Long Beach State’s Club Rugby was founded in 1974 by Dr. Dale Toohey. As the LBSU rugby program is heading toward its 50th year as an intramural team on campus, they take a lot of pride in their winning tradition and team culture.
Senior team captain Callum Lapper said the team has won the elite championship since 2011, except for 2017, when the team lost 31-28 to Grand Canyon University.
After a season off due to COVID-19, the players are thankful to be able to get back out on the field and make it to nationals.
“We have a really great group of guys this year,” said Jacob Cortinas, the team’s president. “We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and we’re going to make it far.”
Rugby is a contact team sport originating in England in the 19th century. It’s played by running, kicking, and passing a ball backward that resembles a slightly larger American football.
The games run 80 minutes long with a half-time given at the 40-minute mark and the sport can be played with either seven or 15 players on each side of the field.
The 2022 Rugby Playoffs for the 15s group is set for April 16 in western Washington. If the team wins, they will move forward and play for the title of D1 Athletic Association (AA) National Champions in Dallas, Texas.
15s and 7s championships are held separately, with the 7s group performing for title at a later date.
The 2022 Rugby Championship for 7s is set for May 14 and May 15 in Atlanta, Georgia for the 7s National Championship title.
Scheduling games require a year in advance, and the program has been networking with other rugby coaches, locally and internationally, for almost 50 years.
Every other year, the team showcases their skills overseas. Over the last 10 years, the team has traveled to nine different countries.
This summer, the team will be playing against various European teams in Portugal and Spain.
Most of the funding for the team’s insurance, gear, and travel is received through membership dues, Associated Students Inc. (ASI), and over 200 members of the alumni foundation.
The Rugby Alumni Foundation has been consistent over the years in its support of the team, and the players know they can rely on their alumni for additional funding if needed.
“The strong lifelong friendships are reflected in our large alumni support,” said head coach Jason Reynolds.
Reynolds is a Long Beach alumni and has helped coach the team since 2009. In 2013, Reynolds became the head coach.
Since then, Reynold has helped lead the program to win 112 games.
“All the coaches are former players, and we all volunteer our time,” Reynolds said.
This includes recruitment time for the club as well. Recruitment is completed by scouting players from local high schools and throughout California.
A unique factor in recruitment is the Long Beach College Promise. The Long Beach College Promise allows Long Beach City College students to play as 20% of CSULB’s club team.
Atticus Mikles, a student at Long Beach City College, has played as a fullback for CSULB for two years through this program.
Mikles prided himself by saying he recruited himself as he contacted Stefano Menicou, one of the team’s flankers when he played against him in high school. From there he was able to gain Reynolds’s contact information.
“Jason came and saw me play a 7s tournament my senior year in Los Angeles,” said Mikles. “After that game, I verbally committed to playing at Long Beach State.”
Currently, there are 32 active players on the roster.
“We are always looking for players, experienced or not to become part of our program,” said Reynolds.
Their next at-home game is set to be on March 19 against USD.