Monthly Archives: June 2014

Nominations for Men’s VP

We are soliciting nominations for a new Men’s VP until July 6. On July 8 we will post the candidates and their bios to be available for review until July 13. Voting will take place online from July 14 to July 19.  Interested candidates should send in an email with their intent to run along with a short description of what experience they have that will make them a good candidate for this position, and if there is anything else they feel may be pertinent to the position, such as ways to improve men’s rugby in the state.  Below is a description of the position, but the ideal candidate is someone that is fair and unbiased. They will assist with dispute resolution if and when needed, and is able to respond to emails/inquiries within 2 business days at a maximum. Our previous VP, Frank Tito, needed to step down, but he is an excellent example of someone who was level-headed and fair to all parties. Please send nominations to President Kerri O’Malley at floridarugbygu@gmail.com.

VICE-PRESIDENT MEN’S RUGBY. The Vice-President Men’s Rugby shall perform all duties incident to such office and other duties as may be required by law, by the Articles of Incorporation of the FRU, or by these Bylaws, or which may be prescribed from time to time by the Board of Directors, including, but not limited to, (1) being the primary person of contact for all men’s senior rugby football clubs in the FRU or those touring within the FRU, (2) organizing and coordinating league fixtures, playoffs, championships, and tournaments within all divisions of men’s rugby football in the FRU (3) organizing and coordinating select sides, (4) establishing such subordinate personnel as needed by the Vice-President Men’s Rugby to perform all duties incident to such office with the consent of the President. “Men’s Rugby” consists of all member clubs that play:
1. Men’s USAR Division 1 Senior Club Rugby;
2. Men’s USAR Division 2 Senior Club;
3. Men’s USAR Division 3 Senior Clubs;

AGM – Meeting Notes & Agenda

Florida Rugby Union 

Florida AGM 6/29/14 at 12PM

Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel

  • Meeting Called to Order by Kerri O’Malley, President.
  • Quorum established by Evan Haigh, Administrator.
  • Agenda item number 7 moved to start of meeting. Motion FAU Women, Second Jax Women, unanimous vote.
  • Motion to accept Indian River Women by Fort Miami. Second Jax Women. Unanianmous vote.
  • Motion to accept Tallahasses Rugby Club into the GU (leaving True South). Motion Gainesville. Second Fort Miami. Majority in favor. St. Petesburg dissent.
  • No elections necessary. Two year term. 2015 vote for new directors.
  • Motion to all the board to fill resignation of Frank Tito at a later date. Motion Gainesville. Second FAU. Unanimous.
  • Termination of inactive clubs: Daytona Women, St. Augustine and Pasco.  Motion by Fort Lauderdale. Second by Jacksonville.
  • Revision of bylaw. “In the event of a conflict between FRU disciplinary policies and USAR disciplinary policies, or if FRU bylaws or policies are silent then USAR disciplinary policies will govern.” Motion Indian River. Second Jacksonville. Unanimous.
  • Committee to review FRU disciplinary policies include Amanda Laber, Roy Monk, and Jane Bolin.
  • Meeting called to close. Adjourned 3:15

Presentation Notes

Meeting Agenda

The purpose of the Annual General Meeting is to elect the Board of Directors and otherwise update the Members. Items for New Business must be submitted by Members in good standing, in writing to the Board of Directors no later than 30 days prior to the meeting. The Annual General Meeting shall be conducted as follows – links to reports are provided as hyperlinks follow agenda item:

1. The President will report on the affairs of the Union during the period since the last Annual General Meeting – will be provided in a written report 30 days prior to the meeting, highlights given at the meeting, and open for questions.

