Forge Men Form U23 Academy

Forge winter Misha Shorin scores a try against Cincinnati RFC.
Forge winger Misha Shorin scores a try against Cincinnati RFC.

[PITTSBURGH, PA] – The Pittsburgh Forge Men’s side is elated to announce the formation of a U-23 Academy Side this spring. The Academy is open to any male player born in 1999 or after that’s interested in playing high-performance rugby against some of the best Academy and Select Sides in the country.

The program intends to schedule three to four fixtures annually during competition windows that won’t pull players from their home sides. For this spring, the Forge has secured an inaugural match against Major League Rugby’s Old Glory U23 Academy, aptly called “Young Glory U23”. The match is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Segra Field in Leesburg, VA and will curtain raise the MLR regular season match between Old Glory and the Houston Sabercats. Specifics for this match will be announced at a later date.

“This Academy provides a fantastic opportunity to college-age players in and around the greater Pittsburgh area to train at a high level and play elite competition outside of their university sides. These players will be exposed to the Forge’s robust and professional coaching staff and learn skills that they can take back to their home clubs and could potentially help propel these individuals into high-performance pathways,” Program Manager Bill Marnell explained.

Leading up to the match, the Forge has scheduled two (2) open tryouts followed by training sessions for players selected to compete in the match. All sessions will be held at the Forge’s pitch at Phillip Murray Field, conveniently located near Pittsburgh’s southside. The tryout and training schedule is listed below:

  • Sunday, March 27: Open Tryout from 12PM – 2PM
  • Sunday, April 10: Open Tryout from 12PM – 2PM
  • Sunday, May 1: Closed Training Session from 12PM – 2PM
  • Sunday, May 15: Closed Training Session from 12PM – 2PM
  • Thursday, May 19: Final Walk-Through from 6PM – 8PM

There is no cost to participate in the Academy or attend any training events but players who are selected to travel to the match in May will be asked to pay a modest tour fee to assist in expenses for the trip. Players are not required to register with the Forge but are strongly encouraged to do so. In lieu of registration with the Forge, a player must either be registered for a USA Rugby club or pay a nominal fee for Participant Accident Coverage via USA Rugby’s Event Sanctioning. This fee is usually $10 – $15.

For the spring of 2022, the program will be coached by Allan Murray who recently retired as the Forge Men’s Assistant Head Coach/ D2 Head Coach after several years of success. Allan has a history of developing college-age athletes into effective, high-level rugby players and will be joined by several other coaches from the Forge throughout the training sessions. More announcements are expected to be made soon regarding additions to the staff for the spring.

For more information, players should email Program Manager Bill Marnell at Players who are interested in participating this spring should complete a general interest form here and plan on attending at least one (1) open tryout event. If a player is interested, but unable to attend a tryout event, he can complete the survey and email Bill Marnell a coach’s recommendation instead. Area coaches are also always welcome to email Bill Marnell with player recommendations as well.

Please stay posted for additional updates regarding this program and for future programming expansions from the Forge including a potential U23 Women’s Program soon.

Forge Women Approach Division 1 Playoffs with “Brake Lines Cut” Mentality

Forge Women after a momentous win in Cincinnati, 48-10.

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Forge Women have secured a playoff position for the third consecutive competitive season!  Having been presented with a tremendous opportunity for success with the formation of the Midwest East Division 1/Division 2 Hybrid league, the Women entered the Fall of 2021 looking to make a statement in their return from the COVID-19 hiatus.  In a season which saw the Women matched up against old foes and new opponents alike, the Forge came out on top with an unblemished 4-0 record, with an impressive average margin of victory of 40.75 points per game!

However, this journey for the Forge Women began long before the Fall season kicked off. Their eyes have been focused on this opportunity since January, when they welcomed Head Coach Todd Fabec to the club. He understood the task at hand, and the potential that existed within the squad:

“I am honored to return home and have the opportunity to work with an outstanding club. The culture is spot on as the community shares and cares for one another. And, because the club has competed and won at the national level, there is a healthy balance to play fun, modern rugby. Coming through COVID-19 was quite a challenge. Yet, we did it smartly, took care of each other, and now find ourselves in really great shape moving forward. Both this season and beyond. It’s been awesome and I thank the community for giving me a chance to be a part.”

Nickole Burkett (Lock) charging through Detroit defense with support from teammates

The Forge were able to exercise their adaptability in navigating the return-to-play COVID-19 protocols that were in place to ensure player and supporter safety after the 2020 hiatus: Zoom meetings in January, indoor cohort-branched skill sessions in February, socially-distanced outdoor training in March… all of which were approached with avidity from the team.

