Mustangs Prepare for Playoffs

April 15th, 2015

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This weekend, the Cal Poly Mustangs will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on the University of Utah in the opening round of the USA Rugby D1A Playoffs. The boys have been very focused at practice of late, and it showed in the 48-7 performance against San Diego State last weekend. Coach James Tesoriero has his account below.

Thank you to those of you who made it for Parents and Alumni weekend!

Coach’s Corner
with Head Coach James Tesoriero

Saturday marked a number of ‘final’ milestones for the 2015 season. We played our final D1a conference match, it was the final home game of the season, and 7 seniors played their final home matches at Cal Poly. In addition, we welcomed a large cohort of former players for the annual Alumni game, and Saturday night we held the Parents & Alumni Dinner, so it was a day of great significance in many ways.

The Alumni vs Cal Poly Veterans match kicked off first up, with the ‘old boys’ matched against a collection of our more senior current players. We were warned ahead of time the old boys would be fielding a very talented team, and would be ‘coming in hot’! The Alumni didn’t disappoint, leading for the entire match and posting a comfortable win, turning back the clock and entertaining a considerable crowd on the hill. The Poly team were competitive however, and kept the Alumni honest for 80 minutes. This game featured a Father/Son play head-to-head (The Lowe’s on opposite wings) and Father/Son teammates (the Nunno’s). There was also much grumbling from the Alumni group about how much the jerseys had shrunk (particularly around the waist) since the guys graduated years ago.

The 2nd XV had a very different look from previous weeks, with many regular 2nd teamers playing against the Alumni in the early game. This provided an opportunity for some younger and less experienced guys to prove themselves against a talented opposition in the form of San Diego State 2nd XV. The match was a grind in the opening period, with our team in control yet unable to post points. Points came towards the end of the first half, and again after the break. SDSU competed throughout and crossed our line a number of times, however we kept a points buffer throughout and recorded a relatively comfortable win. Grant Beadle, who gets better with every game, was electric from halfback. Sal Guevara was a standout at flanker, while Eric Martin was dangerous on the edges and Dan Dempster was solid at fly half.

The 1st side were entirely ‘up’ and motivated for their final D1a game, aware that SDSU would be playing to keep their season alive and would enter the game with great intensity. We had scouted SDSU thoroughly during the week and had a good feel for their strengths and vulnerabilities. Our top team has played brilliant stretches of throughout the season, although with the Playoffs a week away, had not yet played 80 minutes of consecutive great rugby. This was our goal for the match.

As expected SDSU started strongly, broke our line on a few occasions, and posted the first try in the 15th minute. We gradually wrestled control of the match, largely on the back of a very dominant scrum. ‘Try sneak’ Matt Ryan crossed for our first try in the 24th minute, followed shortly after by another to Chris Codding. When John Joe crossed at the stroke of halftime, we had SDSU on the ropes at 17-7.

During the halftime break we reaffirmed our commitment to bringing 80 minutes of intensity and quality play, and to continue to pressure the opponents. In the second half, our forward pack well and truly gained ascendency on the opposition, gaining meters through midfield, and absolutely bullying the SDSU pack at the scrum. Scrum dominance allowed the backline to throw the ball around with the knowledge that a dropped ball would bring another scrum, and likely more possession.

As the afternoon progressed, the Alumni on the hill cheered louder and were treated to spectacular play from the home team. We played out the 80 minutes as hoped, and delivered our best performance of the year, finishing comfortable 48-7 winners against a very capable and talented San Diego outfit. The entire forward pack was outstanding, both in set piece and around the park, laying a superb platform for halves Chris Codding and Keli’i Dominguez to dictate play.

This strong form is timely, with an elimination Playoff vs Utah in Salt Lake City next Saturday 18th April. No 6 ranked Utah will present a very difficult challenge, however our form, fitness and motivation levels are peaking at the right time, and we will give ourselves every chance of progressing to Quarter-Final the following weekend.

Finally, thanks to the parents and alumni for getting behind Saturday night’s dinner, and a special thanks to those who donated items, bought auction prizes, and bought drinks throughout the evening.

