Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Texas A&M names Head Coach

College Station, TX - The Texas A&M Men's Rugby Club are proud to announce Clayton Hayes as the new Head Coach for the 2014-2015 season, replacing Brett Mills after his many years of great service to the club. The Aggies also welcome the return of Johnny Smith as the Assistant Coach after a few years' on hiatus. A&M has also retained the services of Chase Johnson as the Forwards Coach, Gabriele Bonaiti as the Backs Coach and Riley Mills as Team Manager.

Five well-qualified candidates applied for the Head Coach position. The Texas A&M RFC Officers formed a Coaching Search Committee to choose from those five. The committee interviewed the applicants via Skype. They also considered the advice of their alumni association, Old Maroon, and of the A&M Director of Rugby and former Head Coach, Professor Craig Coates.

Aggie Rugby President Robby Chilton explains that the committee chose Clayton Hayes because, "he exemplifies the Aggie Spirit. His positive attitude and experience with professional and overseas programs is what A&M requires to return to the national spotlight."

When Hayes learned that he was A&M's choice for Head Coach, he issued the following statement:
"The only thing better than having an opportunity to lead a team of young men on the rugby pitch as head coach is the chance to do it at Texas A&M—a school with a great tradition, great atmosphere, and great talent. This move into head coaching is a step into uncharted waters, but I’m lucky to have spent the last four years coaching alongside Joe Meuhlbauer at the US Air Force Academy, one of the most knowledgeable and talented coaches I’ve ever had the luck to work with, not to mention a great mentor and friend. Stepping away from Joe and from Zoomie rugby is bittersweet. But it’s gratifying to be headed back to Texas, especially in College Station. I look forward to being in Aggieland and to working with the University’s support structure, the gifted coaching staff, and with a great group of young men. This is the position that I’ve hoped for for a long time—now it’s time to get out on the pitch and get to work!"
Texas A&M Rugby's 2014-2015 Coaching Staff

Clayton Hayes has been a rugby player, coach and student of the game for nearly three decades. After driving past a men’s club practice in his hometown of Corpus Christi and being instantly enthralled, he started his playing career at Sam Houston State University. In the ensuing years, he went on to play in the US and Europe on collegiate, military and club sides. During his transition from the playing field in 2008, he split time on the sideline as a player-coach of the International Men’s Side at Supreme Headquarters-Allied Powers Europe. Upon returning to the US in 2010, he joined the coaching staff at the US Air Force Academy as Assistant Coach and Head of Developmental Rugby. During his tenure, the Academy boasted All-American players, National Championship tournament appearances, and consistent Top 20 rankings in both XVs and 7s. Coach Hayes is a native Texan and is honored to be returning to College Station where he lived from 2000-2003. He and his wife, Johnna, have three children.

Johnny Smith returns to Aggie Rugby as an Assistant Coach after a four year hiatus. Coach Smith started playing rugby at Sam Houston State University in the 1990s. By 2002, Smith had received his Bachelor's from Sam and achieved certification as a USA Club Coach Level III. In 2003, Smith joined Texas A&M as a Forwards Coach. One year later A&M advanced to the USA Collegiate Men's Rugby Round of 16 with the forwards under his tutelage and repeated that feat in 2010 before Johnny stepped down to concentrate on starting his family and building a small business. Smith garnered Select Side coaching honors during his first tenure at Texas A&M Rugby, serving the Texas Rugby Union as the U19 and Collegiate Selects' Forwards Coach, the West Rugby Union as a Developmental Forwards Coach, as well as USA Rugby as the U19 Developmental Forwards Coach. Coach Smith, his wife and children are a long-term residents of College Station, TX where he works for Texas A&M's Utility & Energy Services.

Chase Johnson played front row at Texas A&M from 2005-2010. During that time, Johnson was West Collegiate Select (2010) and spent a season (2009) playing rugby for Sumner Rugby in Christchurch, NZ. After a second stint with Sumner (2011), Coach Johnson remained in College Station to pursue his Texas Real Estate License and continue helping A&M Rugby as a forwards coach. Johnson was an instrumental part of Brett Mills coaching team for the last four years and is proud to continue his service under Coach Hayes. Lest we forget, Chase Johnson's most defining factor is his incredible and luxurious beard.

Gabriele Bonaiti, PhD, played schoolboy rugby in Italy with the Petrarca Padova RC and featured on that side during their 1985 age-grade championship run. Those early years with Petrarca also saw Coach Bonaiti on regional select-sides and one an invitational trip to the Italian NT (Azzurri) clinic in Firenze. After some years off due to injury, Bonaiti continued playing rugby with CUS Padova coached by former Azzurri captain, Marzio Innocenti. CUS Padova advanced from third to first division in those years. Dr. Bonaiti returned to College Station a few years ago to work as an Extension Program Specialist for the TAMU AgriLife Extension Service in the same department he had studied for his doctorate just a few years ago. His wife, Eboni Lynn, is native to Aggieland and he could not pass up the opportunity to return her and their three daughters to the beauty that is Brazos County. Bonaiti returns for his second year as the Aggie Rugby Backs Coach.
2014-2015 Texas A&M Men's Rugby Officers and Staff
Texas A&M Rugby's 2014-2015 Schedule

The Aggies have also released their 2014-2015 schedule. A&M will be fairly busy this year in returning to a Fall/Spring XVs schedule and moving 7s to late Spring. In addition to two early fall XVs tournaments for development, the Aggies scheduled couple of fall matches with the newest addition to the Texas College Rugby family, Prairie View A&M. The remainder of the Fall season will be played out against Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas & Texas Tech. These five teams make up the Red River Collegiate Rugby Conference. The RRCRC intends to play in USA Rugby's College Division 1A.

In the Spring, The Aggies will compete for the Texas College Cup, a round-robin, single-elimination tournament that takes place over the four weeks in January and February of 2015. After the Texas Cup, Texas A&M plays an independent XVs schedule featuring old rivals Rice and Louisiana State  in a build-up to play national powerhouse Arkansas State. After Spring Break, A&M hosts Oklahoma and Baylor before moving into the SouthWest Conference's 7s season and, hopefully, bids in the championship season.

2014-2015 Schedule for Texas A&M Men's Rugby


  1. Very ambitious and daunting schedule. I look forward to following the Aggies progress this season.

    Congratulations to the new (and former) coaching staff.

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