Pittsburgh Celebrates Forge Day!

WHITE OAK, PA – After months of hard work and anticipation, the day had finally arrived when two Pittsburgh powerhouse rugby clubs would battle on the pitch one final time before forging together and moving on as one. This past weekend, the Pittsburgh Rugby Club and Pittsburgh Highlanders hosted their first annual Pittsburgh Forge Club Day in order to write one last chapter in their past clubs’ history books while starting a new chapter as the Pittsburgh Forge.

Head Coach of the Forge Women, Jason Edsall, talking with his players.

Although looking a little rough early on, the weather was warm and the sky was sunny when the Pittsburgh Angels and Highlander Women kicked off the day’s activities around 11:00 AM for their final match. The Angels would build a lead early in the first half, but the Highlander women would add a few scores of their own late in the first half and to begin the second half. In the end, however, the Highlander ladies wouldn’t catch up to their Angel counterparts who added a few scores late to extend their lead and ultimately take the final game.

Following a high scoring and entertaining women’s match, the men took the field a little after 1:00 PM for their final test against one another. The heat of the day was in full effect and the humidity was rising, but that would not deter the enthusiasm from both sides. The Pittsburgh Men would jump out to an early 10 – 0 lead as they dotted down two tries, but missed the conversions. Late in the second half, the Highlanders were able to maintain some possession and score two tries of their own while converting one to take a 12 – 10 lead into the half.

Head Coach of the Forge Men, Stephen Walsh, talking with his players.

After the half, both clubs began working in many depth and role players to get everyone who came out ample playing time. The teams battled back and forth trading scores and great defensive stands. With time running out, the Highlanders held a slim 24 – 23 lead over their opponents before Pittsburgh was able to touch down a try and a conversion with time running out. Pittsburgh Rugby Club took the win 30 – 23 over the Highlanders in a highly competitive and very entertaining match.

The sky darkened as the afternoon progressed and right as the Men’s Alumni began to take the field, the rain came. The Old Boys were able to play through the downpour in what was a high scoring and energetic game. In the end, the Pittsburgh Old Boys were able to best their Highlander counterparts before the sky cleared once again and everyone moved down to enjoy some great food, beer and conversation!

Forge Cake provided by player Brittany Marnell.

Fantastic food was provided by the club’s friends at Philomena’s Catering and served at the Magnolia Pavilion at White Oak Park. Cakes by Bee Leigh provided a wonderful Forge cake and t-shirts were made by our friends at Bee Graphix – Fredericktown. In the end, all the food and cake were gone, the beer was drunk and every t-shirt was sold out by the very hungry and enthusiastic crowd. Current players, supporters and alumni celebrated together well into the evening before capping off the night at our pub in the Southside, Rugger’s Pub. All in all, it was a tremendously successful and exciting event. If the day has any indication on the future of the Club and Pittsburgh Rugby, we’d say we are in for some very exciting times.

 

 

The Pittsburgh Forge Board of Directors, from left to right: Front – Angela Smarto, Brooke Gawlas, Olivia Lindsay, Gerri Russell, Kirsten Andrews, Back – Devin Zangaro, Corey Jacobs, Neil Reynolds, Chris Austin, Andrew Chapman, Bill Marnell, Sam Angelo.

 

Pittsburgh Angels and Pittsburgh Highlander Women following their match.

 

Pittsburgh Rugby Club and Pittsburgh Highlander Men following their match.

 

Forge Men Announce Allan Murray as Assistant/ D3 Coach

Allan Murray taking a pass for the Pittsburgh Harlequins.

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Forge, the city’s newest and largest rugby club, is pleased to announce that Allan Murray has been hired as an Assistant/ D3 Coach for the men’s XV’s program beginning in August 2018.

Allan has played rugby for eleven years at both the collegiate and senior levels. His playing career began in 2004 while attending Slippery University for his undergraduate degree in Physical Education. There, Allan was able to assist SRU in winning the Allegheny Rugby Union Championship three years in a row from 2005 through 2007. During that time, he was also chosen for the ARU Select Side playing as an Outside Center in 2005 and then as a Flanker in 2006 and 2007.

