Skill Rugby is Returning to Nationals!
Schuylkill River Rugby got the job done at the USA Rugby Eastern Open Super Qualifier and earned a spot in Nationals by winning the tournament against a strong field that featured 5 teams ranked in the FloRugby national top 20 including; Schuylkill River (2), Old Blue (4), Beltway (5), Dallas (8), and Washington (19), as well as Austin who was nationally ranked prior to the tournament and talented sides from NOVA and Pittsburgh. See below for details on Schuylkill’s matches.
The tournament also featured a great Men’s Open division which included NAV (ranked 12th nationally but unable to compete in the Premier division due to being a new Club) as well as Washington Irish, NOVA, Washington RFC, Beltway, Norfolk, Lehigh Valley, Maryland Exiles, NOVA, Old Blue, Frederick, Schuylkill River, and the Molly Maguires. Unfortunately lightning caused the Men’s Open knockout rounds to be cancelled but with NAV, Skill Rugby U23, Beltway, and Old Blue all going 3-0 the stage was set for an incredible finish and we hope to have an equally strong field next year.
The Women’s Premier division was probably the strongest overall division featuring 2016 7s National Champions Scion alongside 2019 D1 15s National Champions NOVA as well as the DC Furies and Philly Women’s Rugby who are both perennial contenders at Nationals in both 15s and 7s. The Women’s Club division featured Philly, DC, NOVA and the Maryland Stingers. Scion won the Premier Division and prior to weather issues Philly was set to take on NOVA for the Club Championship in what would have been a great match.
While our Club is proud of the fact that we were able to host such talented and competitive senior divisions, we are equally proud of the fact that for the first time at Philly 7s we were able to host a flag rugby event for children aged Kindergarten-6th grade. This event was free for all participating teams and was attended by Blackthorn, Coventry, and Narberth. The kids had a ton of fun on the field but the best part for them was probably the Rita’s Italian Ice truck that we had parked right next to their field. We are definitely looking forward to making the flag event bigger and better for the kids every year!
In Schuylkill’s first pool play match the guys were able to claim a 19-7 victory over a well put together NOVA Club that traveled to our tournament with 4 sides. As an aside, we’d like to thank NOVA for bringing so many sides to the event and give them a shout out for maintaining a strong 7s program for numerous years while also having an excellent 15s season in their return to D1 this year.
The second match of the day was a back and forth battle against the Dallas Reds who were the Eastern Open defending Champions and a top 5 team at Nationals last year. Dallas struck first to take a 7-0 and that was followed by tries for Schuylkill from Pete Mulville and Bruce Dolan to put us up 12-7 at the half. Dallas scored the first two tries of the second half to take a 21-12 lead but Schuylkill answered back with a try from Jack Ramirez to make it 21-19. Unfortunately it was too little too late and Schuylkill ended up losing the match.
This meant that heading into our third pool play match we knew that we needed to beat Washington by at least 11 points to guarantee a spot in the semifinals. This wasn’t going to be an easy task as Washington has improved dramatically recently and had already claimed an 8 point victory over Dallas and a 22 point victory over NOVA earlier in the day. In an outstanding performance the guys were able to turn it on against Washington and earn a 19-0 victory. Tries were scored by Bruce Dolan, Mitch Vannoy, and Kyle Hegarty and after the match Coach Josh Mastromatto and Coach Pat Boyle both reported that we retained possession of the ball for approximately 13 minutes in the 14 minute match and never allowed our opponents to possess the ball in our half of the field.
By earning a spot in the semi-finals we got an opportunity to take on our local rivals, Beltway Elite. Things got off to a good start for Schuylkill when Pete Mulville scored a try midway through the first half and Bruce Dolan scored early in the second half to make it a 12-0 game. Beltway wouldn’t go quietly though and scored midway through the second half to make it 12-5. Our defense was able to hold up and Schuylkill won the match 12-5. We really have to tip our cap to Beltway for an excellent match, they are a very well coached program with talent up and down the roster. We look forward to continuing to compete against them.
In the finals we were matched up against Old Blue. If you know anything about rugby in America you probably know about Old Blue. Their roster features numerous MLR players/USA Eagles and their Club structure/administration is second to none. Schuylkill drew first blood in this match with a try from Pete Mulville but unfortunately a yellow card saw us down a man and Old Blue was able to capitalize with two quick tries to take a 14-7 halftime lead.
In the second half it appeared as though we made a fatal error by turning the ball over near our 22 meter line. Old Blue recycled the ball and attacked a 3-2 break but in an incredible turn of events our defense was able to scrape over and cause a knock on followed by Bruce Dolan running the full length of the field, and breaking 3 tackles in the process, to score a try and tie the match. Daquan “Big D” Perry, one of our most physical as well as photogenic players, scored to put us up 19-4 with less than a minute remaining and a well contested kickoff led to a knock on which ended the match.
The consensus from the players and coaches was that this was a full Club effort from top to bottom and that everyone from players, coaches, staff, and volunteers deserves credit for putting us in position to go to Nationals. Additionally, Pete Mulville, Bruce Dolan, Daquan Perry, and Pat Boyle in particular played well throughout the day.
Schuylkill River will be at the Wilmington tournament on July 13, the NOVA tournament on July 20, and the National Championship tournament in Kansas City the weekend of August 10.