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We’ve got a special interview this week as 7s season kicks off and we chat with Director of Rugby Pat Boyle.

1) What is your background in 7s and what have you accomplished in your career so far? For anyone who has walked around with you at 7s event, its seem like you know everyone.
Well, it probably just mean’s I’m old. Serious now, I am actually lucky, as I always say I was brought up in 7s. Long before 7s was played in college, the only 7s was with men’s teams. When I was 20, I found Lehigh Valley Rugby Club who were very serious about 7s and coached by Joe Morrison, and the Emperor, Emil Signes. Those 2 coaches really showed me the competitive side of rugby. In those first couple years, I went to Nationals twice with LVRC, played for Atlantis, attended All-American camp, and did a bunch of select side stuff. After that, all I wanted to do was play at the highest level I could. In 2008, most of us from LV had moved away from the area, and that’s when Will Knipscher and I started the 7s program at Schuylkill River. We are now over a decade in and SR has made it to Nationals 8 times. I really don’t take enough time to stop and really appreciate it, but the consistency we have had is remarkable. A lot of that credit goes to Mike Burch and Chris Ryan as well who have been a rock for our program as coaches for many years.

2) Piggybacking off of that, at 34, you are young to be a Director of Rugby of a Nationally recognized 7s program.
Yes, certainly, that is true, but I never really thought of it like that. I started the 7’s program here when I was 23. So age aside, I have over 10 years’ experience. We started this thing from the ground up, so there isn’t a detail I don’t know about, and I think that really helps. Certainly, made some missteps through the years, but we are stronger for it.

3)A lot of talented players have obviously chosen to play 7s for Schuylkill but what do you do to develop talent internally and help all players reach their peak?
Honestly, this is what separates our program I believe from everyone else. We are a true club model. We have never turned away a player no matter their skill level or athletic ability. We have done all of that while still playing 7s at the highest level. From our earliest beginnings, we always had 2 sides, and now we consistently put out 3 to 4 sides every weekend which is unheard of most places in the country. We know we can’t compete with a model other teams have of importing talent. We must build from within, and everyone in the program knows it, its ingrained in our culture, and it’s who we are. 10 years ago, we weren’t alone in this, but over the past couple years, the rise of the all-star 7s sides have really come to dominate the scene. I fully support that and think it’s great for the game, but that’s not who we are. Certainly, our top guys have different goals and focus on that at training, but if you come to Schuylkill, player 1 through 100 is getting coached and developing. I can guarantee that.

4)What can you tell us about the coaching staff that Schuylkill has put together this year?
Our coaching staff is really second to none, and I say that with the utmost confidence. Mike “Beaver” Burch will be Head Coach again this year and we are really excited about his progression. Further, Chris Ryan is stepping back into an Associate Head Coach role. Beaver has been with our program from day one, first as a player, then as Chris’ assistant coach. Beaver is an embodiment of everything this program stands for. I think Coach Ryan’s motivation to come back is the greatest complement for me as Director. He really struggled being away from the boys, the camaraderie, and just everything we built here. It’s a program people want to be a part of and Chris has been involved at the highest level, so it says a lot.

Biddy Boyle is the head man of the U23 Academy. I could go on about Biddy’s credentials, but the fact that this man leads our U23 team, just speaks to the strength of our coaching staff. Biddy is really the perfect for U23 because he’s worked so much with men’s sides, but now does a ton of work with Atlantis U19 program. There isn’t a better man to bridge the gap in a player’s development from High School/College to Men’s.

Josh Mastromatto is such an exciting up and coming coach. Aside from his rugby knowledge his work with agility, and fitness, is just so influential to the program. Josh is such an accomplished athlete, and came to rugby late, so he has a unique perspective on things that’s so pivotal in players development

Ryan McHugh is also back to coach this year. Ryan is a stalwart for us in 15s and this last year has coached with Chris Ryan at Princeton, so really excited to see his development in year 2 as a coach here.

Lastly, Jaime-Pierce Williams is joining the staff this year, and we couldn’t be more excited. Jamie was a SR stalwart in the early years of the program and helped build what it is today on the pitch. He has been to the top of the mountain, and knows what it takes, and most importantly that fire still burns which he imparts in his players.

