Santa Monica is a city of diverse athletic interests with activity like beach volleyball, skateboards and surfing in abundance. However, it’s also home to a sport that might be more familiar to tourists from Down Under than locals: Rugby.
The Santa Monica Rugby Club fields nearly 20 teams for men, women and youth who all compete in Southern California Rugby Football Union (SCRFU) and on July 22 the local club will be using the Santa Monica High School field to compete in the Santa Monica Rugby 7s Tournament.
Danny Carpio, Board Chair and President of the Rugby Club said, “The club began in 1972 and since then it has only grown. It is one of the fastest growing sports and has recently just been added to the Olympics.”
Carpio has lived in Santa Monica for eight years and now works in the Pico neighborhood as an attorney but always finds a way back to rugby.
This is his first year on the board but he has been involved with the club since 2008. He explains the club has some of the best players in the country.
“We get a lot of players who are local and we also have some that travel to Santa Monica to play in this particular club,” he said.
On Saturday, the Men’s Division 1 team will be competing to win the tournament. If the team comes in first or second they will head the Minneapolis for Nationals in August. The tournament is open to the public and officials said it’s a rare opportunity to for spectators to see high quality play up close.
Father of rugby player, Nick James said, “The Men’s Division 1 team has won the SCRFU Division 1 league title seven times, and have been to the national championship 8 times. They have won on five different occasions.”
The team consists of a variety of men, ranging from 18 years old to 30 years old.
“There is a player who just graduated from St. Monica’s, Dylan James, and he will be playing this Saturday,” said Carpio. “He started playing rugby in our club youth program and to see he has graduated high school and used this sport as an outlet, it is good to see.”
There are also players who just graduated from University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California and plenty more universities who continue to play in hopes of being recognized by the national and international levels.
Carpio explains the club really wants to see support from the community, and for residents to see what kind of athletes are in their backyard.
The Rugby Club takes pride in having a Women’s and Youth team. The women’s team was formed in 2005 and they have quickly made a name for themselves.
In 2014, the women’s team won the Women’s Southern California Conference Championships and won the division three straight, from 2009 through 2011. The Lady Dolphins have also earned three consecutive appearances at the USA Rugby Club National Championships and are looking to continue the tradition. They will also be playing at Saturday’s tournament.
The club also has youth teams, as the program has grown and now includes over 250 players from Santa Monica and the greater Los Angeles area. The club has teams from U8 through U18 both boys and girls. Their goal is to introduce young kids within the community and get them involved with the sport.
There will be at least 16 different games throughout the tournament. The official rugby channel will be there to capture all the players and games. Tournament begins at 9 a.m. with games lasting around 20 minutes each.
“People should definitely come out and watch a game or two. This is a special and unique club that exist in the community,” said Carpio. “It is something different to do on a Saturday, and you may really enjoy it.”
Tournament will be held at Santa Monica High School field (601 Pico Blvd). The club welcomes newcomers as they continue to promote safety and a positive experience. For more information visit, http://www.santamonicarugby.com/ .