2022-23 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship Program Recipient: Judd Berman
Born into South African heritage, rugby is a family tradition for Judd Berman. While the sport may be in his DNA, he needed a catalyst to make his own mark on the pitch. The circumstances of 2020 granted Judd a period of reflection and “if there was ever going to be a time to form strict habits to help me reach my full potential, now was it” said Judd, “During this time, I absorbed wisdom from professional rugby players, and started deeper conversations with my dad and grandfather about what it meant to play rugby in America as a first-generation immigrant. Realizing how many opportunities I have today because of my family’s story, I understood, for the first time, how rugby truly connects me to my roots. This was how I found my own pride in this sport, leading to the grit and dedication required to reach new heights. The more pride I took in my achievements, the better I played; and the better I played, the more pride I took in my accomplishments”.
He began his rugby career at age nine for the San Diego Mustangs Rugby Club. Over the course of his career with the Mustangs, he helped captain the 2021 U18 team, won a Tier-II National Championship, was awarded Player of the Season Award, led the Mustangs to an undefeated U16 season and a SoCal Championship in 2019, competed in the U14 tour to Ireland in 2018, and won a U12 SoCal Championship in 2015. He was also a four-year member of the Torrey Pines High School Falcons Rugby team. His select side and academy honors include being named to Eagle Impact Rugby Academy, San Diego Legion Academy, Nike Selects, Rhinos Rugby Academy, and the USA Rugby Junior National Team.
“Judd is one of the most dedicated and driven young players. The fact that he chose Trinity College in Dublin speaks volumes about his desire to get a quality college degree and compete in one of the most rigorous college rugby programs in the world. He wants to compete at the top and it’s going to be interesting to watch his development. Covid delayed his opportunities with USA Rugby, but his future looks bright. From a character perspective, Judd is a tremendous young man. He’s genuine, respectful, humble with a healthy degree of self-confidence and assurance,” said Salty Thompson, Eagle Impact Rugby Academy Director.
Berman graduated from Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, California in the spring of 2022 with a 4.25 GPA. Prior to committing to rugby as his primary sport, Judd played recreational soccer. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, cycling, and connecting with others over a competitive game of chess. He is an active member of his synagogue and has been involved with many youth retreats and excursions over the years. During his upperclassmen years, he gave back to the rugby community through volunteer coaching.
He will continue his rugby career across the pond at Trinity College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland. While competing for Trinity, he will study physiotherapy. A short-term rugby goal for Judd is earning a starting position on Trinity’s U20 first team. Long term, he is determined to earn a leadership position and help Trinity win an All-Ireland League title. He would love to take his play to the next level, whether professionally in Europe or in the USA for the Eagles. He is passionate about coaching and intends to remain involved in some capacity after his playing career is over.
“Judd has been very diligent with his training since he has been in Ireland with Trinity, he was here the first day of training camp on August 2nd and has been working hard ever since. Judd has been a regular starter on the Freshers team in Trinity, and he is a leader on that team among his peers. I think Judd has an excellent future in both Trinity Rugby, and USA Rugby, I have no doubt he will return to the USA a top-quality Rugby player. Judd also coaches with me in Blackrock College school, the finest Rugby school in Ireland, he coaches U13s Bs and has shown he is a passionate hard-working coach, coaching some of the budding stars in Ireland,” said Tony Smeeth, Trinity College Director of Rugby.