Philadelphia Rugby Team Takes 4th at Nationals
Schuylkill River Rugby, representing the city of Philadelphia, traveled to Kansas City for Club 7s Nationals over the weekend of August 10-11. As usual the team was locally grown as 12 of the players played either high school or college rugby in the Philadelphia area.
Things got off to a rough start for River in the first match against Belmont Shore. Belmont was able to control possession of the ball through kickoffs and keep us deep in our zone. This allowed them to play a 7 man up defense on the occasions where we did have the ball which put the team under a lot of pressure. Ultimately we lost the first match 34-0 and had to re-group.
In the break between matches Team Captain Ben Janssen showed that his qualities as a player extend to his leadership qualities as well. Coming into the tournament Schuylkill River was picked by at least one Rugby 7s publication to go winless in pool play. Ben used this as an opportunity to motivate the team by saying how great it would feel to prove everyone wrong if we could get out of pool play.
The second match of the weekend went much better for us. This time around we were the team controlling the kickoffs which allowed us to apply pressure and build an early two try lead against the Chicago Lions. We went on win the match 21-12 and take control of our own destiny.
The third and final pool play match was against the host team, the Kansas City Blues. This match drew a large crowd and had a lot on the line as whoever won would go on to the quarterfinals while the loser would have to settle for a place in the consolation bracket. Kansas City got off to a great start and built a 19-0 lead at halftime. However, Skill Rugby never wavered and the second half was an entirely different story as we scored 3 unanswered tries and escaped with a 21-19 victory which put us in the quarterfinals.
Following the match a few of our players were interviewed by Dustin Rosen of Rugby 7s Magazine, a video can be found here (https://twitter.com/Rugby7sMagazine/status/1160325001796562950?s=19). The interview quickly generated a lot of buzz and from this moment on made our Club one of the most popular teams at the event. In fact, even the Kansas City players and fans started cheering for us at this point.
Our quarterfinal match was set for the following day against Park City Haggis from Utah. With River down 10-5 at the end of the match Bruce Dolan made an incredible run and beat four defenders with a combination of an inside step, spin move, stiff arm, and then a race for the corner to score a try and even things up at 10-10. Danny Giannascoli then stepped up and hit a sideline conversion with no time left on the clock to give us a 12-10 lead. Both Bruce and Danny were named to the Tournament Dream Team by FloRugby and this moment probably had a lot to do with it. Additionally, following the tournament it was announced that Danny earned a place on the Collegiate All American team for Rugby Town and it certainly helped that US National Coach Mike Friday was watching this match and impressed with his performance. Video of the try and conversion can be found here (https://twitter.com/FloRugby/status/1160616385174806528?s=19)
Unfortunately we weren’t able to keep the momentum going in the semifinals and ended up losing 22-14 to Life West before dropping the third place match to Old Blue 22-7. The guys may have run out of steam at the end but it was an excellent performance overall and certainly something our guys can be proud of!
Here is the roster that competed for us in this event as well as the high school and college programs that they’ve played for:
Pete Mulville – Downingtown Dingoes, Temple University
Kyle Hegarty – Malvern Prep, Cal Poly
Danny Diannascoli – Malvern Prep, Loyola Maryland
Ben Janssen – Coatesville, Penn State
Graham Johnston – University of Pittsburgh
Mitch Vannoy – Christiana, University of Delaware
Alex Faison-Donahoe – Eastside Tsunami, Kutztown
Daquan Perry – Conestoga, Kutztown
John McCurdy – Malvern Prep, University of Delaware
Bruce Dolan – Blackthorn, Kutztown
Young Dave Kornock – Kutztown
Pat Boyle – Villanova
Brian Keown – St. Joe’s Prep, South Carolina, West Chester
The coaching staff included:
Beet McKinnon was on hand as trainer to keep the guys fresh.
Sam Devine (Roman Catholic High School, Doylestown U19, Kutztown) would have played in the tournament if not for injury but made the trip anyway and did an excellent job as manager.
Photos from the event can be found on our Facebook Page in the albums section.