In late spring, the women had their first chance to execute their new game plan and skillsets, with back-to-back friendlies against Harrisburg RFC and Rochester Renegades!  Though the Forge Women fell to Harrisburg after traveling east to square up in a friendly yet competitive match, the women were right back at it the following week , this time emerging victorious at home against the Rochester Renegades. Both of these friendly encounters provided insight on areas that required more focus and attention before the Fall rolled around, and not once did the Forge hesitate to do what was needed to continue improving their game, as Captain Holly “Ripper” Ramey said so well:

“At the beginning of the season, with a challenging new schedule ahead of us, we came together and decided we would push ourselves to the highest limits. That night, every single player made the commitment to give it their all. You saw it in players coming to training early to run skills work. You heard it in conversations with teammates about strategy and technique. And you felt it on the field when we played not for ourselves, but for each other. All of our hard work has led to this moment. And we’re ready.”

Outside Center Morgan Haggerty cuts past Columbus defense

The women paralleled their on-field work ethic with focused recruiting efforts, and are fortunate to have grown their team throughout the past year, with the culture of the club and the sport of rugby proving, yet again, that there is a place for everyone! The Forge are thankful for their newly acquired talents – some with various athletic backgrounds: powerlifting, soccer, roller derby, and football- all of which have unique subsets of skills which transfer over to rugby quite nicely. The team would not be where they are today without the obvious dedication of its players, both experienced and new. Captain Karina “Strokes” Sarver spoke to this full-club effort that lasted all season long:

“We are so proud of the work that every player has put in as the team prepared to execute the 2021 D1/D2 hybrid season. This fall, we were able to highlight our developmental side, our Gold squad, in two matches. They won both. The sanctioned side, our Black side, was able to win the league with a perfect record. Now, we get to ride this momentum into the D1 Midwest semifinal match that is going to be held on our home pitch. We have elevated each other to get here; it’s time to keep grinding, keep rising, and take care of business on November 6th.”

Jaisa “Twerk” Watkins breaking down to tackle a Buffalo player

The Forge capitalized on their roster depth all season, playing 23 women each match and consistently traveling with a loaded sideline of supporters as well. The team truly demonstrated their dynamism with no two rosters identical throughout the year. Within the new hybrid configuration, the women kicked-off their fall hosting Detroit (MI) and scored within the early phases of the match to seemingly set the tone for the entire season. Next, they traveled to Cincinnati (OH) to take on the Kelts and pulled off another meaningful win. In October, the women’s Black squad got to start the historic, rugby-filled Forge Day with a win over Buffalo (NY). Finally, they were off to Columbus to face the Squirrels (OH), who were also undefeated entering the match. By sticking to their game plan, the Forge triumphed once more and secured their place at the top of the Midwest East D1/D2, earning them a berth to the Midwest Division 1 playoffs!

As previously mentioned, the Forge were fortunate for the opportunity to feature their Gold side twice this fall – once at home to wrap up Forge Day against Kent State and once away against Columbus. Gold emerged victorious in both of these contests to accentuate the team’s undefeated record!

Next up for the Forge women are the Metropolis Valkyries (MN), seeded 2nd in the Division 1 West league, when on November 6th, the Forge will be hosting the Midwest Division 1 Semifinal as the higher ranked side! Be sure to show your support at Phillip Murray Field (725 Mountain Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA), with the action kicking off at 11:00am! The women have only been more dialed in with their training and show no signs of easing off the gas any time soon.

Forge Men Bolster Coaching Staff for Fall 2021

Above: The Forge Men returned to the pitch in April 2020 after a nearly 18-month hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Pittsburgh, PA] – The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club is excited to announce additions to the Men’s coaching staff for the 2021 – 2022 Competitive Cycle.  Alongside the Men’s top side promotion to the Midwest Premiership (Men’s Division 1) and the elevation of its second side into Midwest Division 2, the Men will also be fielding a third competitive side at the Division 3 level for the Fall of 2021, prompting the program to further bolster its coaching staff.  This expansion of programming and staff is a result of the continued growth of the club, with training sessions regularly exceeding fifty (50) players in attendance.  Read below about each member of the coaching staff who will lead the Forge Men throughout the Fall campaign and beyond! 

Forge Men’s Head/D1 Coach Steve Walsh has been leading the program since their inaugural season in the Fall of 2018. In his first season coaching the Men’s top side, Steve led the team to the D2 Midwest semi-finals. The following year, Steve coached the Men to an undefeated season, losing in the final minutes of the D2 Midwest Championship against perennial National Championship contender Wisconsin Rugby Club. The club’s strong performances over those two years earned them their promotion to the Midwest Premiership. 

