News and Announcements
1. How long have you been playing rugby?
This season marks my 5th full season of organized rugby.
2. What other Clubs have you played for?
I played 2 ½ seasons of DIAA collegiate rugby at Texas State University, half a season with the Austin Blacks (D1, D2, and D3 sides), and 1 full season with the San Marcos Greys (D3 last year, D2 this year).
3. How did you hear about us and what made you decide to play for Schuylkill River?
I heard about Schuylkill River over the last few seasons primarily through the clubs numerous runs to 7s nationals, as well as in Rugby Today write ups. I knew before I moved to Philly that Schuylkill was the top club in the city, and therefore the club I wanted to play for.
4. With Ricky Kosa coming before you and establishing such a strong Ricky prop legacy how do you handle the added pressure of not besmirching his name?
Ricky Kosa and I have a great relationship, mostly based on a friendly drinking rivalry. People also tell me I am much better looking than Ricky Kosa, which I think takes some of the pressure off of besmirching his name. On the pitch, I just do what Ricky’s do: score tries and scrum people into the ground.
5. You moved from Texas to go to Villanova Law because you wanted to focus on International Law. That’s a big commitment, tell us about your interest in that subject and the thought process that led you to come such a long way.
I studied International Relations at both the undergrad and graduate levels at Texas State. I have also travelled extensively abroad, and also spent the past year working with a refugee resettlement agency in Austin, TX. I actually decided I wanted to go to law school while teaching English in Cambodia. These combined experiences motivated me to attend law school in order to represent refugee populations and other underserved folks.
6. Everyone know that props are the smartest, and best looking, players on the field but usually you guys are too busy doing the dirty work to find the try-zone. Have you ever been the leading try scorer (tied with Ben Janssen) on your team for an entire season before?
Last season I finished in the top 5 in try scoring for the San Marcos Greys with 8 tries (it might have been 7 but who is counting). However, I think our top try scorer after playoffs, Antonyo McCall, had over 20 so I was not too close to first. One of my good friends and mentors at the prop position, Flip Oakes, always encouraged me to be more than just a solid defensive and set piece player, but to also contribute on the offensive end. I’ve always taken that advice to heart. There’s really nothing like punching in a try in rugby.
7. Speaking of which, our social media team posts “Man Crush Monday” photos of the front rows whenever they score and you definitely post photos to your personal account hoping that Schuylkill will steal them. What did you think about joining Schuylkill in order to play serious D-1 rugby but then find out that we also have a very active social media presence and are willing to have a little fun with it?
I love the social media presence of this club. I think in the past some of my clubs have done a decent job of it, but I think our club more than anything really helps folks get to know our players. I think that social media presence helps keep family, friends, and fans involved in the game, even if they can’t make it out to the match.
8. What is your proudest rugby moment of your career so far?
Making it to the national semi-final last year with the Greys was a huge accomplishment. That group of guys, with a great new coach in Kirk Tate, was really able to accomplish something special by finishing 3rd in the nation. My hat is off to those guys this year as well, as they have moved up to D2 this season and are 3-0 after three big wins.
9. What do you hope to accomplish as a rugby player going forward in your career?
Well, playing D1 rugby was always the goal, so I would say continuing to do that at a high level over the foreseeable future. I also really enjoy playing rugby internationally, and would love to have a chance to play in my familial homeland of New Zealand.
10. You’re coming to South Africa with us in March, what are you looking forward to most, and is this your first overseas rugby experience?
South Africa is always a place that has fascinated me, even before I got into the sport of rugby. I am excited to meet the people there, as travelling to Africa has been a lifelong dream of mine. This will not be my first overseas rugby experience. I played rugby last summer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with the Phnom Penh Social Rugby Club Rahus.
11. Front rows gotta eat, what are some cheesesteaks spots you’ve discovered so far that you’ll be recommending to your out of town buddies when they visit Philly?
My favorite cheesesteak spot so far has to be Dalessandro’s Steaks. That place is not messing around. I’ve already taken one out of state friend there, and plan to take many more.
12. Our Club has two sides in league play. As a tight 5 player, do you feel that our structure was a benefit to us as a Club and you as an individual by ensuring that anyone getting slotted into the pack wasn’t coming in cold and had been playing meaningful minutes?
