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Santa Barbara Rugby Academy Kicks Off

Tuesday Sep 29, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division I Colleges

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The Santa Barbara Rugby Academy is off to a flying start with over 30 players in the program’s inaugural season. 

“I am overwhelmed by the response” said Academy Director Kevin Battle. "We were not quite sure what to expect in our first year as far as interest, as it was an ambitious project. We are now over-subscribed and still have more transfer students set to arrive in January.”

The Academy is designed to use rugby to help prepare kids to transfer from junior college into a four-year school. The students take classes at Santa Barbara City College, and take advantage of SBCC’s relationship with UC Santa Barbara to use UCSB’s athletic facilities.

They train in rugby and also learn what they will need to do to transfer successfully to a four-year institution.

The first month of the Academy has been a busy one, as the academy players have gone through a series of academic tests, placement exams, and counseling sessions for academic achievement.  Added to that is the strength and conditioning tests and a rigorous five-days-per-week training program for rugby achievement. 

"We are asking a lot out of our student athletes, but that is the point," said Battle. "We are trying to set up our athletes for future success in the classroom, on the pitch, and ultimately in life."

USA Referee manager Ed Todd has arranged for the Academy to partake in the referee’s course as a part of their rugby development.  Twenty-two Academy players received their referee’s certification this past weekend administered by Southern California referee Mark Kottke. 

“It’s about improving their rugby IQ” said Battle. “We want our athletes to broaden their scope of the game. Besides, we will all stop playing rugby eventually, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay involved with the game.” 

Battle added the referee certification opens doors for the athletes, and in addition, “[now] they are all know the laws of the game!”

The Academy has a broad lineup of expert technical coaches as well.  Australian Rugby League’s Damien Hill, kicking coach for the Newcastle Knights, visited. Former Maori All-Blacks assistant Jim Love will visit for the week of October 5 and USA great Luke Gross is visiting at the end of October for a lineout clinic

Next up for the academy is an opening match against the New Zealand Institute of Sport on Sept 30.

The roster for the fall academy class of 2009 is:

John Flake 6’3” 260, Sonoma

Dan Kimble 6’1 245, Davis H.S.

Jose Valadez, 5’11 255, Lawndale, Mexico U-19



Rob Corsi 6’1 220 Miramonte

Jesse Perez 5’10 230, Lawndale

Mike Castillo 5’10 205, Bellevue, WA



Matt Petrini 6’7” 227 Marin Highlanders

Andrew Bartlett 6’5” 220 Sonoma

Conor McDonnell 6’3 190 Elsie Allen


Loose Forwards

Tommy Bashara 5’10” 200, Santa Clarita Tigers

Robert Munsinger 5’11 186, Fallbrook

Joe Villa 5’9 190, Lawndale

Sean Peterson 5’11 190, Christian Brothers


Scrum Halfs

Travis Benson 5’8 185 Peninsula Green, USA U19/20

Yann Autero 5’8 172 San Diego Mustangs

Billy O’Sullivan 5’10 150 De La Salle


Fly Halfs

Max Robin 6’1 185 Santa Clarita Tigers

Beau Donahoe 6’2” 165 Santa Clarita Wildcats

Kyle Cronin 5’8 172 Arch Bishop Mitty



Will Stober 6’1 190 Sonoma/Marin.

Remi Case 5’10” 183 San Diego Mustangs

Jesse Revoal 5”10 185

AJ Comeau 6’1” 200 Los Gatos



Matt Amador 5’10 155 Camarillo, Santa Barbara Grunions

Nathan Trefethen 5’8 157, Christian Brothers



Matt Weber 6’1 182 LA Cougars

Camillo Sanchez  5’11 170 Davis High

Andrew Gans 5’10 172 San Jose

Riley Arntz 6’2 170 Santa Barbara Grunions

Alex Peterfy 6’1 170 San Andreas


The Santa Barbara rugby Academy is America’s only full-time rugby academy. For more information, go to www.sbrugbyacademy.blogspot.com.


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