Cal Poly Enjoys A Successful Start To 2018

Cal Poly played three matches across two venues Saturday (1/13), winning all grades against Chico State and UC Santa Cruz. The A & B grades traveled up to Chico for the annual Archibald Cup fixtures, and continued the undefeated start to the 15s season.  The Frosh/Soph team traveled to Santa Cruz to face their B grade squad and earn a solid shut-out victory.

The A grade game featured an undefeated Cal Poly team facing off against Chico State, who is eyeing a D1AA championship title this season.  The month long winter break became evident as Poly started off slow in the first half.  Poly controlled possession for the most part, but turnovers and penalties prevented momentum from growing, which limited scoring.  A good variety in attack allowed Poly to march down the pitch and highlighted bright spots in the offense.  Poly’s offense woke up in the second half, limiting turnovers and penalties which extended the lead.  Poly’s defense remained a bright spot as well throughout the whole game, not allowing a single try on the day.  Team captain and inside center Alex Wormer had a solid day on the pitch with a try, a conversion, and leadership in play calling and decision making.  Rookie fly-half Patrick Madden also continued to impress in his young career so far at Poly, tallying another try, conversion, and exceptional play making.

Coach James Tesoriero, while happy with the result, believes his team is capable of better rugby. “We got a win against quality opposition, but I thought there were signs of rust, and it was apparent we hadn’t played together for more than a month. There were some positive signs and stretches of very good play, but we have much improvement in us, and we will need to be much better next week in order to compete”.

That match next week will be against Cal Berkeley at Tally Fields in Arroyo Grande.  Visit for a more detailed schedule including kickoff times.

A Grade- Cal Poly 32 (Nate Shipley, Marshall Brusca, Jacob Heene, Kyle Hegarty,  Alex Wormer tries, Alex Wormer, Pat Madden conversions, Pat Madden pen goal) def Chico St 9 (3 pen goals)


Cal Poly’s B grade once again had a solid day, showcasing the younger talent and future potential within the program.  David Bartolomucci had a solid comeback game after missing the entire pre-season due to shoulder surgery, tallying a try and many solid ball carries.  Third year Chip Jones also displayed numerous line breaks along with unselfish play which led to a couple tries.  The team did not allow a single point while executing a consistent offense the entire game.

B Grade- Cal Poly 48 (Ryan Dowgiewicz 2, Kirt Achterman 2, Dan Dempster, Jacob Becker, Jason Taylor, David Bartolomucci tries, Kirt Achterman conversions) def Chico St 0

Cal Poly’s Frosh/Soph team also showcased the depth in the program, especially with the young talent in this year’s rookie class.  Some highlights include John Imobersteg notching his first career try, Josh Moncino blocking an exit kick and recovering it for a try, and rookie Michael Schirmer scoring a few tries at wing.  The forward pack also did not lose a scrum all day.

Cal Poly Fr/So 61 def UCSC B 0

All Grades Win vs CSULB

The Mustangs enjoyed a very successful home match-day (Sat 12/2) against a talented and competitive Long Beach State club, winning all three grades.

The Cal Poly attack was on full display in A Grade, resulting in nine tries and some highly entertaining rugby. Coach Tesoriero asked his team for width, depth, and variety in attack, and was pleased with the way his team complied. “We are always trying to find a balance between playing expansive rugby and respecting possession to minimize turn-overs. We didn’t always get that balance right today, but when our attack clicked it looked great. The attacking interplay between our forwards is something that has built out of familiarity, and keys guys playing together for a number of years. Seniors Eddie McFarland, Connor Cudeback, Sal Guevara and Jake Heene all broke the line at different times, and also threw passes to lead team-mates into line breaks”.

Once again the rookies were influential in the result, with five freshmen included to the starting 15. Rookie Kyle Hegarty, starting at flanker, scored three tries in 60 minutes. Rookie flyhalf Kirt Achterman (two ties) and prop Jasper Stone also scored. Stone scrummed very effectively until he was replaced with 20 minutes remaining. Satchel Collins made his first A Grade appearance as the starting halfback, and provided considerable poise and quick service while being pressured by an aggressive CSULB defensive line.