Steve, a native of Australia, began playing rugby at a young age, eventually playing Rugby Union at the senior level for Randwick Rugby Club and playing Rugby League professionally for the South Sydney Rabbitohs beginning in 1980. Steve also began coaching at the Australian high school and collegiate levels throughout the 1980s (St. Aloysius, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and Alice Springs), before his playing career saw him move to France to play with Lyon OU and Anse XIII.  In the early 2000’s, Steve relocated to England where he coached at the St. John’s Beaumont School. He later moved to the United States where he would coach the Pittsburgh Harlequins and Pittsburgh Rugby Club. 

In 2020, Steve was selected to serve on the coaching staff of the Midwest Thunderbirds, an elite Selects program offering a pathway for senior men’s club players to professional rugby in the US.  Check out Coach Steve’s introductory press release as Men’s Head Coach for a more in depth read.

Like Steve, Allan Murray also began coaching the Forge Men’s side in 2018, serving for the past three years as the Assistant/D3 coach before ascending this Fall to the Division 2 level with the Forge’s second side. Al began playing rugby at Slippery Rock University, leading that side to three (3) consecutive ARU Championships while earning several selections to the ARU Collegiate Select Side during his tenure there. Following college, Al began playing under Steve Walsh at the Pittsburgh Harlequins and later with the Pittsburgh Rugby Club, before retiring as a full-time player in 2015. 

Al’s coaching career began in 2006 when he began assisting the West End Wandering Barbarians, continuing there through 2009. He then served as an assistant on the ARU Select Side as a Backs/Attack coach. Al would then coach the Woodland Hills U-19 program before joining the coaching staff at the University of Pittsburgh, where he would remain until 2018. Al has been pivotal in the success of the Forge Men’s side, and we look forward to his continued influence this Fall season.  To learn more about Al’s rugby career, visit the press release from his initial introduction to the Forge coaching staff. 

Joining Steve and Al on the coaching staff this year will be Des O’ConnorDerek Neubauer and Clark Hoopes

Assistant/D3 Coach Des O’Connor

Des O’Connor will be joining the staff as the Assistant/D3 coach and will be responsible for working with the club’s new and developing players. Des, a native of Ireland, began playing rugby at an early age for the Fethard National School and then high school rugby at Cistercian College Roscrea. Des attended University College Dublin where he competed regularly against senior men’s side clubs in Leinster. He also played for Cashel RFC. 

In 1988, Des moved to the United States. After a brief stint in Syracuse, Des joined the Pittsburgh Rugby Club from 1989 – 1991 before moving to California and playing two years at the storied Belmont Shore Rugby Club. Des did one more stint for Pittsburgh Rugby Club in 1993 before finishing his playing career for Morris RFC in New Jersey. 

Des coached the Pittsburgh Rugby Club from 2001 – 2003. After some time off, he stepped back in to a coaching role assisting at Central Catholic High School from 2014 – 2016 and then North Pitt United U-19 from 2017 – 2018. In addition to coaching, Des also has a tremendous amount of rugby administrative experience. He served as the Secretary for the Pittsburgh Rugby Club from 2003 – 2007 before serving as the President of the Allegheny Rugby Union from 2007 – 2011. Finally, Des served on the inaugural Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Forge from 2019-2020. 

Assistant/Forwards Coach Derek Neubauer

Derek Neubauer has been added to the staff as an Assistant/Forwards Coach. Derek began playing at Slippery Rock University in 2000, serving as the club’s Captain from 2003 – 2005. He earned a selection to the ARU Select Sides in 2004. Upon graduation, Derek began playing for the Bayonne Bombers and then the Westmoreland Highlanders before moving over to the Pittsburgh Rugby Club where he played from 2009 through PRFC’s rebirth as the Forge in 2018, and playing two additional seasons with the Forge’s top side in 2018 and 2019 before entering retirement. 

Derek began coaching at his alma mater, Slippery Rock University, in 2006 and then continued to coach there even after becoming the Head Coach at the University of Pittsburgh in 2009. Derek resigned from SRU in 2011 and focused on Pitt, coaching there until 2020. Derek also served as an ARU Select Side coach in 2009. 

Assistant/Backs Coach Clark Hoopes

Finally, Clark Hoopes joins the Forge Men’s staff as an Assistant/Backs Coach.  Clark began playing rugby at the University of Massachusetts in 2007, where he was named to the NERFU and NRU College All-Stars each year from 2007 – 2010. He was also named a USA Rugby Collegiate All-American in 2009. After graduation, Clark played for Boston’s South Shore Rugby Club from 2010 – 2015 and for Boston’s Super League side during the 2011 – 2012 season. Clark also toured with Atlantis Rugby 7s in 2009 and 2011 before joining the Pittsburgh Rugby Club in 2015. In the summer of 2016, Clark competed with the storied 1823 7’s side out of Columbus, OH. 

