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The College D1-A final is two weeks away (May 13), and if St. Mary’s College can beat Arizona this Saturday (April 29) in the semifinals, it will compete for its third straight title. (The other semifinal also this Saturday, pits Life against BYU). The championship match will be played inside St. Mary’s stadium located in Moraga, California, across from San Francisco on the East Bay side. (N.B. The Varsity Cup final will be played on the same day at Santa Clara University’s Stevens Stadium when California takes on Arkansas State.)
For many years, St Mary’s has exemplified what a small college can achieve in top rugby scholastic competition. It illustrates the success of a rugby program that epitomizes excellence.
But few remember the changeovers that occurred in 2002 that created the college’s fifteen-year championship run. In 2002, St Mary’s hired a seasoned quartet of savvy coaches that would continue the winning tradition first established by legendary coach Pat Vincent, a former All-Blacks captain. Vincent’s tenure was followed by the charismatic Marty Storti who served as coach for thirteen-years, guiding the Gaels through many playoff seasons.
Welcomed on board in 2002, were Tim O’Brien, John Everett, Ed Todd, and Andy Armstrong. O’Brien’s résumé highlighted three Eagle 15 caps, ten Eagle 7s caps, and a successful run as coach of the Old Blues RFC in Berkeley. Ed Todd has been a Panel Referee. Everett collected seven Eagles caps and coached the Lamoridna Youth team. Lastly, UC Berkeley alumnus Armstrong, played also at Trinity College, Ireland.
O’Brien would later be lauded in 2017 with entrance into the US Rugby Hall of Fame. He stated that the main goal accepting the coaching position in 2002 was “To involve the alumni who recognize what’s going on here in Moraga. We plan to have plenty of opportunities for them to become involved. That’s the key.”