The Mustangs controlled possession in the first half, and didn’t concede points until the 40th minute when an errant kick was compounded by a disjointed chase, and the Long Beach back three opened us up to score from long range. Poly took a four tries to one advantage into halftime. Coach Tesoriero rolled the replacements after the halftime break, fresh legs allowing the scoreboard to continue ticking over. In the final quarter of the match Long Beach State showed the talent and explosive point-scoring ability that has powered them to 9 wins from 10 matches thus far in the Fall. With more favorable possession and territory in the final period, the Beach backline stretched the Mustangs and crossed for a number of late tries.

A Grade- Cal Poly 59 def CSULB 24
Kyle Hegarty 3, Kirt Achterman 2, Jasper Stone, Salvador Guevara, Brandon Puccini, team tries, Alex Wormer 7 conversions.

The B Grade side also enjoyed a comprehensive win against a quality opponent. Poly controlled the set piece and thus enjoyed more possession that CSULB. Coach Alex Frost considered it “a good team win, with plenty to build on”, and praised Freshman Ryan Dowgiewicz as the B team’s best on the day. Dowgiewicz was aggressive in defense, made a number of strong runs, and pinched opposition balls on a number of occasions to get the team out of trouble. Halfback Matty Hazelwood was very dangerous with ball in hand, and provided steady leadership. Captain Jake Becker was also solid, and led a great set piece effort. “If we stick with our shapes moving forward we can beat anyone,” added Frost.

B Grade- Cal Poly 55 def CSULB 25

The Womens team played their final match of the Fall season, and finished with a well deserved win against a large and physical Long Beach team. Beach were the stronger team to start the match, however playing with only 16, ran out of steam against a fast-finishing Poly team. The Poly ladies showed the benefit of depth of numbers, and of the tough conditioning work undertaken throughout the Fall. The Cal Poly girls were down a score to the visitors with 20 minutes remaining, but scored two late tries to pull ahead, and seal the match.

Elena Strom had her best match of the season, and was a difference-maker at lock. Her powerful ball running against a fatigued opponent broke the game open and was decisive in the win. Halfback Rylee Birdsall also had a great game in possibly her final game in a Cal Poly jersey. Women team President Jessica May, playing her final game after five years with the club, was emotional after the victory and was proud of how far the women team had progressed in two short seasons.

Womens- Cal Poly 26 def CSULB 19

Pat Madden Named Mark Loane Medalist

Freshman Flyhalf Patrick Madden has been awarded the prestigious Mark Loane Medal at a ceremony in New York last week. Awarded in honor of Dr. Mark Loane, former Australian Wallabies rugby captain and University of Queensland (UQ) alumnus, the Medal recognizes the outstanding potential of America’s best high school rugby player.

Cal Poly vs UC Davis in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Fall Classic at Avaya Stadium on November 4, 2017 in San Jose , California. © 2017 Alex Ho ( aho_171104_2040_03 )

In response to receiving the award, Patrick is “extremely grateful for this opportunity and excited for what’s to come. I know I speak for both myself and my family when I say I’m happy to be in such good hands through this exciting process.”

Patrick founded, captained, and played rugby at his high school, University City. While there, he was named Player of the Week several times in the Goff Rugby Report. Patrick also started playing select-side rugby his freshman year of high school. He started with the Southern California Youth Griffins and then became one of the original and youngest players in the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (EIRA), created by High School All-American (HSAA) Coach Salty Thompson. As captain, Patrick led EIRA to 7s and 15s national titles, received MVP in the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament, and won the Ramblin’ Jesters’ Young 7s Player of the Month award. Patrick joined the HSAA program his sophomore year for tours to France and Belgium. He also represented the HSAA and Stars and Stripes sides in both 7s and 15s on tours to Canada and in matches throughout the US. To top it off, Patrick was selected for the Men’s Junior All-American U19 team that played Canada at the Olympic Training Centre in the winter of 2016.

