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Claremont Colleges Win NSCRO

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Claremont Colleges Win NSCRO

Andy Murphy photo.

Claremont Colleges won the National Small College Rugby Organization champions cup, defeating Siena College 57-17 in the final over the weekend.

In the semifinals, the top two seeded teams, Christendom and Claremont came away with convincing wins. Christendom defeated Endicott College 60-17 while Claremont overcame St. John’s University 49-12 to set up the final.

Sunday’s play began with the 3rd place match between St. John’s and Endicott. Both teams rebounded nicely from tough losses to play hard on the second day. St. John's emerged 36-17 winners.

The championship match got off to a fast start with two tries scored in the first five minutes. Claremont got on the board first with a converted try but Christendom struck back through hooker Will Arnold. With the conversion missed Claremont led 7-5.

The Lions got on the board again with a pair of tries from winger Max Sickinger. The first came via an intercept try and the second in the form of a line break and several stellar offloads. At 30 minutes Claremont led 21-5.

Things looked to turn around for the Crusaders but the tremendous defense from the Lions kept Christendom out. Eventually, Claremont forced a knock on inside the five-meter line and prop Frankie Reyes darted up the middle. After a few phases, flanker Abe Asante drew two defenders and found winger Ethan Takeyama who took it 60 meters for a 26-5 lead.

Claremont allowed the Crusaders to get back into the game thanks to ill-discipline. Twice in the span of five minutes, ill-discipline resulted in a pair of yellow cards. With a two-man advantage, Owen Kennedy dove over to cut the lead to 26-10.

However, a few minutes later Kennedy was sent to the sin bin for a repeated infringement at the breakdown. The Crusaders forced a pair of knock-ons, but even so Asante found his way over to extend the lead to 33-10. Things went from bad to worse for Christendom as the Lions took the restart and went straight up the gut for a converted try to extend the lead to 40-10. With a late hit, Christendom lost another player to a yellow card.

The Lions added three more tries before Christendom added one at the end for a final score of 57-17.

It has been an emotional year for the Lions. Claremont lost team leader and standout Connor Pederson to a torn ACL in the fall. Despite being a young squad and losing one of their key men, Claremont stepped up this championship weekend.

“When you lose a player like Connor you don’t replace him. Everyone else had to step up. We had a handful of guys step up into leadership roles,” said Claremont assistant coach Scott Bracken. “Connor was still a huge part of our team, attending every training session and every match. He acted as the captain in every way except on the pitch.”

The loss of a key player didn’t deter a Claremont team that was on a mission to get back to the finals this year after having an uncharacteristic lopsided loss in last year’s championship.

“We were definitely disappointed in how we finished in 15s last season. At the start of the season, we knew we had something to prove coming from last year and the boys came out this weekend and we couldn’t be prouder,” said captain Matthew Grundlingh.

The Southern California school played a consistent brand of rugby over the course of the last four years. This season, culminated with convincing wins this weekend, provided Claremont with their second national title.

“I thought the guys were remarkable. [Just] like we have been doing all year, we made the proper adjustments and come away with a title,” Bracken concluded.

All teams received trophies and the top three finishers received medals (gold, silver, and bronze respectively). Rhino Rugby awarded a total $1000 in gift certificates to all the teams.

Chance Sears was named the tournament MVP while Frankie Reyis was named the player of the game. The All-Championship XV team is as follows:


  1. Brian Wahl, The Claremont Colleges
  1. Vince Duhig, Christendom College
  1. Will Arnold, Christendom College
  1. Thomas Audino, Christendom College
  1. Frankie Reyes, The Claremont Colleges
  1. Ethan Takeyama, The Claremont Colleges
  1. Owen Kennedy, Christendom College
  1. Lucas Hackett-Provenzano, Christendom College
  1. Matthew Gash-Gilder, Endicott College
  1. Pat Newton, Christendom College
  1. Dominic Odden, St. John’s University
  1. Nick Cuddeback, Christendom College
  1. Tim Marra, Christendom College
  1. Matthew Grundlingh, The Claremont Colleges
  1. Chance Sears, The Claremont Colleges