Dear Parents, Alumni and Supporters,
I thought I would write this letter to give you an update on a variety of fronts. We currently sit 0-4 in the Socal Premier league with 4 games to go. We finished the first round with a trip to Las Vegas to play University of Arizona in the last league match of round one. We also took an opportunity to pick up 2 more matches versus University of Colorado B’s and BYU B’s to aid in the development of our B/C squads. I have included some match details of that trip below.
Las Vegas Invitational
We brought 55 players to play four matches over this past weekend including our premier league match vs.
U of A. Typically we play three sides vs. U of A; however, Coach Sitton and I agreed to allow our 2nd sides to play other teams to get some variety in our schedule and allow our 3rd sides to face off.
Fri February 12th
CP 1 v U of A Cal Poly Loss 5 – 21 1 try for Cal Poly unconverted to U of A 2 trys 1 converted 3 pen kicks
CP 2 v Colorado 2 CP won 27 – 0 5 trys 1 con for Cal Poly
CP 3 v U of A 3 CP won 31 – 19 5 trys 3 cons for Cal Poly to 3 trys 2 cons for U of A
Sat February 13th
CP 2/3 V BYU 2 Cal Poly Loss 12 – 32 2 trys 1 converted to BYU 5 trys 2 converted 1 pen
As for our season, we have had somewhat of a perfect storm hit us this year. Although we have a significant
number of players and run three full teams (66 players plus), we have had our experienced knowledge base
destroyed due to several factors. We have lost 28 players (first side pool players with playoff experience).
Nine were lost to graduation for which I had planned. The other 19 are the biggest concern as we have lost
four to injury for the entire year and 15 others have quit due to financial challenges, academic
probation/removal or leaving school for academic reasons (lack of class availability or field of study change).
We have also continued to have the usual mountain to climb of getting training facility access and this year a skeleton crew coaching staff. All of these factors coming together at once have put us significantly behind
the eight ball.
We are a club sport on campus. We are administered by student life and leadership (California state entity)
and our facilities are provided by Associated Students inc. (ASI). We apply for a grant of $4k each year from
ASI. Then the team typically pays dues of $200-$300 dollars/player/ year to cover their costs (refs, field
costs, ASI staff costs, union dues, medical staff, team kit, hotel, transportation, coach expenses, gas, food
lodging while traveling and attending training etc).Typically this covers most expenses during the season with a small contribution from our alumni chapter when we go to playoffs or have a large investment like new
uniforms or we bring over a new voice from New Zealand or South Africa to add to our coaching staff. We are completely financed by the players and their parents and what contributions the alumni chapter can pull
This season we had to shoulder a surprise bill from the 2006 team and a bill from the 2009 team which
drained our resources completely. Due to this, the team officers had to increase dues this season to
$500/player, as the team account was frozen (by Student life and ASI) until all debt was cleared. This caused an issue getting this seasons bills paid so we could even compete (i.e. referees and union dues). It also played a factor in keeping the experienced players around as many of them have significant financial
challenges in a normal year and this pushed them over the edge.
Due to the state of California’s economic situation this year, Cal Poly has set up a furlough program to keep
as many professors working as possible. This has also resulted in lecturers being laid off and a crack down
on student numbers so that they can ultimately service the student body. There were several players that
were on academic probation or on academic contract that were either removed from school by the university
or their parents removing them from the team. We have an academic services dept at the university in which
the players have access but many have chosen not to utilize the service for time or financial reasons.
Our typical battle of training facilities continues due to furloughs and lack of communication from ASI. We still train on tennis courts and in parking structures occasionally. This year there is a turf field that has opened up but we either share with ultimate frisbee, lacrosse or soccer clubs or get bumped by flag football or intramural soccer when it rains. We still cannot get access to team weight facilities and as long as I have
been coaching here (7 years), I have been bringing the team to my house to do their weight training.
We are four strong including myself, Charles Zanoli, Mark Madonna and Peter Madonna. Our schedule
consists of Monday morning fitness, Tuesday evening rugby, Wednesday morning fitness, Wednesday
evening rugby, Thursday evening rugby and Saturday game day.
I attend all fitness and rugby sessions and games. Coach Zanoli attends two rugby sessions a week and
home games. Coach Mark Madonna attends two rugby sessions a week, one fitness session and will attend
home games and some away games. Coach Peter Madonna attends two rugby sessions a week, home
games and some away games. The economic climate has affected all of us which requires our attention.
Mark got married before the start of the season, Peter has a wife and young child and Charles and I own
business’ with wives and children so our commitment to this team is a tall order. I have personally traveled
solo to two of our five away games and running three teams is extremely difficult. I have some veteran
players to help with these tasks but many times things slip thru the cracks. I find myself managing more than
coaching this team which is obviously a young team that needs to be coached. I tell you this not to bore you with the details but to provide a clear picture of the commitment the coaches are trying to make to this team.
As we sit right now, here is a breakdown of the experience level of our first side (22 players):
Ten players in their first year playing for Cal Poly Rugby
Seven returning players but this is their first year in the first side
Five playoff experienced veterans
With such a young team, each week is an opportunity to get a win and get better but it is also a character
builder just to get to the kick off. By no means have we chucked in the towel; we have had too much success in the past to let that happen. Rugby is the junk yard dog of sports and I believe Cal Poly has been the junk yard dog of teams ranked in the top 10 for the last seven years. We have had some tough luck this year but if you speak with the coaches in the Socal premier league, you will hear that we are still very competitive in spite of these challenges. As we stand, our biggest challenge is that we could very well be in the promotion/relegation match with the possibility of moving to Division II if we lose that game. Success isn’t guaranteed every season with this new league structure, which is definitely waking some people up.
By no means is this an excuse, just purely a snapshot of our circumstances as we pass through this season.
Thanks for the kind words and the continued support of our team by keeping us in the rugby consciousness.
Although we are not getting the wins, there is no lack of effort. The players are doing their best to improve
each training session and they should be very proud of their resilience in the face of adversity. I certainly am
proud of them.
Cal Poly SLO
Rugby Football Club
“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”