The UCSB rugby program is basking in the glory somewhat of their victory at the Long Beach Tournament this past weekend.
Head Coach Kevin Battle took a mixed group of UCSB players and those from his Santa Barbara Rugby Academy and fielded three sides at the tournament.
“The Academy is going really well,” Battle said. “They kids have really responded and we’re getting some good talent.”
Some of that talent has already translated into a couple of players transferring into UCSB and making the UCSB team. This past weekend Battle switched players around and two of his teams made the quarterfinals – seeded 4th and 5th. That would have meant his teams played each other, so Battle opted to re-set his teams, making one more of a true 2nd side and seeding that team 6th, and the other more of a true 1st side.
It was the 1st side that ran the table to win the tournament.
“We rewarded players who had played well on the weekend,” said Battle. “So guys who might not have projected as starters got to start because they had worked hard.”
Battle urged his players to pass up kicks for goal in the shortened (15-minute halves) games and instead take the tap or the lineout.
“I think that helped with the victory because we started playing at a faster pace,” said Battle. “I didn’t want us to kick for goal because in those short games I wanted us playing as much rugby as possible.”
And they did. Battle will now prepare to take his team to play Cal Poly next weekend and then a season kickoff tournament at St. Mary’s with Air Force and Indiana.
UCSB then will enter the new SCRFU DI league with Loyola, USC, UC Irvine, and University of San Diego.
“All of those teams are improved,” said Battle. “You can see at first glance that the players have been putting the work in outside of rugby practice. I think this will be a very competitive league.”