San Diego State over Cal Poly during the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Fall Classic at Avaya Stadium on November 5, 2017 in San Jose , California. © 2017 Alex Ho ( aho_171105_6258_03 )

Salty Thompson, who was on the Cal Poly campus last month for an (EIRA) camp, and who nominated Patrick for the Loane Medal, believes Pat has a huge future in the sport. He regards Patrick as “one of the most effective captains in HSAA history. Leader, excellent communicator and outstanding young man.”

As the recipient of the Loane Medal, Pat will be funded to train with the UQ Rugby Academy and play for the famous University of Queensland Rugby Club during summer 2018.

Patrick “can’t wait to get to UQ, meet [his] teammates, and experience the Australian rugby culture and university lifestyle.”

Cal Poly coach James Tesoriero speaks of Patrick’s award. “We followed Patrick’s high school career with close interest, and were delighted when he accepted his offer to study at Cal Poly. Not only is Pat an elite-level talent who projects to the very highest levels of rugby in this country, he is a quality young guy, and a good fit with our program. Beyond the recognition that he will receive from this award, we are excited at the opportunity for Pat to train and play in a high performance environment next summer with UQ in Brisbane”.

Since arriving in San Luis Obispo, Patrick has been playing a key role for the Cal Poly 7s team, finishing the Fall 7s season as the team’s highest point scorer. The Cal Poly 7s team played in division Finals at both of the West Coast Sevens tournaments in October, and finished fourth at the Silicon Valley Sevens in San Jose on the weekend (11/4 & 11/5).

San Diego State over Cal Poly during the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Fall Classic at Avaya Stadium on November 5, 2017 in San Jose , California. © 2017 Alex Ho ( aho_171105_6277_03 )

Later this fall, Patrick will represent the North American Lions, a team comprising the best 7s players in North America aged under 19 years. The Lions will participate in the Boys U19 Invitational bracket of the Dubai 7s — the series of events surrounding the World Series Dubai 7s, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

Cal Poly Sevens Finishes Fall Season with a 4th Place Standing at Silicon Valley Sevens

Cal Poly came into Day 2 of the Silicon Valley 7s tournament with a 1-1 record from the day before. It was a “win or go home” style tournament for the Mustangs now, and they did not want to be the first team to leave the stadium Sunday. Their first matchup featured an up and coming USC team who placed in the top 8 in the Treasure Island Sevens tourney a couple weekends back. USC came out strong, controlling possession early on and driving Cal Poly down the field. Poly held strong, refusing to let up a try, and eventually found themselves marching down the pitch to score their own. Apart from a try leaked off a penalty, Cal Poly displayed solid defensive efforts as well as a patient yet effective attack, resulting in a 12-5 victory.

Cal Poly’s next opponent was division rivals, San Diego State. Cal Poly started the game driving down the field on the Aztecs, working the ball side to side and recycling it with confidence. A turnover gave SDSU the ball, which allowed them to display their dangerous sideline-to-sideline passing and speed. The Aztecs proceeded to score multiple tries, putting the Mustangs down early. SDSU’s lead grew until it was too big for the Mustangs to come back from, with a final score of 27-10 favoring the Aztecs.

With the loss to San Diego State, Cal Poly finished 4th out of 8 teams for the tourney. This weekend culminated the fall portion of Poly’s sevens season. However, the Mustangs have their hopes up for a Nationals bid in the spring, giving them the opportunity to take home more hardware after XV’s season is complete. Cal Poly Sevens took huge strides forward this fall season, proving they can finish out close games and compete with top teams. Poly’s team also consisted of a very talented rookie class, which shows great signs of a solid future in years to come.

Photo Credit: Alex Ho /

One Win, One Loss on Day 1 of Silicon Valley 7s

The Mustangs had mixed results on the first day of competition (Sat 11/4) at the Silicon Valley 7s at Avaya Stadium, San Jose.