1st XV Cal Poly 48 def SDSU 7
3 Points- Keli’i Dominguez
2 Points- John Joe Murphy
1 Point- Nathan Sylvia
– Connor Cudeback

2nd XV Cal Poly 31 def SDSU 17
3 Points- Grant Beadle
2 Points- Salvador Guevara
1 Point- Eric Martin
-Dan Dempster

3rd XV Cal Poly Alumni def Cal Poly Veterans
3 Points- Phil Bezouska
2 Points- Dylan Lynch
1 Point- Zach Markow

Go Mustangs!
Coach Tesoriero

D1A Playoff Picture

D1A Playoff Picture

Cal Poly Back in Action

April 7th, 2015

Following a their 59-21 victory over Grand Canyon University, the Mustangs will host San Diego State this Saturday April 11th at 3pm. It will be a pivotal match deciding the standings in the California Conference with both teams looking for a playoff bid.

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Preceding the 1st XV game will be an alumni game with the 3rd XV at 12:00pm, and a 2nd XV game at 1:30pm. All alumni are encouraged to bring their boots for a great afternoon of rugby! The day will conclude with the annual Parents & Alumni Dinner at the American Legion Post. The address for the dinner is 1661 Mill Street, San Luis Obispo (near the tank on Grand Ave.)

Below is an update from Head Coach James Tesoreiro.

Coach’s Corner
by Coach James Tesoriero

“Rugby returned to the Cal Poly fields on Saturday, with Grand Canyon University visiting from Phoenix, Arizona. GCU has a young and ambitious rugby program, and has assembled a talented team in only their first year. Our rugby program, meanwhile, enjoyed a short hiatus for Spring Break, during which we held a Spring Training Camp in San Francisco. The players were eager to test out some newly learned skills and strategies, while the coaching staff was looking for a tough hit out only a few weeks out from the Playoffs.”

Codding

Chris Codding was dangerous with ball in hand. Jan Piper Photo

 

“The 1st XV made a very strong start, controlling possession, attacking with width, and scoring plenty of tries. Chris Codding controlled the game very well from halfback, and surprised a few spectators with some crunching defence. Max Tackett was typically dangerous at centre, and both wings were in the thick of action throughout, a sign that the team was playing a good style of rugby. Mark Grzanich already had a hat-trick when the halftime whistle blew, and we were ahead 47-0.

My message at half time was to continue to apply pressure, to make use of every possession and set piece during the second half, and to adopt a playoff mentality to take forward to next weekend. To GCU’s credit, they came out a much improved team in the second half, capitalised on some of our mistakes and outscored us comfortably in the second half. The final score of 59-21 was pleasing, however, the second half’s patchy performance was less than ideal so close to the Playoffs.”

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John Joe Murphy on the attack for the Mustangs. Jan Piper Photo.

 

“The 2nd XV were in a tight contest, trailing 3-0 for much of the first half. A few tries before halftime opened the game up, and the team was good enough to put some distance between themselves and the opposition in the second half and finish with a 29-3 win. It was a brutal match and the Athletic Trainer was kept busy, our players suffering facial cuts and various injuries. Sal Guevera received Coach Pete’s man of the match, breaking the GCU defensive time a number of times and scoring a try. Zac Markow also played well despite carrying an injury into the game, and Grant Beadle continued his run of form and ongoing improvement.”

“Earlier in the day the 3rd XV played a friendly against SLO Youth, posting an impressive win against a spirited yet inexperienced opposition. Dylan Lynch was in everything, scoring 3 tries. Andrew Acosta also crossed the line a number of times and played strongly.”

“We would love to see all family, friends and Mustangs fans this Saturday (11th April) for our final home game of the season against conference rival San Diego State. The 1st team needs a win to ensure a Playoff spot, and a convincing win could elevate our Playoff seeding, so there is much to play for. Following the match the annual Parents & Alumni dinner will be held in downtown SLO, and evening should also be a highlight of the club’s social calendar!”

