Woodlands Youth Rugby Club has been fortunate to have had many talented and knowledgeable volunteers, who not only love the sport of rugby, but want to pass the passion on to the youth in The Woodlands area. We grow the game because of their efforts to not only teach the skills needed to succeed, but also the ethos of rugby.
At the heart of Rugby is a unique ethos which it has retained over the years. Not only is the Game played to the Laws, but within the spirit of the Laws. Through discipline, control and mutual self-respect, a fellowship and sense of fair play are forged, defining Rugby as the Game it is.
From the school playground to the Rugby World Cup final, Rugby offers a truly unique and thoroughly rewarding experience for all involved in the Game. Coaches Bios for Woodlands Rugby.
Coach Rizzo got his rugby start playing for Santa Ana RFC in California in the early 70’s, Back then, rugby was a relatively unknown sport in the US. Coach Rizzo then went on to play in college, then toured New Zealand, England, Australia. He made it all the way to Texas, then took on the role of Head Coach at Sam Houston State University.
All three of the Rizzo boys have played or are playing for Woodlands Rugby. To Coach Frank, rugby represents life as we attempt to make order out of chaos. His favorite rugby saying ….”With you”. When you’re a rugby player, you know what that means on and off the pitch. Woodlands Rugby is fortunate to have Frank as the Head Coach. Here is a glimpse of Coach Frank’s philosophy..I don’t do facebook so no matter how hard you try to like me, it’s just not possible.” No coach, we don’t like you, we love you! Thanks for playing along and we’re grateful you volunteer your time to the boys and the club.
Chris began playing rugby in Scotland in 1985 where he played for Dumfries Saints, Glasgow Hawks and Aberdeen Grammar RFC. After moving to London for work he played for London Scottish as well as the Bank of England RFC. Whilst in London he also played rugby league for 3 seasons with the Elmbridge Eagles. Since moving to the US in 2009 Chris has played for the Woodlands RFC as well as coaching them for 2 seasons.
Sevens rugby is Chris's real passion and he has played in such notable tournaments as the Melrose, Kinsale, Amsterdam, Rome, Durban, and Cancun 7's. In 2014 Chris was a part of the Austin Blacks 7's team the clinched the Red River Conference and competed in Seattle for the US National 7s championship. Chris has represented Atlantis 7s rugby as well as Negro Y Azul 7's rugby and has coached the joint Houston-Austin select team that competed in the national all star sevens tournament.
Started rugby in College in Amsterdam in ‘85 and then the Netherlands (College-teams play in same competition as Club Teams). After winning D2 National Championship we were promoted to D1 – played top 3 of ‘the Nation’. Berthold also captained the Dutch National Student-side – won National Provincial Cup in ‘91. Then toured all European rugby Nations as well as the USA and Taiwan (got the same result against Japan as the Springboks this past WC). Favorite saying: ‘if you only do what you can, you will never get better…’
Coach Doug loves the game, just like every other coach out there. Another California transplant, What is it about these California kids? Coach Doug got involved with Rugby at San Diego State University in 1989, then played from 1995 – 2003 in the newly formed Super League at the time (this was USA’s 1st stab at professional rugby).
He became a part of WYRC when he landed in Texas and his son Conner started playing for the club. We will keep an eye on Conner, as he is showing tremendous promise on the Collegiate pitch.
Coach Doug thinks about rugby as “a character defining sport based on what you put into it.If you can apply the same effort you do during games and practices to everyday life challenges then you have already won. I have seen it happen with players, more than once.”
We often see Coach Doug running around and playing like a varsity kid. And rest assured, Coach Doug still has mad skills, which makes the fact that he coaches even more valuable. He knows it and can show it. In fact, his favorite rugby quote is “It’s the game they play in heaven.” Not that any one of us is rushing to get there, but it sure gives us something to look forward to!
