Players Added: Charlie Purdon (South Africa), Vince Proctor (New Zealand), James Lowry (Austin Blacks), James Murray (Old Blue), Stuart Sharpe (LA Rugby Club), Mitchell Raisch (LA Rugby Club), Harry Bennett (Australia), Rob Cleere (Ireland), Chris Baumann (Steamboat Rugby, CO)
Players Subtracted: Alan Gibbon (Retired), David Martini (Toronto), John Norton (Australia)
Coaching Changes: Shawn Lipman subtracted as Forward’s Coach, Alan Gibbon added as DI Coach and assistant PRP Coach.
Players to Watch: Mathieu Lesgorgues, Chris Baumann, Harry Bennett
Warm-up Matches: Austin Blacks (lost 31-33), Old Aztecs (won 39-17)
Santa Monica comes into the 2015 season looking to rebound from a 2014 season in which the team had the most porous defense in the competition. That was especially true in the second half of matches. Often the Dolphins found themselves in games in the first half thanks to the scoring combination of Mathieu Lesgourgues and Dave Martini but by the second half they ran out of gas and couldn’t keep opponents off the board.
The Dolphins have plenty to hope for this year as they have added a number of players to their roster, including Eagles forwards camp invitee Chris Baumann. Also joining the team are a few players from L.A. Rugby Club and overseas players. However, the team suffered a big blow as Martini has left the club for a job opportunity in Toronto. Martini was the breakout star of the 2014 season scoring a number of tries and earning the attention of the Eagles coaching staff. The Dolphins will miss his scoring with their hope is that with the additions they will not only be a better defensive side but also have more balanced scoring with an emphasis on striking from any part of the field and on set pieces.
To help better understand the club’s goals for the season we spoke with coach Marc Stcherbina.
PRP: Last season was a learning year for Santa Monica. What do you think you gained from last year that you are going to implement this year both on and off the field?
Marc Stcherbina: Our defense let us down and we were also not able to shut down games when holding a commanding lead on numerous occasions. So leadership and improving mental toughness has been a feature of our preseason preparations.
PRP: Do you think playing in the PRP last year helped you define your style as a club?
MS: Perhaps…it was evident that PRP teams are able large teams and we couldn’t get away with entering an arm wrestle up front as we could with some of our DI opponents. So we needed to work to our strengths, which was a fast, wide attack and counter attacking potency.
PRP: What are you expecting from the newcomers on the team?
MS: More leadership across the board which we seemed to lack last season at times.
PRP: How as Santa Monica reached out to the local college and clubs to recruit in the offseason?
MS: Plenty of our recruiting locally has come by the way of referrals from other players. For example, we are closely associated with UCLA and many of their players were able to be involved in our successful 7s program, which then spills over into our 15s program.
PRP: Dave Martini scored in bunches last season. Are you looking at one player to take up that role or a collective group of players?
MS: No, it will be hard to replace Dave Martini, so we need to focus on more leadership and direction from the middle of the park to create scoring opportunities for all our capable finishers.
PRP: What will define success for Santa Monica this season?
MS: Improved composure, and Defense, Defense, DEFENSE!