NSCRO Holds All-Star Championship
NSCRO Holds All-Star Championship
The inaugural National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Men's All-Star National Championship came to a close this past Sunday at the Round Rock Complex near Austin, Texas with an exciting final between the Pacific Coast Grizzlies and the Northeast Rhinos. Down 10-0, the Grizzlies, led by the dazzling runs of Darell Williams, finished strong with four tries to capture the title 26-10.
Five regional All-Star teams (Northeast, Mid-South, South, LoneStar and Pacific Coast) comprised of more than 130 players from 44 different NSCRO schools met under the hot Texas sun for a weekend of rugby to determine which team would be the best.
The event started on Friday morning with each team playing two matches with two 25-minute halves. The five teams played again on Saturday; however, due to a slight schedule change from the Austin Huns Rugby Football Club’s 21st Annual Bloodfest 7s Tournament which took place earlier that day, each team played another two matches consisting of two 20-minute halves. At the end of Day 2, the Pacific Coast was undefeated after a narrow win against the Northeast 17-12, while the Northeast record was 3-1 which set the stage for the championship match on Sunday. The other teams all finished with a 1-3 record. Complete match results are found on our website for Day 1 and for Day 2.
The concept of the All-Star Championships began two years ago as the organization began brainstorming for new services and opportunities which could be provided to our member teams and players to help elevate their game play and further promote the sport. The NSCRO All-Star experience began this past January under the leadership of our Commissioner of Women's Rugby, Bryn Chivers, with the inaugural Women's 7s All-Star National Championship.
The men's event was a great success thanks to the vision and passion from our Director of Rugby Development, Jeremy Treece, along with support from our Vice President, Steve Hiatt. The opportunity for these athletes to travel and play with other similarly talented players who all want to become better ruggers, experience excellent coaching and play at a fantastic venue provided an experience they will never forget. Many players came from teams that have never made our national playoffs, so for them, this All-Star event was even more special.
On Saturday night, NSCRO hosted a Texas-style BBQ dinner for the teams which allowed them to enjoy the camaraderie that sets rugby apart from other sports where the game is truly left on the pitch and many players form new bonds and lifelong friendships.
“For the good players off of good teams—it reinforces their desire to work hard and get better, and they bring that home to their club. For good players off of not so good teams—it shows them there is another level, and another way to play (in terms of seriousness). They take that home and in many clubs they can infuse that into their teammates. All teams get better. The standard of rugby goes up everywhere. This happens in every state that pushes high performance, all-star teams. You are going to achieve that nationwide," remarked Bill Brownley, Coach, Mid-South All-Stars
Similar sentiments were echoed by the players with many of them noting “…[many of the players on my team] are usually my opponents and it was crazy to win this alongside them” and that “this was the best rugby I have ever experience. When do we start again?"
(L) NSCRO Men's All-Star All-Championship team. Not pictured, Tadeo Canon Masjoan. (R) Impact Players of the Tournament: Jackson Thiebes, Northeast; Michael Irving, South; Darell Williams, Pacific Coast; Stephen Wilson, Mid-South; Cesar Escajeda, LoneStar. Photos courtesy of Norma Salinas Photography. Used with permission.
An All-Championship Team was selected as follows with Darell Williams chosen as the MVP.
MVP Darell Williams San Francisco Community College (Pacific Coast)
1 - Prop Michael Irving Christopher Newport University (Mid-South)
2 - Hooker Ian Crilly MiraCosta College (Pacific Coast)
3 - Prop Jordan Drain University of Maine Orono (Northeast)
4 - 2nd Row Jackson Thiebes Endicott College (Northeast)
5 - 2nd Row Michael Nita Valdosta State University (South)
6 - Back Row Cameron Davidowicz Plymouth State University (Northeast)
7 - Back Row Tadeo Canon Masjoan Angelo State University (LoneStar)
8 - Back Row John Bulaich California Maritime Academy (Pacific Coast)
9 - Scrumhalf CJ Ferrigno California Maritime Academy (Pacific Coast)
10 - Flyhalf Michael Mukuru Tumisiime California Maritime Academy (Pacific Coast)
11 - Wing Trevor Brooks University of North Alabama (South)
12 - Center Sam Holaday College of Charleston (Mid-South)
13 - Center Simi Moala Southern Virginia University (Northeast)
14 - Wing Darell Williams San Francisco Community College (Pacific Coast)
15 - Fullback Jourden Stanley Angelo State University (LoneStar)
Each team selected their 'impact' player from the event who was provided an official NSCRO match ball courtesy of Rhino Rugby and a free fit kit for a custom mouthguard courtesy of our sponsor Impact Custom Mouthguards. The players selected were:
Northeast - Jackson Thiebes
South - Michael Irving
Pacific Coast - Darell Williams
Mid-South - Stephen Wilson
LoneStar - César Escajeda
The All-Championship Team and Impact Player lists can be downloaded here and here.
The event was hosted by the Major League Rugby team, the Austin Elite. Professional photography was provided by Norma Salinas. The livestream production was by Next Level Rugby with match commentary from Tim Wilks and 'The Rugby Evangelist' Grant Cole. Match officials were provided by the Texas RRA. The medical staff was provided by Dynamic Sports Medicine.
About National Small College Rugby Organization
Since 2007, the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) has been at the forefront of fostering and developing small college rugby programs in the United States. NSCRO is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services to small college programs that raise the profile, image, and benefits of collegiate rugby in the eyes of school administrators.
Comprised of nearly 400 men’s and women’s college rugby clubs who participate in more than 30 leagues, NSCRO provides an opportunity for these programs to showcase their abilities to a broader audience with a chance at a national title and ranking. Along with recognizing club and player success on and off the field, the increased visibility NSCRO creates has led to improved school support, greater on-campus interest in rugby, and growth in financial support and alumni involvement.