2. The Treasurer will report on the financial affairs of the Union during the period since the last Annual General Meeting – will be provided in a written report 30 days prior to the meeting, highlights given at the meeting, and open for questions. – Florida GU Budget May 2014

3. The FRU members shall elect the Directors for the following year

4. The FRU shall address any scheduling issues related to upcoming year, as a whole group or through subcommittee meetings organized by divisions – This will occur in specific break-out sessions for each division – 45′ total time for review and planning

5. The FRU shall address the budget related to upcoming year – 2015 budget – Draft, still in revision

6. The FRU shall consider any new business

  • Termination of inactive clubs (added to agenda July 23, 2013) – Kerri O’Malley
  • Revision of Discipline Section of by-laws to be consistent with USAR policy (added to Agenda April 18, 2014) – Kerri O’Malley

7. The Members will consider any applications for Union membership by new clubs

8. Review of procedures for confirming and requesting referees – Roy Monk, FRRA – added by Kerri O’Malley April 1, 2014

9. Breakout sessions – Club improvement – 20′ each (added April 1, 2014) by Kerri O’Malley

  • Club Management – Jane Bolin
  • Coach education – Evan Haigh

Florida Burn Turn up The Heat at Fiji 7s

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Coaching and playing 7s has been the focus of Brian Richardson’s life. For the past 10 years, he’s played and coached for Daytona Beach Rugby, leading the team to three consecutive top-10 finishes from 2006-2008, including a plate championship over the Super League Chicago Lions in 2008 and a bowl championship over Super League OMBAC in 2012. 

Despite Daytona’s frequent success, the club saw its captain retire, co-captain move to Denver and many of the players play Rugby League for the Central Florida Warriors during the summer. So with the rugby desire still burning and many players from around the state still looking to play 7s this summer, Richardson, the Florida Director of 7s, embarked on a quest to put together a competitive 7s squad that will try to qualify for nationals.

Of course, with Florida’s official color being orange, he named the team the Florida Burn and the early results have been promising.

The Burn, who mostly consist of players who Richardson coached from Daytona, recently won the Fiji 7s tournament in Miami a few weeks ago. They took down a physical Fort Lauderdale squad that had a strong showing itself in Miami.

While many clubs benefit from continuity and familiarity, the Burn aren’t as lucky. 

“Most of the players like this have been strong players for their own club teams and sometimes have a hard time deferring to players with better skills in a certain area,” Richardson said. “I feel I have developed a simple system that caters to players’ strengths and hides their weaknesses.”

One of the biggest challenges is actually finding enough players to travel. Considering the team typically shows up early for tournaments to practice and work on game plans, it’s impressive that the Burn are able to play at such a high level. 

Despite the uncanny practice schedule (or lack thereof), the Burn put on a sensational showing in Miami. Richardson said the team started with just seven players in the first game and made zero mistakes against Miami in the first half before the rest of the team showed up. He was happy with the Burn’s strong start against Fort Lauderdale in the third pool game before the ball took some bad bounces and the team lost its composure.

Luckily, the Burn got their act together against Orlando, going up 24-0 before conceding two late tries. The win set up a rematch against Fort Lauderdale, who won a thrilling sudden-death semifinal game over Boca to get to the championship.

Even though the starting seven logged a ton of minutes on the day, they torched Fort Lauderdale by a score of 33-0.

“We executed in all areas, even set pieces and structures where we did not have lots of practice,” Richardson said. 

A few players stood out in Miami, including captain and lead recruiter Jeff “Moose” Brill from Krewe and Adrian Salazar, who captained the squad in Miami.

“He had a very strong game from tight head, winning battles in the scrum, running down a breakaway and forcing a turnover in the try zone,” Richardson said of Salazar. “When your tight head can lead a stat sheet, you will win a lot of games. It really was a team win and the players became comfortable in their roles, embraced their roles and excelled in their roles.”

The Burn hope to build on their cup championship in West Palm this Saturday at Surfin 7s. The team will debut their uniforms this weekend and enter the tournament battle-tested. 

“We should have a deeper roster and will put aside an overtime semifinal loss to Orlando at Indian River and a semifinal loss vs. USF at Todd Miller,” Richardson said. “It’s cliché to say those losses hardened us, but for a team that thinks they should win, to lose but come back stronger is a lesson learned not to take anything for granted in 7s.”

If the Burn can outright win the Florida Cup at Surfin 7s, they can qualify for New Orleans where they could win the first ever Southern Conference Championship. If they win the SCC, they would fly to Seattle three weeks later, but finding the funds is a challenge. 

