The Santa Monica Rugby Club is entering is 43rd year. Founded in 1972, the Men’s team, also known as the Dolphins, compete in Division 1 of the Southern California Rugby Football Union (SCRFU). The Division 1 SCRFU competition is arguably the top level of club rugby in the United States.
SMRC has a proud tradition, compiling an undefeated record in Southern California (SCRFU) Division I in their inaugural season, and taking the championships in both the San Diego/OMBAC Tournament and the Monterey National Invitational, the predecessor to today’s national club championships.
Since that founding season, the winning tradition has continued. Santa Monica Rugby has won the SCRFU Division I league title seven times, captured top spot at the San Diego/OMBAC Tournament seven times, been to the national championships 8 times — winning on five occasions, and even triumphed at the prestigious Santa Barbara International Tournament.
Of course, great teams are composed of great players, and Santa Monica has had their share. Twenty Santa Monica Rugby players have represented the United States in international competition on the USA rugby team, “the Eagles” — three of them captained the national side. Three additional Club players have represented the USA on the World XV. Former Club and USA Eagles captain Craig Sweeney is honored by the Club’s Craig Sweeney Fund, tax-deductible contributions go to support the long-term goals of Santa Monica Rugby.
Santa Monica Men’s Coaching Staff
Director of Rugby Doug Bratcher has matriculated up the ladder from forwards coach, to head coach and now director of rugby. Last season under Bratcher’s leadership the Dolphins finished in third place in Southern California losing several close games. Bratcher has been with the club since the fall of 2000 and bleeds Dolphin green.
In his first three seasons as forwards coach, under longtime head coach, Stuart Krohn, the club qualified for the national semi-finals, and won two consecutive National Championships. “Stuart was instrumental in my development as a coach. Not only did he give me the opportunity to coach, but he also helped me better understand the nuances of the game.”
“As a club I’ve seen us grow from having 40 men’s players and one coach, to now having 300+ players and approximately two dozen coaches to manage all of those players. It’s an extremely exciting time not only for rugby at the club, but also for rugby nationally.
“Not only are we trying to achieve success within all of our teams at the local and national level, but were working with the national team coaches to get players back onto their respective national teams. We’ve got players on the men’s team and various youth teams who deserve a harder look by Eagles selectors.”
Head Coach Greg Commins joined SMRC after spending two seasons with local rivals Belmont Shore where he guided Shore to 2010 club final, and 2011 quarter final (both seasons loosing to the eventual National Champion). Commins looks to better that success at Santa Monica. “There is no question that SMRC has got the talent. At this level, it comes down to how the ball bounces sometimes, and we are working hard to get the ball to bounce our way more consistently.”
Before relocating to Southern California the South African born coach worked at a number of prominent sides throughout Cape Town including Western Province,Villagers RFC and the University of Cape Town RFC. As a player Commins represented Western Province as a scrumhalf.
7’s coach and backs coach Marc Stcherbina is in his second year with the Santa Monica Rugby Club. A former professional rugby player in Australia, France, and the UK, he brings a tremendous wealth of high level experience to the club.
Stcherbina started his career in Australia playing for New South Wales Waratahs in the Super 12 as well as representing Australia in 7’s. He then headed overseas where he played for Biarritz before moving to Northampton for several seasons. Stcherbina ended his career in Wales where he played for both the Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons before suffering a career ending neck injury in 2009.
Since joining the club Stcherbina has been extremely impressed with the level of rugby played in the US and the athleticism of the players. “Rugby is growing very quickly here, and I look forward to helping speed the growth of rugby, not only at Santa Monica, but throughout the US.”
Assistant Coach Robert Kremer has transitioned from wearing a Dolphin jersey and marshaling the troops on the field to handing them out and marshaling the troops from the sidelines. Kremer joined SMRC in the fall of 2000 and has been an integral member of the club since. Kremer played all 7 backs positions and was even spotted at flanker occasionally during his playing days.
His dedication to our club and his leadership as a coach is inspiring and motivating. This season see’s Kremer return to the field after taking most of last season off. “It’s an exciting time for the club. I was here when there were only 25-30 guys available to play on a given weekend, and even fewer at training. Now we’ve got 50+ at training, and guys falling all over themselves to get in a Santa Monica jersey.”