Shawn Burson

Apr 9, 2018

Played for CSUMB: 1998-2000
Major: Liberal Studies
Coaches: Rick Humm, Alatini Saulala, Dan Porter
Phone: 831-917-0690

1. What are you up to today? Is rugby still a part of your life?
Currently the Director of Learning Design for an edTech company in Oakland, CA. I still run around with the East Bay Vintage Touch Rugby group on Sunday mornings (

2. What is your best memory of CSUMB Rugby?
Just being part of a great community of intelligent, hard-working, but extremely fun guys. Learning to play the game the right way. We were extremely fortunate to have the coaching staff that we had: Rick Humm, Alatini Saulala, and Rick Porter.

3. What would you say were your greatest athletic, academic accomplishments and/or coaching accomplishments during your time with CSUMB Rugby?
Not so much an accomplishment, but definitely a learning experience was getting moved to fly-half in an emergency situation after our starting fly-half broke his collarbone. On the bus ride to play against Santa Clara University, Alatini worked out a system of hand signals to call out kicking opportunities (kick for space, box kick, grub, etc.) that he saw developing in the defense. My understanding of reading defenses jumped 100% just being able to see the game through the eyes of someone with so much game experience.

4. How would you describe the CSUMB rugby environment while you were involved? For example socially and/or competitively etc?
For being such a small school at the time, I would say we were incredibly competitive in our league. I think we had a winning record each year that I played. Socially, we were an extremely tight-knit group. It was great to see the student body interest continue to grow during my time there. By 2000, we had a pretty regular group of fans that came out to watch our games, including the president of the school (Peter Smith). Rugby socials were open to anyone and were usually the place to be on a Saturday night. We usually shared the practice field with the Women’s team, so developed some good friendships there as well.

5. What piece of advice would you have for current CSUMB ruggers? Academically or rugby-related?
Value the camaraderie that this sport fosters. You can’t help but form strong bonds with teammates that are in the trenches with you day in and day out. Be a lifetime learner – whether that is staying a student of the game, or continuing to increase your knowledge/value in the workplace.

6. If you can recall, why did you choose to join CSUMB Rugby?
I had a friend who was roommates with several members of the team. He watched one practice and decided that it wasn’t for him, but that he thought I would love it. I went to one practice and was instantly hooked on the game.

7. How did your athletic involvement aid in the path that you chose following graduation?
Rugby brought out my strategic thinking side. Learning Design includes the need to read – and sometimes anticipate – the needs of your “team” and react accordingly.


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Our practice and game field:

CSUMB's Student Recreation Field.The field is located at the SE part of the intersection between 4th Ave and 8th street.