Reed Santos ’24 came to Babson College, in part, to leave a lasting legacy on the rugby pitch. In just two years of collegiate competition, he’s done that and more.
Santos captained the Babson United Rugby Club to its first national title this spring, as the Beavers won the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) Small College National 7s championship under coach Carrick Pell. Santos was named the tournament MVP, one of many accolades he’s earned in the past year, including NCR First Team All-American and NCR Scholastic All-American.
A passionate entrepreneur, Santos is always striving for the next big thing. He now has his sights set on taking Babson rugby to new heights—and perhaps propelling himself to the Olympics next year.
Santos and Babson play both forms of rugby: the more traditional, longer version with 15 players on a side (also called 15s) in the fall, and the more modern, faster version with seven players on a side (also called sevens) in the spring. In honor of Babson winning the sevens national championship, here are seven things to know about Santos and the Babson rugby team:
1. He started his own rugby organization as a third-grader.
Born in the Philippines, Santos moved at an early age to Hong Kong, where he and his two brothers began playing rugby. But, when his family moved back to the Philippines, their burgeoning playing careers stalled.
“All three of us had this very strong passion for rugby, and we realized that there was no youth rugby in the Philippines at all. So, with the help of our dad, we created our own youth rugby program,” Santos said. “It was unintentionally my first entrepreneurial venture.” The Makati Mavericks now are a powerhouse with men’s, women’s, and junior teams.
Both of his brothers still play rugby. His older brother, Ryan, just graduated from Harvard and is on the U.S. national team. And, his younger brother, Rand, just finished his first year at UC-Berkeley.
2. He was the Philippine National High School Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Rick, he developed a passion for entrepreneurship in high school and created a venture similar to WeWork called The Hive to provide students a centralized location to meet and study. He pitched the venture at student competitions, received seed funding, and won the Philippine National High School Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2019. The venture eventually stalled during the pandemic.
“Winning individual awards is great, but nothing beats winning a national championship and doing it with my best friends and my teammates.”
Reed Santos ’24, Babson rugby captain
3. Babson’s national championship was spurred by a devastating defeat.
As sophomore captain, Santos helped lead Babson to the national semifinals, where the Beavers lost on a late score. “It was absolutely gut-wrenching and devastating,” he said. Santos immediately had to rally the team for the consolation game, which it won to finish third in the nation—the best showing in Babson rugby history.
Santos and his teammates then committed themselves to the singular goal of winning a national title, putting in extra training, extra passing, extra video sessions. The hard work paid off with victories over several Division I programs, including Dartmouth, Fairfield, Yale, and UConn during the season, preparing them for the Small College national tournament, where they won all four of their games—by a combined score of 94-5—to win the national title.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Santos, who was named tournament MVP. “Winning individual awards is great, but nothing beats winning a national championship and doing it with my best friends and my teammates.”
4. He credits the support of Babson’s rugby alumni.
The Babson United Rugby Club was founded in 1979 by Tim DeMello ’81, P’18, and has a rich history over the past 40-plus years. The rugby alumni continue to play a critical role in the club, providing support and funding for travel and other needs, allowing the team to play top-level competition, including a spring-break trip to Puerto Rico.
“The support of alumni is second to none,” said Santos, noting their financial support as well as attending games and sending encouraging text messages. The national championship only strengthened those bonds. “They really felt the passion. It’s as if they won it themselves. They’re the ones that founded and created the program, and without the path that they’ve paved and created, the Babson rugby program wouldn’t be at the point it is, so I really thank them for all their support and everything they’ve done for the program.”
5. He is one of 20 NCR Scholastic All-Americans at Babson.
Babson excels not only on the rugby pitch but also in the classroom. Santos is one of 20 Babson players to earn NCR Scholastic All-American honors—one of just three schools in the nation with 20 or more players on the list. In total, Babson had 25 players with a 3.3 or higher grade-point average.
Santos, whose concentrations are entrepreneurship and real estate, says the team’s culture and the support they receive help the players balance their academic responsibilities with their rugby. “Babson is unique because you get this great academics,” he said, “but also you get the opportunity to go and play all the best teams.”
6. He’s playing professional rugby this summer.
This summer, Santos is in Southern California, playing for the Rhinos x Loggerheads of the professional Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7) league. He is the first player from Babson (and the New England Rugby Football Union) to sign with PR7, and needed special approval from the NCR to play professionally while maintaining his college eligibility.
“It’s pretty amazing being one of the first in all of National Collegiate Rugby to be allowed to play professional rugby while still in college,” he said. “My success at Babson has pretty much launched me into high-level, amazing-caliber rugby that you wouldn’t be able to experience elsewhere.”
7. He wants to play in the Olympics.
Next up, Santos will play for the Atlantic Coast All-Star team in September, representing the United States at the World University Rugby Invitational Tournament in Bordeaux, France.
Then, he has even loftier goals for Babson and for himself. “Winning a 15s national championship would be a massive milestone for the program,” Santos said, “then moving to the sevens season and winning another national championship would be amazing.”
The team and individual successes have captured the attention of the U.S. men’s national team, and he has been selected to play for the under-23 team. His goal now is to make the senior U.S. team and play sevens in the Olympics next summer in Paris.
“Going to the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “Being able to achieve those goals would be amazing feats for me, and I don’t think I’m too far off.”
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