Is Third Time The Charm For Santa Monica At The Club 7s Championship?

Santa Monica Rugby Club is one of the long standing established powerhouse rugby clubs. It been a member of the old Super League as well as the Pacific Rugby Premiership and are once again competing for a shot at the USA Club 7s Championship. With the 7s season coming to a conclusion this coming weekend in Colorado we reached out the the boys of Santa Monica to learn more before this weekend's competition. 

We spoke with Miles Cotton, President of Santa Monica Rugby Club about their 7s team. Below is our interview. 

The Rugby Republic (RR): Santa Monica is back competing for National Club 7s title again! Do you consider your club a 7s power? Why/Why not? 
Miles Cotton for Santa Monica Rugby Club (MC): While it feels good to be in the National Club 7’s for a third year in a row, the level of competition in Southern California qualifying and at the National Club 7’s tourney is always extremely high and we don’t take anything for granted.  

RR: Does Santa Monica run a separate program for 7s (that focuses specifically on 7s)? 
MC: Yes, we have a separate 7’s program, but it only runs during the Summer qualifying season. We do have a number of players who only play 7’s as well as guys who are dual code athletes.  The split is about 40/60 respectively,

RR: What are some of the keys to the success of your programs and club? Is it the players, location, sponsors, training program, culture, etc.? 
MC: Our keys to success would be the dedication of players, excellent coaching, unbelievable training conditions (weather + geography) and an epic Canterbury kit!  Let me break it down into four areas; 

Our guys dedicate themselves to train, play and win at an extremely high level.  It’s not what everyone wants to do with their Summer.  It is fun, of course, but also a huge commitment of time and energy. 

Training session at Santa Monica Beach 

Training session at Santa Monica Beach 

We are extremely lucky to have a talented, knowledgeable and experienced 7’s Coach in Marc Stcherbina.  Marc represented Australia in 10 International Sevens Tournaments and has helped guide the Dolphins in the past 3 years.

After tough qualifying tournaments the coaches often take training sessions to the beach for lower impact, soft sand sessions followed by a dip in the mighty Pacific.  Santa Monica is a great place to spend the Summer playing rugby! 

Our sponsor, Canterbury USA, helped us make our flash 7’s kit dreams come true. With a license from artist Adrian Chesterman, Canterbury used a colorful art work called “Dolphin Universe” to create visually stunning kit that inspires our team to play like Dolphins in space! (Yes, pun intended)

The Santa Monica kits for this summer's 7s season using the Dolphin Universe artwork

The Santa Monica kits for this summer's 7s season using the Dolphin Universe artwork

The Dolphin's 2016 7s Team 

The Dolphin's 2016 7s Team 

RR: How are the boys preparing for the up-coming Club 7s Nationals?
MC: Preparations consist of strategy work, skills and conditioning.  Talent is never enough. We believe in hard work above all else.

RR: How have the southern California qualifiers and the tournaments you’ve played in this summer prepared you? Do you feel there were enough tournaments or too many? And was there one that really stood out for your team?
MC: We feel like the Southern California qualifying tournaments are good preparation for the National Club 7’s, but you never know until you get there and stand across the line from your opponent.  We feel like there were enough tournaments to evaluate players, test different personnel groups and establish chemistry.  We hosted the last tournament and were able to lock up our qualification for Nationals, so that was both critical and special!  The tournament was followed by a X-mas in July Pub Crawl on Santa Monica’s Main Street which visiting teams really seemed to enjoy after a long day of rugby.

RR: Who are the player/players who have had the biggest impact on the team's success this summer?  
MC: Both Sean Pypers and Allen Corruth have been great for us this Summer.  Sean is a veteran player who brings leadership and focus to the team and Allen is a youngster with a nose for the line.  These guys are a lot of fun to watch and both are real competitors.

RR: What is the biggest challenge facing the club in achieving its goal of winning the National Club 7s? 
MC: The road to a championship is littered with little challenges and we need to overcome each of them to win a championship.  If we focus on one game at a time and play to our potential, we’re confident we can achieve our goal.

It interesting to see how having a formal 7s program (from coaching, kits and approach) can contribute to 7s success.  The fact that for a third year in a row the Dolphins are competing for a national title could be attributed to a structured 7s specific program?  Maybe something to consider for those who want a serious shot at a 7s title. 

We wanted to thank the boys from Santa Monica Rugby for their help with this feature. They are one of three California teams in the men's side of the Club 7s Championship (Olympic Club and Belmont Shore are also in the mix). We wish Santa Monica the best of luck (in the end we just want the title to come to the golden state).