Skip to content

Recent Articles


Leadership Team Transition

With the 2013 school semester wrapping up this week and two key leaders graduating from Thunderbird, the rugby club would like to take a moment to recognize the service of exiting leadership members. President Jay Stahlman (yours truly) and Treasurer Jeff Hillam have both played rugby for the last 18 months while serving the club in various capacities over that time. Jay joined the team the first week of school as a way to stay in shape and make some friends. He was immediately thrown in to the fire as scrum half, became VP three months later, and has served as President for the past nine months. Jeff joined the club during his second semester at Thunderbird and inherited the Treasurer position while serving as alumni relations chair. Both players enjoined fruitful careers on the pitch and (I hope) will be missed.


Although it is always sad to say goodbye, the club will move forward with a more than capable new team. New President Chase Ficklin (seen right breaking someone’s collarbone) has also played rugby his entire time at Thunderbird and has served on the leadership for two semesters already as treasurer and vice president. Similar to his wrecking ball style on the pitch, Chase will take no prisoners in promoting the club on campus and throughout the community.


Taking over the roles of Vice President and Treasurer are a pair of first-time ruggers just now concluding their first trimester on campus. Colin Agnew, nicknamed Lil’ Coco (below) is a MA in Global Affairs student who plans to articulate to the MBA program when in a year. He plays (or tries to play) hooker and is infamous for his lineouts, or as we call them, turnovers. As Colin becomes more familiar with the sport, I am confident he will develop the skills to match his enthusiasm and bubbling personality that make him an excellent teammate and leader. The role of Treasurer will be filled by Coco’s classmate Sean Slattery, a lanky forward who’s work ethic will help the new leadership team focus and execute effectively.

As always, the future is bright for Thunderbird rugby with Rugby Alumni Weekend and the MBA World Championships on the horizon.


Jay Stahlman

Former President, Thunderbird Rugby Football Club


Thunderbird Rugby Invitational Tournament Summary

November 11, 2013


Hooray! What a prestigious, glorious event!  Of course I am talking about the annual Thunderbird Rugby Invitational hosted at Thunderbird School of Global Management. This year’s tournament involved a new, much more competitive group of clubs from the Phoenix area due to limited availability by traditional participants. In addition to the Thunderbird RFC squad, Phoenix RFC, Camelback RFC and Red Mountain RFC all made an appearance. The tournament was round-robin style and kicked off at 10am on Saturday, Nov. 9.


The tournament began with a very solid Red Mountain team, who ended up making quick work of an undermanned Phoenix squad. The second and third matches of the day featured Thunderbird RFC in a back-to-back scheduling error against the host team.  First up, Thunderbird took on a strong Camelback team and played very fundamentally strong rugby. The scrums were dominated by the blue and white, encouraged by outstanding hooking from Veteran Luis Vidal and Rookie Colin Agnew. Rookie back Nikhil Nair excelled throughout the day with great tackles, beautiful rucks, and the first try of his young career when he chased and pounced on a grubber in the try zone. Successful conversions on all tries by Rookie forward Bryce Jahner helped secure the win as Thunderbird was victorious 28 – 14.


After a ten-minute break, Thunderbird was back on the pitch against Phoenix RFC for a war of defensive attrition. A relatively young, inexperienced group started the match to allow others to catch their breath. A brave showing on defense by the new ruggers and a quick thinking try by President Jay Stahlman had Thunderbird up 7-0 at half time. In the second half, Thunderbird came out strong to dominate a Phoenix club depleted by injuries. An iconic, full-pitch sprint try by Veteran Steve Preator and a great, flowing try capped of by Rookie Nikhil Nair on the wing helped the club solidify a 17-10 victory just before lunchtime.


The next match saw Red Mountain defeat Camelback, which meant that the final match of the day (Thunderbird vs. Red Mountain) would determine the winner of the TRI Cup. The Phoenix squad was forced to forfeit their final match against Camelback due to injuries, so the grand final kicked off at 3pm.

