News and Announcements

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On February 22, 2020 Schuylkill River Rugby hosted a 25th Anniversary Celebration which included players from the original 1995 team and up until the present day. The 1995 team collectively was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Coach Holmes Harbson for the legacy that they created. Holmes helped establish three key principles for our Club that have been instrumental to our success through the years. They are (1) we will always compete at the highest level available to us, (2) politics will play no role in our selections and the best player will play no matter what, and (3) we will never forfeit a match regardless of level.

Following these principles paid off when we won the EPRU Division 3 championship in 1999 and advanced to the Elite 8 in the National Playoffs and followed that up by winning the EPRU Division 2 championship the following year and making it the National sweet 16. These back to back EPRU Championships gave us a unique status within USA Rugby as a team that advanced from Division 3 to Division 1 in a two year span.

Our first season in Division 1 showed that our rapid climb was no fluke when we earned a second place finish in MARFU (now called MAC) Division 1. Unfortunately, a one-point loss in the MARFU playoffs prevented the club from advancing to Nationals for 3 consecutive years in 3 different divisions but in just 7 years our founding members had built a club that would compete at the highest levels of USA Rugby for a long time to come.

Thanks to this foundation, which we have built on throughout the years, Schuylkill River Rugby stands as one of the 10 or less clubs in the United States who can say that they perennially qualify for Nationals in 7s and make the playoffs in Division 1 15s. We remain Philadelphia’s only D1 rugby team, we field multiple sides in league play, and we have several top 10 finishes Nationally between 7s and 15s to hang our hats on.

None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Holmes and the original 1995 team and for that we thank you guys!

Original 1995/96 team members in attendance:
Paul Allegretti, Chris Bailey, John Falco, Matt Hainey, Steve Hardeski, Jack Henderson, Dave Lebisky, Joe Lopez, Brian Mahony, Dom Malatesta, Nate McAtee, John McSherry, Tony Monocco, Matt O’Boyle, Tom O’Malley, Jack O’Neil, Chet Radecki, Chris Steinmetz, Kevin Stretch, Jim Sweeney, Kevin Wentling, Butch Zarrilli

Table Sponsors:
Butch Zarrilli, Dom Malatesta, Chris Bailey, Josh Mastromatto, John Hughes

Silent Auction Donors:
Rob Grasso – Round of golf at Whitemarsh Country Club
Liam Kelly – Dinner at Con Murphy’s
Jim Kernaghan – Round of golf at Philly Country Club
John Falco – Alcohol from around the world
Paul Alegretti – Sixers and Phillies tickets
Spoonie O’Neal – Dinner at O’Neal’s Pub
Carlo Sena – Overnight stay at Penn’s View Hotel/Panorama Wine Bar
Temple Men’s Basketball – Tickets to an Owl’s Home Game (shout out to Colin O’Shea for setting it up)
Ricky Schneider – Autographed sports memorabilia
Chris Bailey – Vintage rugby apparel
Cider Works – Gift bag

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Perry Bowers started his rugby career playing for the Downingtown Dingoes youth program. After graduating from Downingtown East High School, he then joined the United States Navy. During his time in the Navy, Perry played for Virginia Beach Rugby and was a member of the 2012 U.S Navy Select Side. After his tour of duty, he went to Temple University, where he received his B.S in Athletic Training and was also a member of Temple University Rugby Club. Perry has been playing for Schuylkill River for four years and is currently working on his Master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Florida with a specialization in Athlete Development.

As the owner and athletic consultant of Always Delivering Fitness, Perry strives to help his clients meet their goals, whether they are professional, collegiate, or personal! In Perry’s view, Always Delivering Fitness is a lifestyle and no matter the fitness level or age Perry always delivers! With a special focus in injury prevention ADF Workout Sessions promote the extra edge you need in competition or everyday life.

Connect with Perry @PBtheATC4 on Instagram/Twitter for more information and workouts you can do from home during this time!

