Player Profile: Matt McKnight
1. You grew up as a pretty serious football player and even spent some time as a counselor at a Jacksonville Jaguars summer camp. How did you end up making the switch to rugby?
My oldest brother played rugby when he went to Florida State, so I always knew the game was out there, but I didn’t get into the sport until the spring semester of my senior year of college. (Shout out to my roommate Dan Sprando) So after 17 years of football, pee wee to college ball, Rugby seemed like the next logical step.
2. What other Clubs have you played for?
I’ve played for Schuylkill, obvi, but I have also run with the Indian River Raptors. They’re a rugby club down in Vero Beach, FL. They started up in 2011, play 15s and 7s, and I always try to get a training session in with them any time I go back down south.
3. Tell us about the summer you spent playing 15s down in Florida. That must have been pretty brutal.
Yeah, with Indian River in a friendly with Boca Raton Red Eyes. It was mid-July, so it was 90 something with an ungodly amount of humidity. Worse part, I played a full 80 minutes at scrum half. I usually play hooker, flanker, or prop. I now have a huge respect for 9s.
4. Why is Schuylkill River the Club for you?
When I was coming out of college, I knew I was moving to the Philly area for Grad School. I sent out emails to all the teams on the Find a Club app on USA Rugby. Funny enough, the first and only response was from one Patrick Boyle with a three paragraph email telling me to come out and see how I like the team. I went to a practice and after I knew I had found my club.
5. We’ve talked a little about your Florida roots. Explain how you’re sort of from Florida but really from Philly and therefore a Philly sports fan.
My mother was born and raised in South Philly, my dad’s family is from South Jersey. My three brothers and I were born here cough cough I was born in Connecticut * cough cough * My dad had four sons and a wife to take care of, and the first job offer was in Florida. Bing, we move to Florida. I went to school down there, but every summer / holiday, we would come back up here because both sides of our family lived here. Both my parents, and older brothers, were die hard Philly fans, so naturally I and my little brother followed suit.
6. But what’s up with you also being a Cubs fan?
Slanderous Lies. Phillies all the way. But I do love Chi-town. Been there quite a few times. Best city in the world, three months out of the year.
7. Okay, let’s take a moment to pay the bills really quick. You’re a professional artist. Tell us about your new website and the artistic services that you provide.
I dance for money. I mean draw. I draw for money. Yes, I went to undergrad for studio art. Then I got my Masters of Fine Art from The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing. I now have a studio at the academy and teach illustration and graphic novel classes at the academy. You can find my art at www.mattmcknightart.com Let me know what you think and if you’d like some work :D
8. Who is better at art, you or Dave Jones?
Me. Bring it, Davie.
9. What does Philadelphia rugby mean to you and how do you strive to personify that?
To me, Philly Rugby is about friendship, being sincere, and being honest. That’s what I love about this city. I appreciate it when people tell me the truth, even if it hurts my feelings. The only way you fix something is if you acknowledge it. This club has helped me better myself and become the guy I am now.
10. Your off-season work has been noticeable in terms of adding muscle to your frame. Give us some official Matt McKnight Muscle Man Philly cheesesteak recommendations.
Thank you, I’ve lost over thirty pounds and feel even stronger. On the food front, the trick to a good cheesesteak is the bread. The best steak in Philly is Tony Luke’s. The Phillies have them in the ballpark. You disagree with me, you disagree with the best baseball team ever. The best cheesesteak outside of Philly is White House Subs in Atlantic City, NJ. Their bread is fresh and their meat is 98 % lean. Don’t like it? You’re wrong.
11. How many years of rugby have you played?
Since March of 2014, so going on four years.
12. How has Schuylkill’s structure, which provides multiple sides regularly playing 80 minute league matches, helped you develop as a player compared to if you were only playing here and there in B-side matches at first?
Only way to learn the game is to play. Make mistakes, and find out how to be better next time. If you’re getting 80 minutes a week, six to eight weeks a season, that helps you get closer to those 10,000 hours you need to master something. Plus, you get to play so many more positions and learn new skills in those games. In B-Side games, it’s usually filling in what is needed and playing two 20 minute halves with guys who just put in a full 80. Better minutes equals better learning.
13. I’ve noticed that you post a lot of art of Instagram and in particular you make a lot of comics. Where does your inspiration come from?
I grew up drawing and reading my older brothers comics. Making a living doing something I’d do anyway seems like the kinda thing I wanna put back into the world. My comics and art are how I connect with the world. I see something, internalize it, then give back how I view it.
14. Who’s your ideal 4 person superhero team?
Tough Question: Long Answer – My DC Team would be Batman, Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Barry Allen Flash. My Marvel Team would be Wolverine, Spider-Man, Thor, and Storm.
My Wildcard / Misfit teams would be – Marvel: Moon Knight, Magik, Mimic, and The Fabulous Frog Man. – DC: Booster Gold, Zatanna, Guy Gardner, and Kite-Man (Hell Yeah).
15. Are you willing to call Matt Chiaramonte out and declare yourself to be a better, and more knowledgeable, comic book fan than he is?
He’s got quite a few years in the comics game on me, but I definitely could keep up with him in a convo. Also, he likes Superman the best. Batman is better.
16. What is the proudest moment of your rugby career thus far?
Going on tour to Ireland, playing those two games, scoring in one and winning the other is definitely up there. Made a lot of memories with the club, forgot some too. Looking forward to more.
17. What do you hope to accomplish going forward in your rugby career?
Playing the game in more places, states, and countries. Sharing it with others, and meeting and making more friends through it. And in the words of Michael Coach, “Scoring sexy tries.”
18. You traveled to Ireland with Schuylkill in 2016 and will be traveling to South Africa with us in March. What’s the best part of getting to travel to other countries with your team?
Playing rugby is awesome, playing rugby in a country you’ve never been is awesomer. But in all honesty, I love how this game is a construct that connects people from all over. Having the opportunity to make life long memories with your friends is one of the best thing you can do.
19. How does it feel to be voted by your teammates as one of the 3 nicest guys on the team alongside Ryan Tower and Ryan McHugh?
You guys are losers
20. How does it feel to know that I just made that up?
Refer to previous answer