News and Announcements
For the first time in two years Skill Rugby is looking forward to the first match of a competitive regular season. 2020 was set to be the 25th anniversary for the Club but due to Covid we pushed the celebration back to this year and are set for a great season of rugby to honor all of the players that have built this club through the years.
On September 18 we will kick things off with The Exiles (D1) hosting Rocky Gorge while Troop (D3) travels to Lehigh Valley and we go from there with matches every Saturday through November 13. The Club would also like to take this opportunity to thank Kutztown University Rugby for giving us an opportunity to play some friendlies over the weekend and get prepared for the regular season.
In the first match on Saturday we got strong play from 15s newcomer Kyle Hegarty who played 7s for us the past 2 seasons and has joined the squad fulltime after graduating from Cal Poly. Hegarty, who started playing initially for Malvern Prep, is a great addition to the program. Sean Barnes was also noted to be a strong performer alongside Jeff Hall, and Sam Devine. Devine has been a 7s mainstay for us for years while he attended Kutztown after originally playing for Roman Catholic and he is another excellent addition to Skill Rugby.
In the second match Kevin Allison continued a run of very impressive play that has seen him develop into a player who has definitely forced himself into the conversation for a starting position with the Exiles. His commitment to the craft through the shutdown is obvious and he has grown tremendously. Additionally, the ageless wonder Ryan McHugh played well as did James Lesniak who is a young player that we expect big things from this season. One last player who deserves a shout out is Jack Ramirez who did a little double duty over the weekend and drew positive reviews, including from local rugby fan Alex Faison-Donohoe on the sidelines, for his defense throughout the day.
Lisa Schlager was kind enough to share some photos, feel free to take a look at the album here: https://lightroom.adobe.com/shares/34ef99ee33774b40a1d8d967d5a1a518
We will continue to provide news and match reports throughout the season so be sure to keep an eye on our website as well as our social media “Schuylkill River Rugby” or “@skillrugby” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Lastly, be sure to check out our event page for the HazBowl Old Boys Match taking place on October 2 (https://fb.me/e/1AYgNpe4Q) and please help spread the word about that so we can get a big turnout to honor our friend!
In an event that was run by United Sports in Downingtown, with Skill Rugby serving as hosts, we were able to defend our home turf and claim victory in a tournament field that featured 4 of the top 7s sides in the entire country.
The SBs got off to a strong start with a 47-0 victory over Washington Irish followed by a 50-0 victory over Washington RFC. The final pool play match was a close 14-12 win over a NOVA squad that has been on fire this summer.
The semi-finals set up a showdown against NAV with the opportunity to play Beltway for the title on the other side. The boys played a fantastic match earning a 21-7 win and carried their momentum into the final where they defeated Beltway 21-10 to earn first place.
Overall the SBs had a point differential of 124 across 5 matches on the day and have brought their summer record to 20-4. The Man of the Match was Captain Brian Keown who has been an extremely talented player for years and is growing into an exceptional leader on and off the field.
It was a tougher day for the Boars but they have been entered into the Premier Division every week so their pool always includes the top sides for NAV and Beltway. This creates a significant challenge on the field but gives these players the unique opportunity to develop themselves over the summer through both training and competing alongside more experienced players with great coaches overseeing the process. They finished the day with a 45-0 victory over Washington RFC and continue to grow strong each week.
The Man of the Match for the Boars was James Meyer whose development this summer has been incredible. He is a hardworking, and skilled player, from Kutztown Rugby who also has a wrestling background that has served him well.
The River Rats had a solid day on Saturday going undefeated in pool play with wins over NOVA 3 by a 22-5 scoreline and Baltimore-Chesapeake by a 14-12 scoreline. They were a bit unlucky to turn right around and play Baltimore a second time in the knockout rounds losing 19-17 but they finished 3rd in an 11 team division featuring a lot of Club’s top sides and a few sides from Division 1 programs.
The Man of the Match for the River Rats was Perry Bowers who came to our program following his time with Downingtown and Temple. Perry is a fitness professional pursuing a PhD so he is always match ready and gives a great performance. Kyle Kent also continues to earn plaudits from team leadership both for the quality of his play and his willingness to play through injury.
