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Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Tournament: The Local Angle

The Collegiate Rugby Championships begin Friday, June 1, and the event is expected to draw some 30,000 rugby enthusiasts. Now in it’s ninth year, it has become one of the sports largest showcases.

Collegiate play will be contested on Day One on fields adjacent to Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, while the high school squads take to the pitch at the Greater Chester Valley Soccer Association Complex in Malvern, PA. Action will move into the main stadium venue for matches on Saturday and Sunday.

Colleges from all over the nation are here competing in the event, and high schools from eleven states are contesting their divisions as well. And with the rugby culture so strong in our region, many local schools are defending their home pitch as it were, representing in each division. We’ve highlighted in bold the local squads in each field.

The 24-team men’s field features America’s best teams: Air Force, Arizona, Arkansas State, Army, Boston College, Dartmouth, Delaware, Eastern Washington, Indiana, Iona, Kutztown, Life University, Lindenwood, Maryland, Mount Saint Mary’s, Navy, Notre Dame, Penn State, Saint Joseph’s, South Carolina, Temple, UCLA, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.

Leading the women’s national championship field this summer is two-time defending women’s champion Life University, which captured their second crown last June with a 17-12 victory over Lindenwood University. Lindenwood also returns for the 2018 competition, along with Bloomsburg, Boston University, Clemson, Delaware, Drexel, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Navy, Notre Dame, Penn State, Temple Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the NSCRO (National Small College Rugby Organization) Selects squad, an all-star team chosen from the best of NSCRO’s seven teams, round out the 16-team field.

Plus in addition to the main men’s and women’s college rugby 7s competition, the weekend also includes five region teams in a six-team men’s rugby 7s field in the Freedom Cup competition– Drexel, Fordham, Harvard, Rowan, Villanova and West Chester — competing for a spot in next year’s 24-team field in the Collegiate Rugby Championship.

Also this weekend at Talen Energy Stadium is the NSCRO Powered by Penn Mutual Rugby 7s National Championship. That tournament field includes: California Maritime Academy; Christendom College; The Claremont Colleges; Endicott College; Iowa Central Community College; defending champion New Mexico Highlands; Salve Regina University and Susquehanna University.

The high school contingent consists of an 18-team field competing in the Boys Open Division including:: Bishop Shanahan (PA); Blackthorn (PA); Burrell (PA); Downingtown (PA); Hempfield (PA); Kiski Valley (PA); Loudon (PA); Malvern Prep (PA); Media (PA); North Bay (MD); Rock Rugby (TX); St. Augustine (CT); Salesianum (DE); Simon Gratz (PA); Tennessee Tri-Star (TN); Unionville  (PA); Vienna Youth (VA) and West Carrol Marauders (MS).

The 8-team field competing in the Boys Elite Division includes: Atlantis Teal (PA); Atlantis Black (PA); Greenwich Central (CT); Maryland Exiles (MD); Rhino Rugby Academy Black (CA); Rhino Rugby Academy White (CA); Tennessee Tri Star (TN) and Utah Cannibals (UT).

The 12-team field competing in the Girls Open Division includes: Downingtown 1 (PA); Downingtown 2 (PA); Fallbrook (CA); Kiski Valley (PA); NJ Blaze (NJ); North Bay (MD); PA United (PA); Penn Legacy Knightmares (PA); Tennessee Tri Star A (TN); Tennessee Tri Star B (TN); Utah Cannibals (UT) and West Shore United (PA).

The connection between our local rugby community and the Collegiate Rugby Championships extends beyond the action on the pitch. Angela Johnson, the Women’s Competition Coordinator of the Collegiate Rugby Championship, told us about her own club’s continued involvement in the event. In Angela’s words: “You can also find Phoenixville White Horse Women at the 2018 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship this weekend (June 1-3) in Philadelphia, as the team volunteers with Event Operations for the third year in a row at the three day national tournament.”

Even at it’s highest levels and biggest showcases, rugby never loses it’s grassroots connections. Angela added this about the mission of her rugby club “The Women of White Horse are committed to promoting rugby. And developing the growth of the sport in and around the Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, & Berks County. We pride ourselves in being able to provide both a social and competitive outlet for women of all ages and walks of life.”

We asked Angela to tell us a little about her club and their mission. She explained “Phoenixville White Horse Women’s Rugby Club was established in 2014 as part of the Eastern PA Rugby Union and sister club to Phoenixville White Horse Men’s RFC. After four very successful years competing in the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC), Phoenixville White Horse Women’s Rugby is now one of the top women’s rugby clubs in the area. We’ve won the Division 3 MAC Championship in both 2014 and 2015. White Horse Women’s Rugby now competes in Division 2 of the MAC and proudly sustains a team roster of over fifty ladies each season making White Horse Women the 18th fastest-growing club in the USA in the past 2 years.” She then spoke about how the Phoenixville club seeks to nurture the grassroots growth of the sport. She added  “Phoenixville White Horse Rugby Club has also established a growing coed youth rugby program, which was formed in the summer of 2016. Phoenixville Summer Rookie Rugby program is made up of over forty-five boys and girls, ages 6 to 13. The program’s success is owed in part to the ten plus volunteer coaches, and the support of the Phoenixville Borough Parks & Recreation Department.” She concluded “All of Phoenixville White Horse Rugby Club’s programs practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays in both the Phoenixville and King of Prussia areas” . For more information about Phoenixville White Horse Rugby Club, or club rugby in general, talk to one of their volunteers at this weekend’s events, or visit their website at

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