Thunderbird kicked to start the match, but jumped out to a 12-0 lead thanks to a fortuitous scrum and some friendly refereeing. However, Red Mountain, being the most experienced side at the tournament, did not back down from the challenge. They strung together two impressive tries with some very good play out wide to take the lead in to halftime at 14-12. The second half saw some incredibly scoring plays thanks to some mental errors and poor tackling from tired ruggers. With about 5 minutes left, Thunderbird was on the wrong end of a 26-12 spread when the unthinkable happened. We shot back with two consecutive tries, the first off a Red Mountain scrum that we won and immediately ran for a try followed by a one play try off the ensuing kick. Two conversions meant the score was all tied up at 26-26 with only seconds remaining. Unfortunately, the clock struck midnight on this Cinderella story when a Red Mountain winger back broke five tackles for the game-winning try on the last play of the tournament.


Despite the crushing defeat in championship match, Thunderbird was in quite good spirits at The Australian during the tournament social. It was an invaluable experience for a club that has grown by leaps and bounds this trimester and a significant building block on which to continue to grow when we pick back up in the Spring.


Before I pass the torch to the next leadership team, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to my current group of leaders and all of the ruggers, supporters, and alumni who have made the Fall 2013 campaign a wonderful success. I believe the club is in a great position for future growth, both on and off the pitch, and I look forward to being an active member of the alumni association for years to come.


Jay Stahlman

President, Thunderbird RFC


Red Mountain RFC vs. Thunderbird RFC Match Summary

Red Mountain RFC vs. Thunderbird RFC

October 26, 2013

Match Summary

After a very successful career week, full of professional development and networking opportunities, the rugby club returned to the pitch excited for an opportunity to measures ourselves against superb competition. It must be noted that, due to career treks and a week with limited obligations, the club was missing several key contributors. Regardless, we were ready and willing to fight for glory, and were buoyed by the presence of alumni ruggers David Snowden (’12) and Ian Shiller (’13) in town as recruiters from Michigan-based Delphi Automotive.

Red mountain 1

Red Mountain showed up in force with about 20-25 ruggers and a travelling fan base that far outnumbered the Thunderbird faithful. The club consisted of maybe 5 or 6 rookie ruggers and several large, Polynesian veterans: just enough inconsistent production to be labeled as a “B” side. Meanwhile, Thunderbird had about 17 ruggers present, limiting our ability to substitute and testing our fitness level. The match kicked off at noon and we agreed to play two 30-minute halves.

Red mountain 2

The match began rather inauspiciously as both squads struggled to gain momentum. Field position was key, and after some fundamentally sound rugby that included several winning scrums and lineouts, Thunderbird took the as President Jay Stahlman jumped on the ball after a penalty, took a quick restart, and dove in for a try between three Red Mountain forwards. At halftime, the score was tied at 5-5. The second half was a war of attrition and ultimately the size and strength of the visitors prevailed. Thunderbird’s discipline and cooperation made it a very close competition, much closer than I think a lot of people were expecting, but ultimately a tired squad fell to after conceding a try in the last five minutes, losing 22-15.


At the end of the day, it was this match was a fantastic learning opportunity for the squad and a great confidence booster. The team now knows that by playing together and supporting each other, we can compete with even the top teams in the valley. This next week will be used to prepare for the annual Halloween fundraiser party, followed by the Thunderbird Rugby Invitational on November 9.



Photos taken by the Rugby Queen, Tsvetelina Dincheva


Thunderbird Rugby Football Club Announcement: The Australian Sponsorship

We are pleased to announce that The Australian is now the official bar Thunderbird Rugby Football Club after agreeing to sponsor the team for the 2014-2015 seasons.

The Australian will now appear on the new club jerseys, to be printed in December, and all after-match social events will be held at the bar.