Luckily for the Burn, Richardson is a well-established rugby pillar not only in Florida but around the United States. He started playing for UCF in grad school after playing four years of Division III football. His playing experience includes stops at the Florida Select Side, South All-Star 7s team, Orlando Rugby and Daytona. He also has been involved as a coach and administrator and is proud to have had six players over the years invited to try out for the Eagles 7s pool team. 

As the Florida Director of 7s, Richardson organizes and schedules tournaments for the summer 7s season. He hopes to add a High Performance 7s team that will play year-round. Growing the game is one of his main goals, with the Burn being a prime example. 

“The goal is to get players from not just the Burn from Florida on Team USA and to host more high-level 7s tournaments in Florida.”

Annual General Meeting Reminder

This is a reminder that the Annual General Meeting will be held this upcoming Sunday, June 29th, in Orlando.  Details can be found at the following link:

https://floridarugbyunion.org/fru-annual-general-meeting/

Each team should send a representative, preferably President and Match Secretary, as we will be discussing the schedules for the upcoming fall & spring. The format for these competitions will be decided in group break-out sessions during the meeting.

Coach Gordon Campbell Brings Wealth of Experience to USF Rugby Program

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By Stephen Sheehan, FRU Media Intern

In the game of rugby, experience means everything. Luckily, the University of South Florida happens to have one of the most well traveled coaches around in Gordon Campbell.

Campbell has served as head coach of USF’s rugby club for 10 years—just a snippet of his 60-plus years around the game.

“My first match playing rugby was in the 1950s. My last match played was in the 1990s,” Campbell said.

His playing career included stops in England, Australia and Japan. For Campbell, who knows intimately the challenges of coaching players who often don’t learn what a scrum or ruck is until college, there’s a critical difference between rugby in the United States versus abroad.

“When I was 14-15 years old, I was playing 15-25 matches a year,” Campbell said. “When I was in Australia, we had five men’s senior teams, two college teams and maybe one other junior team. It’s been 26 years since I’ve left there and there are now over 20 teams.”

While most American kids grow up playing football, basketball, baseball and other traditional sports, rugby is typically low on the totem pole, if at all. It’s that experience gap compared to other countries that has held the United States back.

Despite the challenges, Campbell’s USF squad continues to show well in both 15s and 7s competition under his careful watch.

USF made it to the cup final of the Todd Miller 7s tournament but fell to Orlando by a score of 19-5. The Bulls once again found themselves in the cup final at the Sunshine State Games after a thrilling extra-time win in the semifinal. Unfortunately, the Bulls came up short against the Tridents by a score of 26-17. Even though his team had to settle for second in consecutive tournaments, Campbell is proud of the team’s development even though the roster fluctuates depending on who’s in town for summer classes.

“We have a larger batch this year, so we were more able to select the better people and also have good reserves,” he explained. “The number of people we have who are pressing for selection means we can play our replacements with confidence.”

The game of 7s demands incredible levels of fitness, and USF’s practice are centered around one simple facet: running. No matter if it’s running with or without the ball, every drill during the team’s three weekly practices is based on sprinting.

It’s clear the team’s hard work is paying off through their final results. One of USF’s most dangerous threats has been Brandon Gonzalez, who scored six tries at Sunshine State Games and leads the team with 10 tries through three tournaments. Andrew “Raptor” Woolston trails by just one try and has also been a major threat with the ball in his hands.

Seeing the development of his players is sincerely a joy for a man whose life has been intertwined with rugby. Campbell is truly a teacher at heart, a thinker who tries to get his players to see and feel the game with their instincts.

“It’s important that you’re big and fast. You can’t coach speed, but you can improve speed. You can get in the gym and improve your bodyweight,” Campbell said. “A good, smart, big, fast player will most likely beat a small, fast player. But I believe playing rugby matches in a competitive environment will increase your rugby IQ. If you have a high rugby IQ, you can beat guys even if you’re not as big or as fast.”

