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The 2016-2017 Schuylkill River Rugby 15s season came to an end over the weekend with the Exiles losing their playoff game to Pittsburgh 31-17 and the Troop winning 40-7 in a friendly against the Gryphons.

Tries for the Exiles were scored by Pat Boyle off a quick tap, Ben Janssen off a pass from Austin Lucas, and Gareth Jones off an assist from Matt Chiaramonte. Gareth hit a conversion as well. Matt Chiaramonte was named man of the match for his efforts.

After the match Coach Owen Jones had an opportunity to reflect on the season as a whole and voiced an opinion that the end of our season came sooner than any of us wanted and while frustration may set in that should quickly transition into motivation for what lay ahead. Our team has overcome some obstacles over the past couple of seasons and in spite of these difficulties the players remained composed and fought to a 2nd place finish in the league. A premature end of the season will hopefully motivate players to re-commit, re-focus, and re-energize themselves for next season.

Owen also stated that he would like to encourage all players to continue playing rugby over the summer by participating in the Schuylkill River 7s program.

The Troop match was a friendly so the stats aren’t available but Joey Rufo deserves some recognition for a two try day that saw him earn man of the match honors. In what appears to be his final game for Schuylkill, Joey was also kind enough to put his old high school coach away for a try in the first half by breaking the gainline and then popping a nice ball off the deck. We wish Joey the best of luck as he heads off to Duke University to earn his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Sciences.

Both sides have reason to be optimistic as we look forward to the 2017-2018 15s season but stay tuned for 7s coverage as we head into the Summer.

In a big match last Saturday with playoff seeding implications the Schuylkill River Exiles came out and got the job done with a 22-5 victory over a tough Pittsburgh Harlequins side on a rainy day at Pennypack. Tries were scored by Austin Lucas and Ben Janssen (2) while Gareth Jones scored 7 points with the boot on a tough day for kicking. For their efforts Gareth Jones and Ben Janssen were named Man of the Match by the Coaching Staff and their fellow players respectively. Other strong performances were supplied by Richard Casey, Stephen Cragg, and Austin Lucas (who ended up with a nice little beauty mark to show off to his family in attendance).

Coach Owen Jones provided me with the following statement “much of the discussion this spring has been to find and maintain a constant gear throughout the full match, limiting the disparity between positive and negative periods of play. The players did well this past weekend maintaining a productive and constant gear which carried them to the final whistle, allowing just a single score against, and securing a second place finish in the league. With Pitt as the opponent again next week, we want to replicate the positive 80 minutes of play but lift ourselves up another gear.”

The Troop side was also victorious on Saturday defeating Harrisburg 46-21. In what he claims to be his final ever rugby match the ageless wonder Rob Greco scored a try on a 40 meter breakaway which is a pretty fitting way for a 38 year old front row to go out. I’ve been Rob’s teammate since 2006 and it was an honor and a privilege to share the field with him. Farewell! Other strong performances were had by Matt McKnight (Coach’s Man of the Match), Kyle King (players’ man of the match), John Hines, and Greg Mininger.

This upcoming Saturday, April 29, will feature another double header at Pennypack (7800 State Road, look for Pennypack Path) with Troop taking on the Gryphons at 11:30AM and the Exiles taking on Pittsburgh in a MAC playoff semi-final at 1PM. Let’s make sure we get a good turnout and support our guys for this huge game. Also, a huge thank you to Carlo Sena who will once against be operating a grill on the sidelines to keep everyone well fed and raise some money for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In U-19 rugby news the North Philly Nomads had their annual Friends and Family event on Sunday at Edgeley Field. Some photos from the event, as well as more information about their Club happenings, can be found on their Facebook page so make sure to look them up and follow along. The Narberth Otters were also able to get some rugby in on Sunday as they teamed up with some players from Father Judge to take on a LaSalle B-side. If the Otters are able to win their two remaining league games it looks like they’ll make the playoffs which should take place the weekend of May 14. Stay tuned for that.

