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1. How long have you been playing rugby?
About 10 years off and on, give or take.
2. What other Clubs have you played for?
I played rugby for Penn while I was an undergrad, and then Second City Troop before we came together with Schuylkill under the merger.
3. What sort of process goes into being the best dressed man in American rugby?
Well, everything flows from Yves Saint Laurent’s time honored adage: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” Finding your personal style really is the key for anybody. There’s a lot of mixing of colors, textures, fabrics. Find one item you can wear that throws a nice wrinkle into the mix to catch peoples’ eyes. Making sure the fit of my suits are approved by my old Italian tailor. Reading the odd GQ or Vogue magazine for some inspiration from time to time. Ultimately I ask myself “If the spirits of Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, and James Bond could see my outfit, would they approve?” It’s been working well so far.
4. What is the proudest moment of your rugby career so far?
Gotta be a tie between my first start for Penn against Columbia where I charged a kick down in their tryzone for points and the win, and the spring season before last where I subbed in at scrumhalf towards the end of a close game and, cutting across the defensive line, managed to magically find a slashing Ryan McHugh for what ended up being the try that sealed the game for us.
5. What do you hope to accomplish in rugby going forward?
Putting on a solid fifty pounds of muscle so I can properly play flanker one day. Honestly though, on the field I’d really like to just keep upping my game more as a scrumhalf to set up other guys for try scoring opportunities, while working on building our rugby family off it.
6. You traveled to Ireland with Schuylkill 2 years ago and you’re set to go to South Africa next month. What was the best part of the last trip and what are you most looking forward to for this trip?
Well the best part of the Ireland tour has to be a toss-up between watching Kyle King get chased around our hotel bar by a girl who wanted to kiss him for a solid ten minutes before he finally dissuaded her with a spray bottle, and my now famous, completely family friendly, singing episode before the Six Nations game. As for South Africa, I’m looking forward to scrounging around for a gold krugerrand to bring back stateside and seeing how Izak’s hometown friends react to my world renowned singing skills.
7. So no offense intended here but you came to Schuylkill in 2015 as part of the merger with Troop and you’ve spent most of your time as a reserve on our second side. What makes Schuylkill the best Club for you despite the fact that you haven’t been a D1 player?
The comradery, hands down. I always get the feeling that we’re all just one big extended family, whether we’re kickin’ back at Brolitas or on the practice field. Everyone is willing to help you whether it be taking time to work on specific skills or answering questions about on-field stuff. That and the fact that everyone seems to put up with my crazy ramblings.
8. Despite being on the second side I’ve seen you getting an opportunity to do a lot of individual skill work. Greg Mininger in particular, though he’s a player still and not a coach, is good at setting up drills for you to do to improve your game. How does Schuylkill’s structure enable you to develop your game and get better as a player?
One of the things I think that really sets us apart from other clubs is sort of the decentralized brain trust we have on our team. Not only is everyone’s opinion heard and valued, we’ve got such accomplished ruggers throughout our roster from our coaches to our bench it’s like we have a teacher at every position even if they don’t hold any official title. We’ve got guys who’ve played/coached for top tier teams donating their time to see us succeed both on and off the pitch, and I just don’t think any other club can match that.
9. We’ve already established that you’re the best dressed man in American rugby. Are you also the loudest? Where does all of that enthusiasm come from?
If there’s anyone who can pound for pound put out more decibels than me, I haven’t met ‘em. Coming from a Greek and Italian background, I got a lot of practice being heard at family events. If you couldn’t out talk people at the dinner table, then you just weren’t heard. I’ve always been a big believer in the ‘12th man’ effect too so I try to be the best damn hype man in the business for our team when we’re on the pitch.
10. What’s on your pregame playlist?
Usually a mix of sea shanties, classic rock, funk, some Wu-tang, and a few bangers from my man Drake.
11. With our second side participating in a D2 league called “D1B” this year and traveling with the D1 side we’ve been on the road for some slightly longer trips than usual. Do you enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with the guys and develop a good club culture?
Oh absolutely. We’ve got such a cast of characters on this team, the stories and banter we get to trade on the trips to and from games has been an awesome way of bringing us closer. You don’t really get those kinds of opportunities during more focused moments like practice or games.
12. I asked Ryan this question in his interview and it’s pretty important to me. Who is your favorite member of the wu-tang clan?
The Wu-brother number one, the genius – the GZA. Hands down. Liquid Swords is definitely the best hip-hop album of the 90s.
13. I’ve been asking everyone for cheesesteak recommendations but since you’re from the South Philly delegation I’d also be willing to accept some roast beef sandwich ideas. Tell me some of your favorite spots.
I’ll chime in for a roast pork recommendation and there’s only one worth mentioning; John’s Roast pork down on Synder Ave. The place actually won a James Beard award for their sandwiches back in the day. MAJOR KEY ALERT! You must absolutely get it with broccoli rabe and provolone, and ask for a little extra juice on the bread. You won’t regret it.
14. What does Philadelphia rugby mean to you and how do you try to incorporate that into your game on a personal level?
Heart, friendship, and above all true grit. It’s about taking the hardest hit the other guy can throw at you and getting back up to help your teammates over the try line. I may not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest guy on the pitch, but I go into games thinking I’m gonna make damn sure to be the last one standing when the final whistle blows.
15. Who does your heart tell you to cheer for on Game of Thrones and who does your head say is most likely to end up on the Iron Throne?
I’ve been cheering for Tyrion and Bronn, the best bromance in the Seven Kingdoms, since they hit the screen together. I really could care less who sits upon the Iron Throne if they both make it out unscathed and get to retire and kickback in the pleasure houses of Lys when all is said and done. That being said, my head tells me we’re gonna get King Jon Snow before it’s all over.
