Miguel, a native of Buenos Aires Argentina, comes to Austin from Albuquerque New Mexico where he coached The University of New Mexico since 2009.
Before taking the reigns at UNM, Coach Berthet was a part of the coaching staff at San Diego State from 2002-2009 when the Aztecs were widely considered a perennial powerhouse at the collegiate level. Along with a successful coaching resume, Miguel brings a heavy focus on recruiting from the US collegiate ranks that is just what the Austin Blacks feel it needs.
“The idea of recruiting American collegiate rugby players is in my opinion the key piece in building a strong, sustainable, and successful rugby program,” Coach Berthet said. “I plan to build the program through recruiting, but win in the process.”
Expectations are high for a rugby club like Austin, who is certainly no stranger to the national spotlight. The Blacks have the unfortunate distinction of finishing as National Championship Runner-Up on three separate occasions in the 2000′s: 2001, 2003, and 2007, but haven’t made it back to the final four since then. Club President Alan Sharpley thinks Miguel just might be the man for the job.
“We’ve had a good bit of success the last decade or so but we’ve yet to reach the pinnacle,” Sharpley said. “We feel strongly that Miguel and his extensive coaching experience can give us the best opportunity to compete with some of the top clubs in the country.”
The role of Head Coach for the Austin Blacks is an even tougher assignment this year than in years past due to the addition of a full third team being added to the Texas league competition. The Blacks will now compete in USA Rugby Division 1, 2, and 3 this season.
The promising news is Coach Berthet inherits an incredibly strong squad that has been extremely successful the past few years. Under previous Head Coach Lachlan Ferguson’s leadership both teams (D1 and D3) won the Texas Championship last season, as well as earning berths to the USA Rugby Round of 16 Playoffs. In fact the Blacks have sent both the D1 and D3 teams to the Round of 16 playoffs simultaneously, twice in the last three years. A first for any rugby club in the US.
While the team is proud of its recent success, they’re hungry for more. Many players hope Coach Berthet can continue to build upon the recent growth and success of the program, while moving the team closer to their ultimate goal of a National Championship. Only time will tell how successful the Blacks will be under the direction of Coach Berthet, but the initial impressions he’s made are positive.