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Coaches Profile – Michael “Rook” Vardavas

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The UNSW Raiders are pleased to announce Michael “Rook” Vardavas as the mens Defensive Line coach. Coach Rook was the D-Line coach for the 2018 season and returns for 2019. He has an impressive playing career where he’s always played Defensive Line starting his career back in 1986.

Michael started watching Gridiron on TV back in the ’80s when by chance he was driving past Rushcutters Bay Park and saw a bunch of guys playing it. He says he “went to check it out and signed up then and there for the Eastern Suburbs Buccaneers.” When asked how he got the nickname ‘Rook’ he explains, “There were five Michael’s on the team and I was the youngest. I was the Rookie. One day one of the veterans of the team called out ‘hey rook come over here!’ He was looking at me when saying it and it stuck ever since then.” He says he was called ‘Rook’ all through his playing years, from local, to state, to national team. He laughs that even some refs were unaware of his real name for years.

This year will mark Michaels 30th year with the Raiders.

He was selected on the Raiders 25 year silver anniversary team.

Coaching philosophy: Family

Coaching experience:

  • 2018 Defensive Line coach

Playing Experience:

  • 1986-1988 East Suburbs Buccaneers
  • 1989-2010 Bondi Raiders
  • 1986-2000 NSW State team
  • 1996 – Australian team selection
  • 1999 – Australian Representative for 1st World Cup.

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Breaking news! Luca Brundu accepted to US College

Some amazing news from the UNSW Raiders family this week: Luca Brundu has officially been accepted to Mt San Antonio college in Walnut California!

“I’m all sorts of emotion at the moment” he said. “Scared, nervous, excited, blown away to say the least, but mainly thrilled that I can make a dream of mine a reality”. Luca started playing Gridiron 4 years ago due to soccer injuries “I was injured and couldn’t trial to get into a higher grade so my Dad suggested I try Gridiron; I haven’t looked back since.”

Luca will be playing for the ‘Mt Sac Mounties’ and will attend the college for 2 years. “All of this came about when Dad came back from the coaching conference in San Antonio, Texas. He made a lot of contacts and got inspired for the club to expand out for the future players to play in America, and luckily I’m the first person to have a shot.” When asked if he’s prepared to play and train at that higher level he responded with “Honestly, physicality wise, I still have a bit to go but I have been working out with  the Raiders Strength and Conditioning Coach, Ben Fraser who’s been amazing with a program that has me working out 6 days a week. 4 in the gym and 2 days on the oval working on conditioning and speed work.”

His dad being a long member of the UNSW Raiders, and recently announced Head Coach of the Men’s team, Coach Andrew Brundu. “This is a great opportunity not only for Luca but for all our Raider family. Just like we are helping young men from the US grow as adults by coming to Australia, we now have an avenue to help our Colts grow as young men with opportunities over in the US. The idea is that they can then come back and help our program here in Australia. I am so excited for the Raider’s future and for Luca.”  He added a personal note, “Mum and Dad love you! Do yourself proud and remember there is nothing that you CANT achieve.”

Luca, you will always be a Raider at heart, but for the next two years…GO MOUNTIES!!


Coaches Profile – Darryl Jones

The UNSW Raiders are pleased to announce the continuing appointment of Darryl Jones as the 2019 Raiders Colts Head Coach. Its fair to say that it was a tough season last year for the Raiders Colts languishing at the bottom of the ladder. Coach Darryl has vowed a renewed vision for the Colts to bring them back into the winning column. “It was difficult being torn between the two teams last year with the coaches trying to coach the Colts but needing to warm up for the mens” he said. “The Colts this season will be training on alternate days to the mens team to allow the coaches to have full commitment and focus to the team.”

Coaching Philosophy:

“We teach young men to be the best versions of themselves on and off the field. Winning AND losing in football helps to define who we are, and who we want to be in life. To play hard and play safe.”

Coaching Experience:
  • 3 Yrs Coaching UNSW Raiders colts – 2 Yrs as head coach.
Playing Experience:
  • 22 yrs at UNSW Raiders
  • 8 yrs NSW Representative
  • Australian representative at the 1st world cup in Palermo 1999

Coaches Profile – Dane Robertson

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Continuing to announce coaches, the UNSW Raiders are pleased to announce Dane Robertson as the 2019 Raiders Womens Head Coach. Having played a major role in the push for a Womens League back 2013, Dane returns to coaching after a year long hiatus where he spent his time playing Safety with the Raiders Mens team in 2018.

Last time Coach Robertson was at the helm, the Raiders Women remained impressively undefeated through three consecutive Opal Bowl victories across his five year tender.

“Now that I can give coaching and the womens game my full attention, I’m excited to work with the new and returning Raiders this season.”

Coaching Philosophy:

2 back run heavy offense
Cover 2 zone defense

Coaching Experience:
  • Raiders Womens Head Coach 2013-2017
  • NSW Coyotes Head Coach 2017
  • Australia Outback Womens Positional Coach 2018
Playing experience:
  • Raiders Mens – 11 years – WR, QB, S

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Coaches Profile – Andrew Brundu

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Coach Brundu

The UNSW Raiders are please to announce the continuing appointment of Andrew Brundu as the head coach of the Mens team for 2019. He of course had a successful 10-1 season with the team last year, and continues to brings along a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm.

Coaching Philosophy:

“Playing football is about 2 words ‘Discipline & Fun.’ You must be disciplined to play football but football needs to be fun. We want our players to enjoy playing a game that has taught me so many life lessons and in turn to have so many wonderful memories and amazing life friends. Its a tough goal, to have a player smiling during collision, but its a goal I think all our coaches can achieve.”

Coaching Experience: 
  • Defensive Coach for the Raiders Gridiron Club from 1987 -1993, 2008 and 2016 till current
  • Defensive Coach for NSW from 1988 – 1992 winning the first National championship as a player/coach.
Playing Experience:
  • Raiders Gridiron Club from 1983 as a Tight End
  • Played is every NSW State Team from 1987 through to 1993
  • Raiders Gridiron Club from 1984 – 1993 as a Line Backer

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