Clark continued to play for the Pittsburgh Forge in their inaugural 2018 season before injuries forced him into retirement. Clark was named the Forge Men’s 7’s Coach in the spring of 2019 and will continue to serve the club in that capacity in addition to assisting the 15’s program in his new role.  

Forge Men’s Coaching Staff for 2021 – 2022 Competitive Cycle: 

  • Head/D1 Coach: Stephen Walsh 
  • Assistant/D2 Coach: Allan Murray 
  • Assistant/D3 Coach: Des O’Connor 
  • Assistant/Forwards Coach: Derek Neubauer 
  • Assistant/Backs Coach: Clark Hoopes 

The Forge Men are in the midst of training for the Fall 2021 season and are fielding three (3) sides in Midwest League Play. Players interested in working with our coaches are encouraged to attend a training session or contact the club for more information!  Contact Us.

Forge Elects New Board of Directors

A snapshot of the 2021 Pittsburgh Forge Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Saturday January 30, 2021. Despite having to be held virtually, we were thrilled to have more than 60 of our members participate!

Last weekend, the Pittsburgh Forge membership met virtually for its 3rd Annual General Meeting (AGM), and it was great to see our members’ continued enthusiasm despite coming off a year with no rugby! The Forge looks forward to a safe return to rugby in 2021, and to continuing with the momentum the club had been building prior to 2020. Among other regular business conducted, the AGM featured elections to fill six (6) Board positions, and you can read more below about those who now occupy those positions! These 6 individuals join our 3 continuing Board members (Treasurer Nicole Beswick and General Directors Olivia Redshaw and Neal Brendel) who are now halfway through their two-year terms.

The Forge elected Billy Gordon to a two-year term as President & CEO. Billy started his rugby career in 2012 while a Freshman at Villanova University (outside of Philadelphia, PA), and eventually went on to become the President and Captain of the club. Upon graduating and moving back to Pittsburgh in 2016, Billy began playing with the Pittsburgh Rugby Club (with whom his dad had played during the 1970s-80s), and shortly thereafter was elected the Men’s Match Secretary, and keep this position through PRFC’s 2018 merger into the Pittsburgh Forge. 

President Billy Gordon offloads to teammate Rousseau Kluever

In the inaugural Forge elections in 2019, Billy was elected to the Forge Board of Directors as Secretary, a position which he held up through his year’s AGM.  In his two years in that role, he consistently had his finger on the pulse of the Forge administration, and looks forward to continuing the great work the club has undertaken in its first 3 years.

Billy began a career in Bridge Engineering at Michael Baker International in 2016 following his graduation from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.  In 2019 he completed his graduate studies (also at Villanova) with a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering degree, with a concentration in Structural Engineering.

Secretary Andy “Lurch” Chapman, creates space for teammate Tony Cardamone

To fill the position of Secretary & COO, the Forge elected Andrew “Lurch” Chapman, who rejoins the Forge Board after a 2-year hiatus, having stepped back from leadership after serving on the Founding Forge transitional board during the club’s 2018 merger and formation.  With the Forge, Lurch served as the first Men’s Club Captain (alongside fellow Second Row Sam Angelo) for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Lurch has played rugby for 11 years for 3 different clubs, and has held several administrative positions for each over that span. His career began with Erie RFC in Erie, PA, where he served in several board positions, and (for 2 years) as Team Captain. In 2013, he moved to Pittsburgh and joined Pittsburgh Highlanders RFC where he played for 5 years, serving 3 years as Team Captain and also holding positions as Match Secretary and Vice President. As VP, Lurch was involved in the merger of the Pittsburgh Highlanders with the Pittsburgh Rugby Club, culminating in his service on the Founding Forge Board.

Lurch works as a Web Development Team Lead for DEG Digital, where he is responsible for overseeing his team and ensuring they exceed the standards of the industry by keeping up with current trends. He has served as a vital member of the Forge’s marketing efforts for the past 3 years, and serves as its web developer. 

While working in Singapore, Director of Men’s Rugby, Kyle Franklin played for the Singapore Wanderers.

During their annual Men’s team meeting in early January, the Forge Men elected Kyle Franklin as the new Director of Men’s Rugby. Kyle is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he began playing Rugby in 2007.  After 3 competitive seasons at UIC, Kyle joined the Division 3 Chicago Riot Rugby Football Club.  He served as the Riot’s Captain on the way to the their 2013 Midwest D3 Title and Nationals (Sweet 16) run, as well their 2014 Midwest Runner-up finish, earning the Riot promotion into Midwest D2. After relocating to Pittsburgh to attend the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, Kyle joined the Pittsburgh Rugby Club, playing with the club through its 2018 merger to become the Pittsburgh Forge, and played one season with the Forge. 