Campbell also added, “The guy on the field is going to make the decision. All you can do is give them the tools to make those decisions and trust them to make the right ones.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the summer and the 2014-2015 year, there’s plenty of reason for optimism for the USF rugby program. Campbell said the team’s goal is to win at least one remaining 7s tournament. When summer 7s is over, the team will shift its focus to 15s, which is a totally different ballgame when it comes to building a talent base.

“Everybody’s going to have ups and downs unless you’re a team like Life or Arkansas State or Lindenwood that has the structure that they can go out and recruit,” Campbell said. “Florida, Florida State and other state schools don’t have the funding, so we’re very reliant on who gets into USF on an academic standard and then we have to convert them to rugby players.”

While back-to-back D1-AA champion UCF is set to lose a majority of its starters, USF is lucky to have 12 of 15 starters coming back for the 15s season. That represents a solid core, but the team must still recruit for depth purposes.

Whether its 7s tournaments or 15s competition, USF is in good hands with Coach Campbell leading the way. And even if his players don’t have aspirations to play after college, there’s always something to take away from being part of the rugby family.

“Playing rugby gives you life lessons that you need to learn if you’re going to be a successful person in life.”

Orlando RFC Off to Hot Start This Summer

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By Stephen Sheehan, FRU Media Intern

With nearby UCF winning back-to-back D1-AA championships in 15s, the city of Orlando has become a rugby haven of sorts. However, the Golden Knights aren’t the only successful rugby club to emerge from the area, as the Orlando RFC continues to put itself on the map.

Established in 1970, the Orlando RFC competes in the USARFU South Division II and Division III. Orlando also features the Lady Griffins, who were established in the fall of 2005. A staple in the local community, Orlando RFC is active in charitable organizations and hosts many different events and socials.

Daniel Gordon and Evan Haigh serve as co-coaches. Gordon coached Orlando’s 7s squad last summer before Haigh joined this summer. So far, the results have been fantastic.

The club claimed the men’s division title at the Todd Miller 7s in Orlando just two weeks ago, putting on a great show for their home crowd.

“I was really happy with our defense and the players’ commitment in every game,” said Haigh.

According to Haigh, the team trains twice a week with a focus on 7s game awareness and decision making. The early results have been promising, including a huge win over UCF at the tournament.

“Our standout game was the dominant win against UCF in the semi final,” Haigh said. “Sam Nelson scored three fantastic tries in that game.”

While Orlando’s success at Todd Miller 7s was certainly a step in the right direction, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

“Our weakness was the ability to focus throughout the tournament,” Haigh said. “We are still learning how to play 7s, so there are lots of things we can improve on.”

Ironically, Orlando was once the powerhouse 7s club in the state. The team is looking to build a strong and balanced club in order to get back to that mantle of Florida’s premier 7s club, Haigh said.

Helping Haigh in that quest are several key players, including captain Will Doherty and the speedy Daniel Forshee. Those players, along with 15s head coach Eugene Louw stand out as three impact members of the 44-year-old rugby club.

Orlando is lucky to have a coach with Haigh’s experience. He has played for several clubs across the world, including the ACT Brumbies U19s, Canberra Vikings, Currie RFC in Scotland, Darlington RFC in England, OMBAC in San Diego and Seattle OPSB.

His coaching resume also includes several high-end stops. Haigh coaches the Bermuda Mens 7s team at the 2013 NACRA 7s Tournament and also served as a coach at the USA Rugby Academy for both the men’s and women’s teams.

With a strong coaching staff, a dedicated core group of players and a hunger to reestablish themselves as a great 7s team, Orlando RFC has a clear direction for the summer. Earning the championship at Todd Miller 7s is simply the first step in what promises to be an exciting summer of 7s rugby.

Sunshine State Games 2014

In what’s become one of the more exciting 7s tournaments of the summer, the Sunshine State Games will kick off Saturday, June 7 at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch. Teams from around the state, including Miami Rugby Football Club, University of South Florida, University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University will compete in a series of 7s matches.

Sarasota Rugby Club is hosting the 10-team event. There is a mandatory captains meeting at 10 a.m. with the first match kicking off at 10:30. All rosters must be turned into Tim Beury of Sarasota.

