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Who Do D1A Coaches Say Is the Best Assistant Coach In College Rugby?

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Who Do D1A Coaches Say Is the Best Assistant Coach In College Rugby?

Tom Billups shakes hands withthe oppoising coach after a game at Treasure Island. Alex Goff photo.

An anonymous poll of D1A coaches put together by Goff Rugby Report has reached a pretty strong consensus on the best assistant coach in the men's college game.

Among a series of questions we asked D1A coaches last week was whi is the best assistant coach in the college game.

Given how many options the respondents had available, you'd expect a wide variety of answers, but instead, about 40% of the respondents picked one person: Cal's Tom Billups.

Billups actually holds the title of Associate Head Coach with Jack Clark at Head Coach for the Golden Bears. Billups has been coaching at Cal since he retired from playing in 1999, having been capped 44 times for the Eagles. Known for his attention to detail and direct coaching style, Billups also coached the USA from 2001 through 2005. He has also gained a reputation for mentoring players into the national team. At least eight Cal front-rowers have become Eagles during Billups' tenure at Cal, and he converted three Cal players from other positions to hooker, plus one from flanker to prop, and subsequently saw those players capped by the USA at those new positions.

"Tom Billups ... the Ying to Jack's Yang," said one coach's comment in the poll. Another coach praised Billups for his "knowledge, commitment and professionalism."

"His experience and contact skills work are fantastic," added another coach, who also pointed out that Billups is "also a great 7s coach."

Called "supremely over qualified, super humble, and a perfect complement to his boss," Billups was also praised for how well prepared physically his players are.

There were other coaches singled out in the pool. The Scott Bracken at Claremont Colleges got some notice, with one coach calling him part of the most overqualified coaching group in college rugby.

Nic Tyson of Lindenwood was another given some love for his "ability to coach technique while also capable of assisting in setting a fluid approach to the game."

Adam Rundle (Navy), Neethling Gericke (Life), Brendan O'Meara and Andrew Cooke (Saint Mary's), and Jeff Duke (Kutztown) also received praise.

But the lion's share of the kudos went to Billups, who will be entering his 22nd year at Berkeley this coming school year. Hopefully we'll be able to see his team on the field soon.