Work obligations saw Kyle relocate again, forcing him to take his talents to the South Pacific for nearly two years. To scratch his rugby itch, he joined up with the Singapore Wanderers, where he won a National Title and a National Runner-Up medal in consecutive seasons. Kyle has since relocated back to Pittsburgh in 2020, and is excited to deliver his wealth of experiences to the Forge. Kyle works as a Solution Consultant for Lucas Systems, based out of Wexford, PA. 

Director of Women’s Rugby, Bobbie Kolarik charges into defenders during a 2019 game against Cleveland.

Likewise during the recent Women’s team meeting, Bobbie Kolarik was elected as Director of Women’s Rugby. Bobbie is a graduate of Allegheny College, where she began her rugby career in 2010. At Allegheny, she served the club as Vice President, and later as President, both while serving on-field as the club’s Captain. After college, she joined the Pittsburgh Highlander Women’s Rugby Club, and served on the Highlander Board in various leadership roles. During this time, Bobbie was also a full-time graduate student in the University of Pittsburgh Physical Therapy Doctorate Program. She earned her Doctorate in 2019 and has been a practicing Physical Therapist in the outpatient orthopedic setting with UPMC since.

Bobbie continued her Pittsburgh Rugby career through the Highlanders merger into the Forge, and has been an active member of the women’s team, most recently as the Women’s Recruitment Chair. She looks forward to helping build a prosperous future for the Forge. 

New Forge General Director and Pittsburgh rugby alum, Pierre Queiroz de Oliveira

Joining the Forge Board as a General Director is Pierre Queiroz de Oliveira. Pierre began his rugby career in France at the age of 13, and after moving to Portugal in the mid-1990s played for the GDS Cascais Rugby Club at the U16, U18, and senior levels, while also earning selections to the Portuguese U16 and U18 National Teams. Following high school, he attended the University of Bath in England and played for their club’s 1st XV side. As a university student, Pierre took the opportunity to spend a year abroad at the University of Michigan, where he was able to join and play with the Michigan Rugby Club. 

In 2002, Pierre moved to Pittsburgh to pursue a career in biomedical research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and quickly found the Pittsburgh Rugby Club, where he played until 2010, a period during which he had the opportunity at times to both Captain and Coach the PRFC men.

While working at the University of Pittsburgh, Pierre completed his Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology and soon after joined the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse where he worked with startup companies and entrepreneurs. After deciding to pursue law school, Pierre obtained his law degree from Duquesne University in 2014, and is currently a Senior Associate in the Health Sciences Department of the law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP. His practice there is focused on intellectual property procurement and transactions, and he represents public and private life science companies in the US, Europe and South America. 

Forge General Director and Pittsburgh Highlander RFC alum, Gary Lobaugh

General Director Gary Lobaugh was reelected to his position on the Board of Directors following his initial election in 2019. Gary’s rugby career began while a student at Allegheny College in 1991, and spanned nearly two decades in total. Most of his playing years after graduating from Allegheny were with the Westmoreland Highlanders, where he would eventually serve as President, while also having the opportunity to play at several clubs across the country. 

In 2003, Gary was elected to serve as the Allegheny Rugby Union (ARU) President, a position he would hold until 2008 when he started moving into Regional and National rugby governance positions. He served as the Secretary of the Midwest Conference for a number of years before moving into a role as manager for Midwest Competitions in 2013, where his work focused more specifically on club competitions. As part of this role, Gary has been a member of USA Rugby’s National Competitions Committee, now the Senior Club Council Competitions Committee since the USA Rugby reorganization.  From 2011-2018, he also served as a Senior Club representative to Congress for USA Rugby. 

Gary currently works as an External Affairs Manager for Pennsylvania American Water, and has been a General Director for the Forge for the past two years.

The Forge would like to extend its sincere thanks to those outgoing Board members who have served the Club diligently over the past two years:  Bill Marnell (President), Kirsten Andrews (Director of Women’s Rugby), Neil Reynolds (Director of Men’s Rugby), and Des O’Connor (General Director).  Their contributions have been immense, and we look forward to their continued involvement with the Forge. 

Todd Fabec Appointed Women’s Side Head Coach

New Women’s Head Coach: Todd Fabec

[PITTSBURGH, PA] – The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Todd Fabec to serve as the Women’s Head Coach beginning in the spring of 2021. Todd is a Pittsburgh native and brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience, along with a ton of positivity, to our women’s side.

Todd began playing and fell in love with rugby at West Virginia University where he played scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback. After graduating, Todd moved to the southwestern United States and played for several years for the Division 1 program at Sante Fe Los Santos, while earning call ups to the Rio Grande Select Side and competing in events with the Anasazi Old Boys.

