Sept. 11, 2009
BERKELEY - Helping the team to rebound from 17 players lost to graduation following the 2009 season, a new group of student-athletes joins the University of California rugby program for its 2010 campaign, adding a large contingent to the team for the second straight year.
The newcomers feature an even balance of forwards and backs, pedigrees from familiar in-state schools and clubs, two players from the East Coast and one student from British Columbia - all with significant success in rugby and academics, as well as other sporting and extracurricular achievements.
"The entire class has potential," said head coach Jack Clark. "Some are more rugby- and athletically advanced than others, but they all have time to develop."
Coach Clark added: "It's unrealistic to immediately expect these lads to compete against the top teams in the competition, in part because U.S. collegiate rugby is increasingly comprised of experienced foreign players. But these boys will do just fine with some time under their belts."
A MAJORITY FROM CALIFORNIA
Fourteen of the 17 newcomers for 2010 grew up and learned the game in California, including five from the Sacramento area, one from Davis, seven from the Bay Area and Peninsula, and one from San Diego.
VERSATILE TALENT FROM THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY
Tyler Colin, who has played back row, center and fullback at 6-0 and 191 pounds, will commence his Cal career as an open-side flanker. Colin is one of three freshmen this year from Jesuit High School in Sacramento, where coaches John Shorey, former U.S. international Fred Khasigian, Andrew Acosta and Greg Joseph helmed Colin and his teammates to the 2008 and 2009 single-school national championships. Colin was a four-year honor-roll student and rugby co-captain who attended the Cal Rugby Summer Camp in 2008.
Not to be confused with Colin is Daniel Collins, an outside center who checks in at a gangly 6-3, 175 pounds. Collins played four years of rugby and two years of varsity football, starting as a strong safety for Jesuit. His brother Adam played rugby at UC Davis, with other brother Brandon enrolled at Cal Poly.
Brandon Kraft, a 5-10, 176-pound flyhalf who attended the 2008 Cal Rugby Summer Camp, is the third Jesuit alumnus among this year's newcomers. A senior-year Honor Roll student, Kraft was a contributor to his rugby team's national championships in 2008 and '09, receiving tournament MVP honors in '09. He also participated in three years of varsity football as a safety and wide receiver for the Marauders.
Josh Tucker is a 5-8, 184-pound fullback/wing who excelled at rugby for Christian Brothers High School for three years under coaches Sean Lyon and Bob Lutrell while also garnering collegiate interest for his achievements in football as a running back and strong safety (two-time all-league and 2009 Sierra Valley Conference MVP), soccer (Olympic Development Program U-17s) and track & field (4x100 regional qualifier). His father, Jerry, was a standout discus thrower and shot putter at Ashland University in Ohio.
The first member of his family to attend college, the 5-11, 184-pound Jake Wrobel gained experience as a three-year team MVP in the back row with his team at Rio Linda High School, just north of the state's capital, where he was coached by David Bentley. On the gridiron, his last two years of football were on the defensive line, where he excelled against double- and triple-team blocking and emerged as league MVP as a junior and defensive MVP as a senior. He also participated in wrestling and track & field.
Also from the Sacramento Valley is Tanner Mohr, a versatile, 6-foot, 236-pound forward/back from Davis High School whose family pedigree includes collegiate and professional athletics. Both his sisters play water polo as sophomores, with Brittany at Cal and Dakotah at UC Davis, while his father, Rick, played football professionally as a defensive end with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts (where he was an all-star and member of their 1983 Grey Cup championship team) and Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the USFL's Oakland Invaders. Playing for the Davis Blue Devil U-19s in 2008 and '09 for coach Steve Gray, a former U.S. international, Mohr was a team MVP. His football exploits include all-league selections his junior and senior years in the Delta Valley Conference, with his linebacking play bringing him a top-5 ranking at the Nike Sparq combine. As a starting tight end, Mohr reeled in 36 receptions over two seasons.
EAST BAY FORWARDS
De La Salle High School is in the newcomer conversation for 2010 in the form of Matt Lawrence, a 6-1, 217-pound back rower who looks to be converted to prop at the University with four more years of athletic eligibility after a two-semester stop at Diablo Valley Community College. Lawrence's father, Jeff, played football at Sacramento State, and the younger Lawrence played for DLS in football, wrestling and rugby, the last under coaches Paul Still and Brian Serafino. Following his football team's 2008 Division I state championship, Lawrence received Bay Valley Athletic first-team all-league honors for his play as an offensive lineman.
Lamorinda's U-19 Rugby Club, coached in part by the alumni trio of former rugby captain Scott Anderson (son of Cal player/coach Ned Anderson), football and rugby alumnus John Dixon and former Cal rugger and U.S. international Bo Meyersieck, prepared three newcomers to join the Bears this year, starting with Tyler Fach, a 6-1, 196-pound back rower who graduated from Campolindo High School in Moraga. Fach was a three-year Scholar Athlete at Campolindo, where he was named the "football difference maker" in 2008 and '09 for his efforts on defense. On the rugby pitch, his 17 tries in 2009 led the Lamorinda U-19s.