Top to bottom, you would be hard pressed to find a staff so accomplished in the country with the depth of talented coaches that we have put together which will allow for players to improve within every tier within our program.

5) With all of the other options for 7s, why should someone come and play for Schuylkill River?
One word, consistency. The game of 7s is all about how consistent you can play for 14 minutes. Running a 7s program is the same way. You come to Schuylkill River you know exactly what you are going to get: challenged every day, great coaching, great mentors for young players, play at the highest level.
In the end, we know exactly who we are and how to make players, and teams better. For 10 years, there has been one constant in the Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia for 7s, and that is River, that doesn’t just happen by coincidence. We have seen clubs come and go and I don’t think they realize how hard it is to play that level, and maintain it. Lastly, It is not easy to play for us, you have to want to the best which has nothing to do with ability. If you really want to be the best player you can be, there isn’t a question where I think guys should play.

6) Tell us about the development and success of Schuylkill’s U23 academy and about some players who have played for the academy but also earned a trip to nationals with the premier side?
The academy side is great and every year we have had multiple players never even play for our top side (or very little) and make the Premier Side which went to nationals. Again, all of that is possible because our U23 side is playing in the exact same environment, and getting great coaching, so for us it’s not you didn’t make the top side this weekend, you are forgotten. Its more, how do I get you there. I always remember, our first year of U23, Biddy Boyle told Brian Keown he would make the top side by the end of the summer. No one knew Biddy told him this, but by the last tournament before Nationals, Brian made the top side and went to Nationals. Now a couple years later, Keown is arguably the best player in the entire club. That’s the beauty of the club, first, we have an environment where that growth could take place, but second, we have a culture where Keown didn’t complain, he simply worked harder. I would tell every college player, give us a summer, I guarantee you come back to school that much better.

7)Going with that, why have so many high level players (All-Americans, MLR, etc.) come to SR to play?
Pretty much everything I said before, but I think the biggest thing is they know it won’t be easy, but the reward is so much sweeter. Nationally, we know we are never going to be favorites yet year in and year out we play and succeed at that level. The reason is simple, grinding for everything both physically and intellectually. We will not succeed unless everyone is a step above our competition in understanding the game, and then also in top condition physically. Even then, it sometimes isn’t enough. At the end of that process though, you are such a better player and guys who have that desire, seek that out here. Again, it isn’t easy to play here, but if you want to get better it will happen. Obviously, if making all-American you have probably have that desire, so the attraction is there.

8) Lastly, tell us the best part about being a member of Schuylkill River 7s.
Cliché, but it’s the brotherhood. 7s is grueling. For 6 or 7 weeks when everyone else is at the beach, you get up at 5/6am and travel to go play rugby for 8 hours in the heat. Trust me, if you don’t have a brotherhood with those conditions, your program is sinking quick. Its why 7s guys get so close I think because just the amount of time you spend together is huge. On top of that, we have 3 or 4 for sides, so the mix of people is crazy, and amazingly entertaining. It’s a family honestly, you have your super talented cousin who is pushing for the Eagles, and then your crazy cousin who is primarily there simply to cheer for said talented cousin and maybe play some rugby. In all of that, it forms a family, and more than anything, probably why we have been successful.

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The second annual HazBowl Old Boys Match took place over the weekend bringing together past generations of Troop and Schuylkill River Rugby players as well as representatives of numerous Clubs within the Philadelphia community including significant contingents from Temple University and Blackthorn. A big thanks as always goes out to everyone who helped spread the word so that we could get a good turnout and for helping to run the grill. Overall we had approximately 40 players participate in the match with many more watching from the sidelines.

Following the HazBowl the Exiles took on a tough Norfolk Blues side and ended up with a 29-29 draw. Coach Burch stated that it was a “good start with the wind at our backs but we took our foot off the gas and didn’t press the advantage enough. We took a 14-12 lead into halftime but we knew that Norfolk would come out flying in the second half. Too many forced passes and handling errors allowed the Blues opportunities to make plays in transition and with 15 minutes left in the match we were staring down a 29-19 deficit. The boys buckled down for two late tries to salvage a bonus point draw.”