1st XV Cal Poly 59 def GCU 21
3 Points- Chris Codding
2 Points- Connor Cudeback
1 Point- Max Tackett
1 Point- Kevin Cragin

2nd XV Cal Poly 29 def GCU 3
3 Points-Salvador Guevara
2 Points- Zach Markow
1 Point- Austin Changras
1 Point- Grant Beadle

3rd XV Cal Poly 7 tries def SLO 3 tries
3 Points- Dylan Lynch
2 Points- Andrew Acosta
1 Point- Phil Bezouska

Go Mustangs!
Coach Tesoriero

Cal Poly Rebounds With 33-14 Win Over SDSU

February 10th, 2015

On the heels of two tough losses to Cal and BYU, the Mustangs were again on the road this past weekend and picked up a victory over San Diego State. The Mustang players and coaches believe that a lot was learned in the early pre-season losses.

“Our set-piece wasn’t up to scratch, and we saw very little possession because of it,” said Coach Tesoriero. “We also identified some defensive issues that we’ve begun to address at training.”

 

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Max Tacket with the ball vs Cal (Leanna Long photo)

 

In San Diego, the score was close throughout the match with the first points not coming until the Mustangs scored a try late in the first half. SDSU responded to level the score at halftime. The Mustangs controlled the ball for most of the game, although they struggled to convert possession into points. With less than 10 minutes to play, San Diego was threatening to score at the Cal Poly try line for numerous phases, but the Mustangs defense proved too strong.

“Our defense was massively improved and the lineout was almost perfect,” said Coach Tesoriero. After winning a turnover, the Mustangs were quick to score with a great counter attack to extend their lead and seal the game. Cal Poly would go on to score another try with only a couple of minutes remaining to make the final score 33-14. The Cal Poly 2nd XV also defeated SDSU 2nd XV 35-5, and Cal Poly 3rd XV defeated The University of San Diego 28-14.

 

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Matt Ryan scored two tries against San Diego State (Leanna Long photo)

 

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Chris Dempster jumping in the lineout. (Leanna Long photo)

 

Congratulations is in order for Brandon Puccini, this year’s recipient of the Kevin Higgins Scholarship. Brandon, an alumnus of Bellarmine College Preparatory, is a first year Mechanical Engineering student. He has been quick to impress the coaches with his athleticism and knowledge of the game.

“Brandon has a very strong work ethic and has never missed a practice or conditioning session,” said Charles Zanoli, Director of Rugby Operations.

On winning the scholarship, Brandon said, “I would like to thank the U.S. Rugby Foundation for honoring me with this award. I would also like to thank my family, friends, teammates, and coaches for providing me with support along the way. Receiving this scholarship means so much to me because not only am I being rewarded for all my hard work, I am also able to learn from Kevin Higgins’ life story. He inspires me to live my life to its fullest potential, as if every day could be my last.”

 

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Kevin Higgins Scholarship recipient, Brandon Puccini (Phillip Bezouska photo)

 

Cal Poly Readies for Regular Season

January 22nd, 2015

 

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Cal Poly’s 2015 schedule.

 

Under the guidance of Head Coach James Tesoriero, the Mustangs (#10 D1A) have been putting in great effort at training to prepare for a schedule that will see them face opponents ranked #1, #2, and #4 in the nation. The Cal Poly coaches see a great benefit to having such a tough schedule. “We’ve intentionally scheduled skilled opposition going into the D1A season, so that we can test our team system and get our boys match hardened,” says Coach Tesoriero. “It will be a good opportunity to measure ourselves against the best teams in the West.” On moving from New South Wales, Australia and taking over the Head Coach position, Tesoriero says, “The transition has been fairly seamless; [former Head Coach] Dave Burnett left behind a great program. I also have returning players who know the game and help keep the club running smoothly.”

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The Mustangs enjoying the view over San Luis Obispo on a Winter Training Camp conditioning run.

The team recently completed Winter Training Camp: a full weekend of practice, conditioning, strategy meetings, and a performance nutrition seminar from Strength and Conditioning Coach, Chris Borgard. It was a taxing weekend, but he payoff was evidenced in the first pre-season game as the Mustangs 2nd XV defeated Santa Barbara City College 26-22.

