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Mid-Season Recap

Posted by Schuylkill River RFC at Oct 16, 2019 6:51AM PDT ( 0 Comments )

With both Troop (D3) and the Exiles (D1) sitting at 2-2 we’ve reached the approximate halfway point of the season. Troop has 4 league matches remaining while the Exiles have 6 matches left on the slate. Here are some facts and figures as we get set to start the second half of the season with a match this Saturday between Troop and Blackthorn at Pennypack.

As of right now the Exiles defense has given up the fewest points in the MAC while Troop has scored the second most points in their Division.

12 different players have scored tries for Troop so far this season while 10 guys have scored tries for the Exiles.

It’s actually 21 total try scorers, not 22, because Vito Nucci has managed to score tries for both sides.

Cesar “Southside” DaFonseca and Jack “Rack” Ramirez are tied for the Club lead with 5 tries on the season and each have a chance to surpass last year’s leader Matt Henderson who scored 10.

Troop has 5 guys (Dave Gross, Ryan McHugh, Vito Nucci, Jabari Johnson, Alex Ruiz) tied for the team lead with 2 tries. Last year’s leader was Jabari Johnson and now that he’s returned home from his European modelling adventure he’s expected to take the lead.

Brian Keown leads the Club with 33 points overall. Ryan Tower’s kicking has been a strength this season for Troop and he’s right behind Keown with 31 points of his own.

When asked about where the Club stands right now and what our goals are going forward Coach Jon Grasso stated that “both teams are trying to win their respective MAC championships and both teams appear to be on track to make the playoffs right now, despite some disappointing results. To get there we just need some more time together to get better cohesion. I’ve been pleased with how hard guys have been working and their focus when they’re at practice.”

Troop returns to action this Saturday with a home match vs Blackthorn. The Exiles return to action on October 26 with a home match vs Potomac as part of our Friends and Family Day celebration.

Troop Season Stats:
Tries: Dave Gross (2), Ryan McHugh (2), Vito Nucci (2), Jabari Johnson (2), Alex Ruiz (2), Kevin Allison (1), Louis Baeza (1), Bobby Collins (1), Jeff Hall (1), Bryan McCorkle (1), Colin Sullivan (1), John “Cat Stevens” Vizzachero (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (11)
Pens: Ryan Tower (3)

Exiles Season Stats:
Tries: Cesar DaFonseca (5), Jack Ramirez (5), Rich Casey (3), Ben Janssen (2), Louis Baeza (1), Ryan Blythe (1), Brian Keown (1), Joe Midwig (1), Vito Nucci (1), Brad Volm (1),
Cons: Brian Keown (11) Alex Ruiz (2)
Pens: Brian Keown (2)

Troop gets a big win on the road!

Posted by Schuylkill River RFC at Oct 10, 2019 8:44AM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Our D3 side, Troop, took Philadelphia rugby on the road this past weekend and traveled to Happy Valley to take on the Barbarians. After a somewhat slow start that saw the teams tied 10-10 a third of the way through the match Troop was eventually able to build a 34-15 lead before a try in the 78th minute made it a 34-22 final in favor of Schuylkill River.

Fullback Louis Baeza drew first blood in this match by scoring a try in the 12th minute that was converted by scrum half Ryan Tower. Tower made a penalty kick sandwiched between two unconverted tries for Happy Valley to make the scoreline 10-10 before Dave Gross continued his recent run of strong play with a try. Happy Valley was able to answer back quickly to cut the lead to 17-15 in River’s favor and the next 40 minutes were dominated by Schuylkill thanks to tries from Bobby Collins, and Alex Ruiz as well as great kicking from Ryan Tower who totaled 14 points on the day. Happy Valley earned a bonus point with a try in the 78th minute to make it a 34-22 scoreline.

The first individual that the Captains and Staff wanted to mention when asked about the match was Chuck Nucci. Chuck’s son Vito is a first year player on the team who has been playing well in the prop position and Chuck not only made the drive from South Jersey for this match but also ran water onto the field for the guys and kept stats so thank you Chuck!

Strong on-field performances were had by Bobby Collins who was named man of the match, as well as Vito Nucci, Kevin Allison, Ryan Tower, and Louis Baeza. Our biggest strength on the day was great work in the line outs and solid phase play.

Tries: Louis Baeza (1), Bobby Collins (1), Dave Gross (1), Alex Ruiz (1)
Cons: Tower (4)
Pens: Tower (2)

The exiles return to action this weekend with an away match vs the Washington Irish on October 12. Troop returns to action with a home match against Blackthorn on October 19.