Try scorers for the match included Randy Helsman, Lucas Brickley, Matt Stringer, and Matt Henderson who scored twice. Brian Keown hit 2 conversion kicks on an extremely windy day. For his efforts on the wing Matt Henderson was awarded man of the match honors and other strong performers included Randy Helsman, Jimmy Wolfer, Lucas Brickley and Matt Hughes.

We are happy to report that at the conclusion of the match we found out that Troop, our D3 side, qualified for the EPRU playoffs. On Saturday March 30 the Exiles travel to Baltimore for the final match of their regular season while Troop travels to Jersey Shore for a friendly as they prepare for the playoffs set to begin on April 6.

This week’s U-19 Match saw the combined North Philly Nomads and Narberth Otters side take on Simon Gratz. Unfortunately, the weather in the week leading up to the match prevented the Nomads and Otters from having a combined training session so it was difficult for the boys to remain cohesive when many of them are still so new to the game of rugby. Gratz jumped out to an early 14-0 lead thanks to some turnovers but the Nomads struck back thanks to some quick thinking about Captain Nas Epps who scored off of a quick tap. The teams traded tries from there with Gratz scoring followed by Ifeyan Gavin scoring off of a penalty play to make it 21-12 following a conversion from Phil Gatti. Gratz controlled things for early portion of the second half and scored two more tries before Christian Diaz was able to steal a lineout which led to a try for Antonio Tilley off of a nice decisive pass from scrum half Cameron.

The final score was 33-19 in favor of Gratz but the boys fought hard until the end. The Nomad of the Match was inside centrer Antonio Tilley. In addition to scoring his first try of the season, Antonio was instrumental in keeping the Team engaged positively during the course of the game. Congratulations Antonio on your exemplary effort Sunday! Christian Diaz also impressed the coaching staff with his play throughout the match.
The Nomads travel to Father Judge on Sunday.

Season Scoring Totals:
Troop:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (4), John Hines Jr. (2), Dave Hilley (2), Matt Hughes (2), Michael Bacon (1), Justin Brown (1), James Brunson (1) Cody Bukowski (1), Ed Carter (1), Rich Casey (1), Jeff Hall (1) Dave Hockenberry (1), Ross McMonigle (1), Lake Paul (1), Tom Stenberg (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (10)
Pens: Ryan Tower (6)

Exiles:
Tries: Sean Barnes (5), Randy Helsman (5), Matt Henderson (5), Brian Keown (4), Dan Deal (3), Lucas Brickley (2), Joe Midwig (2), Jimmy Wolfer (2), Pat Boyle (1), Matt Chiaramonte (1), Jeff Hall (1), Dante Jacquet (1) Jabari Johnson (1), Austin Lucas (1), Ricky Schneider (1), Matt Stringer (1), Brad Volm (1)
Cons: Keown (20)
Pens: Keown (8)

Nomads/Otters
Tries: Nas Epps (2), Ifeyan Gavin (2), Antonio Tilley (1)
Cons: Phil Gatti (3),
Pens:

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The weekend of March 16 and 17 was the first weekend of league play for our Troop (D3) and Exile (D1) sides as well as the start of Rugby PA’s spring 15s season. Troop took on Brandywine, the Exiles played Rocky Gorge, and the combined Narberth Otters/North Philly Nomads side went up against Roman Catholic in a match pitting many of our U-19 7s players against each other.

In a crucial match for Troop to keep their playoff hopes alive the guys came out a bit sluggish in the first half and faced a 10-3 halftime deficit against a talented Brandywine side before turning in a solid performance in the second half to escape with a 23-22 victory. Tries were scored by Jabari Johnson, Matt Hughes, and Jeff Hall with Ryan Tower adding 8 points with the boot.

After the match Coach Pearce-Williams awarded Man of the Match honors to Matt Hughes who was also voted man of the match by his teammates separately. Hughes earned multiple penalties poaching the ball in the first half and the match turned in our favor on a sequence in the second half where scrum half Ryan Tower made the gutsy, but ultimately correct, decision to quick tap from well inside our half and swing the ball to Hughes who put us on the front foot and eventually scored a try off of a quick tape of his own. Other strong performers included Matt Stringer who directed us from the backline, Jabari Johnson whose speed and physicality was difficult to match all over the field, Jeff Hall who was a stalwart on defense and in the set piece, and Aaron Jolcover whose toughness proved crucial for us throughout the day as he regularly took on Brandywine’s toughest player on both offense and defense.