Coach JJ Grew up in Sydney, Australia and played junior rugby with Lindfield Rugby Club from U6 yrs. He came from a rugby-mad family: his Grandfather played 2nd row for Easts, NSW Waratahs and the Wallabies in the twenties and thirties and his dad played 2nd row for Sydney University and then Sale Club in England. Coach JJ played American football at Singapore American School when he lived there from ages 10-15. He won the best tackler award! After returning to boarding school in Sydney, he played Fullback in Yr 9, Outside Centre in Yr 10, Breakaway in Yr 11and No.8 in Yr 12. A constant gravitational pull towards the scrum! Then he played club rugby after school with Woollahra Colleagues in Sydney (the mighty Blue Giants!) and retired at 29 after winning the 4th grade premiership. Played No. 8 and 2nd row. One more season and he probably would have ended up in the front row. His son Jack (Woodlands 2017 Varsity alumni) will start playing at University of Sydney in 2018. Favourite rugby quote: “You have to go forward before you earn the right to go wide.” Bob Dwyer – former Wallaby coach
If you like tricks, you’ll love the story of how Coach Chelsea came to be the ladies coach. She was asked by the coach at the time, to come and help the team out while the then coach was away. Two weeks later, the coach said she was leaving for England and Chelsea would be the head coach. “Best trick someone ever played on me!” says Chelsea. That was two years ago.
Coach started playing rugby at Texas A&M about 6 years ago, She has played for A&M, The AustinValks and the Houston Athletic Rugby Club (HARC). She assists with the Ladies team at A&M assistant Coach for Texas High-Performance U19 Girls.
Coach Chelsea details the meaning of rugby in the following way. “Rugby is a great game it brings together all different people, it teaches you strength and discipline to work hard, play to your strengths and to work on your weakness. As great as that is it’s not the part of rugby that has stuck out the most for me. It’s the close knit groups that we become as we play together and against each other, it’s the friends that you have made for life! It’s about the friends that you don’t see for months at a time, but as soon as you do, you fall back into that friendship like you still see each other every day. They are the reason that the game is played with passion, the reason you will push yourself a little harder. You play the game for the love of the game, but it’s the friendships that are made that will make you a little bit better, make you work just a little harder and a little longer! They are your best friend on the Pitch and off, they become a part of your family. That’s what rugby has meant to me, I love the game and know I will be a part of it as long as I can but I know when I stop playing and stop coaching I will still have those friends that have become part of my family.”
Originally from sunny South Africa, Coach Phil started playing school rugby when he was 12 years old until his senior year. He also had the honor of serving as the school’s rugby captain. Played for U21 Alberton Rugby club, then immigrated to the great State of Texas. Played a season for the Houston Old Boys RFC before joining The Woodlands RFC in 1993. A proud player on the team that won the 2001 USA National Division II Rugby Championship for the Woodlands. Still an active member/player of The Woodlands RFC Men side and Woodlands Deadwood (over 35) side.
Coach Phil started helping out the club when his sons started playing a couple of years ago. He is glad to be a part of the club and to able to give back to youth rugby. He is even more thrilled that his two boys are keen to play and learn this great sport. Thankful that The Woodlands has a great youth program. Looks like Phil will have lots more rugby to watch and help with in the near future!
For those of you in the front row, hear Coach Phil’s favorite quote “Squeeze – Sink- Drive!
My rugby career began as a freshman at the Air Force Academy in 1985. I was “volunteered” to play intramural rugby by the upperclassmen in my squadron because I was terrible at my originally “volunteered” sport of water polo. I had never played rugby (or water polo) before, but from my first exposure I knew that it was a sport that I loved. I was soon pulled into the AFA Men’s Club rugby instead of intramural rugby. From ’85-’89 I would play for the Air Force Academy team, culminating in a slot as team captain on the team in ’88-’89. We won the Collegiate National Championship in ’89 defeating Cal State Long Beach in the final game. The Academy club had finished 3rd and 2nd respectively in the national championship tournament in ’87 and ’88. I was honored to play for the U.S. Military’s Combined Services team and also represent the U.S. Air Force in the in the Inter-service Rugby Tournament in ’89 and ’90, and as you would rightly expect, the Air Force was victorious over other services. I have often said that the lessons learned on rugby pitches have served me very well during a 26-year military career and my current job at United Airlines. This year will be my third season of involvement with youth rugby and I have enjoyed it immensely. Very few sports offer the camaraderie of rugby, and even fewer offer the opportunity to play for as long as you possibly can. When it comes to rugby (or any other sport) and why it is important for young people to be involved, I will defer to General Douglas MacArthur who wisely said, “On the fields of friendly strife, are sown the seeds, that on other days, and on other fields, will bear the fruits of victory.”