Rosters, including local college and high schools:
Sean Barnes – Unionville
John Davis – Maryland
Bruce Dolan – Blackthorn High School/Kutztown University
Danny Giannascoli – Malvern Prep/Loyola Maryland
Kyle Hegarty – Malvern Prep
Ben Janssen – Coatesville/Penn State
Brian Keown – St. Joe’s Prep/West Chester
John McCurdy – Malvern Prep/Delaware
Pete Mulville – Downingtown/Temple
Noah Niumataiwalu – Archmere/St. Joe’s Prep
Jack Ramirez – Roman Catholic/Loyola Maryland
Mitch Vannoy – Christiana/Delaware
Niall Carlson – Conestoga
Paul Diorio – Bishop Shanahan/West Chester
Jordan Ghyzel – Kutztown
Sekou Harris – Neptune/Del Val
Graham Johnston – Central/Pitt
Dave Kornock – Kutztown
Ray McGettigan IV – West Shore United/Mount St. Mary
James Meyer – Downingtown/Kutztown
Nicky Ramirez – Roman Catholic/Mount St. Mary
Anthony Sessa – Springford/Kutztown
Garrett White – Toms River/Drexel
Dan Berger – Cherry Hill East/Rowan
Garrett Bland – Coventry/Penn State Berks
Perry Bowers – Downingtown/Temple
Joey Broderick – Paul VI
Ian Glatts – St. Joe’s Prep/St. Joe’s U
Dave Hockenberry – Bishop Shanahan
Kyle Kent – Great Mills/Drexel
Justin Macalis – Perkiomen Valley/Millersville
Ted Melchiorre – Conestoga/Delaware
Adam Russell – St. Joe’s Prep/Fairfield
Noah Sanders – Conestoga/SVU
Matt Zebrowski – St. Peter’s/St. Joe’s
After traveling to play the Pittsburgh Quins last weekend we hosted the other Pittsburgh team, the Pittsburgh Forge, this weekend. The Forge are the result of a 2018 merger between Pittsburgh Rugby Club and the Pittsburgh Highlanders and they play in the Midwest.
Things got off to a great start for us in the D1 match thanks to a try from Sean Barnes in the 4th minute. Chase Haberstroh added another early try and 17 minutes into the match we were up 14-3. The teams played it even for the next 20 minutes until we ended the first half with 10 quick points thanks to a 37th minute try from Ben Janssen that was converted by Danny Giannascoli who added a penalty on the stroke of halftime to make it 24-3.
The boys came out firing in the second half with another try from Chase 3 minutes into the period and a try from John McCurdy 15 minutes in. Between those tries was a conversion and two penalties from Danny to make it 42-3. Ben Janssen’s relentless motor led to two additional tries and we were able to take it 54-3.
After the match Coach Jamie acknowledged the obviously strong performance but focused on areas where the team could improve such as the lineout and our pod width. In the fall season we’ll also need to keep the tackles down and make smart decisions about when to poach the ball. Coach Jamie was proud of how the team competed throughout the second half and didn’t let up even with a lead. We tackled like maniacs, picked up some points, and finished the second half, just like the first, with a defensive stand turnover and length of the field score.
In terms of Man of the Match it is hard to overlook Ben Janssen and Chase Haberstroh combining for 5 tries but Coach Jamie is a defense guy and Louis Snyder stole his heart this weekend to earn the honors.
T: Ben Janssen (3), Chase Haberstroh (2), John McCurdy (1), Sean Barnes (1),
C: Danny G (5)
P: Danny G (3)
The D2 match also got off to a good start thanks to a 10th minute try from Kyle Kent. The Forge were able to answer back and take a 5-7 lead but another try from Kent followed by a conversion and a penalty from Ryan Tower gave us a 15-7 lead. Matt Rhodes and the Forge each scored shortly before halftime and we took a 20-12 lead into the break.
Tai Kauwe scored a try 2 minutes into the second half to create some breathing room before the Forge scored again to make it 27-19. A 52nd minute try from Jack Heffernan pushed the scoreline to 32-19 which is where it remained.
After the match Coach Jamie said it wasn’t always pretty but in the end it came down to a ton of heart to keep them out of the try zone. Coach indicated that a Club’s overall strength is measured by the second side and that we’ve got a good one here.
The Man of the Match was Tai Kauwe for a strong performance from the scrumhalf position.