Ten teams will compete in the men’s open division. Each pool match consists of two seven-minute halves with one-minute halftimes. All championship matches feature two 10-minute halves with three-minute halftimes.

There’s hardware at stake, too. The tournament winner receives a team trophy and gold medals for each player on the 12-person squad. Silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the second and third place teams, respectively.

University of Florida is the defending champions and is coming off a fifth place finish at Todd Miller 7s a week ago. USF lost to Orlando in the final at Todd Miller 7s and is an early favorite to capture gold at the Sunshine State Games.

Come join us for an awesome day of rugby in a beautiful venue. For more information, please contact state director Martin Gardner at 954-292-2774, or event manager Michael Washington at 727-724-3082 ext. 241.

Teams

FAU

University of South Florida

University of Florida

Neptune Rugby

Miami Rugby Football Club

Epic Faile

Hammerhead Rugby

Tampa Krewe

Sarasota Rugby Club

St. Pete Pelicans

Event Location: 

Premier Sports Campus

5895 Post Boulevard

Lakewood Ranch, Florida 34211

Venue Directions:

Directions from I-75: Take exit 217 toward Bradenton/Arcadia. Head East on FL -70E/Oneco-Myakka City Rd. (4.8 miles). Turn left onto Post Blvd. and Premier Sports Campus will be on the right.

Todd Miller 7s Features Plenty of Collegiate Talent

UF captured the plate championship at Todd Miller 7s.
UF captured the plate championship at Todd Miller 7s.

An exciting summer season of 7s rugby kicked off last Saturday with Orlando capturing the championship at the Todd Miller 7s Benefit Tournament.

Fifteen teams competed in the men’s division, including the University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University. USF and UCF finished in second and third, respectively, demonstrating the wealth of talent in the collegiate ranks.

Speaking of collegiate rugby, UF finished fifth overall, capturing the Plate Championship.

For a club that’s made its mark in 7s over the past few years, including three Collegiate Rugby Championship appearances, this was a great beginning to a promising season.

Graduate student Matt McGee captained the UF squad, who outscored their opponents 120-31 in a dominant defensive effort. McGee was pleased with the team’s solid one-on-one tackling.

“If they came close to us, we brought them to the ground. We also did a pretty good job of pressuring them on offense and forced turnover ball,” said the fifth-year player.

The Gators allowed just five tries in the tournament and shut out Brevard in the Plate final.

Florida’s only loss came against a fit USF squad that won 12-0 and was the tournament runner-up.

“USF did a very nice job of playing traditional 7s rugby. They maintained possession for a while on offense and had no issue with going backwards while waiting for a break in our line,” McGee said. “They made solid tackles and just bided their time on defense until we finally ran out of players to offload to as we were being lazy with support.”

Though the Gators came up short in their quest for the Cup, the opportunity for younger players to get more experience was a point of emphasis for a squad that saw its top player, Lucas Baistrocchi, finish his career in the spring. Brennan Schneider led the Gators with six tries. Laurence Kidd finished second on the team with five while McGee added four. Caleb Gilmer scored three tries and made nine conversions.

“We hit gaps at pace and even had a few pick and goes for tries,” McGee said. “We were quite aggressive on offense because we broke tackle after tackle as we had such a large team.”

On the women’s side, the Orlando club also took home the championship, making it a clean sweep in both divisions in the hometown tournament. USF finished in third, giving the school two top-three finishes at Todd Miller 7s. Congratulations to all 20 clubs that participated and made Todd Miller 7s a fantastic tournament.

Final standings are available below.

Mens

1 Orlando (1)

2 USF

3 UCF

4 Burn

5 UF

6 Brevard

7 St Pete

8 Orlando Iron Horse

9 Naples

10 FAU

11 Sarasota

12 Treasure Coast

13 Orlando (2)

14 Orlando (3)

15 Jacksonville

 

Women 

1. Orlando (1)

2. Sparkle

3. USF

4. Jacksonville

5. Orlando (2)