This Saturday, Jan 24, Cal Poly travels to Berkeley, California to take on the Cal Bears (#4) in a rematch of the 2004 National Championship that saw the Mustangs fall to a powerful Cal side. All Cal Poly fans in the Bay Area are encouraged to make the trip to Witter Rugby Field for the 1pm kickoff!

Next Saturday, Jan 31, the Mustangs will go to Mesquite, Nevada to meet BYU (#2) for another non-league match-up. Last season, Cal Poly went all the way to snowy Provo, Utah and surprised the BYU Cougars with dominating play from the forward pack and an early 10-0 lead. Although the Mustangs were unable to hold the lead, the club took a lot of positives from the match and look forward to the upcoming game.

The first big home game will come on March 7, when the Mustangs play host to the reigning National Champions, St. Mary’s College (#1). The two conference rivals have seen a lot of each other in past seasons and it is sure to be an exceptionally high intensity game. Following the final home match against San Diego State on April 11, the Mustangs will host the annual Parents and Alumni Dinner. Save the date and check back for more information as the season progresses.

 

Fall 2014 Rugby 7’s

November 15th, 2014
Champagne Rugby BIB 2014

Sean Gorman lifts Mark Grzanich to take a kickoff from the Cal Bears at Battle in the Bay

Cal Poly finished the fall 2014 collegiate 7’s competition with a decisive win over UCLA to take 3rd place of Battle In the Bay. The strong performance by the Mustangs, in both West Coast 7’s and Battle in the Bay, secures an at-large bid to the May 2015 USA Rugby Collegiate National Championship.

Sevens coach, Andy Doukas, attributes success to an all around “Team” approach and dedication to the core principles of 7’s Rugby, along with “Champagne Rugby” by veteran Mikey Mitchell, Sean Gorman, and Mark Grzanich, to name a few.

All 16 in the line-up contributed to the great success this fall; evident in the UCLA victory and reserve impact play! We look forward to 2015.

Cal Poly 2014 Battle of the Bay

The Cal Poly Mustangs 7’s Team

Cal Poly Mustangs Name James Tesoriero as New Head Coach

September 24th, 2014

San Luis Obispo, CA – The Cal Poly Mustangs Rugby Club is pleased to announce the hiring of new Head Coach James Tesoriero. Coach Tesoriero has an extensive background in rugby and coaching in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. Tesoriero has been coaching for over 10 years at various levels: from Sydney high schools, to his most recent position at Randwick Rugby Club of New South Wales (NSW) Rugby Union’s Premier competition. “We are very excited to be bringing in a coach that we believe will continue the trend of high quality of rugby at Cal Poly,” said Charles Zanoli, Director of Rugby Operations.

New Cal Poly Head Coach James Tesoriero (center)

New Cal Poly Head Coach James Tesoriero (center)

Tesoriero will also bring a great deal of rugby 7’s experience to California’s central coast. He has coached the NSW women’s 7’s team at Australia’s National Championship as well as the Northern Territory Men’s 7’s squad at International Club 7’s tournaments including Singapore and Gold Coast.

Former Head Coach Dave Burnett had a hand in the search and selection process, and has met with Tesoriero in Sydney several times to ensure a smooth transition. The Mustangs are looking forward to begin working with Tesoriero in late October. With the season fast approaching, Cal Poly is looking to build on the success of the most recent years: the team has had 3 consecutive top 12 finishes at the USA Rugby 7’s National Championship, two D1A Final 8 appearances in a row, and finished last season ranked #7 in USA Rugby’s top collegiate competition.

Mustangs Narrow Search for New Coach

August 18th, 2014

rugby club logoAfter the search began in late May, the Cal Poly Mustangs announced that they have narrowed their candidates for the vacant Head Coach position. “We’ve had over 40 experienced coaches, both domestic and abroad, apply for the position,” said Charles Zanoli, Director of Rugby for Mustang Rugby Inc. “We’re now evaluating the top 5 candidates, and hope to have our final selection in the next few weeks,” said Zanoli.