The team opened with a 14-10 win over UC Davis in a wet and messy start to the tournament. Cal Poly and UC Davis have met in Finals (plate and bowl) of consecutive West Coast 7s tournaments this Fall, and a healthy and respectful rivalry has formed. The Mustangs started well, scoring the first two tries to open a 14-0 lead, a significant score in such wet conditions. UC Davis fought strongly and finished with great intensity, scoring two tries to close the score to its final 14-10 tally, with only goal-kicking splitting the teams.

We faced another familiar opponent in match two, the University of Arizona Wildcats. U of A defeated our team in pool play at the Treasure Island West Coast 7s. Coach Tesoriero emphasized the importance of controlling possession against a team with such attacking firepower, however it was Arizona who controlled ball in the first half, and took a 17-0 halftime lead. Key players Alex Wormer and Pat Madden stepped up in the second half, each scoring tries and reducing the deficit to a score at 17-10. Arizona scored a late try to seal the match 22-10, a fair reflection of the run of play.

On day 2 (Sat 11/5) the Mustangs will play USC at 10:20am, in an elimination match. The double elimination format requires us to win four games in a day to win the Cup, with each match elimination. Certainly a tough prospect, but the team will enter day 2 with renewed energy, knowing that each game could be the final 7s match of the Fall.

Photo Credit: Alex Ho /

Women’s and Men’s Frosh/Soph Teams Play Stanford in Palo Alto

While the 7s team prepared for the Silicon Valley tournament in San Jose, the Freshmen/Sophomore and Womens 15s teams were hosted by Stanford on their scenic Palo Alto campus on Friday evening (11/3).

Confident after opening the season with a win last week, the Cal Poly ladies faced a very experienced and accomplished team which regularly competes in the National Championship, and is considered amongst the best teams in California. Although Stanford proved too strong and experienced, the game was highly competitive and the ladies were the better team for stretches of the match. Sidney Swney and Kahye Yu continued their impressive play, and newcomer Shelby Robinett was a standout in her first ever rugby match. Stanford finished 25-7 winners, but our ladies were proud of the performance and gained valuable experience against a quality opponent.

The men team comprised almost entirely of Freshmen for this clash against a similarly young and inexperienced Stanford team, missing its sevens players. The Mustangs freshmen core again showed great skill, aggression and attacking flair, posting 50 points in the first half. The playmaking trio of Satchell Collins, Kevin McNally and Frenchman Ander Zubidarry set a quick attacking tempo, providing the outside backs with opportunities to showcase their athletic talents. Louis Rampone and Mike Daly were the main beneficiaries, both scoring multiple tries and playing a highly entertaining style of rugby. For the second week, the forward pack provided excellent aggression and physicality, overpowering their opponents. The scoreboard moved more slowly in the second half, finishing 67-15 at full-time.

Women’s Team Display New GSE Construction Jerseys

The womens team ran out for the opening match of their second season sporting eye-catching new jerseys. The Cal Poly Rugby Club has recently welcomed GSE Construction as jersey sponsors of the women’s program and of the recent men’s team tour of Scotland.

GSE is a Californian-based company which has completed more than 600 projects as a general engineering contractor, specializing in water infrastructure. The company employs a number of Cal Poly Rugby Alumni, and is working with the club’s leadership to establish internship and employment opportunities for current Cal Poly Rugby players. VP of Field Operations Steve Mazza was recently on campus at Cal Poly as part of the career fair, and took the opportunity to meet with Head Coach James Tesoriero and present him the new jerseys.


Cal Poly Makes Strong Start to Fall Friendlies

Cal Poly Rugby Club has made a successful start to the Fall 15s season, winning in all grades against Fresno State in Fresno yesterday (Sat 10/28).

The women’s team, in only its second year of existence, won a competitive match by 6 tries to 3 against a deep and talented Fresno St team. A number of ladies played their first games of rugby and made very impressive starts. The veteran players such as Captain Liz Segars, halfback Rylee Birdsall, lock Elena Strom and flyhalf Kellie Cochran provided enough leadership and direction to allow the new girls to learn the game and make big improvements within the match. Despite limited preparation, the team’s defense was impressive, and the lineout was highly effective. Flanker Sidney Swney was outstanding, making numerous line-breaks and scoring two tries. Halfback Rylee was active in attack and defense, and poached several balls from Fresno players. Women’s President Jessica May regularly hit her lineout targets with highly accurate throwing. To place this win in perspective, the women’s team traveled to Fresno for the same match this time 12 months ago, and conceded almost 100 points in a mismatched loss. The ladies are seeing the results of much hard work.