Please check out their website at


Oct. 19 – Thunderbird vs. Prescott Black Sheep Match Summary

Oct. 19 – Thunderbird vs. Prescott Black Sheep

Match Summary

By Jay Stahlman

On a beautiful, sunny Arizona Saturday, the Thunderbird Rugby Club took to the pitch to test our grit against a rag-tag group of guys from Prescott. Being our first competitive match since the tragic accident to one our rugby brothers at Flagstaff 10s tournament, the team was naturally a bit uneasy during pre-game warm-ups. However, I was extremely proud of the courage our boys showed throughout the day. It was truly an inspiring display of teamwork and cooperation as we dominated the 70-minute match from start to finish 38-7.

prescott 1

Prescott arrived a bit under-manned as only 13 people were able to make the trip. We accommodated them with three whores to make for an especially friendly, competitive environment. We could not have written a more perfect start to the match, as we forced an immediate turnover after the kick and marched straight down the field for a powerful try by rookie forward Bryce Jahner. At the end of the first 30 minutes, Thunderbird led 19-7 with especially strong play from veteran forward Chase Ficklin and Captain Matt Erley, who was later named man of the match (but unfortunately feel short in the accompanying boat race).

prescott 2

The highlight of the afternoon was the development of our rookies as a group. The newcomers finally were able to put together everything we have been working on in practice to effectively run, ruck and scrum without penalties. We will continue to work on defensive cohesion and executing line-outs, but overall I am very optimistic about the direction of the club and the talent we can field each weekend. That being said, Thunderbird faces a very difficult test this upcoming Saturday (Oct. 26) against Red Mountain RFC B Side, a local semi-professional team.

Prescott 3


Welcome to Thunderbird Rugby!


Global Rugby!

Everything Thunderbird rugby is about!


2019 Season Schedule



Thunderbird Rugby FC announces our newest sponsor

After two years of working with the guys from The Australian, Thunderbird Rugby FC would like to announce a new sponsorship partner. Ruck Science is coming on board to support the club as part of their program to support all amateur rugby clubs. We’re the first graduate level business program to join up and receive donations from Ruck Science. The deal starts on September 1st and everyone on the club will be receiving an email giving us a discount on our first purchases on

More about Ruck Science

The company is based out of Austin, Texas. Their warehouse is in Atlanta, Georgia. The founders at Ruck Science are all rugby players. They say that they were sick of buying supplements that were designed for bodybuilding and wanted to make a nutrition company that was 100% focused on the needs of rugby players. They’ve been operating for a little under a year now and were developing and testing their product line with a product testing team for around 24 months prior to that.

About their range of products

Pretty much any kind of supplement that should be part of your regime is in their range. This includes stuff like Whey Protein, BCAAs and a signature Cognitive Enhancer they’ve developed. Right now, they don’t have anything with creatine in it. So that might mean you need to get your muscle-pumping supps elsewhere. But everything else is in their store and they have some really great reviews online.

About the agreement

Our deal with Ruck Science starts in September, but you can order now. Just be sure to enter “Thunderbird RFC” in the rugby club field when you’re going through the checkout process. For every order that someone makes in this way, the club receives a donation of up to 20% of the value of that order. The exact donation depends a little on the size of each order. But whatever size order you make, the club gets something. So please consider buying from if you’re using supplements and ask your friends to do the same!

Getting started with Ruck Science

There are 4 things to keep in mind if you want to try the products on and compare them to other supplement manufacturers:

  1. Register for Rucks (their rewards program) and you’ll get $5 to spend before your first purchase.
  2. Have a look at their sample stack – for $20 you get to sample all 4 of their custom supplement blends in a handy carrying stack.
  3. Enter “Thunderbird RFC” as your rugby club during the checkout process so they know where to send the donations!
  4. There’s a bunch of free stuff on their site including rugby-specific nutrition and training protocols on their rugby training blog.

Contact the company

If you have comments or questions for the company, the best way to get in touch with them is via email. Please speak to either Tim or Chris and they’ll do their best to provide feedback and recommendations.

Tim Howard


Chris Reed

Marketing Manager


TARA May 2015 Newsletter

Michael Santee ’09, age 36 of Chandler, Arizona passed away on Thursday, April 2, 2015 unexpectedly from a stroke caused by an undiagnosed brain tumor. Michael is survived by his mother, Alice Santee and his father, Mark Santee and Stepmother, Betty Santee, his brother, Mark Santee Jr., and nieces: Amber Lee, Alisha, and Ashley, as well as his aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He was a graduate of Arizona State University in economics, and a graduate of Thunderbird School of Global Management in Finance. He enjoyed playing football during his high school years at Brophy College Preparatory until he graduated in 1997. During his years at Thunderbird, he became a dedicated and passionate rugby player for the school’s club team and went on to join the Camelback Rugby Football Club. Michael was also a former firefighter of the 777 Handcrew out of Boulder City, NV – Lake Mead National Park. He spent his life being a ‘man for others’ through his commitment to family, friends and faith.