This announcement comes as the Mustangs are preparing for Fall 7’s and their 50th anniversary season. They will again be hosting the West Coast 7’s tournament on the Cal Poly campus which is set to feature some of the best collegiate rugby programs in the Western United States. Saint Mary’s, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, San Diego State, Santa Clara, UC Davis, Grand Canyon University, and UC Santa Barbara will all make the trip to San Luis Obispo for the October 11 tournament. A live stream of the day’s games will be available online with commentary by Canterbury’s Dallen Stanford.

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Max Tacket Selected for USA Hawks 7’s Squad

August 12th, 2014
Max Tacket dives over the line. Photo Karen Drinkwater.

Max Tacket dives over the line. Photo Karen Drinkwater.

Cal Poly rugby player Max Tacket has been selected for the USA Hawks 7’s team to compete in the 2014 Serevi Rugbytown Sevens at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado. He will join elite collegiate players from all over the country to compete in the 3 day tournament from August 15-17. The following is a press release from USA Rugby.

For Immediate Release
Submitted by USA Rugby
August 11, 2014

BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby announced its three teams to compete at the 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens at Infinity Park in Glendale Aug. 15-17.

Tony Pacheco will coach the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Sevens, while new Men’s Eagles Sevens Assistant Coach Chris Brown and former Eagles head coach Al Caravelli will take charge of the USA Falcons and USA Hawks, respectively. Pacheco will be assisted by Evan Haigh, and Caravelli will have Eagle veteran and former High School All-American Sevens coach David Fee to call on as an assistant coach.

Pacheco’s All-Americans took home the $10,000 prize at the 2013 tournament with an undefeated record and victories against Bermuda, El Azul, Air Force, Tiger Rugby, and two against the hometown Glendale Raptors.

Only Shaun Potgieter of Arkansas State University and University of Delaware’s Glen Thommes return to Pacheco’s championship squad.

“I am excited to work with these student-athletes,” Pacheco said. “They represent some of the best in collegiate rugby.

“With 10 new players from last year’s squad we will need to use our time together efficiently to achieve success.”

The Falcons boast current and former Eagles Pat Blair, Andrew Durutalo, Nese Malifa, Ryan Matyas, Marcus Satavu, Pila Taufa, Maka Unufe, and Michael Ziegler. Perry Baker, one of the newest players in residency at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., was also selected to the team that lost out in the Bowl Final of 2013’s Serevi RugbyTown Sevens.

Arkansas State University scrumhalf and 2013 USA Rugby Emirates Airline College 7s National Championship Most Valuable Player Dillon Carrion is one of the Hawks’ 12 exciting players, which also includes Men’s Eagles High Performance Sevens camp attendee Tyler Coffman of Central Washington University.

Fifteen colleges are represented across the three teams, including D1A Finalists Saint Mary’s College and Life University.

Denver Sevens, Northeast ODA, Negro y Azul, and Glendale will also feature in Glendale with several Eagles Sevens candidates.

With the 2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship in Seattle, Wash., and Limerick World Club 7s in Ireland Aug. 9-10, and Premiership Rugby’s World Club 7s at Twickenham Stadium Aug. 16-17, there is no shortage of premier sevens rugby this month for players with Olympic aspirations.

San Francisco Golden Gate and New York City 7s represented the U.S. in Limerick, while New York will meet up with Elite City Sevens Champion Seattle in London for World Club 7s. Contracted Eagles and players in the national team pool make up the rosters for the three teams traveling across the pond, which will help build the pool’s résumé as the second Men’s Eagles High Performance Sevens camp draws nearer.

In selecting the MCAA, Falcons, and Hawks rosters, the goal of National Sevens Director Alex Magleby was to ensure the players with national team hopes were given the chance to play for a spot at the OTC, be it in Glendale, Seattle, Limerick, or London.

“There are plenty of opportunities for players to play their way into a future Eagles camp,” Magleby said. “We wanted to make sure the pool was covered as much as feasible where availabilities allowed, so some players were kept with their Olympic Development Academy or local club team for Club 7s or World Club 7s as opposed to bumping them into the Collegiate All-Americans, Falcons, or Hawks in Colorado.”

