News and Announcements
Schuylkill River Rugby hosted our annual high school clinic on Saturday February 16th. The free event was open to all high school aged athletes that wished to participate. Due to having active Schuylkill players on their coaching staffs, the North Philadelphia Nomads, Narberth Otters, and Roman Catholic High School teams were the best represented programs but the event drew players from throughout the Philadelphia area. The clinic was run by Schuylkill’s Head Coach in 15s and 7s, Mike Burch, who stated that “It was a fun day for all. We had players from all levels come together to build on their individual rugby skills. They worked hard and stayed engaged the entire time. The future of rugby in our area is bright.”
The attendees went through basic rugby skills and then broke into groups for individual skill development. Schuylkill’s players and coaches were on hand to work with their specific position groupings which gave the attendees a great opportunity to learn the drills from players who put those skills into action on a weekly basis. Narberth Otters Coach Gabe Gliwa told us that “with a lot of new talent this year and being a little light on numbers so early in the year a session like this was huge. It was a chance for our newer guys to see different aspects of the game put together and at a more upbeat pace. Beyond the different perspective on certain skills it was also a chance for our guys to hear that top level rugby teams like Schuylkill still practice the small things and that the drills we do today are just as important across all levels.”
In addition to the skill work, the teams were also able to combine and do some 15 on 15 drills in order to gain a better understanding of how to structure a team on offense and defense. By mixing the players onto different teams throughout the day they were able to work with players they don’t play alongside on a regular basis and really gain an understanding of the brotherhood that goes along with rugby. When asked for comment on the clinic the North Philadelphia Nomads Coaching staff, through Head Coach James Brunson, said “our Coaching Staff is thankful for the opportunity to our Young Men outside running around with the Rugby ball in their hands. It was great for them to interact with other Young Men who have varied experiences with the game, as well. We have a group totally new to the game this season so it was a very beneficial day for our program.”
Roman Catholic High School Coach Fred Koniecki added that “the boys from Roman Catholic want to extend a sincere thank you to the Schuylkill River coaches and players for their commitment to developing rugby in Philadelphia. Our players learned so much about the game of rugby, gained position-specific skills, and made friends from other local teams that will carry on past high school.”
As a result of the positive response that this clinic has received Schuylkill River has reached out to some of the teams involved and will be having another high school rugby clinic on Saturday March 2 in order to help these teams prepare for their league seasons.
On Saturday Schuylkill River traveled to South Jersey to participate in the Winter 7s Tournament co-hosted by the South Jersey Women’s and Men’s rugby teams. This tournament was a good way to kick off the new year and get everyone excited for the upcoming spring season, as well as the 7s season beyond that. It also gave us an opportunity to mix in some younger guys with our Premier side regulars to give them first-hand experience in our system.
Our two sides went a combined 9-1 on the day with our top side winning the tournament by defeating a very tough Wilkes-Barre side in the finals. Aaron Gray and Aaron Jolcover combined to score 15 tries throughout the day but perhaps the most impressive part of our performance was the incredibly physical play of Daquan Perry and Keyon McCloud which more or less shut down the middle of the field. Matt Tyris, Joe Osinibu, and Brad Volm were also impressive off of the re-start which clearly frustrated our opponents throughout the day and Jordan Ghyzel deserves a shout out for showing some good speed throughout the day and earning himself a very impressive turf burn. Pat Boyle had a good day on the field and as usual made contributions with his vocal leadership while Brian Keown made significant contributions with his physical leadership. Lastly, our speedsters Cody Bukowski, Matt Henderson, and Kyle Kent stretched the field which created scoring opportunities for themselves and others. All told, it was a solid, comprehensive performance from the entire roster.
After the tournament Coach Jon Grasso was pleased with the performance of the team and told the guys that they have a chance to build something special if they stick together and play as much rugby together as they can. When reached for comment Director of Rugby Pat Boyle stated that “the weekend was great and we were able to check off a couple of goals. First, we were able to help support South Jersey who have been great friends of ours through the years. Second, it was a great opportunity to play rugby in the offseason and reconnect with some of our college guys who are home on break. We were able to do all of that and also win so it was a good day of rugby with great hosts. We are really looking forward to the spring and then seeing the college boys again in the summer.”
We also reached out to Aaron “Reno” Jolcover after the tournament and he said “the only thing better than one A-A-Ron is two A-A-Rons” and he added that he’s “not sure what will last longer, the memories from winning the tournament or the scars from playing on turf in 23 degree weather.” All jokes aside, our Nevada transplant had a great day on the field and is looking forward to getting back out with the guys soon.
Schuylkill’s next match is on March 9 with our D1 side taking on Old Blue and our D3 side taking on Brooklyn.
The Mitsubishi Electric Rugby Barbados World 7s tournament took place over the weekend, once again attracting quality 7s programs from around the world. This tournament, previously known as Tobago 7s, is the longest running club rugby 7s tournament in the Caribbean and has been running for over 30 years. It is run in conjunction with the Rugby Barbados Marathon and 10K international race with the slogan “Come for the Run, Stay for the Rum, and Revel in the Rugby!”
This year’s tournament made history by moving to Kensington Oval, which is an iconic cricket venue, making it the first time that international rugby at any level was played in one of the “regional ovals.” This location actually lies in the heart of the UNESCO-designated Historic Bridgetown. The tournament also featured $30K in total prize money and had a strong social component with the local community that included traditional Christmas carol singing, and community service projects.