After the match Coach Pearce-Williams stated that we “started slow, but committed to winning the contact situations in the second half. Playing our system properly and with discipline allowed us to get points on the board and it was enough to earn a victory thanks to a lucky break at the end.”

Scorers:
Tries: Jeff Hall (1), Matt Hughes (1), Jabari Johnson (1)
Cons: Tower (1)
Pens: Tower (2)

The Exiles looked to keep the momentum going in the second match of the day by racing out to a 19-3 lead against Rocky Gorge and holding a 19-17 lead at halftime thanks to tries from Jimmy Wolfer, Brian Keown, and Sean Barnes. Unfortunately a few of the Exiles’ starters had to be removed from the match due to injury and Rocky Gorge’s depth was the difference as Gorge scored the final 35 points of the match to earn a 38-19 victory.

Sean Barnes earned man of the match honors from Coach Burch, as well as his teammates, for his blend of speed and physicality in the backline and Coach Burch was also impressed with the performances we got from the elusive Graham Johnston, the physical Tyler Kelley and the ageless Randy Helsman. The Exiles won’t be dwelling on the loss for long since an extremely talented Norfolk Blues side is travelling to play us this weekend and we’ll need to be solely focused on the next match.

Following this match Coach Burch told me that "we had a strong start working our system and controlling field position but the depth of our squad was tested in the second half due to some injuries and the strength of Gorge’s team from top to bottom was too much to overcome. We need to maintain a ‘next man up’ mentality and stay focused in our system for 80 minutes.

Scorers:
Tries: Sean Barnes (1), Brian Keown (1), Jimmy Wolfer (1)
Cons: Keown (2)

In Sunday’s high school match the Narberth Otters and North Philly Nomads came together for the first time as a combined side and took on a talented Roman Catholic team. It was a great opportunity for many brand new players to try out the sport of rugby and Roman Catholic ended up winning the match 27-12 in large part due to their experience playing together and by limiting their mistakes.

For the Nomads 8Man Ifeyan Gavin was named Nomad of the match and he did a great job running the ball with power and speed, as well as coming up strong and finishing his tackles. Tries for the Nomads were scored by Gavin, and team captain Nas Epps who played a solid match from the flanker position and showed strong leadership qualities throughout the day. Fly half Phil Gatti added a conversion kick.

Following the match Coach Brunson called it a “tough loss to a great group of young men that play for Roman. We’ve gotten to know them on a personal level over the past few weeks and it was nice to see them progress as a team. I’m proud of the effort our Nomads gave on the field this afternoon. We had 9 young men play their first rugby game today. As we gain experience as teammates and rugby players, the final results will start to be in our favor.”

On the Roman side the Dalessandro’s Steaks Forward of the Match was Davonne Hudson, the Chubby’s Steaks Back of the Match was James Kuneck, the Septa Hit of the Match went to Colin Meissler and the Henry James Man of the Match was Claudio Hassan. Coach Koniecki informed us that he was “very proud of the boys for fighting hard and playing composed. We are looking forward to a strong week of practice as we get ready to travel to Elizabethtown.”

Season Scoring Totals:
Troop:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (4), John Hines Jr. (2), Dave Hilley (2), Matt Hughes (2), Michael Bacon (1), Justin Brown (1), James Brunson (1) Cody Bukowski (1), Ed Carter (1), Rich Casey (1), Jeff Hall (1) Dave Hockenberry (1), Ross McMonigle (1), Lake Paul (1), Tom Stenberg (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (10)
Pens: Ryan Tower (6)

Exiles:
Tries: Sean Barnes (5), Randy Helsman (4), Brian Keown (4), Dan Deal (3), Matt Henderson (3), Joe Midwig (2), Pat Boyle (1), Lucas Brickley (1), Matt Chiaramonte (1), Jeff Hall (1), Dante Jacquet (1) Jabari Johnson (1), Austin Lucas (1), Ricky Schneider (1), Brad Volm (1) Jimmy Wolfer (2)
Cons: Keown (18)
Pens: Keown (8)

Nomads/Otters
Tries: Nas Epps (1), Ifeyan Gavin (1)
Cons: Phil Gatti (1),
Pens:

Roman Catholic:
Tries: Davonne Hudson (2), Claudio Hassan (1), James Kuneck (1), John Stermel (1),
Cons: Stermel (1),
Pens:

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Schuylkill River Rugby had our awards banquet at IATSE Ballroom on February 23. It was a fun evening for everyone involves and gave past and present Skill players and opportunity to swap stories, enjoy each other’s company, and hand out some awards. The MC for the evening was Advisory Committee member Carlo Sena who was assisted by the Executive Board of Dan Callahan, Dave Codell, Ryan McHugh, Ricky Schneider, and Hunter Valentine, in setting up the evening’s festivities.

The awards themselves were presented by Head Coach Mike Burch on behalf of the Coaching Staff which includes Burch, Biddy Boyle, Jack Bukowski, Jon Grasso, Josh Mastromatto, Ryan McHugh, Jamie Pearce-Williams, and Chris Ryan. Ever present in his role between the Board and Staff was Director of Rugby Pat Boyle making sure things went smoothly.

Presented below are the notes from the awards presenters as well as the Hall of Fame induction speeches given on behalf of Tommy Richards and Gerry Timothy. With their inductions they join Chris Bailey, Bill Jalbert, Michael Matotek, Jason Siddel, Brian Boyle, Chet Radecki, John McMullen, Steve Green, George Connell, Jim Hegarty, Jamie Catrambone, Terry Wendelken, John Hughes, Gary Kribbs, Len Borcky, Joe Howard, Michael Leland, Dave Wixted, and Alex Yankowsky in our Hall of Fame.

15s Award Winners
D1 Backs: Brian Keon
Brian is leading the D1 team in points scored. His leadership and composure at fly-half alleviates any pressure for the other 14 players on the pitch with him.

D1 Forwards: Brad Volm
Brad is the anchor of our pack. His tackling and pressure on defense was unmatched.

D3 Backs: Jabari Johnson
Jabari constantly pushed everyone in front of him. Jabari was not only a gifted attacker but he also made a difference with his punishing tackles. The coaches are excited to see what he has for the future.

D3 Forwards Jeff Hall
Jeff not only led our D3 in poaches but he also proved to be a leader on the pitch. His disruption at the breakdown enabled our side to be on the front foot.

Coaches: Geoff Mathis
Geoff played in various spots for us this past fall. His play on Saturday directly relates to his work during the week. With punishing runs Geoff put pressure on all opponents he faced this fall.

Players Player: Ian Glatts
Ian was chosen from his peers and the coaches could not agree more. One of the fittest players on the pitch Ian always seemed to make an impact when the team needed it.

Break Out Player: Sean Barnes
Sean came to us through South Carolina University. Sean ended up one of our main weapons in attack and even with a slight injury he led the D1 team in tries.

Sevens Award Winners:
Premier Player of the Year: Brain Keown
As captain of the team Brian led our premier side in points scored, tries, and minutes played.

U23 Player of the Year: John Hines
While captaining the side John became a vital player for our U23 team. Being an U23 vet he allowed Coach Boyle to shift players knowing John could play anywhere on the pitch.

U19 Player of the Year: Nick Merriam
The former Narberth Otter was the hardest working player on the U-19 team. Nick does everything the coaching staff asks for and we expect him to have a lot of success at Syracuse

Break Out Player: Louis Baeza
His work off the pitch directly related to his success on the pitch. With punishing runs and constant work at the breakdown he pushes opponents to their brink.

Coaches Award: Mitch Vanoy
This is Mitch’s second time winning this award. He pushes himself as well as others around him to reach their full potential.

Hall of Fame Inductions:
Bill Jalbert’s Speech on Behalf of Gerry Timothy
Spring 1998, Schuylkill River, entering its third year of existence, is joined by a new player. He played at Villanova, where in his words; he “turned a 4 year engineering program into a 5 year collegiate rugby career, with a minor in engineering.” Knowing a sucker when they saw one, Schuylkill leadership quickly sold him on the position of match secretary, thus launching his administrative rugby career. This was followed by a term as the club’s second president, succeeding founder Chris Bailey. Over the next 15 years, he would serve 2 more times as president, vice president, sit on the MARFU competition committee, serve as a referee, and play rugby.

