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Rugby 'masters-class' from DUFC's new recruits

Published: 2nd November 2016

One of the benefits of DUFC’s promotion to division 1A is the reputation the club now has among students thinking of coming to Trinity.

Adrien Charbonnier (21), who started a Masters in International Management in September, is a case in point. Adrien, who began playing for Clermont Auvergne at the age of nine, was torn between playing professional or continuing his studies.

“Trinity had a good rugby team promoted to the first division and the university is famous in Europe so the masters seemed like a good next step,” he says.

Adrien first became aware of Trinity when his friend started studying here a couple of years ago. “I was astonished by the beauty of the college and College Park is so unbelievable – one of the best places I’ve ever played.”

As it turns out, Adrien is one of four international masters students on this year’s men’s rugby team. Will Roberts (22, pictured above right with Jesse Milne), from Charlotte in North Carolina, is studying for a Masters in Global Health.

Will, who did his undergraduate degree at Yale, originally played American football when he started college but soon switched to rugby. Without doubt it’s now his number one sport: “I wish I had started playing much earlier,” he says.

Will was lucky enough to spend time in New Zealand last summer, where he got to play with the Hamilton-based Chiefs, former home to Sonny Bill Williams. “I got to hang out with many of the All Blacks while playing club rugby at a higher level than I ever had before,” he says.

Dominique Marcellesi (24), a former Stade Francais player from Corsica, is at Trinity to do a Masters in Finance. When he completed his primary degree Dominique decided to work and travel for a few years before resuming his studies: “Trinity was an obvious choice considering its rankings and quality of its teaching.”

The standard of rugby at DUFC has been an eye-opener for the Frenchman. “Compared to the equivalent level in France, what impresses me the most here is the professionalism of these young players. They are much more committed and serious than in France!”

Jesse Milne (23) came to Trinity to do a Masters in International Peace Studies, having completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

He was aware of Trinity and the type of rugby played here after meeting DUFC head coach Tony Smeeth at a camp in the States a few years back.

Jesse, who’s from Oakland in California, started playing rugby at 14 and continued throughout his time in Berkeley. He has been playing for DUFC since arriving in Ireland for pre-season training in August.

The standard of rugby at his new team is different to what he’s used to. “More players have more confident grasps of extensive rugby skills and tactics across the board - they're able to play at a more expansive and free-flowing pace.”

One thing all four international students agree on is the warm welcome they’ve received. “The guys on the team and the coaches are all open and accepting and ready to help the new guys fit properly in and find their place in the club,” says Jesse.

“There is a very good atmosphere and good guys in this team,” says Dominique, “both on and off the field.”

For Will, the sense of community has meant that he’s been able to start the academic year already with a great group of friends.

*Trinity's first XI are currently top of the AIL. They play their next game against Lansdowne this Saturday, November 5, on College Park at 2.30pm