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Atlantis Rugby 7s, an invitational 7s rugby club whose mission is to encourage and develop American rugby by playing domestic and international tournaments, recently participated in the Rugby Barbados World 7s tournament, as well as the newly formed Freetail 7s tournament in Austin Texas and ended up winning both tournaments. The roster for the Barbados tournament featured six past or present Skill Rugby 7s players and the Austin roster featured Mitch Vannoy on the field and Coach Chris Ryan on the sidelines along with our friends from Dallas RFC, Chris and Lynn Howard. Ahead of these tournaments Atlantis released player profiles as part of their team announcement. The bios for our guys are provided below:

Tyler Barberi is a native of Damascus Maryland and currently resides in Baltimore. Prior to joining Towson Rugby he was also a collegiate wrestler. His first Atlantis tour was in 2013 and he has competed at Club Nationals in 7s with both Skill Rugby and Beltway Elite in addition to earning a spot in the City Select Tournament. Tyler currently plays 15s for Baltimore Chesapeake and was part of the inaugural season for Old Glory DC. When Tyler isn’t playing rugby he’s hanging out with Huck the bassador and likes fishing, golfing, and being outdoors.

Danny Giannascoli has been playing rugby for 4 years and first played 7s in 2018. He learned the basics from playing catch with his brother Matt Giannascoli before joining Loyola University of Maryland Rugby. He is a 2 time NSCRO All American and competed with the Collegiate All American side at RugbyTown in 2019. In 15s and 7s his Loyola squad has consistently placed in the top 3 Nationally for NSCRO over the past 3 years and he participated in the 2019 Bermuda International 7s tournament. This past summer Danny played 7s with Skill Rugby and earned a spot on the Dream Team at Club Nationals as the team finished 4th.

Mitch “Full Boar” Vannoy started playing rugby for Christiana High School before playing collegiately for Delaware Rugby. He is one of Atlantis’ most consistent players and is making his 12th appearance for us this weekend. Mitch plays 15s for Wilmington and 7s for Skill Rugby in Philadelphia where he is a co-founder of the Beefcake Bunker. You can also catch Mitch in The Nomads Movie.

Grayson Haynes originally started playing rugby in Italy where he attended Naples American High School in Campania before moving to McLean Virginia. During his collegiate days he played for Delaware Rugby and played 7s with Skill Rugby. He is currently a member of the Potomac Exiles and Beltway Elite. This trip is something of a homecoming for Grayson as his grandfather was born and raised in Barbados.

Jack Ramirez recently graduated from Loyola Maryland where he played 4 years of national small college rugby. His team made appearances at the national championships for both 15s and 7s, most recently finishing 3rd in the country at the 2019 NSCRO CRCs. Before that he was a standout for Roman Catholic High School. This past summer Jack began his rookie season with Skill Rugby in his hometown of Philadelphia. This is his first tournament with Atlantis and he’s looking forward to continuing to step his game up to the next level.

Brian Keown is a Philadelphia native who played high school rugby for St. Joe’s Prep before playing collegiately for South Carolina as an undergrad and briefly for West Chester as a grad student. During his collegiate years Brian played for the Skill Rugby U23 program before joining River fulltime where he is currently the Club Captain. Brian has made numerous appearances for Atlantis and recently helped Schuylkill River finish 4th at 7s Nationals.

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Schuylkill River Rugby had strong representation at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan with several different groups traveling throughout the country. We caught up with three of them to get their take on the event.

1. What cities did you visit and what was the atmosphere like in Japan for the Rugby World Cup?
Ben Janssen: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe. The atmosphere was pretty incredible, I have never been to a sporting event that brings together so many different cultures and although there was a fair share of jabs at each others’ teams the overall takeaway was that rugby really brings people together. Bars in Japan are very different than America, mainly they are tiny so most of the time you stood in the street and peered into a bar to watch the game surrounded by people from all over the world who love rugby. I had no idea how big rugby is in Japan but the culture has fully embraced it and I saw plenty of locals wearing jerseys from all of the top countries, and being fans of the game, in addition to the Japanese national team.

Ian Glatts: We flew into Tokyo on the first day of the Rugby World Cup and from there travelled to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Shizouka, and back to Tokyo. We were constantly using the bullet train to get from city to city, which saved us a lot of travel time. In places like Tokyo and Osaka, the world cup was less apparent just because of the sheer size of those cities, but during game day there was no avoiding it. The stadiums were packed with people from all over the world.

One of my favorite memories was from after the France-Argentina game in Tokyo. We left the stadium and made our way to a hole-in-the-wall bar down the street to watch the South Africa-New Zealand game. Before you knew it, the bar was overrun with rugby fans from France, Argentina, Australia, UK, New Zealand, and of course Japan. By the end of the game, half of the patrons were watching from the street! In total, we saw three world cup games abroad: France vs Argentina, USA vs England, and Japan vs. Ireland. 12 days total spent in 7 different hostels. We were constantly on the run.