He cites his notable administrative accomplishment as growing our collegiate tournament from a 1 day, 6 team event into a 20 team rugby weekend.
In 2013, he “retired” after 20 years of rugby. Two years later, our numbers swelled, and River put the call out to help fill out our D4 side. He answered that call, and helped lead our D4 side through a tough season. He claims that not sustaining a serious injury during the “comeback season” is probably his biggest accomplishment as a player, other than probably playing more “B” side matches than any other Exile.

We honor tonight’s recipient as a builder as he has never said “no” to this club. His continued commitment and willingness to put in the work have been a huge part of the club’s growth and success. And before I forget, I need to mention his wonderful wife, who has supported & tolerated his rugby addiction.
Ladies & gentlemen, please welcome our 2019 Schuylkill River Hall of Fame Inductee, Gerry Timothy.

Rob Greco’s Speech on Behalf of Tommy Richards:
Hello, I just want to start off tonight by letting everyone know that even though I’ve been congratulated 3 different times tonight on my HOF induction, I’m Rob Greco… not Tommy Richards. Now, maybe that should tell all of you something. Dave, I’ll take that award now. But seriously, I’m here tonight to induct, I’m only going to say this once cause it’s his night, Dr. Thomas Wynn Richards Junior, into the Troop HOF.

Yes, Tommy is a doctor, but don’t get excited. He won’t be saving anyone’s life tonight. He’s a doctor of history, so if your kids have a social studies test or you’re in college and have a paper due, he’s your guy. But, see Jill first, because she’s collecting all of the payments.

Before I talk about Tommy, I want to thank Codell for keeping the Troop legacy alive and well. I think I speak for everyone associated with Troop how much we appreciate it.

On to Tommy… he came to Troop as an 18 year old before playing for Penn with the 7s program. His 1st full season was the same as mine, the summer of 05. We were a strong team that year and all positions were hard fought and earned. Tommy was no exception.

I knew I liked Tommy when after practice I heard him telling someone that he should be worried about finding a job right now, but was more worried if he was going to start on Saturday. I really appreciate that, Rugby is a game that you live and breathe and that’s who Tommy always was no matter if we were competing for nationals or scraping 15 for a game. He approached it all the same way.

On the field, Tommy was a jack of trades in the forwards he could play any position, except for the ones that matter in the front row, and excelled everywhere. The only thing he never learned how to do was tackle. They were all high and he should still be in the sin bin for them.

I could go on about the inside jokes and road trip stories, but what matters more is the way he approached Troop off the field. I emailed people from the team to say some things about Tommy and resoundingly I heard that he treated everyone like family. No matter weddings or funerals, he was always there. That’s a real teammate!

On a personal level, Rugby was given me a lot in life. However, the best thing it’s given me is Tommy and Jill. We’re a part of each other’s family and without troop that never happens. So, it’s my honor to induct Tommy Richards into Schuylkill’s hall of fame.

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The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series resumes this weekend with the USA Sevens Rugby tournament in Las Vegas. Alongside the Series event there is the Las Vegas Invitational which is believed to be the largest rugby tournament in North America with 15 divisions and 200 teams. Schuylkill River will have 9 players participating in select sides at this tournament in addition to several players participating with their college sides.

Seven of our U-23 players will be with the Rogue Samurai and two of our Premier side players will be with Atlantis. The Rogue Samurai describe themselves as a group dedicated to the Veteran community by integrating both civilians and veterans on one team to compete at various tournaments throughout the US while Atlantis is an invitational 7s rugby side whose mission is to encourage and develop American rugby by playing in domestic and international tournaments.

In order to provide some info on the guys traveling to Vegas we reached out to them with the following questions and made the profiles that appear below. 1. What college program did/do you play for? 2. How many seasons have you played 7s for Schuylkill? 3. How has playing for Schuylkill helped you develop as a 7s player? 4. What are your hopes for this tournament and what are you most looking forward to about Vegas overall? 5. What are your goals for the upcoming 7s season?

Atlantis:

John McCurdy played for Malvern Prep and then attended the University of Delaware. This is his 4th season with Skill Rugby and he says that the culture is top notch, no one shows up to practice to go through the motions, and everyone wants to get better. Atlantis is sending a very competitive side to Vegas and John is looking forward to an opportunity to make a run for the cup and play against teams we don’t get to see at Schuylkill, including several international teams. This upcoming summer is going to a long season and John’s priority is to help the squad play consistent team defense. Everything else will come from that.

