Men’s rugby club celebrates an eventful season

California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) men’s rugby team is looking to the future as their season comes to a close, reflecting on past accomplishments and rebuilding the roster.

Graduating rugby club president Sam Perrello poured his heart into the program this academic year, dedicating countless hours to funding proposals, event planning, and communication with league officials.

Last semester was a frustrating experience without play, and Perrello wouldn’t let a lack of activity define his final months at the institution.

The team’s officers weathered the administrative storm, ensuring the March home tournament, qualifying competition at Cal Maritime, and alumni game proceeded as planned with thorough communication and collaboration with the Sports Clubs Council (SCC) and the Northern California Collegiate Rugby Organization.

Securing an athletic trainer was a legitimate challenge this season. With the university no longer providing its health services to club teams because of budget cuts, Perrello searched for alternative solutions.

Rugby alum Riley Welch came to the rescue with his recent certification as an emergency medical technician, attending the home event and ensuring safety for CSUMB, University of the Pacific, Cal Poly Humboldt, Cal Maritime, and Sonoma State players.

Perrello is proud of this group. Many recruits were new to the sport, but they rose to the occasion. Sophomore Ethan Burger was one of those athletes, an explosive sprinter, and a football veteran to be reckoned with on the field.

“We went against some top teams,” Perrello said. “I’m so impressed with the growth I’ve seen from these guys.”

Freshman Peter Kuzmitski was another valuable addition, a shifty athlete who makes zero excuses. Kuzmitski carries a fearless attitude, competing with a prosthetic leg due to a football accident he suffered in high school.

Perrello’s favorite moment from the season was executing a Sonny Bill pass that landed in the hands of experienced winger Damian Sanchez, leading to an exciting try at the home tournament.

While he may never admit it, Coach Steven Ball has been pivotal in the program’s success, bringing his game knowledge and passionate energy to every practice and competition. Ball never lets his players sit in their comfort zone for too long.

With Perrello graduating, captain Jack Oliver is preparing for the team’s next chapter, and he’s learned a lot from his first year in leadership, working with different skill levels and helping newcomers master the fundamentals.

Oliver brings calmness to the chaos in his communication and keeps players focused during hectic situations. Rugby is a rigorous game that demands concentration.

Forward Mario Coronado is someone Oliver enjoyed going into battle with this year. He played with an intense physicality and always tried to make the smaller plays, whether it gained the team a few meters, ensured possession, or established ruck control.

“I’ve never seen him get hurt,” Oliver said. “He’s always giving the hurt.”

With competitions back in full swing, Oliver envisions an exciting 2022-2023 season, and he’s fired up to continue leading the Otters through adversity and triumph.

Students looking to jump into the action can join the men’s rugby club on MyRaft.

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