The Men’s Elite division was strong as usual featuring the defending champion ProjecX Waterboys from Scotland who successfully defended their title by beating the Olorun PontoButchers from Wales in the finals.
Atlantis Rugby, which was founded by former Skill Rugby 7s coach Emil Signes (who has the Club Nationals Championship trophy named after him) took third place with a roster that included 3 Schuylkill players and 2 Schuylkill coaches:
Brian Keown – Schuylkill’s Club Captain, played his high school rugby for St. Joe’s Prep and his college rugby for the University of South Carolina before joining Skill Rugby full time.
Mitch Vannoy – The pride of Christiana High School, played collegiate rugby for the University of Delaware and is currently on their coaching staff. Mitch joined the Skill Rugby 7s team in 2015 and has been on 11 tours with Atlantis. He can be seen in the upcoming Nomads movie about high school rugby in Philadelphia.
Dan Deal – Played locally with St. Augustine Prep in high school and St. Joe’s University in college. Dan is one of Skill Rugby’s best up and coming young players and also volunteers his time to help coach our U-19 7s team and do Rookie Rugby at the local boys and girls club.
Christopher “Pudge” Ryan – The Head Coach of Princeton Women’s Rugby, Coach Ryan is a longtime member of Skill Rugby’s 7s coaching staff and is widely regarded as one of the best 7s coaches in the country.
Biddy Boyle – A member of Blackthorn RFC’s “Team of the Millennium” that competed in the 1984 National Final Four, Biddy is currently the Head Coach of Skill Rugby’s U-23 Academy and he has had an incredible impact in helping to develop our young talent.
The Stay At Home Dads, featuring Schuylkill River Rugby players James Teti, James Glatts, and Brendan Reif are playing a show at Boot and Saddle on Friday December 14. There’s a Facebook event for the show which can be found here (https://www.facebook.com/events/1619096748235583/?ti=icl) and the venue can be located at 1131 S. Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147. Doors open at 6 and the opening act begins at 6:30.
We asked James Teti to tell us what the band was all about and here is what he had to say “SAHDs started out as a last-minute project, like all of our shows have been to date. I was approached by Beans (Drexel Rugby) and asked if I wanted to fill a slot in a basement show because a band bailed last minute. I said yes, of course. I didn’t have a band so in two weeks’ time I recruited James Glatts, Dylan Glatts (who never really played drums before), Brendan Reif, Kris Bertolino and Jim O’Brien. We learned 8 or so songs and have grown the canon and the size of the band since. We clearly don’t take ourselves seriously — all we care about is putting on a good show for everyone, being as interactive with the crowd as possible and making sure everyone has fun. Another core philosophy of ours is the ‘revolving door’ nature of the band. You wanna sing a song? You wanna play guitar on one? Step up. We don’t care. It’s all about fun right now.” Teti went on to explain that their influences include “all thinks punk and backyard wrestling” and photos from previous performances show a lot of local rugby players in attendance and everyone having a good time.
The band includes the following members:
Vocals – James Teti, Andrew Malitia
Guitars – James Glatts, Kris Bertolino
Bass – Jim O’Brien, Brendan Reif
Drums – Fitzy, Dylan Glatts
We hope to see you at the show on Friday!
As part of an ongoing tradition, Schuylkill River Rugby participated in two 7s tournaments over Thanksgiving weekend. First up was Apple Pie 7s in Fairmount Park on Black Friday to benefit the Josias A. Sterling Aquatic Education Program. Josias Sterling played rugby for St. Joe’s Prep and Temple University before tragically losing his life at a young age. The Foundation started in his name works to provide swim lessons to underprivileged individuals at the Salvation Army Kroc center. The lessons follow a 12 week plan and so far the Foundation has been able to provide 1500 lessons. This event carries a lot of emotional weight for the Philadelphia rugby community and it is great to see that the benefit it provides has been tremendous. Our top performers from that tournament included Lucas Brickley, Dave Gross, and John Hines Jr.
On Saturday we entered a side in the Men’s Premier Division of New York 7s. Schuylkill River Rugby is regularly the only domestic club side that enters into this division and is one of the only U.S. based club sides in the tournament at all. Our competition features mostly select sides and foreign teams while our side this weekend was a younger team of homegrown players, all of whom are previously established Schuylkill River players.
As explained by Coach Burch “New York 7s always seems to be a tough gritty day. As expected we faced some top level opponents. In pool play we were matched up against the eventual champion (Liberty 9410), tournament runner up, and bowl champion. The physical play left us with a couple of injuries going into knock out play but although we were down to 9 players we bounced back and the day culminated in a win against a good Pacific Islanders team.”
Coach Burch identified Brian Keown, Mitch Vanney, and Louis Baeza as standout players and mentioned that this was the first men’s premier 7s action for Baeza, Jabari Johnson, Kyle Kent, and Sean Barnes. Bringing a young squad to this tournament enabled us to gain some valuable experience which we hope to use in tournaments to come. Here’s the full New York 7s roster:
1. Dan Deal – St. Augustine Prep, St. Joe’s University #THWND
2. Brian Keown – St. Joe’s Prep
3. Jason DeNofa – Kutztown University
4. Pete Mulville – Temple
5. Matt Henderson – Lock Haven
6. Mitch Vannoy – University of Delaware
7. Sean Barnes – St. Joe’s Prep
8. Cody Bukowski – Drexel University
9. John McCurdy – Malvern Prep, University of Delaware
10. Jabari Johnson – Bloomsburg
11. Louis Baeza – Drexel
12. Kyle “Superman” Kent – Drexel