“Michael Santee was celebrated and memorialized at the Brophy chapel in Phoenix on Saturday, April 18th. Mike’s family was presented with a rugby ball signed by Mike’s teammates on the Thunderbird and Camelback rugby clubs. Brett Collins (’07), a Thunderbird rugger and Brophy classmate of Mike’s gave the eulogy. Brett is the man that convinced Mike to start playing rugby. Anyone that played with Mike remembers his passion for the game. Brett told a touching anecdote: Mike originally played at hooker, but his pace and tackling quickly moved him to the centers. Though Mike loved every position, he always preferred playing with the forwards because when playing with the forwards, he was thought of as a big guy. That story made everyone laugh, as Mike was the perfect hooker, when the props bound in and squeezed, Mike’s feet were probably off the ground. What he lacked in height he made up for with intensity.”

The outpouring of affection for Mike was representative of the bond ruggers develop. The chapel was packed with family, friends, and teammates. It is a tragedy we lost one of our brothers so soon.

TARA is working with the current team leadership on a memorial tile for Mike on the rugby shed. More details to follow.

RAW 2015 was another huge success. 60 Old Boys came to town, this time with a plan to win.

The weekend began as usual, on Thursday as the Old Boys drifted into town, golfing, hitting the spring baseball games, and ending up at the pub. Friday some more of the same, as well as a trip to the Ben Avery shooting range with range master Ed Decker. Friday wrapped up with the usual TARA Social, which included whiskey and cigar tasting, and speed networking between the students and Old Boys.

The game was spirited on both sides, but the Old Boys were dominant, finishing 64 to 12. Post-match, the revelry made its way to the fish to finish the afternoon. The banquet was equally successful, with $3,000 raised through donations and the rugby auction.

RAW 2016 will be the 40th anniversary of Thunderbird Rugby, with a huge turnout by the Founders. All classes stay tuned!

Mojito Tour II!

September 5-12, 2015 will see the Thunderbird Old Boys return Cuba for. 2-match goodwill tour. 4 days in Havana, seeing sites like the Buena Vista Social Club, a cigar factory, and a tour of Old Havana. 2 days at Varadero Beach to recuperate.

The Old Boys are seeking sponsorships to help defray the cost of tour gear and the give-aways we present to the opposing sides.

$2,000 corporate sponsorship puts your corporate logo on the front center chest of the tour jersey, as well as the back of the tour t-shirt. These jerseys and t-shirts will end up all over the U.S. And the world.

$1,000 corporate sponsorship will land the corporate logo on the back of the tour jersey, below the number, as well as the back of the tour t-shirt. These jerseys and t-shirts will end up all over the U.S. And the world.

$500 corporate sponsorship will place the corporate logo on the back of the tour t-shirt. These t-shirts will end up all over the U.S. And the world.

$100 ‘Injured Reserve’ sponsorship earns the sponsor the following:

Headshot in the tour program

1 tour t-shirt

1 tour beer opener

If you are interested in any of these levels, please contact me at:

For ‘Injured Reserve’ payment can be made via PayPal to: ‘’, ‘friends and family’. Please include your shipping address and shirt size.

Special Request:

Reach out to 2 of your old teammates, and ask them if they got this newsletter. If they did not, I don’t have a good email for them. Please collect it and forward it to me. I am missing about 250 out of the 1,000 total Old Boys and would like to get them back in the loop. We all know RAW is more fun when more Old Boys attend!