Sean Beuche: We started in Tokyo and visited Shinjuku and Yokohama where we saw New Zealand vs South Africa and Ireland vs Scotland. We then went to Kyoto, Osaka, and then Kobe where we saw USA vs England. Lastly we visited Hamamatsu and Shizuaka for Ireland vs. Japan.

2. We’ve heard stories of the Japanese people being incredibly accommodating to visitors and doing a great job of hosting this event. Can you tell us about that?
Ben Janssen: The Japanese were some of the nicest people I have met in my travels, they seemed genuinely happy to have tourists in their country and were extremely accommodating. That being said, they had no idea how to properly supply a large scale sporting event. Multiple bars I went to ran out of beer, the stadium lines were outrageous (sometimes over an hour long), and they had very few bathrooms or concession stands in the stadium. I have serious concerns for the 2020 Olympics when it comes to serving large crowds at sporting events. I assume the Japanese culture views sports in a subdued manner compared to other nations around the world and have some improvements to make to the stadiums in preparation for the large crowds of 2020.

Ian Glatts: The passion of the home crowd was a sight to behold. Every game had a mixed bag of tourists but without fail, Japanese fans came out in droves to support the world cup. Even when their team was not playing, you could feel the rugby love from the host country. Well done Japan.

Sean Beuche: The Japanese are a very quiet and respectful people that were incredibly gracious in the face of 19 other, often-rowdier, and less-gracious people descending upon their homeland to party and support their countries. I was blown away with how pleasant and agreeable the Japanese people were across the country even when the same respect or grace wasn’t returned.

Watching the Japanese upset the Irish in the countryside of Shizuoka was an unforgettable experience that exemplified good-sportsmanship and national pride.

3. Having seen this event in a non-traditional rugby country like Japan, do you think the USA is ready to host this event?
Ben Janssen: The US is much more equipped to handle the actual sporting event than Japan is due to our stadiums but the logistics outside the actual games would be more difficult. All the transit I was on in Japan reviewed instructions in Japanese then English to accommodate tourism and they welcomed outsiders and made us feel as comfortable as possible. By contrast, we are not very accommodating to tourism here. Additionally there was a large Japanese presence at the stadium, these people genuinely wanted to watch rugby. I am not sure the fan base is large enough in the US to host the event of this magnitude.

Ian Glatts: Next question.

Sean Beuche: hell yeah.

4. Which players and teams stuck out in terms of entertainment value?
Ben Janssen: Japan was exciting because they still have the underdog narrative even though they have beat the best teams in the world. It was a pleasure to see the joy their fans got from watching them. The USA continues to disappoint. It appears our coaching staff does not know how to capitalize on the strength of our players and instead tries to mold them into a style that pulls them out of their element.

Ian Glatts: The first game between France and Argentina was a real nail biter – France ended up beating the Pumas off of a drop goal in the final minutes of play. A tactical match from two well-coached teams set the tone for an exciting world cup. Although it was an honor to see USA play England, the match was nothing to write home about. The highlight from that match goes to Teti for making a row of English supporters feel extremely uncomfortable for mocking our national anthem. Needless to say, he did not make it until the end of the game.

Sean Beuche: New Zealand travels as strongly as any other nation I’ve seen, pound for pound. Ireland is always good craic, and USA is the best country in the world

5. What was your favorite moment of the trip?
Ben Janssen: Seeing the country was Amazing, Japan is a beautiful nation with lots of history. I enjoyed seeing the difference between Tokyo and the smaller cities, as well as all of the temples and castles. My favorite moment was dressing up as Pikachu and driving go-carts around Tokyo, the locals loved seeing our group and we got to see the ins and outs of the city at street level.

Ian Glatts: Japan beating Ireland. The game was played in a remote town called Shizuoka 3 hours outside of Tokyo. Imagine if the Linc was situated out in Lancaster and the broad street line was half as efficient- that’s pretty much what our commute was like. Japan played a near perfect game defensively and the pace was full tilt the entire eighty minutes. By the end of it, even an Irish fan switched his green jersey for a Brave Blossoms jersey (by the way, almost impossible to find one of those, they were selling them like hot cakes). Walking out of the stadium, we must have hi-fived a thousand Japanese fans and yelled Nippon the whole way home. Some of us even hopped on the wrong train out of sheer excitement. I haven’t seen that kind of defense since Brian Dawkins wore midnight green. What an incredible game.