On top of the U.S. representative sides participating on three fronts, the United States is also sending men’s and women’s teams to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, the first Olympics with Rugby Sevens on the Games Program. The 24 players between the ages of 16 and 18 will play for an Olympic medal beginning Aug. 17.

The Falcons and Hawks will open their Serevi RugbyTown Sevens campaigns against each other Friday, Aug. 15, at 2:28 P.M. MT, while the MCAAs will begin their title defense against the Royal Air Force at 3:34 P.M. MT. All matches at Infinity Park will be streamed live.

Follow @aarugby on Twitter for updates from the teams in Colorado.


AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Sevens | 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens

First Name Last Name School/Club Height Weight (lbs.)
Josh Bower Central Washington University & Seattle-OPSB 5’11” 185
Harley Davidson Life University 5’11” 180
Chris Frazier Northeastern University & New England Prime 6’3″ 225
Martin Iosefo University of Montana 6’1″ 215
Tonata Lauti University of Utah 5’8″ 175
Kingsley McGowan Saint Mary’s College 5’11” 195
Shaun Potgieter Arkansas State University 6’1″ 220
Joe Reavey Saint Mary’s College 5’9″ 180
Adam Sandstrom Arizona State University & Chicago Lions 6’3″ 210
Aladdin Schirmer Central Washington University 6’3″ 225
Seb Sharpe University of California Los Angeles 5’9″ 185
Glen Thommes University of Delaware & Schuylkill River 6’3″ 220

AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Sevens | Coaching Staff
Tony Pacheco – Head Coach
Evan Haigh – Coach
Eric Taber – Manager
Brian Finn – Trainer

AIG Men’s Colleagiate All-American Sevens | 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens
v Royal Air Force – Friday, Aug. 15 @ 3:34 P.M. MT
v Northeast – Friday, Aug. 15 @ 6:08 P.M. MT
v Denver – Saturday, Aug. 16 @ 1:06 P.M. MT


USA Falcons | 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens

First Name Last Name School/Club Height Weight (lbs.)
Perry Baker Men’s Eagles Sevens & Columbus-1823 6’1″ 180
Pat Blair At Large 6’1″ 220
Andrew Durutalo Men’s Eagles Sevens & Seattle-OPSB 6’2″ 245
Valenese Malifa Men’s Eagles Sevens 5’10” 190
Ryan Matyas At Large 6’0″ 190
Don Pati Park City Haggis 5’7″ 180
Marcus Satavu New Haven Bulldogs 6’0″ 210
Pila Taufa Men’s Eagles Sevens 6’3″ 205
Ryan Thompson Tempe 6’2″ 200
Chris Turori OMBAC 6’4″ 225
Maka Unufe Men’s Eagles Sevens 6’2″ 200
Michael Ziegler Men’s Eagles Sevens & Columbus-1823 6’4″ 230

USA Falcons | Coaching Staff
Chris Brown – Head Coach
Paul Goulding – Manager & Analyst
Brian Green – Trainer

USA Falcons | 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens
v USA Hawks – Friday, Aug. 15 @ 2:28 P.M. MT
v Negro y Azul – Friday, Aug. 15 @ 5:24 P.M. MT
v Bermuda – Saturday, Aug. 16 @ 12:00 P.M. MT


USA Hawks | 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens

First Name Last Name School/Club Height Weight (lbs.)
Christian Adams American International College 5’9″ 215
Dylan Carrion Arkansas State University 5’6″ 150
Tyler Coffman Central Washington University 6’3″ 210
JJ Corpuz-Jackson American International College 6’2″ 233
Ty Elkins Columbus-1823 6’0″ 193
Brad Harrington University of California Berkeley 6’2″ 195
Bubba Jones Saint Mary’s College 5’9″ 200
Shawn Riley Notre Dame College 5’10” 190
Kenny Scott Kansas City Blues 6’4″ 210
Sam Sirrell University of California Los Angeles 5’11” 205
Max Tacket California Polytechnic State University 6’0″ 205
Jimmy Wolfer St. Joseph’s University 5’9″ 175

