Alumni Spotlight: Ben Pettigrew

When did you play for Davis? I played from 1998-2003

What position(s) did you play? I played second row 98-99, I took a year off in 1999 and in 2000 I came back and played inside center and fly half.

What is your best memory with the club? Traveling to Canada my freshman year to play Univ of British Columbia, U. Victoria, & Simon Fraser. We flew into Seattle with the plan to drive across the border the next day. So we got to hang around Seattle for the day. Luckily I looked old for 19 and I tagged along with five older players to tour Pyramid Brewery. Funny enough we ran into the Berkeley rugby team while walking around town, Sam Licina and some forwards went to Pikes Place market and ended up scrumming down with 5 of the employees of Pikes and Sam even got to catch a famous flying fish. The next day we drove across the border into Canada. UBC and UVic were good rugby teams and the games were not close as I remember.  Simon Fraser was a better game for us. We played Simon Fraser on a frozen dirt field covered in goose crap and I do recall one break in play for a penalty, I was catching my breath on defense with my mouthpiece half way out of my mouth and a seagull shit right into my mouthpiece. The other team quick tapped it and ran right at me so I shook off as much seagull crap I could with one shake and put it in my mouth. We stayed with the Canadian players and they took us out to house parties and the bars. While playing UBC I slept on a sofa in a fraternity house and was woken up in the middle of the night by Justin Fornelli jumping on me pretending to be a raptor and we got to watch several Canadians throw one of their own into a stagnant, disgusting pond in the back yard of the house.

How did you get started with the Club? I came across rugby my first year at Davis when I was a red-shirt freshman on the football team. One evening during fall quarter, after lifting with the practice squad, a group of 5 older rugby players approached us outside the weight room to recruit us. The pitch went something like this: “What’s up guys? We are having a rugby camp this weekend do you want to come out and play? We will have a training session in the morning to learn how to run / pass the ball and tackle. Then we will play a game in the afternoon and after the game we will have party. Do you guys want to come?” There were 10 of us in the group outside the weight room. 5 of us went out to the camp that weekend and four of us immediately quit the football team (Marc Kollerer, Bobby Haggerty, myself , & Rich Blanton). We joined Rob Salabar and the rest of the crew on Hutchinson Field for UCD Rugby and that was when rugby entered my life.

What did you do after school? Rugby has had a big impact on my life. I love rugby: I love the competition, the comradery, the community, the blood, sweat & tears, the sacrifice, the accomplishment, the pain & the joy. Nothing great comes easy and you know what ain’t easy? Rugby. Right out of college I started out in 100% commission jobs and I wasn’t scared. Now I own a wealth management firm in the Bay Area, and it is a difficult environment to succeed in. Rugby taught me mental toughness, determination and of course social skills. What do you like most about Rugby: To me rugby is the ultimate team sport. The more you and your teammates run around the field like a pack of wild dogs the better the team will play. When I graduated UC Davis I felt like I was just beginning to understand the game. It is a complex sport and completely different than most games American kids grow up playing. Luckily rugby is very accessible in the bay area, I played for S.F. Golden Gate for 7 more years at fly half mainly on the B and C sides.

Where do you see the club in the future? I have followed UCD Rugby over the years and I’m really happy to see the work recent alumni have put in to reconnect with older alumni like myself. I see the progress that rugby is making as a mainstream sport in America and it’s pretty exciting. I am interested in helping the club and I want to see UCD Rugby compete and succeed alongside the best clubs in America.