Coach Scott began his rugby career in the mid-west at Eastern Illinois University where he played for a year before moving to San Marcos, Texas where he played back row. Coach Scott went on to lead as Captain of the Texas Collegiate select side team along with earning a position to travel and play in New Zealand. After college, Scott moved to Houston but continued to play for the Austin Blacks Men’s Club until 2003.
Coach Scott coached the H.A.R.C. under 18’s for a season before discovering the youth program in the Woodlands. Scott still comments on the family, friendly atmosphere found at WRFC: “Everyone is so welcoming and looking for ways to help each other else. It is the essence of rugby that no matter where you go, rugby is with you.” Coach Scott has his Level 200 certification and coached the last two seasons with third and fourth grade and will be moving up to fifth grade this year. “This is an exciting age for the players as we bring on new skills such as scrimmaging, yet continue to build on the foundation of core skills that many of these players have had for two years or more. It is an amazing opportunity to see players grow while having fun with their friends”
Coach Ajit has been involved in Rugby since his University days in New Zealand in the late 80s . He has been coaching Youth Rugby since 2013 and has previously coached Youth Rugby for a Saracens affiliate club in Asia prior to the Woodlands. All 3 of his children (twins boys in 5th grade and daughter in high school ) play for Woodlands Rugby with everyone (including himself ) getting confused on which twin is which.
His favorite rugby saying was related to him by a ‘wise’ South African Coach when he was trying to navigate coaching juniors “ Just tell them to run forward , pass backwards and never , ever run into touch.”
Coach Alma Clark had been coaching with the Woodlands Rugby Club for the last 3 years. This year will be his fourth. His rugby experience stretches back to the good old days of college, when he played with Brigham Young University. Afterwards, he played with a few men's clubs here and there until a shoulder injury ended his career. He is very happy now sharing his passion for the sport with his own children, as well as yours, for if the Woodlands Rugby Club is anything--it is family!
Having grown up in Scotland in a soccer dominated area my early exposure to rugby was the annual 5 Nations tournament. I gained an understanding of the basic rule from my father who had played in his youth. A few hospitality trips to Murray Field to watch matches was the closets I ever got to being on a rugby pitch during my prime athletic years.
After moving to The Woodlands in 2014, my two young sons expressed an interest in playing rugby having grown up watching the 6 Nations with me. Having a European accent it wasn’t long before I was recruited to help coaching the grade 3&4 team. I was soon hooked on coaching and went on to do both the USAR level 200 coaching course and level 100 officiating course. Wanting to be able to bring more knowledge of match situations and gain a better technical understanding of the game, I started playing with the Woodlands Rugby men’s team in 2016.
I have been around rugby all of my life. My dad played professional rugby league in the north of England before switching codes back to rugby union after a move to Scotland. I spent most Saturday's growing up playing around with rugby balls while my dad played. I didn't start playing team rugby until the relatively advanced age of 13 but have since played junior, university and senior rugby in Scotland, England, Norway, Indonesia and Canada. Bad knees forced me to become an avid touch-line (unofficial, sometimes unwanted) coach/referee/spectator. My daughter Norah decided that she wanted to carry on the family tradition and came out to play last year. I am proud that she stuck with it through all of last year and wanted to come out again this year despite being the only girl on the team.