Ben Janssen Named Schuylkill River 7s Captain
With the first MAC qualifier of the season coming up this weekend Ben Janssen has been named Captain of Schuylkill River’s 7s program. To get to know more about Ben’s background and what he brings to the table check out the interview he recently did for us.
1. What is your rugby background?
I first played in high school with Coatesville Rugby Club, a club that unfortunately received no support from the school and has since disbanded, during that time I also played with Brandywine Men’s Club and eventually found my way to Penn State Men’s Rugby Club. Penn State opened the door to the select sides of Atlantis and representing Philadelphia in the Select Cities tournament in Houston where I met Pudge (Chris Ryan). After the Select Cities tournament, I knew I wanted to play on whatever team he was coaching and that brought me to Schuylkill River.
2. What notable accomplishments do you have in 7s and what sort of select side representation have you been involved in?
As mentioned above I played with Atlantis and Philadelphia Selects but I was also back-to-back first team Big Ten and had the privileged of competing in the first 5 CRCs.
3. What are you going to bring to the table as the Captain of Schuylkill’s 7s program and how would you describe your leadership style?
Well first and foremost I think everyone on the team, the rugby community, possibly the planet knows how much I hate losing so I think that will drive performance but I also bring a solid range of knowledge and a never say die work ethic to the team. When I’m on the field I’m running as hard and as fast as I can till the game ends or you pull me from the field. In the really gritty minutes of sevens I think guys respect a person who lays it on the line for the team.
4. Schuylkill’s 7s program is much more than just the Premier side. How do you intend to help develop the players on the U-23 side and help the less experienced players learn the game?
Aside from recently taking up coaching our U19 program, I start with recruiting. It’s really sad to me that there are not more Penn State Men’s club Alumni in the Philly area willing to play high level rugby so I go after players from my alma mater first. From PSU I move onto the connections I have made throughout my rugby career to pull in as many players as possible. Then comes development, I believe one of the greatest ways elevate your play is to play against higher competition. Collegiate athletes, recent graduates and less experienced players can come to Schuylkill knowing they will get better because they will be competing against a nationally competitive side every practice. Our coaching staff and senior players are exceptional at explaining our style of play and will field any question a younger or less experienced player may have. Schuylkill also has the advantage of entering multiple teams into tournaments and frequently get to watch one another play. This gives the more experienced players an opportunity to watch the U23 side play and critique their individual and team play, conversely the U23 and open sides get to watch the premier at a high level and learn from our mistakes and what we do well.
5. Speaking of helping less experienced players learn the game, you recently helped coach Schuylkill’s first ever U-19 team at the High School Rugby Championship as part of the Collegiate Rugby Championship that takes place in Chester every year. How would you describe that experience and what have you learned from it?
Being a first time coach was incredible. Teaching our U19 players the game I love and seeing their ability to learn and fall in love with it was an experience I will never forget and hope to continue to do. I learned areas where I need to improve as a player and a teacher and learned somehow I am more psychotic on the sidelines as a coach than on the field as a player…… definitely an area for improvement.
6. What do you most look forward to as a member of Schuylkill’s 7s program?
I love everything about sevens; the fitness, the training, all day tournaments, the brotherhood you form with your teammates, and especially winning. My wife has six national championships (four 15s and two 7s) and I have 0, SRE 7s puts me I a solid position to attempt to narrow that gap as we’re nationally completive every year.
7. If someone was on the fence about coming to play 7s for Schuylkill River what would you want them to know?
If you want to become a better rugby player, come play with us. Even if you do not have the premier side time commitment we can accommodate whatever level of 7s you are looking to play but I can guarantee you will get significantly better throughout the summer. No other program in the area will develop your game like Schuylkill.
Bonus Question: You scored a match winning try for Penn State at the Collegiate Rugby Championship against Ohio State and Nate Ebner who currently plays for the New England Patriots. Is it true that the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Superbowl 52 with a backup quarterback and are currently the defending Superbowl champs?
It is in fact true, I like to believe the seeds of the patriots defeat were created that day in 2011. I’m sure the tale of a PA team snatching victory from the jaws of defeat of a “better” team spread far and wide and shook the patriots team to the core.