I think having multiple sides is essential for any high-level rugby club. The ability to have numbers at practice, scrimmage and get a run in against another side, and especially to live scrum during practice all present huge advantages. I also think it is a great way to grow a club from the ground up so to speak; you’re able to get guys in the door, let them play serious minutes early in their career, and build that depth for the future.
13. We’ve sort of addressed the fact that you’re a total nerd in school but pretty beastly on the field. What helps you make that transformation on gameday and what’s on your pregame playlist?
Rugby has always been an outlet for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find 3 Villanova Law alums on the rugby pitch at Schuylkill River RFC. I think having your mind right on gameday is actually all about what you do during the week to be ready for Saturday. If I haven’t been in the gym or at practice, or have eaten poorly all week, it’s extremely hard to flip the switch so to speak. It’s important to build and trust your personal process and stick with it during the season.
As far as playlist goes, I really enjoy a rap group called Ground Up, which is coincidentally out of Philly (seriously go check them out). I also am a huge Run the Jewels fan and use them constantly to get pumped up on gameday or in the gym.
14. Now that you’re a Philadelphian are you willing to claim that Meek Mill won the battle against Drake no matter what anyone else says?
To the extent that I am qualified to pass judgment on rap battles, I am happy to admit the supremacy of Meek Mill, no matter what anyone else says.
15. The next time that you visit your family are you going to make sure to use the word jawn a few times?
I am definitely still working on my PA dialect. If I can get the pronunciation down I would love to use this all the time, especially in Texas.
16. What are your thoughts on Schuylkill River rugby, and really Philadelphia rugby as a whole, now that you’ve been here a while?
I just knew this club had a history of success and I wanted to be a part of it. Philadelphia rugby has been so central to my transition to living up here over the past 6 months. I truly don’t know what I would have done without the club. Thanks for making me feel welcome gents!
17. Expanding on that, after your first league match with our Club we went to a premiership rugby match in Chester and our most recent league match was a two night stay in Pittsburgh where we went out as a team the second night. After spending a season with us, how do you feel about our Club’s culture and the opportunity to get out to events like these with your teammates?
I think the Club culture here is tremendous. I think I was a little concerned about the East Coast standoffishness when I moved up here, and the rugby community has been anything but that. I have already made a ton of lifelong friends, and this only goes to prove once again that all you have to do to have 30 new best friends in any place in the world is just find the rugby club.
18. In these interviews I usually try to see if I can get guys to trash talk each other at least once. Is there anyone you’d like to use this opportunity to call out?
You know, I’m not a big trash talker, but I think Mr. Tyler “Krampus:” Kelly’s antics in Pittsburgh take the cake. I won’t mention the specifics, but man that mild-mannered fella knows how to party and trash a hotel room.
19. The Royal Rumble was in Philadelphia last night. If our Club had a 30 man royal rumble who, aside from yourself, would you bet on to win it?
I think it would be a final matchup between the always nasty Ben Janssen and the grumpy old man Matt Chiaramonte. I feel like the smart money would be on Ben, but Matt with that dad bod still has some tricks up his sleeve.
20. Aside from the South Africa trip what are you most looking forward to this upcoming Spring season?
I am most looking forward to the D1 playoffs. We still have some work to do to get there, but I am extremely excited to see what this group of guys can do in the postseason.
Thanks to the tremendous work of the staff of the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club we have been able to schedule 5 opportunities this winter-spring for youth development work.
We will be providing rookie rugby sessions from 4:15-6PM at the club located at 1709 Kinsey St on January 26, February 23, March 16, April 13, and May 18.
Giving back to our local community, and supporting the next generation of Philadelphia rugby players is an important part of our Club’s identity and we are happy to have such a good partner in that process in the Boys and Girls Club.
Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to see our Rookie Rugby progress as we continue to develop our program and our relationships within the community.
Two of the high school rugby programs that our Club members are involved with have upcoming fundraisers. Attending these events is a great way to show your appreciation for the game of rugby and give back to the local community by supporting the next generation of Philadelphia rugby players.
The North Philadelphia Nomads are having their 5th Annual Six Nations Viewing Party on Saturday February 3 from 9:15-11:15AM at Tir na Nog at 1600 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For your $25 donation there will be 2 hours of draft beer as well as food and appetizer specials. The Nomads will also be having a 50/50 raffle. Please note that separate from the fundraiser there will be a $10 cover at the door.
