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.
“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.
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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the job description.