streams, chat with their chat, try to get to know the streamer, and see the way that they stream (I feel like that is the best thing to do). Then, try to apply it to yourself and find your own brand.

Being great gamers, you got to practice a lot at the game. Watch the best streamers and the best players at the game and try to apply that to your game.

Let's talk about your new merchandise. Tell us the story behind your two design.

TucciGang Black Fire Hoodie

Do you like this hoodie? Purchase here in black, yellow, gray, white, or red to support Alex Tucci.

This is one of the designs, the TucciGang Slim Tucci Hoodie. I love it! I came up with the idea [when] I took the Thrasher logo and kind of made it my own.

TucciGang Bullet Tee - Official Alex Tucci Merchandise

Do you like this tee? Purchase here in black, white, yellow, red, and gray to support Alex Tucci.

I also have the TucciGang Bullet [design] which is designed after the Tupac stomach tattoo.

I really love these ideas. My friend and teammate, Mike, has made them.

What is the best way that fans can support you as you continue to build out your rugby and gaming career?

The best way you can support me is following all of my social media.

You can send me messages on Instagram. I'll be willing to answer any questions whether it's about fitness, rugby, [or] gaming.

And just follow the journey. Right now, we are doing a lot of gaming because it's the off-season, but once the season starts, we will be doing a lot more rugby specific stuff. I want some ideas on your guys end, on what ideas of Youtube videos you might want to see [for my Youtube channel], so be sure to let me know [by messaging me on any of the platforms above].

 . . .

Alex Tucci truly is one of the most interesting sports figures in Utah. From his time on the pitch or online, he loves the community and is building out his TucciGang! I thank him for taking some time to answer my questions.

To support Tucci in his career, follow his social media links above, and buy some of his new, exclusive merchandise. From hoodies, tank tops, and tees, you can be part of the TucciGang today. For those interested in looking at his apparel, click here for more information

To listen to his answers to the questions above or see him in action at the Warriors gym, check out the videos below.

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