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Homegrown Schuylkill Looks to Win on the Road

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Homegrown Schuylkill Looks to Win on the Road

Schuylkill River makes a double tackle in a game from 2019. Colleen McCloskey photo.

The way teams at the USA Club 7s Championships are put together varies—some are ongoing clubs that piece together a 7s team for the summer, some exist only for the summer, and some are something of a mixture of the two.

Schuylkill River Rugby out of the Philadelphia area is the first kind, with a heavy emphasis on using homegrown talent.

Every player on the 13-man roster going to Tukwila either played in college or high school within a 2-hours-and-a-quarter drive of the city Philadelphia.

As other 7s teams try to bring players from all over, Schuylkill River just brings players home.

Led by a coaching staff that includes Chris "Pudge" Ryan, who has won seven national championships as a head or assistant coach, Atlantis and North American Lions coach Biddy Boyle, and Mike "Beaver" Burch, who has participated in Club Nationals 8 times as a player and a coach. Director of Rugby Pat Boyle has played at nationals 11 times and has worked hard to build a program that takes the local talent pool seriously.

The result has been that 60 players suited up for Skill Rugby this summer.

Biddy Boyle’s Atlantis connection is no coincidence. Of the 13 players at nationals this weekend, nine have players for Atlantis:
Dan Deal
Bruce Dolan
Danny Giannascoli
Kyle Hegarty
Brian Keown
John McCurdy
Noah Niumataiwalu
Jack Ramirez
Mitch Vannoy

Twelve of the 13 have played for high school programs within that just-over-two-hour radius:

John Davis (Gonzaga), Dan Deal (St. Augustine of NJ), Bruce Dolan (Blackthorn), Danny Giannascoli, Kyle Hegarty, and John McCurdy (all Malvern Prep), Brian Keown (St. Joe’s Prep), Pete Mulville and James Meyer (both Downingtown), Noah Niumataiwalu (Archmere Academy), Mitch Vannoy (Christiana HS), and Jack Ramirez (Roman Catholic HS).

All of these players played college rugby, most in the area (Hegarty played at Cal Poly). 

The rest went to Maryland, St. Joseph’s, Kutztown, Loyola, West Chester, South Carolina, Delaware, and Temple.

So when they say they’re homegrown, they’re not messing around. This is a team built from the ground up from kids who took rugby seriously, pursued it seriously, and are all from relatively close to Schuylkill River’s home. Could that unity make for a national championship? Very possibly.