Men’s rugby takes down Cardinal to open 2014 campaign
THE SANTA CLARA
January 30, 2014
The formidable Santa Clara University Touring Side opened its season with a road victory over local rival Stanford University on Friday night.
After making the short trip north to Palo Alto, Calif., the Broncos commanded the game and soundly defeated the Cardinal, 29-14.
A well-established club team at Santa Clara, SCUTS continues to grow and evolve as rugby moves into the mainstream sports world.
“Rugby is newer to the sports scene, especially in high schools,” said junior wing Adam Secord. “A lot of people have come on to the team with no rugby experience and just pick it up as they go.”
Lack of rugby experience hardly keeps new players off the field. The team boasts solid participation numbers.
“We consistently have around 50 guys out there, which is a lot considering one team is 23 people, 15 on the field and 8 subs,” said Secord. “We get a lot of guys who have sports experience, not necessarily playing rugby. Still, the learning curve for the game is relatively fast.”
Secord added that players catch on quickly to the game and its basic rules as they practice. Veteran leadership also acts as useful tool for the newcomers.
A reputable coaching staff has also been key the club’s development on the Mission Campus.
“Training is also really important,” said Secord. “The coaching turns guys who have natural athleticism into rugby players. The team has grown a lot in the last three years since Paul Keeler became our coach.”
Keeler took the reigns of Santa Clara in 2011, coming from the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Football Club where he was the Director of Rugby as well as a head coach.
“Since he’s come here, we’ve had a couple great seasons and we’ve been to the playoffs,” said Secord. “He’s really upped the competitiveness and quality of Santa Clara’s rugby program.”
When Keeler made his transition, he brought along Gene Mountjoy to help guide SCUTS as an assistant coach.
“Coach Gene brings a lot of energy and is extremely passionate about the sport and the team,” said junior outside center Kyle Dunne. “He was a great addition.”
Secord praised both men as being high-caliber minds on the sidelines.
“The game often comes down to good coaching, I think,” said Secord. “We’re really lucky to have two great coaches.”
Keeler and Mountjoy have helped the team prepare for the quality of competition the team’s faces in Division 1A of the California Conference.
“We compete at the highest level you can for a college club team”
“We compete at the highest level you can for a college club team,” said Secord. “We play teams like (Saint Mary’s College) and (University of California, Berkeley) that are top teams, as far as the West Coast. We’re very competitive even though we’re a club sport.”
To keep up with the other squads, the team trains multiple days throughout the week.
“Practices are tough physically and mentally,” said Dunne. “Coach Keeler and Coach Gene do a great job of making sure that we don’t just know how to do something, but why we are doing it too. In games, we have to be able to make decisions very quickly and the coaches do a great job of preparing us for that.”
Away from the practice field or the rugby pitch, the players make an effort to relax and socialize during their downtime.
“We have a great group dynamic this year both on and off the field,” said Dunne. “That’s one of the parts of rugby that I believe attracts people the most. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, you have something that you can contribute to the team.”
With a full schedule ahead of them, the squad is looking forward to improving its play.
“We have a couple good games coming up,” said Secord. “We play (San Diego State University) in two weeks and that’s the game everybody’s putting on their calendars. We’re looking forward to that a lot for right now. But we definitely hope to get back to the playoffs and show everyone that Santa Clara’s got a good program.”
Before the San Diego State matchup, the Broncos will face Olympic Club this Saturday in San Francisco, on Treasure Island.
Contact Sydney Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.