Cole Huntley, a 6-0, 263-pound prop who attended the 2008 Cal Rugby Summer Camp, played Lamorinda rugby and co-captained the team his senior year. At San Ramon Valley High School, he was a multi-time athlete of the week for his gridiron play as a fullback and defensive tackle and a member of the school's Green and Gold Club, reserved for student-athletes who break the 1,000-pound mark in a combined squat, bench and clean in the weight room. Huntley chose to enroll at Cal in lieu of a football scholarship offer from UC Davis and interest from the football programs at Boston College, Colorado, Stanford, Washington and Brown.
Zach Purdy is a 6-6, 239-pound lock and former Lamorinda co-captain who attended the Cal Rugby Summer Camp in 2007 and 2008, and played four years of football on both sides of the ball at Miramonte High School in Orinda, earning second-team all-league and first-team All-East-Bay honors as an offensive tackle. Purdy's dad, Al, played basketball at Rutgers and his sister, Megan, played water polo at Bucknell.
SAN FRANCISCO AND THE PENINSULA
Crossing the Bay Bridge to Berkeley to join the team is Brendan Daly from St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco, where the 6-4, 232-pound lock and flanker played rugby for the Golden Gate U-19 Rugby Club. A National Football Foundation and AP Scholar with Honor Roll accolades every semester of high school, Daly was the 2009 Forward of the Year for Golden Gate under U-19 coaches Tony Wells, Paul Keeler and Arona Palamo, while earning first-team all-league WCAL and San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro honors for his work as a gridiron lineman. He set school records on the other side of the football for single-game and season sacks (6, 10) and also played varsity lacrosse. His brother, Connor, is a senior rugger at UCLA, from which Brendan drew interest along with the Cal Poly football program.
From San Mateo County comes Jared Braun, a 6-0, 224-pounder out of Junipero Serra High School who played varsity soccer in the winter season and was an All-West-Catholic League and All-Central Coast selection and on the gridiron as a running back and fullback his senior year, when he averaged over 6 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns. As a member of the Peninsula Green RFC, Braun played all over the backline as well as No. 8 for coach Paul Negus, who named him a captain and frequent Man of the Match. The 2006 attendee of Cal Rugby Summer Camp participated in the 2009 Maccabiah Games with Team USA.
Nearby San Mateo High School sends 17-year-old Alex Bowman to Cal, bringing the Bears a 6-6, 232-pound flanker who played under coaches Keala Keeanaina, a former Cal rugby and football standout, and Patele Latu on the San Mateo Warriors' U-19 team. Alex, who figures to be converted to lock at Cal, recorded a 4.9-second 40-yard dash and was named his school's best football lineman en route to earning first-team all-league honors in the Central Coast Section division. He also participated in varsity soccer and wrestling.
San Diego figures into the 2010 incoming class of Cal ruggers with Brad Harrington, a 6-2, 184-pound back from Cathedral Catholic High School and the San Diego U-19 Mustangs, where he played for former U.S. international and Cal All-American Ramon Samaniego. Harrington was named the 2006 and '09 MVP and 2009 offensive player of the year by his coaches. One of 10 children, Brad has two older brothers, Chris and David, who play rugby at Notre Dame. An Honor Roll Scholar Athlete his senior year, Harrington was a first-team North County tight end, catching 10 TDs his senior season on the football field, when the Dons won the Division II state championship.
New Yorker Seamus Kelly, a 5-11, 193-pound center, switches coasts to join the Bears for the 2010 season after a standout rugby and football career at Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he played rugby under coach Mike Tolkin, who guided Xavier to the Northeast Championship 2006-09 and the Tier B National Championship in 2007. Kelly, a two-year rugby captain and 2009 team MVP, played sevens with New York Athletic Club this past summer. His achievements on the gridiron, which earned first-team all-city marks in 2007 and '08, and first-team all-state honors in 2008, generated interest in his football talents from Holy Cross and Johns Hopkins, among others. Kelly was named ESPN's East Regional player of the week after a football game last October in which he scored seven touchdowns and had four 2-point conversions, rushing eight times for 291 yards (5 TDs), catching a 72-yard touchdown pass and going 80 yards for a score on a kickoff return for a reported 478 all-purpose yards.
A 6-8, 260-pound lock, Asher Thomas left Chapel Hill, N.C., to embark on his Cal journey after graduatiing from East Chapel Hill High School as a Distinguished National AP Scholar as recognized by the College Board. He enrolled at his mother's alma mater after a successful rugby career with the Chapel Hill Highlanders, the 2006-09 state champions and 2009 South Region champions under coach Robert Joseph.
NORTH OF THE BORDER
The lone international student-athlete to join the team this season is Andre Coquillard, a 6-4, 206-pound fullback from Brentwood College School in British Columbia, Canada, who attended the Cal Rugby Summer Camps in 2007 and '08. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and holder of a U.S. passport, Coquillard lived in China and Japan before enrolling at boarding school in B.C. His father, Nowell, played football at Dartmouth. Coquillard attained varsity-level recognition in soccer, basketball and rugby at Brentwood, acting as captain on the hardwood and rugby pitch. He was chosen to represent North Vancouver Island at the Provincial Rugby Championships and also played for the Cowichan Rugby Club his junior and senior years. He was his basketball team's leader in points, assists and rebounds, and the top goal-scorer for his soccer team.
The 128th year of Cal rugby commences in January of 2010.