T: Kyle Kent (2), Jack Heffernan (1), Matt Rhodes (1), Tai Kauwe (1)
C: Ryan Tower (2)
P: Ryan Tower (1)
Season Scoring Totals:
T: Ben Janssen (7), Chase Haberstroh (3), ), Sean Barnes (3), Alex Ruiz (2), Danny Giannascoli (2) Jack Ramirez (2), Niall Carlson (2), Aaron Gray (1), Chris Wiggins (1), Dan Berger (1), Jeff Hall (1), John Davis (1), John McCurdy (1),
C: Danny Giannascoli (12), Brian Keown (4), Alex Ruiz (3), Alex Walsh (1)
P: Danny Giannascoli (10)
T: Kyle Kent (4), Matt Rhodes (4), Bouba Bangoura (3), Jack Ramirez (3), James Lampe (2), Kobie Tuckson (2), Alex Ruiz (1), Anthony Sessa (1), Jack Heffernan (1), James Lesniak (1), Jon Ahern (1), Matt Zebrowski (1), Tai Kauwe (1)
C: Ryan Tower (10), Alex Ruiz (4), Jon Ahern (1), Kyle Kent (1),
P: Ryan Tower (1)
Matches against the Pittsburgh Harlequins are definitely something that our Club always looks forward to. We have a strong relationship with our in-state rivals and whether the match is home or away we know it’s going to be hard fought. We also know that when it is an away match we’re going to play on a great field and have a fun time in their clubhouse afterwards. This past weekend at Founder’s Field was no exception and we appreciate the Quins for being great hosts as always.
The D1 match went well for us as the Exiles ran in 7 tries to earn a 43-23 victory. Niall Carlson’s toughness was apparent as he went from being unable to train on Thursday to scoring two tries on Saturday. Ben Janssen (loose forward) and Sean Barnes (outside back) also each had a double and John Davis scored one as well.
For his work all over the park on offense and defense John Davis was named Man of the Match.
T: Ben (2), Niall (2), Sean Barnes (2), John Davis (1),
C: Brian Keown (4),
The D2 match went even better for us as Troop put up 6 unanswered tries in a shutout victory. Sometimes there’s simply no answer for speed out wide and that was the case in this match as Jack Ramirez ran in a hat trick. James Lampe, a really versatile player whose willingness to slot in anywhere has been a huge benefit to us, scored a double and Alex Ruiz added a try for good measure.
Part of our mission this season has been to help keep the collegiate rugby teams afloat by giving players an opportunity to get some match time and not head into the fall having taken almost two years off so we’re happy to have been joined by Vignesh Arunkumar, Michael Adamson, Matt Silver, and Kevin Lee from Pitt. Silver has since reached out and is joining the team fulltime going forward and we were also finally able to connect with Gus Dellinger from Kutztown and get him into a match.
Matt “Sully” Gyerman was named D2 Man of the Match. He is an excellent tackler with a big motor that does a lot of the dirty work around the park for his teammates.
T: Jack Ramirez (3), James Lampe (2), Alex Ruiz (1),
C: Alex Ruiz (4)
Since the guys worked hard to get ready for this weekend and delivered two big wins it’s also worth noting that afterwards John Davis and Rob Palladino were instrumental in winning the boatrace to put us at 3-0 on the weekend.
Gus Dellinger – Kutztown
Matt Silver – Pitt
Pittsburgh has a photographer (@brandonreed.sports) who will provide us with a link when it’s ready. We’ll make sure to send it to our team. Please give credit to Brandon if you use a photo.
Season Scoring Totals:
T: Ben Janssen (4), Alex Ruiz (2), Danny Giannascoli (2) Jack Ramirez (2), Niall Carlson (2), Sean Barnes (2), Aaron Gray (1), Chase Haberstroh (1), Chris Wiggins (1), Dan Berger (1), Jeff Hall (1), John Davis (1)
C: Danny Giannascoli (7), Brian Keown (4), Alex Ruiz (3), Alex Walsh (1)
P: Danny Giannascoli (7)
T: Bouba Bangoura (3), Jack Ramirez (3), Matt Rhodes (3), James Lampe (2), Kobie Tuckson (2), Kyle Kent (2), Alex Ruiz (1), Anthony Sessa (1), James Lesniak (1), Jon Ahern (1), Matt Zebrowski (1),
C: Ryan Tower (8), Alex Ruiz (4), Jon Ahern (1), Kyle Kent (1),
We promised a great day of rugby ahead of our doubleheader with Rocky Gorge and we did not disappoint. The Club went 1-1 on the day with both matches being decided by a try in the final minutes.