Sunday 4/30 – Nomads away vs Unionville, Narberth away vs Coventry. Info can be found at rugbypa.org

In Troop’s (D3) most recent game they travelled to Reading and were handed a 52-12 defeat against a very tough opponent. Hunter Valentine scored both tries in this game and Dan Callahan made a conversion kick. For his efforts Hunter was awarded “Yardsbrew Brawler of the Match” and got to take home a 6 pack. Izak Du Plooy also played a strong game and was awarded Man of the Match by the Coaching Staff.

After the match Coach Clark informed me “We got to see the level of rugby that we need to play in order to compete at the top of the division. Reading was a solid club that performed their game plan flawlessly. We were able to disrupt them and hold them in the first half, but playing 60 minutes of defense is always tiring. It was a pleasure to watch the team as the score line does not show the level of effort and teamwork that went on during the game. This is by far the greatest I have ever seen the team play. I know I have said that in several of these write ups, but the team continues to take steps forward. We had lots of great individual efforts as well as a solid foundation for next season.”

After several weeks off due to circumstances beyond our control the Exiles (D1) finally played a match earlier today. Unfortunately the result was a 40-7 defeat at the hands of Rocky Gorge. I caught up with scrumhalf Pat Boyle on the sideline after the game and he explained very simply that Rocky Gorge capitalizes on every mistake that you make. They have 15 guys on the field looking to be opportunists at all times.

Coach Owen Jones kept things in perspective and informed me that “Rocky Gorge has established themselves as the team to beat in recent years and today we took a big step towards challenging their position. It has been an emotionally challenging few weeks for the players and it was pleasing to see them channel those emotions and come together. The scoreboard accurately reflected the flow of the day and we now have the benchmark for the work that lays ahead.”

I also had the opportunity to catch up with Captain Joe Midwig who told me “it was a tough battle back and forth with a few balls not falling our way. I think everyone was focused and played their hearts out. I’m excited to see how we come out against Pitt next week.” As I mentioned previously, that match against Pitt is a big one and I’d like to see a really good turnout from our supporters.

For his efforts, Rich Casey was the Exiles Man of the Match today and the Coaching Staff also wanted to highlight the performances of Gareth Jones, Ben Janssen, Joe Midwig, David Jones, and Jeff Hall who all played hard and will each be in contention for Brawler of the Match.

The last thing before I sign off is that I would like to thank Greg Mininger and Paul Abrams for taking time to come out and work with the Otters on Tuesday and Thursday of this past week respectively. The kids were on spring break and numbers were light so this made it a good week to do some individual skill development. Greg took the kids through a kicking clinic on Tuesday while Paul did a scrum clinic on Thursday. Both of these guys have a vast knowledge of the game and it was generous of them to take the time to help pass some of that knowledge along. Thank you both.

The Exile game against PAC that was scheduled for last Saturday ended up not happening. We are working with the Union to figure out the plan moving forward and once we’re sure of what our schedule is going to look like as a result we’ll be sure to get the word out.

The Troop was able to get a match in but unfortunately it wasn’t the result we were looking for. In one of those classic mud-pit rugby matches Troop fell to Wilkes-Barre on the road 22-5. Our try was scored by Joey Rufo. Coach Clark chose Ross McMonigle as his Yards Brew Man of the Match for his tough running with the ball in hand and his physical defense in the face of a much larger pack.

Gary Citrone was voted as the Brawler of the Match by his teammates for his strong play in the set pieces and for some really great open field running including two runs of at least 50 meters in the second half, the first of which set up Joey for his try and the second of which almost got Dave Gross over the line. Dave Gross also deserves a mention for playing strong defense at both the outside center and flanker positions while Greg Mininger and Ryan Tower deserve recognition for their intensity and toughness in the backline.

After the match Coach Clark complimented Wilkes-Barre for being well coached and sticking to their system. Playing defense for most of the game really cost us but this match showed us what we need to work on going forward. Captain Callahan added that Gary Citrone had a stand out performance on both sides of the ball. His consistent tackling and hard running kept us competitive and that we need to stay disciplined in order to have a chance to win. Two yellow cards were very costly in this game and prevented us from being able to adapt to our opponent until the game was already decided.

Up next is an away game vs Reading.