Troop Season Stats:
Tries: Dave Gross (2), Ryan McHugh (2), Vito Nucci (2), Jabari Johnson (2), Alex Ruiz (2), Kevin Allison (1), Louis Baeza (1), Bobby Collins (1), Jeff Hall (1), Bryan McCorkle (1), Colin Sullivan (1), John “Cat Stevens” Vizzachero (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (11)
Pens: Ryan Tower (3)

Exiles Season Stats:
Tries: Cesar DaFonseca (5), Jack Ramirez (4), Ben Janssen (2), Louis Baeza (1), Ryan Blythe (1), Rich Casey (1), Brian Keown (1), Joe Midwig (1), Vito Nucci (1), Brad Volm (1),
Cons: Brian Keown (8) Alex Ruiz (2)
Pens: Brian Keown (2)


With our D1 side “the Exiles” on a bye this week the focus will be on our D3 side “Troop” as they prepare for a pivotal match against Happy Valley. Due to a scheduling quirk, Troop’s league season this year features four consecutive away matches followed by four consecutive home matches. If the boys are able to bring home a win this weekend they’ll be 2-2 heading into the home portion of their schedule and in a good position to earn a playoff berth.

When asked to explain the approach this week with only one match on the schedule Head 15s Coach Jon Grasso stated that “each week we try to position both our D1 and D3 sides to be in the best positions possible to succeed on the weekend. With D1 off this week we can put a bit of extra focus on D3 and some of the things that they particularly need to work on. This will serve them well, not only this weekend, but for the rest of the season. I’m excited to see the D3 side put forth a strong performance this weekend and get some momentum going into their home stand for the rest of the fall.”

The focus on player development, and making sure that every member of our roster is playing meaningful rugby is a priority on our Club from top to bottom. Director of Rugby Pat Boyle echoed much of the sentiment expressed by Coach Grasso in saying that ""with D1 on a bye, this week really illustrates the value of our club structure, and the constant development that occurs. Certainly, the D1 boys are prepping for their match in two weeks but the emphasis is on D3, their trip this weekend, and getting them to 2-2 before they return home for 3 matches. It’s a massive asset that we have them going against a D1 side all week. That occurs every week obviously, but the intensity is certainly amped this week as we focus on their development. As Director of Rugby, I love these weeks were we can slow a tad, focus on the needs of just one side, and do some fine tuning."

In terms of what he expects out of his side this weekend Troop’s Captain Ryan Tower made a bold statement and said “with many fresh faces this season, River is fortunate to have a good problem of fitting the right pieces of a formidable machine in the right spots. This weekend is a test of a club that top to bottom operates as a unit. If we can capitalize on our focus at practice and play our game,we will succeed. After the growing pains of the first 3 weeks, the D3 side needs to dig deep to show the league that we can work our plan and adapt to anything an opponent throws at us. I hope to see that the system we implement will dismantle our opponent. The dedication of the youth of our club has had a measured impact on our play while the seniority of our team has set the framework to build on. We need to sharpen our tools and continue to develop.”

While River may not have gotten the results we wanted in last week’s matches the future looks bright going forward and it’s great to see so much commitment from Club leadership to helping every player on the team become the best version of themselves. Tyler Kelly, Ben Janssen and Chase Haberstroh deserve mention for their work in the Exiles most recent match while Bobby Collins, Bryan McCorkle, and Dave Gross put in a good shift for Troop.

Troop takes on Happy Valley in State College on Saturday October 5 while the Exiles return to action on October 12 with an away match against Washington Irish.

Scorers Sept 28:
Tries: Louis Baeza (1), Ben Janssen (1)
Cons: Keown (1)

Tries: Dave Gross (1) John “Cat Stevens” Vizzachero (1),
Cons: Tower (1)

Troop Season Stats:
Tries: Ryan McHugh (2), Vito Nucci (2), Jabari Johnson (2), Kevin Allison (1), Dave Gross (1), Jeff Hall (1), Bryan McCorkle (1), Alex Ruiz (1), Colin Sullivan (1), John “Cat Stevens” Vizzachero (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (7)
Pens: Ryan Tower (1)

Exiles Season Stats:
Tries: Cesar DaFonseca (5), Jack Ramirez (4), Ben Janssen (2), Louis Baeza (1), Ryan Blythe (1), Rich Casey (1), Brian Keown (1), Joe Midwig (1), Vito Nucci (1), Brad Volm (1),
Cons: Brian Keown (8) Alex Ruiz (2)
Pens: Brian Keown (2)


The 2019-2020 MAC 15s season has recently kicked off. Schuylkill River’s rookie class has already proven themselves to be huge assets to our Club on and off the field and our Board of Directors is excited to lead us into the future. Here’s some info on them:

Board of Directors:
President – David Codell
Dave began his playing career with Second City Troop Youth before suiting up for Drew University where he did a little bit of everything as a 4 year officer (including 3 as Club President), 3 year Captain, and 2 year player coach. After graduating with a degree in economics and enrolling at the Villanova University School of Law, Dave joined the Second City Troop Men’s side. He served in various Board positions for Troop before becoming Club President from 2011 onwards, and also earned an MVP award for his on-field performance in 2013. Dave became a high school rugby coach in 2007 and continues to coach to this day, currently as a member of the Narberth Otters.

