The UCSB men’s rugby team continued its preseason tinkering with a match at Santa Monica this weekend.

With a 47-21 lead, Head Coach Kevin Battle pulled the entire first team, giving the second team an opportunity to get in some playing time. However, Santa Monica made a comeback, tying the game at 47-47, sending the Gauchos home with a draw.

“We played well in the match,” junior Kyle McBride said. “The final score was not indicative of how we played. The main focus of the preseason is that people get the chance to work out the kinks before the regular season starts in January.”

Man of the Match honors went to senior flyhalf Simon Doherty, an exchange student from Ireland.

“Simon had an outstanding game,” Battle said. “He did a good job leading the team.”

After compiling a 6-1-1 record last year, Santa Barbara is looking forward to another very competitive year in its league, the Southern California Rugby Football Union (SCRFU) men’s collegiate Division I.

“We probably play in one of the toughest leagues out there,” Battle said. “We face off against UCLA, Cal Poly, who is a national powerhouse, as well as San Diego State, who is returning 11 out of their 15 starters. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The SCRFU men’s collegiate Division I features nine teams from Southern California and the Southwest. Last season, UCSB finished at the top of the league standings and dropped a 25-18 decision to Utah in the quarterfinals of the 2005 Collegiate Rugby Championships.

The Gauchos host their annual alumni game this weekend at Elings Park in Santa Barbara. The alumni game marks the end of the preseason and the final game for UCSB in 2005. The Gauchos kick off the SCRFU regular season Jan. 7 at St. Mary’s.