On the youth scene it was a tough day for the young guys but hopefully it was a good learning experience. The Narberth Otters traveled to Media for a U-19 match and ended up falling 50-19. A bright-spot for the Otters was senior Isaac Martin who broke off two try scoring runs from inside his own half and almost added a third before offloading the ball to Adam Judkowski when he ran out of gas. Nate Nagvajara added two conversions.

For the Nomads it was a 40-20 defeat at the hands of Blackthorn. Scoring tries for the Nomads were Michael Carter and Pablo Berrios-Cruz. Alandy Fleury went 2/2 on conversions and 2/2 on penalty kicks. Nomads of the match were Minh in the backline and Hamir in the pack. Coach Brunson stated that both young men gave terrific efforts in the match.

In Troop’s (D3) first game of the Spring we went up against North Penn and came up just short in a 26-20 loss on March 4. Tries were scored by Kyle King, Matt Angelluci (2) and Michael Bacon, with King taking Man of the Match honors. Coach Clark said it was wonderful to watch and the best rugby he’s seen this group of players play. Captain Callahan added that a combination of cold, wind, and a lot of rust had us lagging in the first half but we cleaned things up and outplayed North Penn in the second half. Kicking was an issue for us in this one but we’ve got a platform to build on.

Troop’s second game of the Spring took place this past weekend and was a 46-7 victory over Delmarva. Izak Du Plooy, Kyle King (2), John Hines, Mike Martino (2), and Rich Grand were the try scorers along with 4 conversions from Ryan Tower and a drop goal from Greg Mininger. For his efforts, Ryan Tower was named man of the match. Captain Citrone felt that overall D3 did really well on Saturday. We were able to utilize the defensive positioning that we worked on all week at practice to stifle Delmarva’s attack. We worked our offensive system well and were able to start working out the kinks which will greatly benefit us as we go into our next couple of matches.

Gary wanted to give special mention to Cat Stevens for willingly playing for Delmarva when they ran out of healthy players (this was a friendly after all) as well as David Gross and Ryan Tower who got some experience in new positions and looked like natural fits. Coach Clark felt that D3 came out of the gate ready to make up for the lack of rugby games over the past two weekends. It was a hard hitting game against a larger team and keeping to the game plan enabled us to pull away and be victorious.

On the D1 side the Exiles played their first league match this weekend after warmup games against Monmouth and Old Blue. The Monmouth game was a 63-19 victory for the Exiles while the Old Blue match was a 53-15 defeat. The two matches showed us what we are capable of when everything is clicking for us and also gave us a glimpse at what we need to work on in order to play at the highest level consistently.

In their most recent game the Exiles defeated Wilmington 54-17 with tries coming from Dan Deal (3), Brad Volm, Cody Bukowski, Owen Jones, Chase Haberstroh and Steve Cragg with Matt Chiaramonte providing 16 points with the boot. After the match Coach Tom told me “managing several availability issues, the Exiles’ strong depth was showcased as the side came out firing on all cylinders and got out to a 42-5 halftime lead. Sharp execution in the midfield opened up holes on the outside and much improved tackling ensured we got the ball back quickly. In the second half, we began to throw 50/50 passes, didn’t commit to recycling clean ball, and tried to get the ball wide too soon, too early. As a result, we didn’t widen our lead from the first half. Overall, the tackling was much improved, our maul defense took a step forward, and our defensive structure was more sound. Lot’s to build on for our match next week against PAC."

With the win the Exiles move into 3rd place in the MAC and sit only 3 points behind the Pittsburgh Harlequins with a game in hand for 2nd.

On April 1 Troop travels to Wilkes-Barre and the Exiles travel to Potomac.

On the youth level the Narberth Otters won a well deserved 24-10 victory over the Kutztown Silverbacks yesterday. Tries were scored by Nate, Luke, and Jhamir with Nate also kicking 3 conversions and a penalty. This was a good start to league play for the Otters who previously won the Frostbite tournament in Lancaster a few weeks ago by winning 5 matches in two days. The scores are below:

Mt St Joe’s High School (Baltimore, MD) W 3-0
North Bay, Aberdeen, MD W 12-7
Carlisle HS, PA W 15-0
Calvert Hall College HS (Baltimore, MD) W 12-7
Hempfield HS, PA W 45-5