The Narberth Otters will be having their 8th Annual Beef and Beer Night on Saturday March 10 from 7-11PM at the Narberth Borough Hall (100 Conway Ave, Narberth, PA 19072). Tickets are $25 for adults in advance ($30 at the door) $10 for those under 18 and kids under 6 are free. There is also a family discounted ticket (2 kids + 2 adults) available for $65. The event will feature dinner/dessert, live music, and both silent and live auctions. For more information please e-mail Narberth’s VP Kiki McKendrick at Kikimmc@gmail.com
Our annual banquet will be taking place from 7:30-11:30 PM on Saturday February 24 at the IATSE Ballroom which is located at 2401 S. Swanson St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. The cost is $60 per person which gets you a 4 hour top shelf open bar, antipasto station, salad bar, 3 entrée options, and dessert. Payments can be made via paypal (you can use a credit card even without an account) using firstname.lastname@example.org (or by clicking the Dues and Donations link on our website), via venmo @RiverRugbyExiles or by mailing a check to SRRFC C/O Pat Boyle 745 Center Ave Jenkintown, Pa 19046. Checks written out to Schuylkill River RFC.
We will be giving out player awards for both our 15s and 7s programs and we will be inducting the newest members into our Hall of Fame. We will also have a silent auction and match jerseys for sale. If anyone would like to contribute towards our silent auction please coordinate with Austin Lucas (email@example.com).
Our Schuylkill inductee this year is Dave Wixted who Played from 1997-2010 and was a key player in the 1999-2002 run which saw Schuylkill win MAC (formerly known as MARFU) D3 and make the national elite 8 in 1999-2000, win MAC D2 and advance to the national sweet 16 in 2000-2001, and then place second in MAC D1 and come up 1 point short nationals in 2001-2002 which would have resulted in Schuylkill making nationals 3 years in a row in 3 different divisions. As it was, Schuylkill was one of few teams ever to go from D3 to D1 in two years. Wixted also was Club President and Match Secretary for Schuylkill and was an EPRU league rep.
Our Troop inductee is Michael “Hazbro” Leland who played in the early-mid 90s and remained one of Troop, and Schuylkill’s, most significant social members until unfortunately passing away last year. Haz fully bought into the concept of a rugby club as a family and always did his best to make sure that new members felt welcomed in our club. Haz played a big part in establishing that rugby is for everyone and that there will always be a role in our club for anyone who wants to be involved.
This is going to be a great event for our Club and for the Philadelphia Rugby community as a whole, we look forward to seeing all of you there!
1. You grew up as a pretty serious football player and even spent some time as a counselor at a Jacksonville Jaguars summer camp. How did you end up making the switch to rugby?
My oldest brother played rugby when he went to Florida State, so I always knew the game was out there, but I didn’t get into the sport until the spring semester of my senior year of college. (Shout out to my roommate Dan Sprando) So after 17 years of football, pee wee to college ball, Rugby seemed like the next logical step.
2. What other Clubs have you played for?
I’ve played for Schuylkill, obvi, but I have also run with the Indian River Raptors. They’re a rugby club down in Vero Beach, FL. They started up in 2011, play 15s and 7s, and I always try to get a training session in with them any time I go back down south.
3. Tell us about the summer you spent playing 15s down in Florida. That must have been pretty brutal.
Yeah, with Indian River in a friendly with Boca Raton Red Eyes. It was mid-July, so it was 90 something with an ungodly amount of humidity. Worse part, I played a full 80 minutes at scrum half. I usually play hooker, flanker, or prop. I now have a huge respect for 9s.
4. Why is Schuylkill River the Club for you?
When I was coming out of college, I knew I was moving to the Philly area for Grad School. I sent out emails to all the teams on the Find a Club app on USA Rugby. Funny enough, the first and only response was from one Patrick Boyle with a three paragraph email telling me to come out and see how I like the team. I went to a practice and after I knew I had found my club.
5. We’ve talked a little about your Florida roots. Explain how you’re sort of from Florida but really from Philly and therefore a Philly sports fan.
My mother was born and raised in South Philly, my dad’s family is from South Jersey. My three brothers and I were born here cough cough I was born in Connecticut * cough cough * My dad had four sons and a wife to take care of, and the first job offer was in Florida. Bing, we move to Florida. I went to school down there, but every summer / holiday, we would come back up here because both sides of our family lived here. Both my parents, and older brothers, were die hard Philly fans, so naturally I and my little brother followed suit.