The Exiles started off the day with a back and forth match that saw the teams trade tries for the entire match. Rocky Gorge got on the board first with a try in the 12th minute that was quickly followed by a try from Chris Wiggins in the 16th. Danny G added a penalty kick in the 31st minute and after a 37th minute try for Rocky Gorge made it appear as though the visitors would be taking a lead into halftime Dan Berger scored to end the half and help put the Exiles up 17-12 at intermission. Rocky Gorge got off to a good start in the second half with a quick try and a 17-19 lead but Danny was quick to put River back on top with another penalty to make it 20-19. Things slowed down a bit from there with no scoring for the next 23 minutes but that was really just the teams ramping up for an incredible finish. Ben Janssen scored a try in the 70th minute to extend the lead to 25-19 but Gorge answered back almost immediately to take a 25-26 lead and just when it looked like time might run out on us Ben scored his second try of the match in the 79th minute to make it 30-26. Alex Walsh stepped in to provide an extra cushion and the boys held on for a 32-26 victory.
Coach Jamie described the match as heart in mouth stuff and indicated that we dominated for about 20 separate 3 minute periods. When our opponents had the ball our defense was generally able to shut them down, however too many of our periods of dominance ended in mistakes and turnovers which a quality team like Gorge will gouge you on in the open field. Jamie was pleased to see the team fight back after giving up the lead in the 70th minute and reclaim it with a late try.
Man of the match: Ben Janssen’s first half was quiet by his standards, but in the second half he roared back with great leadership and he led the comeback by scoring our final two tries.
Tries: Ben Janssen (2), Chris Wiggins (1), Dan Berger (1)
Cons: Danny Giannascoli (2), Alex Walsh (1)
Pens: Danny Giannascoli (2)
The Troop (D2) match was another nail biter and was really a tail of two halves. In the first period tries from Kyle Kent and Bouba Bangoura staked us to a 14-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes followed by a try from Rocky Gorge and a score from Kobie Tuckson before half time to give us a 21-5 lead at the break. Rocky Gorge got off to a great start in the second half with 2 tries in the first 15 minutes to make it 21-19. A 61st minute try from Matt Rhodes made it 28-19, thanks to a 4th successful conversion from Ryan Tower, and was almost enough to deliver a victory but unfortunately the boys weren’t able to see it through as Gorge scored in the 70th and 77th minute to earn a 28-33 victory.
Coach Jamie stated that we had some periods of play and our young talent shone by doing what Gorge had done to use in the first game and slicing them up in open field opportunities. Unfortunately when Rocky Gorge came back hard in the second half our defense didn’t stand up as well as we would have wanted it to.
Man of the Match: Shared between Matt Rhodes and Bouba Bangoura who each showed some monster ball carrying and scored tries on the day.
Tries: Bouba Bangoura (1), Kobie Tuckson (1), Kyle Kent (1), Matt Rhodes (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (4)
Bryce Lanhart – Minnesota Duluth, Metropolis
Chris Wiggins – Wilmington, Delaware Black Foxes
John Davis – Capital Selects
Season Scoring Totals:
T: Alex Ruiz (2), Ben Janssen (2), Danny Giannascoli (2) Jack Ramirez (2), Aaron Gray (1), Chase Haberstroh (1), Chris Wiggins (1), Dan Berger (1), Jeff Hall (1)
C: Danny Giannascoli (7), Alex Ruiz (3), Alex Walsh (1)
P: Danny Giannascoli (5)
T: Bouba Bangoura (2), Kyle Kent (2), Matt Rhodes (2), Anthony Sessa (1), Kobie Tuckson (1), Matt Zebrowski (1),
C: Ryan Tower (6), Jon Ahern (1), Kyle Kent (1),
Huge thanks to all of our camera people!
Gary Citrone’s album is here: https://lensdump.com/a/I7MYe
Dipin George’s album is here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/koyTYKrAL3K5k4FTA
Lisa Berger has posted her photos to our Facebook page.