Brian Keown played for St. Joe’s Prep and then attended the University of South Carolina and is also in his 4th season with Skill Rugby. Since joining Schuylkill Brian says that he has learned a lot about the simplicity of 7s. We work to perfect the basics with a simple system that has been very successful. We also recognize each other’s individual skills and encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to make a special play. Brian credits this freedom and support with helping everyone take their game to the next level. Brian is looking forward to the high level of competition in Vegas and says that Atlantis always expects to win. Coach Mirro led them to the semi-finals last year and has put together another great group of players this year. The guys are ready to use their individual assets to come together and take it a step further this year. Brian is also really excited for this upcoming 7s season. Many of the Premier side guys have been together for the last four years which has given them great chemistry and understanding which should take us far.

Rogue Samurai:

Kyle Kent currently attends Drexel University and is entering his 3rd season with Skill rugby. Kyle says that playing with Schuylkill has introduced him to high competition at training and challenged him to get better in order to compete with the other players in the Club. In Vegas he is looking forward to the opportunity to play the game on a bigger stage and compete against some of the best competition in the country. This summer Kyle intends to take the next step in his development and play under control with a better understanding for the situational flow of the game.

Jabari Johnson played collegiately for Bloomsburg University and is entering his second 7s season with Skill Rugby. Playing with Schuylkill has allowed Jabari to critique his own game, recognize his weaknesses, and work to improve on becoming a better overall rugby player. In Vegas Jabari’s goal is to win and he is confident that the Rogue Samurai squad has the ability to win it all. Off the field, Jabari is excited to watch the international 7s matches taking place in Las Vegas as this will be his first opportunity to watch that level of play. Over the summer Jabari plans to improve his game and earn some quality Premier side minutes.

John Hines [editor’s note: My Grandson!] played briefly for St. Bonaventure before joining Skill Rugby in 2014. Schuylkill is the only 7s team that John has played for and he has been able to improve his game rapidly thanks to the coaching, film study, and training alongside more experienced players. In Vegas John wants to win the Cup and isn’t shy about stating that he wants to win the MVP award [editor’s note: Go get ‘em Grandson!]. He is also looking forward to playing with, and against, high level players, watching even higher level players on the international stage, and improving his game. Lastly, John is also looking forward to the after-parties and clubbing once the tournament is over. John’s goal for 7s season is to play at a Premier level and hopefully make Nationals.

Xavier Steward currently plays for the St. Joe’s Hawks and has played 4 seasons of 7s with Skill Rugby. The biggest benefit to playing for Schuylkill for Xavier has been working with more experienced players to keep up his competitive edge. His hopes for Vegas are to win the tournament and gain connections in the rugby community and over the summer he wants to earn a place on Schuylkill’s Premier side and an opportunity to play in Colorado.

Louis Baeza currently plays for Drexel University and this will be his second season with Skill Rugby. Playing for Schuylkill has helped him understand the game better and learn to play at a different tempo which has helped him improve his skills across the board. His goal in Vegas is to play the best he can for the team and help win the tournament and his goal for the upcoming summer is to become a better overall player and compete to win at every tournament.

Joe Broderick plays for Wheeling Jesuit University and is entering his second season with Skill rugby. He has also been part of Rogue Samurai for 3 years now. Schuylkill has helped Joe get better by giving him the chance to play at the next level of club 7s against D1 competition. Joe has grown his skills and learned different attacking strategies specific to 7s. In Vegas Joe is hoping to go out have some fun, score some tries, hit some rucks, and ultimately win the cup. For this upcoming 7s season Joe is hoping to build on last year’s success with the boys and increase our level of play and win more tournaments.

Dante Jacquet is also participating in the Las Vegas Invitational for the Rogue Samurai. We weren’t able get a bio from him before writing this article but Dante is a tremendous athlete who came to us from Delmarva. He is fully competent as a first receiver but really shines when he is given the opportunity to carry the ball in space and use his change of direction ability. We know that Dante has a great future in this sport and look forward to watching his continued development!