USA Hawks | Coaching Staff
Al Caravelli – Head Coach
David Fee – Coach & Manager
Brian Finn – Trainer

USA Hawks | 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens
v USA Falcons – Friday, Aug. 15 @ 2:28 P.M. MT
v Bermuda – Friday, Aug. 15 @ 5:46 P.M. MT
v Negro y Azul – Saturday, Aug. 16 @ 12:22 P.M. MT

Cal Poly Rugby Head Coach Dave Burnett Resigns

May 27th, 2014
Head Coach Dave Burnett has called it a day at Cal Poly. Photo Phil Bezouska

Head Coach Dave Burnett has called it a day at Cal Poly. Photo Phil Bezouska

After three years in charge of the Cal Poly Rugby Club, Head Coach Dave Burnett is stepping down and returning to his hometown of Sydney, Australia.

Burnett informed the Cal Poly Rugby players, parents and alumni of his resignation at a recent Rugby Club dinner, citing the decision as the best life and career move for him at this time. Burnett, who worked as the Sponsorship Manager at the NSW Waratah’s in Sydney before moving to the United States, will look to continue his career in the commercial world in the immediate future.

The 2014 Cal Poly Rugby Club Photo

The 2014 Cal Poly Rugby Club 

“This was an incredibly hard decision for me, I’ve had a fantastic time being a part of this University and Rugby Club and am just so grateful to have had the opportunity,” Burnett said. “All good things have to come to an end unfortunately, but I know this is the best time for me to move on.”

Since arriving in San Luis Obispo, Burnett has guided the Mustangs to two D1A post seasons (including the semifinals in 2013), three consecutive top 12 finishes in the USA Rugby College 7s National Championships, and a historic win over Cal in 2012 that broke the Golden Bears’ 63 game winning streak. “Dave was touted as an attack specialist coming into the program.  His extensive on-field experience at back-row and center, match analysis and expansive game tactics, both challenged and empowered players and staff on a daily basis. Dave’s influence has strengthened our program in both 7’s and 15’s and will pay dividends in the years to come,” said former head coach and Mustang Rugby Inc. Director Charles Zanoli.

The Mustangs 1st XV before the 2013 D1A Semi Final against St Mary's College. Photo Karen Drinkwater

The Mustangs 1st XV before the 2013 D1A Semi Final against St Mary’s College. Photo Karen Drinkwater

Utilizing his background in sports administration, Burnett has brought considerable growth to the off field operations of the club including an increase of 70% in club participation numbers and an 85% increase in club fundraising revenue. Doug Smith, Director of Mustang Rugby Inc., the not-for-profit support foundation of the Cal Poly Rugby Club, commented, “Dave was very instrumental in improving relations with the University Administration during his tenure.  One of our top objectives going forward will be to continue to develop that relationship.  Dave was extremely creative and interactive with Alumni and Parents; which certainly helped in our fundraising efforts the past three years.  The entire Cal Poly Rugby community is saddened to see Dave resign and return to Australia. We wish him all the success in the world and hopefully our paths will cross in the future.”

“I would like to thank all the people who have supported me during my time at Cal Poly, in particular Doug Smith and Charles Zanoli from Mustang Rugby Inc. I’ve made a lot of life-long friends in this beautiful area and have been fortunate enough to coach some tremendous young men,” Burnett said. “I don’t have any regrets and leave with nothing but positive feelings now that it’s all over. It has not been without its challenges, but one can say that about any endeavor or business that has tried to grow beyond its initial foundations.

“I look forward to the day when all American universities grant rugby varsity sport status and embrace the game for the incredible global, professional game that it is.

The Cal Poly 7s team finished 8th at the 2011 USA Rugby National Championships. Photo Mike Nunno

The Cal Poly 7s team finished 8th at the 2011 USA Rugby National Championships. Photo Mike Nunno

“To know that one of our collegiate rugby players could graduate and be a professional rugby player abroad, play for the USA at a World Cup, and be an Olympic athlete, well, for me that trumps football, baseball, and basketball combined. I just hope that the Cal Poly administration is the next to take the leap of faith into rugby in the USA,” Burnett added.