With the merger between Troop and Schuylkill in 2015 Dave became a Board Member at large for Schuylkill before stepping into the shoes of Schuylkill’s legendary founder and Club President Chris Bailey in 2016. Dave prides himself on giving back to the local rugby community and has been instrumental in helping to set up Schuylkill’s program at the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club alongside Philadelphia Women’s Rugby and the North Philadelphia Nomads U-19 team. In addition to the positions mentioned above Dave has also coached at Haverford College, Schuylkill’s U-19 7s program, Cabrini University, and Narberth’s summer flag rugby program.

When Dave isn’t on the rugby field, he’s working in Insurance and Risk Management Services for a large Hospital System.

Vice President – Ricky Schneider
A native of Texas, Ricky got his start playing for Texas State University before joining the Austin Blacks and then the San Marcos Greys. As a prop, Ricky gained valuable experience with the Blacks playing alongside USA Eagle, a current professional rugby player, Chris Baumann. After earning a Masters in International Relations from Texas State Ricky enrolled at the Villanova University School of Law to study international law and joined Schuylkill River Rugby’s front row. In addition to his domestic playing experience, Ricky also has international rugby experience having played in Cambodia and South Africa.

Despite being relatively new to the team, and the Philadelphia rugby community, Ricky has already stepped in and made an immediate impact by helping with rugby clinics for several local youth teams and by becoming a member of the East Penn Rugby Referees Society. Furthermore, Ricky has taken an active role in Schuylkill’s player development process by overseeing our strength and conditioning program and setting up off-season workouts specifically targeted for the front row players.

Treasurer – Matt Hughes
Matt grew up in a rugby family in Drexel Hill, PA. His father John “Skunk” Hughes played for Second City Troop and is a member of the Schuylkill River Rugby Hall of Fame. His brother Sean also played for Monsignor Bonner and Villanova. Off the field Matt is currently working at a grinding and dispersion company called NETZSCH in Exton PA. At Monsignor Bonner High School Matt played flanker and 8 man for 3 years for coach Jeff Preston who was a USA Eagle. As a senior he served as team captain and was player of the year.

From there Matt moved in to Villanova University where he graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. At Villanova he was a 4 year starter and 2 year captain under a incredible group of coaches that included Jack Foley, Steve Green, Tom Dugan and Biddy Boyle. At Villanova Matt played mostly at 8 man and prop but also started matches at the remaining pack positions as well as center. He holds the distinction of playing every A and B side match for 3 consecutive years. Off the field he served as Treasurer for 2 years and Recruiting Chair for 1 year.

Matt joined Schuylkill River in the summer of 2015 as a 7s player and won 2 MAC Open Championships with the U23 Academy. In Matt’s first year as a member of Schuylkill River’s 15s program he established himself as a D1 player.

Match Secretary – Ryan McHugh
Ryan grew up in the Northeast Frankford section of Philadelphia and graduated from Roman Catholic High School before attending St. Joseph’s University and picking up the game of rugby along the way. In his professional life Ryan is small business owner who runs a painting company.

As a rugby player/admin Ryan has done it all. His past and present coaching positions include Schuylkill River’s 7s open side and U-19 side, Roman Catholic, Neumann University, Temple University, St. Joe’s Prep, and Princeton University. Ryan has also volunteered with the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club, the Wissahickon Braves, and the Narberth Otters flag rugby program. Ryan has also earned MVP honors 5 times in his men’s club rugby career and has served on various Boards in all positions.

Ryan has been a key component in Schuylkill’s commitment to giving back to the local community and connecting with the Philadelphia youth through rugby through his tireless involvement in our numerous youth initiatives. As he enters the twilight years of his playing career it is admirable to see his commitment to passing along the game of rugby to the next generation.

Recording Secretary – Dan Callahan
Born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, Dan got his start playing rugby with the Northeast Raiders U-19 program where he played under current Schuylkill River teammate Greg “Loopy” Mininger. Dan went on to play for Kutztown University as a scrumhalf where he played alongside future USA Eagle and Pro Rugby player Niku Kruger. Dan graduated in 2013 with a degree in Cinema, Television and Media Production and is currently employed as a Videographer for QVC Inc. in West Chester PA, and does freelance video work in the greater Philadelphia area.

Dan has stepped away from the field as a player in order to focus on his professional life but he remains active with the Club in his new role and has taken the lead in greatly improving Schuylkill River’s social media presence with his graphic design skills and attention to detail. As a side note, since taking a Board position Dan has identified his life goal as striving to get a photo of Joel Embiid wearing Schuylkill River gear.