Cal Poly Women’s 32 (Sidney Swney 2, Alyson Martin 2, Cassidy Butler, Elena Strom tries) def Fresno State 17.

Cal Poly men’s fielded a relatively inexperienced A Grade side. With the Sevens squad players unavailable for the weekend, many Freshmen and Sophomores filled out the A grade jerseys, and did so very capably. Coach Tesoriero asked his team for ball-security and width in attack and communication in defense, and was pleased with the way his team responded. “Friendly matches at this time of year are more about process than results, but we always keep an eye on the scoreboard to track our progress. Both the score and performance were pleasing. We were able to starve Fresno of possession, and the weight of possession allowed our attack to find its rhythm”. Bobby Kaehms was exceptional at center, providing a mix of playmaking and ball running, and scoring twice. Captain Eddie McFarland provided the team with composure and experience in addition to his typically bruising play. Second year flanker Jacob Rossner was surprisingly effective, showing the benefits of a big offseason, and rookie flyhalf Kirt Achterman carried over the great form he displayed in recent Sevens tournaments, and looks to be a very positive addition to the squad.

Cal Poly A Grade 49 (Bobby Kaehms 2, James Zanoli, Matt Hansel, Jerod Adams, Jasper Stone, Matt Hazelwood, Kirt Achterman tries, Penalty try) def Fresno State 10

The B Grade lineup was a truly inexperienced group, matched against a similarly raw Fresno St team. A number of players from both teams played their first rugby in this match. Our team also included several more experienced rookies, such as halfback Satchell Collins and flyhalf Kevin McNally, both of whom were exceptional in this match. Outside of these two, centers Andrew Jarboe and Malcolm Smith-Fraser had time, space and quality possession with which to operate, and each took advantage. The big men set the platform for this win, however. Powerful prop Matthew Salinas had a breakout game, punching big holes in the defense with his ball carries, and reminding some of former A grade prop Mickey O’Crowley. Fellow big men Ryan Sparks, Matt Kirby and Josh Hansell set the platform for this win with high work-rates and quality involvements. “Today we unearthed some new talent”, said coach Tesoriero. “It is always pleasing to see new guys entering the program and showing such athleticism and abilities. Today we saw a glimpse of the club’s future in our B grade match, and it is very exciting”.

Cal Poly B Grade 38 def Fresno State 10


West Coast Sevens SFGG Treasure Island Recap

As the two day tournament in the bay comes to a close, Cal Poly’s sevens team did not experience the results they had wished, but there were many positive aspects and moments to build off of moving forward. Overall, Cal Poly Sevens went 3-3, taking 10th place out of 16 teams. The team got dealt a tough pool which included University of Arizona and UCLA, finishing 2nd and 5th place respectively. The competitive pool accompanied by a lack of offensive possession led to Cal Poly Sevens not meeting its expectations.

Poly’s first match on Day 1 was against UCLA, an extremely underrated team due to their sub-par performance in the SLO West Coast Sevens tournament. UCLA controlled possession for nearly 100% of the first half, and after numerous goal-line stands from Poly’s defense, UCLA finally scored a pair of tries before half. By the time Poly started finding a rhythm on offense, it was too late, and UCLA finished with a 17-5 victory.

In Poly’s second match of the day, they faced the University of Oregon. Playing with a predominantly younger squad, Poly found life in its offense in route to a 42-7 victory.

The final match of Day 1 featured Poly vs the University of Arizona. After leaking an easy try off a turnover ball in the first seconds of the match, Poly found itself playing catchup for the rest of the way. Despite another strong defensive effort, Poly lost the match 22-5.