6. But what’s up with you also being a Cubs fan?
Slanderous Lies. Phillies all the way. But I do love Chi-town. Been there quite a few times. Best city in the world, three months out of the year.
7. Okay, let’s take a moment to pay the bills really quick. You’re a professional artist. Tell us about your new website and the artistic services that you provide.
I dance for money. I mean draw. I draw for money. Yes, I went to undergrad for studio art. Then I got my Masters of Fine Art from The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing. I now have a studio at the academy and teach illustration and graphic novel classes at the academy. You can find my art at www.mattmcknightart.com Let me know what you think and if you’d like some work :D
8. Who is better at art, you or Dave Jones?
Me. Bring it, Davie.
9. What does Philadelphia rugby mean to you and how do you strive to personify that?
To me, Philly Rugby is about friendship, being sincere, and being honest. That’s what I love about this city. I appreciate it when people tell me the truth, even if it hurts my feelings. The only way you fix something is if you acknowledge it. This club has helped me better myself and become the guy I am now.
10. Your off-season work has been noticeable in terms of adding muscle to your frame. Give us some official Matt McKnight Muscle Man Philly cheesesteak recommendations.
Thank you, I’ve lost over thirty pounds and feel even stronger. On the food front, the trick to a good cheesesteak is the bread. The best steak in Philly is Tony Luke’s. The Phillies have them in the ballpark. You disagree with me, you disagree with the best baseball team ever. The best cheesesteak outside of Philly is White House Subs in Atlantic City, NJ. Their bread is fresh and their meat is 98 % lean. Don’t like it? You’re wrong.
11. How many years of rugby have you played?
Since March of 2014, so going on four years.
12. How has Schuylkill’s structure, which provides multiple sides regularly playing 80 minute league matches, helped you develop as a player compared to if you were only playing here and there in B-side matches at first?
Only way to learn the game is to play. Make mistakes, and find out how to be better next time. If you’re getting 80 minutes a week, six to eight weeks a season, that helps you get closer to those 10,000 hours you need to master something. Plus, you get to play so many more positions and learn new skills in those games. In B-Side games, it’s usually filling in what is needed and playing two 20 minute halves with guys who just put in a full 80. Better minutes equals better learning.
13. I’ve noticed that you post a lot of art of Instagram and in particular you make a lot of comics. Where does your inspiration come from?
I grew up drawing and reading my older brothers comics. Making a living doing something I’d do anyway seems like the kinda thing I wanna put back into the world. My comics and art are how I connect with the world. I see something, internalize it, then give back how I view it.
14. Who’s your ideal 4 person superhero team?
Tough Question: Long Answer – My DC Team would be Batman, Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Barry Allen Flash. My Marvel Team would be Wolverine, Spider-Man, Thor, and Storm.
My Wildcard / Misfit teams would be – Marvel: Moon Knight, Magik, Mimic, and The Fabulous Frog Man. – DC: Booster Gold, Zatanna, Guy Gardner, and Kite-Man (Hell Yeah).
15. Are you willing to call Matt Chiaramonte out and declare yourself to be a better, and more knowledgeable, comic book fan than he is?
He’s got quite a few years in the comics game on me, but I definitely could keep up with him in a convo. Also, he likes Superman the best. Batman is better.
16. What is the proudest moment of your rugby career thus far?
Going on tour to Ireland, playing those two games, scoring in one and winning the other is definitely up there. Made a lot of memories with the club, forgot some too. Looking forward to more.
17. What do you hope to accomplish going forward in your rugby career?
Playing the game in more places, states, and countries. Sharing it with others, and meeting and making more friends through it. And in the words of Michael Coach, “Scoring sexy tries.”
18. You traveled to Ireland with Schuylkill in 2016 and will be traveling to South Africa with us in March. What’s the best part of getting to travel to other countries with your team?
Playing rugby is awesome, playing rugby in a country you’ve never been is awesomer. But in all honesty, I love how this game is a construct that connects people from all over. Having the opportunity to make life long memories with your friends is one of the best thing you can do.
19. How does it feel to be voted by your teammates as one of the 3 nicest guys on the team alongside Ryan Tower and Ryan McHugh?
You guys are losers
20. How does it feel to know that I just made that up?
Refer to previous answer