The Cal Poly Rugby Club officers and Mustang Rugby Inc. directors have already begun an international search for Burnett’s successor but nothing has been finalized at this stage. “We’ve made some excellent contacts both domestic and abroad in recent weeks, and are confident that we’ll have a quality successor in the near future,” said Zanoli.

Anyone interested in the position of Head Coach of the Cal Poly Rugby Club can email Charles Zanoli at czanoli@calpolyrugby.com for a copy of the job description.

Red Wolves too Strong for Mustangs

May 20th, 2014
Scrumhalf Thomas Leacox clears the ball from the ruck. Photo Mike Nunno

Scrumhalf Thomas Leacox clears the ball from the ruck. Photo Mike Nunno

The Cal Poly Rugby Club bowed out of the D1A Playoffs last month after a hard fought 43-12 loss at the hands of a big and powerful Arkansas State side.

The men from San Luis Obispo had a tough lead into the match with a full day of traveling to get to Jonesboro Arkansas. The trip included a three-hour drive to LAX, six hours of flights and transfers to get into St. Louis Missouri, followed by a four drive to Jonesboro, getting the team in after midnight the night before the match. This heavy travel load wasn’t enough to dim the excited of the Mustangs as they woke for their second D1A final 8 appearance in two years.

Cal Poly forwards Mickey O'Crowley & Joe Cremen do their best to contain the powerful Arkansas State forwards. Photo Rich Carvell Ark State.

Cal Poly forwards Mickey O’Crowley & Joe Cremen do their best to contain the powerful Arkansas State forwards. Photo Rich Carvell Ark State.

Beautiful conditions and a great playing surface greeted the two quarterfinalists, but the Mustangs excited was quickly transformed into pure focus when the home side raced to a 21-point lead only twenty minutes into the match. After the initial onslaught from the powerful Red Wolves side, Cal Poly did well to keep themselves in match with a well executed try to winger Matt Long at the back end of the first half. Set up by a strong Cal Poly scrum, what looked like a standard crash ball by outside center Will Campuzano turn into a beautiful backs try in the corner. On a hard unders line the nifty 13 popped the ball to his outside shoulder for racing weakside winger Mikey Micthell to burst onto. The subsequent pass to fullback Alex Frost and finally to winger Long gave Poly their first five pointer of the match.

Andy Early on the charge for the Mustangs. Photo Rich Carvell Ark State.

Andy Early on the charge for the Mustangs. Photo Rich Carvell Ark State.

Unfortunately for the visitors three run away tries to Arkansas State early in the second half ensured Poly’s chances of securing a semi final appearance would slip away. Not giving up for a single moment, the Mustangs conjured up a consolation try shortly before the full time whistle to replacement flanker Mark Grzanich after a clever turnover by replacement winger Nate Nunno.

Although dishearten knowing the loss meant an end to the Cal Poly Rugby season for 2013-14, the Mustangs know this match and their preparation for this playoffs campaign, will hold them in great stead for next season.

Cal Poly Flyhalf Kelii Dominguez doing all he can to escape the Red Wolves defense. Photo Rich Carvell Ark State.

Cal Poly Flyhalf Kelii Dominguez doing all he can to escape the Red Wolves defense. Photo Rich Carvell Ark State.

In a year riddled with injuries to Cal Poly’s most promising and in form players, young Mustangs such as freshman tighthead prop Eddie McFarland, freshman outside Will Campuzano, sophomore wing turned flyhalf Kelii Dominguez and first year rugby player Nathan Sylvia, all stood up performed above and beyond the standard required to ensure the Rugby Club didn’t take a backward step and charged into the post season.

Mustang winger Nate Nunno does hold back against his Red Wolves counter park. Photo Mike Nunno

Mustang winger Nate Nunno does hold back against his Red Wolves counter park. Photo Mike Nunno