Todd began his coaching career in 2006 after moving to North Carolina. Todd worked as an assistant coach, focusing on attack and technical skills for the Chapel Hill Highlanders U-19 Boys’ side. Over the next 11 years of coaching both the U-15 and U-19 boys’ programs, Todd coached the club to six North Carolina State Championships, five national and regional appearances and a #7 ranking in the nation. While there, Todd helped develop ten High School All-Americans, 2 capped Junior Eagles, and several players who would eventually earn scholarships to some of the best collegiate programs in the country. Todd worked with the Chapel Hill Highlanders until he returned to southwestern Pennsylvania in 2017.

During his time in North Carolina, Todd assumed a number of other responsibilities with area programs. From 2006 – 2010, Todd was an assistant for the North Carolina All-Star Program, again focusing on attack and technical skills. This program ran two age grades, U-17 and U-19, both of which experienced tremendous success during Todd’s tenure. In 2011, Todd joined the program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and would serve as an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s programs there until 2013. While there, the UNC women’s side finished in the D1 Elite 8.

After moving back to the Pittsburgh area in 2017, Todd began assistant coaching the Robert Morris University Men’s team. While there, he coached the side to the NSCRO (now NCR) Elite 8. Todd also served as Head Coach for the Moon Area Boys U-19 program until 2019. During this period, the Moon Boys won nearly 80% of their games and made the state quarterfinals twice.

Todd, a USA Rugby Level 300 coach, brings his vast experience and positive attitude to the women’s side. Todd will work with women’s assistant coach Desiree Markovich to improve our women’s side and bring home a National Championship.

For more information about our women’s side and competition for 2021, please contact!

Men’s Top Side Promoted to D1

[PITTSBURGH, PA] – After months of rumor and speculation, the Pittsburgh Forge were notified last week that the men’s top side will be promoted to the Midwest Premiership this upcoming fall. The Midwest Premiership is the Division 1 competition for the Midwest Competitive Region (CR) and features some of the best competition in the county.

The men’s top side will compete in the CR’s Eastern Conference playing a home and away series against Scioto Valley RFC, the Cincinnati Wolfhounds, the Detroit Tradesmen, the Chicago Griffins, and the Chicago Lions. At the conclusion of each fall, the club on top of the table in the East will play the best side from the West in the Midwest Championship. Western clubs include the Kansas City Blues, Metropolis Rugby, Palmer College Dragons, the St. Louis Bombers, the Milwaukee Barbarians, and newly promoted Wisconsin Rugby Club. The Midwest Champion would then play the champion of the Atlantic Rugby Premiership (ARP) to close out the fall in what’s known as the Elite Cup.

Although not official yet, the Forge men’s side expect promotion of both the second side to D2 and their third side to D3. This will allow more conducive player movement between sides and allow for all three sides to complete for a National Championship. The Forge is thrilled to offer competitive rugby at all three levels this fall. For more information regarding the club, fall competition, or how to join, please email

Forge Men Announce Qualifying 7’s Program

The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club is pleased to announce their USA Rugby Qualifying 7’s Program for Summer 2020. Recognizing the need for a high-level, inclusive, and competitive program serving the Greater Pittsburgh area, the Forge will put together tournament sides that will welcome players from all over the area, regardless of their 15’s club affiliation(s). These sides will participate in the Midwest Rugby Union Qualifier Series as well as other regional tournaments.

Training will begin shortly after the Spring 2020 15’s season in mid-May and last throughout the summer. The training sessions will be centrally located in the City of Pittsburgh and will occur twice per week. Specific training days, times, and locations will be announced soon. There will be a nominal dues structure for all players participating in the program with costs specific to tournaments and travel to be paid by those who are selected or choose to attend each tournament event. The program will be coached by 7’s Specialist Clark Hoopes.

Clark began playing rugby at the University of Massachusetts in 2007 where he was named to the NERFU and NRU College All-Stars each year (2007 – 2010). Additionally, during his tenure there, he was named a USA Rugby Collegiate All-American in 2009. After graduating he competed for South Shore Rugby Club from 2010 – 2015 and for Boston Rugby’s Super League side during the 2011 – 2012 competitive cycle. Clark also played with Atlantis Rugby 7’s in 2009 and 2011 before playing for the Pittsburgh Rugby Club and Pittsburgh Forge from 2015 – 2018. During the summer of 2016, Clark also played with 1823 7’s in Columbus, OH.

Please stay posted for more information including the dates and locations of training and tournament events. In the meantime, anyone interested in participating in the program can complete a general interest inquiry here to be added to the program’s mailing list.

Forge Welcomes New Directors

Director Olivia Redshaw (far left) stands with new Treasurer Nicole Beswick (second from left), Captain Chelsey Mitchell, and Women’s Director Kirsten Andrews (far right) after a game this past fall.

Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA – This past weekend, the Pittsburgh Forge  hosted it’s second Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the American Serbian Club on the Southside. In addition to reviewing a great 2019 year for the organization, the club also previewed an exciting 2020, and amended bylaws. Those changes can be found here.

As part of regular business, the Club elected a new Treasurer in Nicole Beswick. Nicole is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where she played rugby prior to joining the Pittsburgh Angels in 2012. As a member of the Pittsburgh Rugby Club/ Angels, Nicole served in several different roles including the women’s Match Secretary, Merchandise Chair, and Club Secretary. Once the clubs merged together to create the Forge, Nicole served on the Finance Committee while working as the Fundraising Chair and Membership Events Coordinator. Nicole is an active player for the Forge Women and currently works as a Program Manager UPMC.

Former Treasurer Olivia Redshaw may be handing over the checkbook to Nicole but will continue to serve the Club as a General Director. A graduate of Penn State University, Olivia began playing rugby there in 2009 on her way to four (4) Division 1 National Championships. Upon graduation, Olivia spent several years as a captain of the Pittsburgh Angels and was elected to be the Treasurer of the Pittsburgh Rugby Club prior to merging with the Highlanders in 2018. At that point, Olivia served as the interim-Treasurer and was a founding leadership member of the Forge. At the club’s first AGM in 2019, Olivia was elected to serve as Treasurer. Olivia will be working for the Club semi-remotely as she’s recently taken a position as the Sports Club Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Finally, the Club welcomed Neal Brendel to the Board of Directors, also as a General Director. Neal is a long-time member of the Pittsburgh and national rugby communities. He played with Pittsburgh Rugby Club throughout the 1980’s and served as the club’s President from 1984 – 1987 and was a member of the starting fifteen that finished as the Division 1 runner-up in 1987. Additionally, from 1983 through 1987, Neal made several appearances at prop for the US Eagles National team culminating with his playing for the Eagles in the 1987 World Cup.

Neal would then go on to hold several different positions on the USA Rugby Board of Directors beginning in 1996 and ascended to become the President of USA Rugby in 2002 and Chairman of the Board of Directors by 2004. Neal still serves as a Governor for the US Rugby Foundation. Professionally, Neal has practiced law since 1980 following his graduation from Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law. Neal was a partner at K&L Gates for several years in Pittsburgh before relocating to Dubai in 2009 to establish the firm’s presence there. Following his retirement in 2019, Neal returned to the Pittsburgh area.

The current officers and directors of the club welcome these new additions and look forward to working with them in 2020; a year that looks to be a tremendous one for the Pittsburgh Forge.


Pittsburgh Forge Board of Directors:

Bill Marnell, President & CEO
Nicole Beswick, Treasurer & CFO
Billy Gordon, Secretary & COO
Kirsten Andrews, Director of Women’s Rugby
Neil Reynolds, Director of Men’s Rugby
Neal Brendel, Director
Gary Lobaugh, Director
Desmond O’Connor, Director
Olivia Redshaw, Director

Forge Partner with Iron City Beer

Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA – The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club and Pittsburgh Brewing Company are extremely pleased to announce a multi-year partnership beginning in the fall of 2020. The deal, which was signed over the weekend, will see Pittsburgh Brewing Company’s two main brews, Iron City Beer and I.C. Light, be featured on the men and women’s senior side kits beginning in the fall of 2020 and remaining there until the conclusion of the spring 2023 campaign.

Additionally, the Forge looks to create co-branded merchandise in line with much of Iron City’s merchandising and branding. Club President Bill Marnell remarked: “We are thrilled to partner with Pittsburgh Brewing Company as the club’s primary sponsor for the next three years. As Pittsburgh’s beer, it made perfect sense to partner with Pittsburgh’s rugby club. This sponsorship fits on so many levels as our branding strategies align so well. I think we can create some amazing synergy between our organizations for years to come.”

Rugger’s Pub, the club’s bar on the Southside will also now feature Iron City Beer on draft and Forge senior rugby post-game socials  will also feature Iron City or I.C. Light.

About Pittsburgh Brewing Company
Founded in 1861 by a young German immigrant, Iron City Brewery, eventually Pittsburgh Brewing Company, was one of the first American breweries to produce a lager. Headquartered in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the brewery produces over one million U.S. beer barrels a year including Iron City Beer, their flagship traditional American Lager; I.C. Light, their premium light lager that embodies all things black and gold; I.C. Light Mango which adds an enticing tropical twist on the classic taste of I.C. Light; I.C. Light Mango Pumped which features 8% alcohol by volume; Old German Premium Lager, an easy-drinking family recipe for an honest price; American and American Light; and finally Block House, the brewery’s seasonal craft beer line. More can be found at

Forge Women Earn Consecutive Midwest Playoff Berths

Beth Rose (Penn State) bursting through South Buffalo players as she rushes down the field.


Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA – In the club’s second fall season, Forge Women’s Rugby has finished the fall 2019 season with an impressive 4-1 record, securing the second spot in the Midwest Women’s East Gold Division 2 standings. The Forge qualified for playoffs and will be traveling this weekend (10/26) to play the Cincinnati Kelts who are the top seed in the Midwest Women’s East Green Division 2 standings. It is sure to be a physically demanding, fast-paced, exciting game.

Last year in their inaugural season, Forge Women’s Rugby boasted an undefeated regular season and powered their way through to the second round of playoffs. The team returned to the competitive Midwest East Gold stage this fall with extremely high expectations and a work ethic to match. This fall, many new players joined the team and jumped right into the rigorous training that pushes the team to maintain their dominating field presence. Both new and returning players, as well as a returning coaching staff, were eager to jump into the club’s second season with their impressive, albeit short, history pushing them forward.

The season began with an away scrimmage against a Division 1 opponent, Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Football Club. The Forge were unsuccessful in this match up, but the team agreed that it was valuable to start the season with a tough opponent. Many new Forge players were able to see the pitch during this friendly match, and it proved to be a valuable opportunity for the Forge to fine-tune strategy and game plans for the upcoming league match against South Buffalo.

On September 14, the first league match of the 2019 season, the Forge traveled to Buffalo to take on South Buffalo Women’s Rugby. The Forge was able to win this match with an impressive score of 53-22. Highlights of this game include 2 tries and 4 conversions from Morgan Haggerty (Ohio Univ.), 3 tries from Scout Cheeks (Penn State), and 2 tries from Mackenzie Dirlam (Pitt).

Immediately following this game, the Forge’s second side made their debut and took the pitch. Forge women were able to play Burlington, a competitive Canadian club, as the mechanics of this newly formed second side fell into place. Burlington traveled to Buffalo for this match up, and the team was able to have a thorough showing of athleticism and skill.

On September 21, the week following the decisive victory over South Buffalo, the Forge hosted the Cleveland Iron Maidens. The Forge received their second league match victory, besting the Iron Maidens with a score of 63-10. In a great showing of teamwork and camaraderie, 6 different Forge players were able to score tries against Cleveland.

Nickole Burkett (SRU) fends off Cleveland defense.


After the completion of this game, the Forge’s second side squared up against the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Scooters (IUP). The game was fast-paced and physical, and the Forge faced a tough opponent. IUP is a well-established, historically successful collegiate club. Forge was able to defeat IUP, and the second side enjoyed a win.

On September 21, the following weekend, the team traveled to Buffalo yet again to take on the North Buffalo Ninjas. In the first half, both teams held their own and refused to give up many points. At half, the score was Ninjas 7, Forge 14. After a quick, leadership-driven effort to regroup, the Forge returned to the field with a unified energy that proved to be contagious. The Forge scored 6 tries in the second half. Impressively, Mackenzie Dirlam made all 8 conversion kicks.

After their previous wins and a wholly successful season, the Forge next enjoyed a bye week and a chance to recover and regroup after what has proven to be a physically demanding season. On October 12, Forge women hosted Buffalo Rugby for the initial match on the second annual Forge Day. All Pittsburgh Forge teams were able to enjoy playing at home, and as an additional bonus, the Forge women were featured on USA Rugby’s 6 Pack Preview as a game to note over this weekend. Buffalo RFC and Pittsburgh Forge were both undefeated going into this match, and USA Rugby anticipated that this match would be “a classic match up of Unmovable Object meets an Unstoppable Force.”

Mackenzie Dirlam fighting through Buffalo defenders in search of the try zone.


Unfortunately. Forge fell to Buffalo with a final score of 17-31. The team made their best effort to stay in the game – Mackenzie Dirlam scored a try and made a conversion in minute 80. This was the Forge’s first loss in a league match since the club was founded last year.

Immediately following the first side versus Buffalo, the Forge’s second side took the pitch to face off against California University Women’s Rugby (Cal U). Cal U, another well-established and historically successful collegiate team, showed the Forge a great match. Skilled players on both sides were able to excel and demonstrate excellent skills. Forge were victorious over Cal U.

In the final league match of the season, Forge traveled to Akron this past Saturday (October 19) to take on Akron Rugby. In a most impressive showing, Forge defeated Akron 70-0. On the heels of the dissatisfying loss to Buffalo Rugby, the Forge was pleased to gain some confidence and solidify their mindset as they move into the first round of playoffs this upcoming weekend. Stay tuned for playoff reports.