Sean Beuche: When Ireland was upset by japan and the Japanese players bowed to the crowd.

6. Anything else you’d like to add?
Ben Janssen: If you are over 6ft you are going to hit your head….a lot. The food was outstanding but be prepared to hit a fast food spot or convenience store within an hour because the Japanese are very small and their food portions match their stature.

Ian Glatts: Go to Osaka, don’t eat traditional sushi in Kyoto, and go to Osaka. NII-PON!!!!!

Sean Beuche: You can buy beer at every vending machine kiosk and corner store and drink on the street, but there is no trash or litter to be found anywhere and no public trash cans

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Schuylkill River Rugby had our annual Friends and Family Day over the weekend with a doubleheader against Potomac and Delmarva. In addition to the great Philadelphia Rugby action on the field the fans were treated to food and beverages as well as a raffle organized by the players as our way of thanking everyone for their support.

In the opening match of the day the Exiles took on Potomac. Flanker Ben Janssen got things off to a good start with a try in the 6th minute before Potomac scored 3 quick tries to make it 19-7 at the twenty minute mark. Wing Graham Johnston answered back but Potomac scored another try before halftime to make it a 26-14 scoreline at the break. Johnston scored his second try 51 minutes into the match to close the lead but Potomac was again able to answer back. A try from Prop Ricky Schneider 68 minutes into the match made it 33-28 but once again Potomac had an answer and took a 40-28 lead into the final minutes. In the 78th minute Janssen scored his second try of the match and ultimately the team was able to salvage 2 standings points from the match.

Graham Johnston was named man of the match for his two try performance and Coach also mentioned Jack Ramiez, Ben Janssen, and Chase Haberstroh as strong performers.

Scorers:
Tries: Ben Janssen (2), Graham Johnston (2), Ricky Schneider (1),
Cons: Brian Keown (5)

The second match of the day saw Troop take on Delmarva. Troop was able to keep the offense moving throughout the match and ended up winning this one by the score of 42-12. The match marked Tommy Higgins debut for the Club so welcome to the family Tommy!

This match was the best we’ve run our system so far this season. Our pods consistently broken the gainline and drew in multiple defenders which created a number of mismatches for us to capitalize on thanks to improved passing and ball retention. On defense we came up hard all game and we’re strong in the tackle with our centers in particular shutting down their attack. Our defense was also fueled by disruptive counter rucking.

From an individual standpoint, Dave “Tiny” Hilley was strong in the lineounts, Matt Zebrowski made a huge impact, Joe Barasse was strong throughout the match, Greg “Loopy” Mininger and Jabari Johnson had excellent all around games and were huge on defense and the young guys, including James Lesniak, Evan McKeever, and Keeno Brown continued to play well. Colin Sullivan was named man of the match for his performance.

Scorers:
Tries: Jabari Johnson, Keeno Brown, Ryan McHugh, Evan McKeever, Lake Paul, Colin Sullivan, Matt Zebrowski
Cons: Ryan Tower (2)
Pens: Ryan Tower (1)
Missed Drop Goals: Loopy (1)

Troop Season Stats:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (5), Ryan McHugh (3), Vito Nucci (3), Keeno Brown (2), Bobby Collins (2), Dave Gross (2), Jeff Hall (2), Evan McKeever (2), Alex Ruiz (2), Colin Sullivan (2) Kevin Allison (1), Louis Baeza (1), Justin Brown (1), Bryan McCorkle (1), Lake Paul (1), John “Cat Stevens” Vizzachero (1), Matt Zebrowski (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (17)
Pens: Ryan Tower (4)

Exiles Season Stats:
Tries: Ben Janssen (6), Jack Ramirez (6), Cesar DaFonseca (5), Brian Keown (4), Rich Casey (3), Graham Johnston (2), Ricky Schneider (2), Louis Baeza (1), Ryan Blythe (1), Joe Midwig (1), Vito Nucci (1), Brad Volm (1),
Cons: Brian Keown (23) Alex Ruiz (2)
Pens: Brian Keown (3)