Chuck Hamilton ’91


Thunderbird Alumni Rugby Association



Thunderbird RFC vs Blacksheep RFC Highlights


Back to Havana Tour 2015

DATES: All travel to Miami Friday, Sept.4 (mandatory pre-tour briefing). Depart to Havana Saturday, Sept. 5. Return to Miami Saturday, Sept. 12

The tour provider is aiming for a price of approx. $2,000 per person. They’ll work to keep it well under $3K/person. (We are just waiting for confirmation to make this tour a reality)


  • Non-stop round trip flight from Miami to Havana via U.S. Government-licensed charter service.
  • U.S. Treasury Department license and letter of authorization (mandatory)
  • Cuba Entrance Visa (mandatory)
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing (mandatory)
  • Hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • Most meals. (Since people can’t get money out in Cuba or use credit cards, most meals included).
  • Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees
  • US travel rep escort (mandatory)
  • Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans (mandatory)
  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)



  • Getting to/from Miami from where you live
  • Tour gear – Jersey, Guayabera, T-shirts, Kit bag, give-aways, etc.


The goal is to secure some corporate sponsorships to help cover gear costs. $500 to get the corporate logo on the tour T-shirt, $2K for front of jersey, $1K for back of jersey below number, $500 for sleeve.

Jerseys will be dry-fit, short-sleeve.

Measurements will be needed for the Guayabera (chest in inches, also belt size), which is a traditional, loose-fitting, short-sleeve shirt popular in Cuba and the Caribbean.

Interested? Contact Chuck Hamilton:


RAW 2015 March 5-8

If you didn’t attend RAW last year, READ THIS!:

Guys, we are having too much fun for just 70+ old ruggers to keep to themselves. Put RAW 2015(March 5-8) on your calendars and start calling your old teammates. We have golf, BEER, sunshine, spring baseball, BEER, skeet shooting, parties, food, BEER, a rugby match, and BEER. No exams! No IPE! No IF&T! There is NO downside! Get down to Glendale and relive the glory days of being on campus. Let’s make RAW 2015 a blowout with 100+ Rugby Alumni!

Thursday 3/5: Plenty of golf for those so inclined, spring training baseball for others. Thursday night includes Pub Night, where the Rugby Alumni own the Pub, four deep along the length of the bar.

Friday 3/6: More golf, as well as skeet shooting with Range Master Ed Decker ’90.

The Friday night TARA Social at the Pub will include our usual speed networking with the student club. It may also take place at the ‘Old Pub’, and include cigar and whiskey tasting, courtesy of the student club. Pending scheduling, the new CEO and Director General of Thunderbird, Allen Morrison will attend as well.

Saturday 3/7: Rugby Day! The match will be on the Pitch at 1pm. Post-match will be poolside at the Fish. The Rugby Banquet/Auction will be in the usual location, just off the Commons. If you have interesting Rugby items to donate to the Auction, please bring them with you or make arrangements to get them there!

Bring a teammate that didn’t come last year. (Rocket doesn’t count. I want Metcalfe/Turbo/Evil Dave/Not-so-evil Phil/Brian Tague/Grant DeBruin/Steve Franklin and others from across the years).

Upcoming Reunion years for RAW 2015 (March 5-8):

· 2010 – 5 years

· 2005 – 10 years

· 2000 – 15 years

· 1995 – 20 years

· 1990 – 25 years

· 1985 – 30 years

· 1980 – 35 years


Progress is impossible without change

An excellent article written by Travis Richardson for Das Tor Newspaper.

Keep on Ruckin, Travis!

Keep on Ruckin



Spring 2014 Match Schedule

February 1st: Yuma @ Thunderbird

February 8th: Thunderbird @ Prescott

February 15th: Salt River @ Thunderbird

February 22nd: Thunderbird @ Yuma

March 1st: RAW Weekend

March 8th: Prescott @ Thunderbird

March 15th: Thunderbird @ Salt River

For the more match schedules, please see the following link:


RAW 2014 Schedule of Events

Thursday, Feb 27:

Old Boys Arrive. Golf, spring baseball, Pub Night

Friday, Feb 28:

Firearms Friday/Skeet, more golf, spring baseball, etc.

6pm, TARA Social at The Pub. Gather in the Pool Room for announcements, State of the School, speed networking. Scheduled guest speaker, Dr. Larry Penley, Thunderbird President

Saturday, Mar 1:

1pm, Rugby Match, Alumni v. Students. Post-match at the campus pool

6pm, Rugby Banquet at The Commons. Prime rib dinner, awards, auction

Retire to The Pub