16. We touched on this in question 8 above but I’d like to go back to it. Our Director of Rugby, Pat Boyle, has frequently stated that our structure provides a player pathway from beginner to D1 player by giving everyone meaningful minutes. Pat has also said that most of his focus in terms of player management is on the second side to ensure that those players succeed. How has this focus on player development affected you, and do you agree that having a Director oversee this process has been a benefit to us as a Club and you as an individual?
For sure. I know Pat’s come to me multiple times with suggestions and tips on how I can improve as a player in our system. And it’s always great having another set of eyes watching out for guys developing into their roles with the team. Having someone who fulfills a hybrid player/executive role seems to be helpful as that person can get and give instant feedback being in drills or on the pitch with other guys watching how they coalesce into a unit and passing that feedback onto the coaches to make roster decisions.
17. If you weren’t a rugby player what would you devote your time to?
Probably becoming an apprentice to the old Italian tailor who fixes up my clothes and learning his trade. Then spending Saturday lounging around Rittenhouse square taking afternoon tea in my hand made suits entertaining some high society ladies.
18. What is an interesting fact about you that your teammates would be surprised to hear?
I literally spoke to one person my entire first month of high school because I was so bad at talking to new people. There was also a time I didn’t wear properly fitted suits. You may now pick your jaws up from the floor.
19. Who is your favorite professional rugby player?
Brian O’Driscoll. I’m pretty sure it was watching highlight videos of him on youtube that got me into rugby in the first place.
20. Per family tradition would you like to use this public forum to bemoan the fact that Elvis was named entertainer of the century over Frank Sinatra?
I actually believe this to be a national tragedy. A wrong that must be righted if America is to continue in its position as a leading first world country and world peace is ever to be achieved. I mean you can’t even begin to compare their catalogues of music. If Time Magazine was willing to pull the wool over your eyes about this, what else are they lying to you about?
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.
Thanks to the tremendous work of the staff of the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club we have been able to schedule 5 opportunities this winter-spring for youth development work.
We will be providing rookie rugby sessions from 4:15-6PM at the club located at 1709 Kinsey St on January 26, February 23, March 16, April 13, and May 18.
Giving back to our local community, and supporting the next generation of Philadelphia rugby players is an important part of our Club’s identity and we are happy to have such a good partner in that process in the Boys and Girls Club.
Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to see our Rookie Rugby progress as we continue to develop our program and our relationships within the community.
Two of the high school rugby programs that our Club members are involved with have upcoming fundraisers. Attending these events is a great way to show your appreciation for the game of rugby and give back to the local community by supporting the next generation of Philadelphia rugby players.
The North Philadelphia Nomads are having their 5th Annual Six Nations Viewing Party on Saturday February 3 from 9:15-11:15AM at Tir na Nog at 1600 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For your $25 donation there will be 2 hours of draft beer as well as food and appetizer specials. The Nomads will also be having a 50/50 raffle. Please note that separate from the fundraiser there will be a $10 cover at the door.
The Narberth Otters will be having their 8th Annual Beef and Beer Night on Saturday March 10 from 7-11PM at the Narberth Borough Hall (100 Conway Ave, Narberth, PA 19072). Tickets are $25 for adults in advance ($30 at the door) $10 for those under 18 and kids under 6 are free. There is also a family discounted ticket (2 kids + 2 adults) available for $65. The event will feature dinner/dessert, live music, and both silent and live auctions. For more information please e-mail Narberth’s VP Kiki McKendrick at Kikimmc@gmail.com
Our annual banquet will be taking place from 7:30-11:30 PM on Saturday February 24 at the IATSE Ballroom which is located at 2401 S. Swanson St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. The cost is $60 per person which gets you a 4 hour top shelf open bar, antipasto station, salad bar, 3 entrée options, and dessert. Payments can be made via paypal (you can use a credit card even without an account) using firstname.lastname@example.org (or by clicking the Dues and Donations link on our website), via venmo @RiverRugbyExiles or by mailing a check to SRRFC C/O Pat Boyle 745 Center Ave Jenkintown, Pa 19046. Checks written out to Schuylkill River RFC.
We will be giving out player awards for both our 15s and 7s programs and we will be inducting the newest members into our Hall of Fame. We will also have a silent auction and match jerseys for sale. If anyone would like to contribute towards our silent auction please coordinate with Austin Lucas (email@example.com).
Our Schuylkill inductee this year is Dave Wixted who Played from 1997-2010 and was a key player in the 1999-2002 run which saw Schuylkill win MAC (formerly known as MARFU) D3 and make the national elite 8 in 1999-2000, win MAC D2 and advance to the national sweet 16 in 2000-2001, and then place second in MAC D1 and come up 1 point short nationals in 2001-2002 which would have resulted in Schuylkill making nationals 3 years in a row in 3 different divisions. As it was, Schuylkill was one of few teams ever to go from D3 to D1 in two years. Wixted also was Club President and Match Secretary for Schuylkill and was an EPRU league rep.
Our Troop inductee is Michael “Hazbro” Leland who played in the early-mid 90s and remained one of Troop, and Schuylkill’s, most significant social members until unfortunately passing away last year. Haz fully bought into the concept of a rugby club as a family and always did his best to make sure that new members felt welcomed in our club. Haz played a big part in establishing that rugby is for everyone and that there will always be a role in our club for anyone who wants to be involved.
This is going to be a great event for our Club and for the Philadelphia Rugby community as a whole, we look forward to seeing all of you there!