Director of Rugby – Pat Boyle
The pride of Tamaqua Pennsylvania, Pat has enjoyed an incredibly successful career in rugby to go along with a professional career that has seen him become the Budget Director for a New Jersey State Agency. At Villanova University Pat earned an invite to the USA 7s All American Camp and played summer 7s with the men’s team Lehigh Valley where he earned two trips to USA Rugby’s 7s national championship. As the founder of Schuylkill River’s 7s program Pat has gone to Nationals 9 times, won the MAC 5 times, and captained the side for 6 years. He has also served as the MAC 7s Coordinator from 2013 to the present. Pat’s other 7s playing accolades include making the MAC 7s All-Star Team 3 times and captaining it twice, taking tours to Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago with the Atlantis 7s side, and playing with Cradle of Liberty in the City Selects tournament in 2015. Pat has also coached Temple in 2013 and Villanova in 2014 at the Collegiate Rugby Championship tournament in Chester.

As a 15s player Pat has played Division 1 men’s club rugby with Baltimore-Chesapeake, Potomac Athletic Club and Schuylkill River. While playing for Potomac, Pat competed in the Rugby Super League which can be looked at as a predecessor to today’s current Major League Rugby professional league. As a member of Schuylkill River’s 15s program Pat has served as Captain for 6 seasons and he helped guide Schuylkill River to a MAC championship and 5th place finish nationally in 2013.

Pat’s off-field contributions include serving as Schuylkill’s Match Secretary from 2008-2009, and Potomac’s Treasurer from 2010-2011. Pat took on Schuylkill’s Director of Rugby position in 2016 and deserves credit for immediately forming Schuylkill’s extremely successful U-23 Academy 7s team.


The Pelly Cup is more than just a match featuring the Division 1 men’s clubs representing Pittsburgh and Philadelphia rugby. It is played in memory of those who came before us and we seek to honor them by how we play the game. The trophy is named after Eric Pelly, a U-19 player for the Pittsburgh Harlequins who passed away in 2006, and carries a lot of emotion for the entire Quins organization. In addition to honoring Eric Pelly, many of us on Schuylkill River Rugby internalize this trophy to also be a cup in honor of own of our own that passed away well before his time.

Jay “Face” Siddell was a promising young player with a never say impossible attitude, he battled every game very often leading the way, whether it be with a big hit or a big try. Face passed away just before his 25th birthday on January 4, 2008. Many of our players partake in saying his name before and after our matches. It is an honor to do so, and the players remember that when they take the field for this match.

The match itself went extremely well for Skill Rugby and ended up being a 77-5 victory. The depth in our squad on a hot day was the difference as we were able to continuously substitute talented players onto the pitch to keep the team fresh and ultimately ended up running away with it. Despite the score line, it is with sincerity that we say that Pittsburgh battled hard for the entire 80 minutes and played a tough, physical game. They never gave up and we respect them for that.

After the match Coach Grasso stated that “after the win against Rocky Gorge all of our conversations at training focused on making this weekend’s match a statement game. We knew a lot of teams would be watching us and we wanted to show the MAC that it wasn’t a fluke and that we can contend for the title. The rest of the league is on notice now so we know that we’ve got to continue improving and stepping up our game on a week to week basis.”

Jack Ramirez, whose Philadelphia rugby roots go back to Roman Catholic High School, was named man of the match after scoring a second half hat trick from the wing position and other players earning recognition from Coach included flanker Ryan Blythe, outside center Brad Volm, and prop Richard “Pond” Casey.

Cesar DaFonseca also kept up his solid play with a hat trick of his own to bring his season total to 5 tries and Alex Ruiz earned the first points of his Schuylkill River Rugby career with some conversion kicks. Vito Nucci made his Exiles (D1) debut in this match and also added a try.

The Exiles return to action on September 28 in an away match vs Baltimore and Troop also plays on September 28 in an away match vs Wilkes-Barre.

Tries: Cesar DaFonseca (3), Jack Ramirez (3), Ryan Blythe (1), Rich Casey (1), Brian Keown (1), Joe Midwig (1), Vito Nucci (1), Brad Volm (1),
Cons: Keown (5), Ruiz (2)
Pens: Keown (1)

Troop Season Stats:
Tries: Ryan McHugh (2), Vito Nucci (2), Jabari Johnson (2), Kevin Allison (1), Jeff Hall (1), Bryan McCorkle (1), Alex Ruiz (1), Colin Sullivan (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (6)
Pens: Ryan Tower (1)

Exiles Season Stats:
Tries: Cesar DaFonseca (5), Jack Ramirez (4), Ryan Blythe (1), Rich Casey (1), Ben Janssen (1), Brian Keown (1), Joe Midwig (1), Vito Nucci (1), Brad Volm (1),
Cons: Brian Keown (7) Alex Ruiz (2)
Pens: Brian Keown (2)