Player Profile: Ricky Schneider
1. How long have you been playing rugby?
This season marks my 5th full season of organized rugby.
2. What other Clubs have you played for?
I played 2 ½ seasons of DIAA collegiate rugby at Texas State University, half a season with the Austin Blacks (D1, D2, and D3 sides), and 1 full season with the San Marcos Greys (D3 last year, D2 this year).
3. How did you hear about us and what made you decide to play for Schuylkill River?
I heard about Schuylkill River over the last few seasons primarily through the clubs numerous runs to 7s nationals, as well as in Rugby Today write ups. I knew before I moved to Philly that Schuylkill was the top club in the city, and therefore the club I wanted to play for.
4. With Ricky Kosa coming before you and establishing such a strong Ricky prop legacy how do you handle the added pressure of not besmirching his name?
Ricky Kosa and I have a great relationship, mostly based on a friendly drinking rivalry. People also tell me I am much better looking than Ricky Kosa, which I think takes some of the pressure off of besmirching his name. On the pitch, I just do what Ricky’s do: score tries and scrum people into the ground.
5. You moved from Texas to go to Villanova Law because you wanted to focus on International Law. That’s a big commitment, tell us about your interest in that subject and the thought process that led you to come such a long way.
I studied International Relations at both the undergrad and graduate levels at Texas State. I have also travelled extensively abroad, and also spent the past year working with a refugee resettlement agency in Austin, TX. I actually decided I wanted to go to law school while teaching English in Cambodia. These combined experiences motivated me to attend law school in order to represent refugee populations and other underserved folks.
6. Everyone know that props are the smartest, and best looking, players on the field but usually you guys are too busy doing the dirty work to find the try-zone. Have you ever been the leading try scorer (tied with Ben Janssen) on your team for an entire season before?
Last season I finished in the top 5 in try scoring for the San Marcos Greys with 8 tries (it might have been 7 but who is counting). However, I think our top try scorer after playoffs, Antonyo McCall, had over 20 so I was not too close to first. One of my good friends and mentors at the prop position, Flip Oakes, always encouraged me to be more than just a solid defensive and set piece player, but to also contribute on the offensive end. I’ve always taken that advice to heart. There’s really nothing like punching in a try in rugby.
7. Speaking of which, our social media team posts “Man Crush Monday” photos of the front rows whenever they score and you definitely post photos to your personal account hoping that Schuylkill will steal them. What did you think about joining Schuylkill in order to play serious D-1 rugby but then find out that we also have a very active social media presence and are willing to have a little fun with it?
I love the social media presence of this club. I think in the past some of my clubs have done a decent job of it, but I think our club more than anything really helps folks get to know our players. I think that social media presence helps keep family, friends, and fans involved in the game, even if they can’t make it out to the match.
8. What is your proudest rugby moment of your career so far?
Making it to the national semi-final last year with the Greys was a huge accomplishment. That group of guys, with a great new coach in Kirk Tate, was really able to accomplish something special by finishing 3rd in the nation. My hat is off to those guys this year as well, as they have moved up to D2 this season and are 3-0 after three big wins.
9. What do you hope to accomplish as a rugby player going forward in your career?
Well, playing D1 rugby was always the goal, so I would say continuing to do that at a high level over the foreseeable future. I also really enjoy playing rugby internationally, and would love to have a chance to play in my familial homeland of New Zealand.
10. You’re coming to South Africa with us in March, what are you looking forward to most, and is this your first overseas rugby experience?
South Africa is always a place that has fascinated me, even before I got into the sport of rugby. I am excited to meet the people there, as travelling to Africa has been a lifelong dream of mine. This will not be my first overseas rugby experience. I played rugby last summer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with the Phnom Penh Social Rugby Club Rahus.
11. Front rows gotta eat, what are some cheesesteaks spots you’ve discovered so far that you’ll be recommending to your out of town buddies when they visit Philly?
My favorite cheesesteak spot so far has to be Dalessandro’s Steaks. That place is not messing around. I’ve already taken one out of state friend there, and plan to take many more.
12. Our Club has two sides in league play. As a tight 5 player, do you feel that our structure was a benefit to us as a Club and you as an individual by ensuring that anyone getting slotted into the pack wasn’t coming in cold and had been playing meaningful minutes?
I think having multiple sides is essential for any high-level rugby club. The ability to have numbers at practice, scrimmage and get a run in against another side, and especially to live scrum during practice all present huge advantages. I also think it is a great way to grow a club from the ground up so to speak; you’re able to get guys in the door, let them play serious minutes early in their career, and build that depth for the future.
13. We’ve sort of addressed the fact that you’re a total nerd in school but pretty beastly on the field. What helps you make that transformation on gameday and what’s on your pregame playlist?
Rugby has always been an outlet for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find 3 Villanova Law alums on the rugby pitch at Schuylkill River RFC. I think having your mind right on gameday is actually all about what you do during the week to be ready for Saturday. If I haven’t been in the gym or at practice, or have eaten poorly all week, it’s extremely hard to flip the switch so to speak. It’s important to build and trust your personal process and stick with it during the season.
As far as playlist goes, I really enjoy a rap group called Ground Up, which is coincidentally out of Philly (seriously go check them out). I also am a huge Run the Jewels fan and use them constantly to get pumped up on gameday or in the gym.
14. Now that you’re a Philadelphian are you willing to claim that Meek Mill won the battle against Drake no matter what anyone else says?
To the extent that I am qualified to pass judgment on rap battles, I am happy to admit the supremacy of Meek Mill, no matter what anyone else says.
15. The next time that you visit your family are you going to make sure to use the word jawn a few times?
I am definitely still working on my PA dialect. If I can get the pronunciation down I would love to use this all the time, especially in Texas.
16. What are your thoughts on Schuylkill River rugby, and really Philadelphia rugby as a whole, now that you’ve been here a while?
I just knew this club had a history of success and I wanted to be a part of it. Philadelphia rugby has been so central to my transition to living up here over the past 6 months. I truly don’t know what I would have done without the club. Thanks for making me feel welcome gents!
17. Expanding on that, after your first league match with our Club we went to a premiership rugby match in Chester and our most recent league match was a two night stay in Pittsburgh where we went out as a team the second night. After spending a season with us, how do you feel about our Club’s culture and the opportunity to get out to events like these with your teammates?
I think the Club culture here is tremendous. I think I was a little concerned about the East Coast standoffishness when I moved up here, and the rugby community has been anything but that. I have already made a ton of lifelong friends, and this only goes to prove once again that all you have to do to have 30 new best friends in any place in the world is just find the rugby club.
18. In these interviews I usually try to see if I can get guys to trash talk each other at least once. Is there anyone you’d like to use this opportunity to call out?
You know, I’m not a big trash talker, but I think Mr. Tyler “Krampus:” Kelly’s antics in Pittsburgh take the cake. I won’t mention the specifics, but man that mild-mannered fella knows how to party and trash a hotel room.
19. The Royal Rumble was in Philadelphia last night. If our Club had a 30 man royal rumble who, aside from yourself, would you bet on to win it?
I think it would be a final matchup between the always nasty Ben Janssen and the grumpy old man Matt Chiaramonte. I feel like the smart money would be on Ben, but Matt with that dad bod still has some tricks up his sleeve.
20. Aside from the South Africa trip what are you most looking forward to this upcoming Spring season?
I am most looking forward to the D1 playoffs. We still have some work to do to get there, but I am extremely excited to see what this group of guys can do in the postseason.