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.