OMBAC Rugby – ‘Alex Henderson; A Season Abroad’

By January 14, 2015 Featured, News No Comments

Alex Henderson was a visiting scholar at the San Diego State University and joined OMBAC Rugby during his 2013-2014 tenure. Read and share his memories, experiences, and lessons learned.

“Having played Rugby in the Scottish Premiership 1 and for Scotland U17’s, U18’s and U20’s, some argued moving to a country where rugby is only a growing sport was not the wisest of places to develop my rugby skills. With national attention and high competition focused on the NFL’s Superbowl and NHL’s Stanley Cup, contests widely known as adored penultimate pastimes, the draw of a rugby start-up style experience through the innovative American lens was too great to pass over. The IRB (International Rugby Board) stated the USA is one of their key development markets and rugby popularity has already grown by 350% between 2004 and 2011. After communicating with current and ex coaches, I came to realize playing rugby in America would be a fantastic experience where my rugby career could only grow, as the highest quality of rugby is played in Southern California. The PRP (Pacific Rugby Premiership) is a new rugby league which has recently been designed to allow ‘elite’ rugby teams to compete with teams who are at a similar level
I joined a men’s rugby team called OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club) where I was welcomed to a training session and trialed during training sessions before the first PRP game. OMBAC trained twice a week allowing myself to also focus on my social and academic time at SDSU. The group of boys including the coaching and managerial staff seemed so welcoming and enthusiastic to have a Scotsman involved in the club; I knew there was no other club for me. My favorite part of OMBAC was meeting the most incredible people who I still keep in contact with.
Alex Henderson
Being part of OMBAC meant I was able to travel to places in a team environment where I would have otherwise not of had a chance to do. I was lucky enough to be involved with the 1XV which traveled to various places – Long Beach, LA to play Belmont Shore, Denver, Colorado to play Glendale Raptors and playing between the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was incredible.



Rugby became acutely connected with my social scene and also impacted my academics in positive ways I couldn’t have imagined. I was able to choose my co-curricular which I decided would be surfing – where else could I choose surfing as a module! The people I met at San Diego State University were mostly from my accommodation or in my classes where group projects aided the initial awkward stage of being one of the only foreigners in the class. The people in my accommodation, some were also international exchanges students which were very like-minded and many were interesting students from all over the US.


I strongly believe my time in San Diego was enhanced greatly by the Santander Mobility Grant. The Santander Mobility student grant allowed my studies and practice of rugby in San Diego to be the most incredible and enriching experience of my life. It was undoubtedly an unforgettable once in a life time opportunity that took me to places, introduced me to people, and cultural experiences in one of the most definitively beautiful parts of the United States – I cannot describe how grateful I am. Thank you with great kindness and humble gratitude.


Written by: Alex Henderson

Graphic Design: Shane Moise

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