ABOUT THE ACADEMY

DevelopING young people into leaders with outstanding character

ABOUT THE ACADEMY

The Rhinos Rugby Academy was founded in 2014 in Southern California with the vision of providing high-performance rugby training and competition for U8-U20 Boys and Girls in the US. Over the last few years, the Academy has grown to provide athletes a clear and competitive rugby pathway from junior age, to college and professional level, as well as USA Rugby National Teams.

The Academy fosters a training, academics and competitive environment where athletes learn and apply core life values such as respect, honor, discipline, integrity, teamwork and accountability. The Academy has two training facilities, one in Irvine (servicing Southern California), and one in Sacramento (servicing Northern California). Each location provides custom-designed world-class facilities and coaching staff that implement the Academy training programs Monday thru Saturday, year-around, as well as guest coaches from USA National Team player pool, MLR player pool, and international coaches from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and France. The Academy also operates satellite programs across the country (Colorado, Bay Area, Oklahoma, Arizona and more coming).

In 2020, we launched a remote interactive training program for both rugby and S&C, available to players anywhere in the world, and structured by levels of fitness and rugby skills and IQ. For 2021 and 2022, we plan to bring international exchange programs for our athletes, as well as to expand our private school and mentorship programs capacity.

We recognize the importance of creating KPIs and CSF’s in our annual mapping for both rugby 15s and 7s and value providing opportunities and experiences in training and on competitive tours for each.

Our programs focus on goal-oriented training with constant progress tracking and adjustment. They are centered around building confidence and self-assuredness. The workouts are customized for each athlete, depending on their age, level (Core or Elite), abilities, goals in rugby, and previous competitive performance. Our athletes holistic development is of the utmost importance to us and we ensure this by focusing on: academics, rugby, nutrition, strength and conditioning, rugby IQ, and general long-term personal development plans in relation to college and/or professional rugby, and/or National Team aspirations.

Besides player development, a significant focus of our Academy is “coach development and education”, and we strongly feel that self reflection and lifelong learning for our coaches are important pillars to the success and transference of knowledge to our academy members. Our coaches development programs include mentorship, peer-based rugby curriculum development, social and cultural awareness seminars, as well as sessions with National Teams and Professional Rugby Clubs guest coaches from around the world, including from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, France and USA.

U14 – U18 Age Groups: This is the “Learn to Execute Under Pressure” phase (learn to execute performance rugby skills under pressure and in competition, once they are mastered through training).

U8 – U12 Age Groups: This includes “FUNdamentals” as well as “Learn to Play and Practice” phases (fun, safety, basic skills and understanding of the game and spacial awareness).

U18 – U20 Age Groups: This is the “Learn to Adapt” phase (learn to adjust to various match conditions, including change of strategy, through multi-functional roles adaptability).

High-Performance Program: This is the “Elite” phase (train and compete consistently at the highest level of rugby performance while always cultivating a “team-first“ environment).

RUGBY ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 2020
  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017

Training Philosophy

 

Our programs focus on goal-oriented training with constant progress tracking and adjustment. They are centered around building confidence and self-assuredness. The workouts are customized for each athlete, depending on their age, level (Core or Elite), abilities and previous competitive performance, using tracking methods and equipment.

RHINOS CODE

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Accountability

  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • You are part of a team and the team’s successes and failures are yours as well.
  • Your behavior reflects on your teammates, family, and all Rhinos members.
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Respect

  • Play the game as hard as you can but within the laws.
  • Be a proud, supportive, and positive team member.
  • Be tolerant and respectful of different points of view.
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Teamwork

  • Set and accomplish goals, individually and as a team.
  • Put the team’s goals before your own.
  • Help your teammates accomplish them.
  • Be resilient when you feel like quitting and encourage others to be the same.

ACADEMY TEAM

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Andreea Trufasu

Chief Executive Officer

Co-owner and CEO of the Rhinos Academy.

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Derek Nellmapius

President

Founder and co-owner of Rhinos Academy, Derek was born in South Africa and played rugby for Wanderers 1st Division Club in Johannesburg.

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Billy Nicholas

Head of USA SCHOOLS
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Hope Rogers

USA SCHOOLS and Regional Academy Coach

Overseeing Sacramento and NorCal Region.

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Justin Benn

USA SCHOOLS and Regional Academy Coach

Overseeing SoCal region

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Eddie Van Rooyen

Head of Strength & Conditioning
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Amy Talei Bonte

USA SCHOOLS and Regional Academy Coach

Overseeing NorCal region

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Lucious Smith

Strength & Conditioning Coach

Lucious "Lou", an LA Rams Legend, brings top Speed & Agility and Strength experience, having competed at the highest level in NFL.

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Chris Erasmus

USA SCHOOLS and Regional Academy Coach

Overseeing Sacramento and NorCal region.

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Garann Kriek

Regional Strength & Conditioning Coach
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Nate Augspurger

Regional Academy Coach

Overseeing SoCal

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Nene Persinger

Regional Academy Coach

Overseeing Midwest

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Brendan Purcell

Facility Supervisor
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Mason Pedersen

Rugby Coach

Squad member for the Austin Herd MLR professional team.

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Nick Boyer

Mentor & Rugby Coach

Overseeing Denver area

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Mikey Te’o

Rugby Coach

Overseeing SoCal

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David Musa

Speed & Functional Movement Coach
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Jacob Smith

Strength & Conditioning Coach
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Iulian Franciuc

Head of Design

Iulian brings inspiration and creativity to lead our design department.

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Mandy Moussavi

Rhinos School Teacher
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Adriana LaShelle

Operations & Marketing Associate
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Rachel Miller

Sports School Teacher
Priscilla Law Aquino

Priscilla Law Aquino

Human Resources Generalist
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Mark Portnoy

Logistics Support
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Steve Savage

Logistics Supports

Academics Philosophy

 

Our Academy prioritizes the academic success of our student-athletes, with the goal of getting them to college and successfully through college on athletic scholarships. Our Academy’s coaches work hand in hand with our Rhinos Sports School teachers to optimize the environment for scholastic success through individual attention, customized lesson plans, alternating periods of sport and school, and focus and discipline.

ALUMNI

USA NATIONAL TEAM

2018

NAME DESCRIPTION
Eti Haungatau Women Eagles XV

COLLEGE

2019

NAME DESCRIPTION
Mase Funa University of Oregon (Football)

2018

NAME DESCRIPTION
Diego Vasquez Saint Mary’s College of California
Jacob Jenkins Cal Maritime
Kenji Ellison Arizona State University
Jayden Lampley San Jose State University
Jack Krull Boise State University
Latufeao Humboldt University (Football)
Jason Uipi Humboldt University (Football)
Moses Finau Humboldt University (Football)
Angel Torres New England University

2017

NAME DESCRIPTION
Dominic Iacovino Grand Canyon University, Arizona; Freshman of the Week
Christian Gilbert Spring Hill College, Alabama

2016

NAME DESCRIPTION
Aaron Matthews Saint Mary’s College of California; Rookie of the Year; Division 1 Freshman of the Year; 2018 College All-American
Chris Taliu Saint Mary’s College of California
Jimmy McLean Boise State University
Brendan O’Meara Boise State University
Garret Wessel Boise State University

MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY