New Mexico Tech has found a new rugby coach and his name is Gearoid Dunbar. Hailing from County Carlow, Ireland, 24 year old Dunbar is currently in his second week with Tech as both coach and administrative advisor for the soccer, air rifle and martial arts clubs at the school.
Having applied for the open position online, Dunbar interviewed in Las Vegas, Nevada two months ago and was hired shortly afterwards.
“This was a full-time job,” he said. “Coaching in the states there aren’t a lot of opportunities. To be able to coach as well as be on the admin side I get the best of both worlds. Other jobs I was looking at were part time so you would have to find other work. This allows me to focus on what I care about. Any coach knows that people say it’s just ten hours a week but it’s not at all. A lot of work goes into it.”
A main portion of Gearoid’s duties off the field are to analyze and recommend ways in which all sporting groups at Tech portion out funds.
“Unfortunately in the sports world it’s all about money a lot of the time these days. So I try to help budget things out for these different clubs. What they can afford and what they can’t. Trips and hotels for example.”
Dunbar has played the game since the age of six but fell out of it when his family immigrated to America, living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Due to the unpopularity of the sport here he lost interest before picking it back up in his teenage years. At 17 he returned with his family to Ireland and started playing for his hometown County Carlow RFC team. He then attended The Institute of Technology Carlow for a degree in sports management coaching.
“A coach of mine got me interested in this type of career. This was one of the only colleges that specialized in rugby and it happened to be right down the street from me so I applied and got in. High school in Ireland is different than public schools in the states during the last two years. You study seven subjects. Scores are taken per subject and that dictates where you are allowed to go to college. A student can’t easily have their education bought. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity at Carlow I.T.”
Dunbar’s intensive playing career was halted during a game against rival school Cork I.T. The Carlow team was up by more than 50 points. A player from the Cork side who was not skilled but much larger than everyone else on the field came in late in the lopsided match and body slammed Gearoid to the ground, tearing his acromioclavicular joint, commonly known as AC. It was at this point that he began to study the game more intensively.
“The other group was frustrated and basically sent out their biggest player to just hit people. But that injury gave me the opportunity to look at the different phases of rugby from a coaches view. Breaking down points, penalties, and advantages. I started to look at things several phases ahead. For example that opposing winger has been dropping the ball all day so let’s kick towards him and our fullback can get after him. You start to understand that it’s much more like chess.”
After rehab on his shoulder, Dunbar was able to come back and played for both his local club team and College team. A bacterial infection in his lungs sidelined him once again which is when he focused on coaching youth teams. A requirement of his degree to coach under 14 clubs. Thus, Dunbar became involved and coach multiple days per week instead of the standard one session. That lead to a job at his alma mater coaching for one season.
One snag for Dunbar was that his girlfriend Mallory Bosie is American. The two met in middle school and years later a relationship blossomed. They have struggled with a long distance relationship.
“Puberty wasn’t kind to me despite what you see now. I was a skinny cross country guy. It took a while with her. She did a study abroad in Spain and that was when we reconnected after a series of cheesy lines by me. So fortunately she’s moving here in October and we’ll finally be back together.”
Not a one trick pony, Dunbar also plays lacrosse for the Irish National Team and will be playing during the 2019 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships at the famous Langley Centre in British Columbia, Canada.
“Being my age and still playing in sports throws a lot of players off. I wave high and they’re a bit turned off because they’re as old if not older than me. But my take is that a lot of coaches can say that ‘I was there’ where as I can say ‘I am there’. I know exactly what it’s like chugging two red bulls because I have another 1,000 words to do for class before going to practice.”
Gearoid’s first impressions coming to Socorro were certainly a bit of a shock after the other places he has lived.
“I’ve got to be honest. My initial reaction driving in was ‘oh my goodness, this is a ghost town’. Then I drove around a bit and saw the amazing Tech campus. There was a little bit of shell shock, especially with my girlfriend moving here from Vegas. But once you start to look and see all of these great things and places in Socorro it’s a really beautiful place. I’m from a small town that is much different from here, but also a lot of the same which is quite comforting. I can’t wait to explore the outdoors here. And as an Irishman, that golf course looks great.”
Wasting no time, Dunbar has already had multiple training sessions with his new team on the field and in the gym. Along with the athletic administration at Tech, the team will be changing their names from the Pygmies to the Miners in congruence with the other athletic departments.
All club games during the 2019-2020 season welcome anyone interested. Dunbar plans to play himself. College league games and tournaments will be exclusive to Tech students and begin in late September.
“I always tell guys they’re always welcome. If you’ve got a pair of shorts and don’t mind getting dirty come out and play. You don’t need prior experience, just the desire to try something new. The stigma with rugby is that it’s some big scary game. There’s positions for all sizes, it’s like American Football. This is a very inclusive game.”
Coach Dunbar’s mentality is that all players can call him at any time if they need something off the field. On the field he does not want players to be separated based on position, envisioning a complete unit of players supporting each other. Those coming out to potentially play for the Miners should expect a fast paced level of play under their new coach whose goal is to dictate the pace of play against the opposition.