Due to the 1-2 record on Day 1, Cal Poly entered the bottom 8 bracket for Day 2, with their new goal being to win the bowl. The first match consisted of a young Poly team vs. Sonoma St. Poly scored early and often, leading to a 35-0 victory to start the day.

Poly did not slow down in its second game of Day 2 vs. the University of San Diego. Young players led the way again in this match, which resulted in another shut out in a 36-0 victory. Poly had its sights set on the bowl championship game.

The bowl championship featured a rematch of the plate championship at the SLO West Coast Sevens tournament, Cal Poly vs. UC Davis. The match started out with a dominating control of possession by UC Davis for most of the first half, but Poly held strong with numerous defensive stands. Poly put the first points on the board from a kick-and-chase nearly spanning the whole pitch. The defensive efforts ceased slightly at the end of the first half as UC Davis cut the Poly lead to 7-5. UC Davis came out in the second half dominating control again. Although Poly’s defense held strong for most of the game, the lack of offensive possession led to another UC Davis try, which proved to be the determining points. After a long, hard fought match, UC Davis outlasted Cal Poly 10-7 to win the bowl.

Cal Poly Sevens can build off of a strong defensive effort throughout the tournament as well as breakout performances from rookies Kirt Achterman, Kyle Hegarty and a consecutive positive outing for rookie Patrick Madden. Poly looks forward to continue improving to compete against the top notch teams it came so close to defeating.

Photo Credit: Alex Ho /, Pat Mulcaire


In a huge weekend for the club, the 2017 founders dinner was held Saturday (10/7) evening at the San Luis Obispo Legion Post, following the hosting of a highly successful West Coast 7s SLO tournament on campus.

At the Founders dinner, two teams were recognized for their contributions to the club. The 1977 team is regarded as one of Cal Poly’s great rugby teams and includes some of the club’s most influential men, including Founders Club members Charles Zanoli, Doug Smith, Marty Self and coach Phil Northcraft. The ’77 team won the prestigious Santa Barbara tournament, then consider the pinnacle of rugby on the West Coast. The team also made international headlines with their tour of Fiji.

The trailblazing 2017 women’s team were the first female team to compete as Cal Poly in the 50+ years history of the club. Coaches TJ Olsen and Jo Abshner highlighted the journey from formation to competitive rugby team all within a single year. The ladies were presented their jerseys by 1977 team coach Dr Northcraft.

Marshall Brusca and Nico Thayer were presented as winners of the Higgins Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded annually to the 2nd year back and forward who best represent Kevin Higgins’ legacy of rugby, academic success and clubmanship. Gary Higgins and several members of the Higgins family were on hand to present the award to Marshall and Nico, who will be receive a cash bursary and the opportunity to travel to Australia for Summer 2018 for a work internship and an Australia rugby season.

Ron Bass and Lin Price (both members of the ’77 team) were inducted into the Founders Club, recognizing their enormous contributions to Cal Poly Rugby. Ron Bass is familiar to those who have attended previous Founders dinners, he has catered and cooked at more than 30 of the club’s fundraising dinners, accounting for tens of thousands in fundraising money. Ron, who played with the club between ’76 and ’78, still lives in San Luis Obispo and remains involved with the club. The late, great Lin Price was a member of the 1977 team, and was inducted posthumously in the presence of his former team-mates. Lin was a large figure in the local rugby scene, as a Cal Poly great and as a member of the San Luis Obispo Rugby Club. In Lin’s name we compete for the annual Lin Price game between Cal Poly and SLORC.

To round out a showcase weekend for the club, High School All American coach Salty Thompson hosted an EIRA talent identification session on campus at Cal Poly on Sunday (10/8). Coach Thompson was assisted by Mustangs coach James Tesoriero and two of our club’s former EIRA graduates and High School All Americans, Senior Connor Cudeback and Freshman Pat Madden. Such talent identification camps are used as an entry point to the EIRA talent development program, and ultimately the High School All American program. Salty was happy with the young talent unveiled at this event, and plans to make the San Luis Obispo clinic an annual event.