Upon graduating from SRU in 2008, Allan began his senior rugby career playing for Coach Walsh and the Pittsburgh Harlequins in Cheswick, PA. Allan played at the Division I level with the Harlequins for four years, which included their bid to the Division I Sweet 16 in 2012 before leaving with Coach Walsh to join the Pittsburgh Rugby Club later that year. Allan helped Pittsburgh earn a Midwest Division II second place finish in 2013 before stepping away from the pitch as a full time player in 2015.

Allan began coaching while still a student and player at Slippery Rock University. In 2006, he began assisting the West End Wandering Barbarians and did so until 2009. That spring, he assisted the very same ARU Select Side where he played three seasons before as the Backs and Attack Coach. From there, he began assistant coaching the Woodland Hills Boys U-19 club in 2010 through the conclusion of the 2011 spring season. Allan would then move up to the collegiate ranks and serve as the Backs and Attack Coach for the

Allan supporting a teammate for Pittsburgh Rugby Club.

University of Pittsburgh’s Men’s Club from 2011 until 2014. Allan would then become the Head Coach of the program in 2014 where he remained for four years, until the conclusion of the spring 2018 season. Allan is currently a USA Rugby Level 200 certified Coach and a USAR Level One Certified Referee.

After graduating with his Bachelor of Education (BEd) in Health and Physical Education/Fitness from Slippery Rock University, Allan began his career as a Physical Education Teacher at the Woodland Hills School District for the past eight years.

Coach Murray is very excited about joining the Forge Men’s coaching staff and working with Coach Stephen Walsh once again. The two have worked well together over the course of six years for both the Harlequins and Pittsburgh Rugby Club. Allan will be tasked with developing a competitive second side comprised of young recruits and veteran players with some gas left in the tank. Allan expects the Division III side to compete regionally right out of the gate even while supplying the higher side with quality players when their number is called upon.

The Pittsburgh Forge’s Summer 7’s programming begins on Tuesday, May 22nd at Phillip Murray Field near Pittsburgh’s Southside. Training will be held every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 7:00 PM.

The club’s XV’s season will begin in August 2018. Any interested men are strongly encouraged to contact the club at PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com

Forge Men Announce Steve Walsh as Head (D2) Coach

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Forge, the city’s newest and largest rugby club, is pleased to announce that Stephen Walsh has been hired as the Head Coach for the men’s XV’s program beginning in August 2018.

Coach Stephen Walsh

Steve has over twenty five (25) years of playing experience at all levels and disciplines of rugby including several years as a professional player. Steve’s playing career began at the age of 5 when he played on youth sides for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Marcellin Junior/ High School sides in Sydney, Australia. In 1974, he toured New Zealand with the first team rugby union high school age side. From 1974 through 1976, Steve was the captain of the Brothers Rugby Club which was also a high school age side.

In 1977, he began playing club rugby for Randwick Rugby Club, participating in two premierships and being coached by Bob Dwyer, the legendary Australian rugby union coach. Randwick DRUFC is an Australian rugby union club which competes in the Sydney premier grade rugby union competition. The club was formed in 1882 and since then has won thirty two (32) first grade premierships and six Australian club championships. It is one of the traditional powerhouses of the Shute Shield competition, winning fourteen (14) titles from 1978 to 1996.

Steve began playing for the legendary South Sydney Rabbitohs, a professional Australian rugby league team based in Redfern, a suburb of Sydney in 1980. During his four seasons there, from 1980 – 1983, Steve made fifty eight (58) appearances while scoring twelve (12) tries and one hundred and six (106) points. Steve played in one finals match with the Rabbitohs during his rookie season of 1980. Steve continued his professional career in France, playing for Lyon OU in 1988 and finally served as a captain/coach for Anse XIII in 1989 before retiring from playing.

Steve Walsh’s official trading card while playing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 1981.

Steve began coaching during his time with the South Sydney Rabbitohs as a coach for his home high school side at Macrellin. He coached there from 1980 until 1984 before moving up to the collegiate level, coaching St. Aloysius’ Rugby Club in Sydney from 1985 until 1987. From 1991 until 1994 and then again from 1997 to 1998, Steve coached St. Mary’s Cathedral College’s first team before returning to rugby leagues as a coach for the Alice Springs, a Division 1 side in 1999.

In the early 2000’s, Steve moved to England were he became the coach of St. John Beaumont School’s second side before moving to Pittsburgh in the mid-2000’s. Once in Pittsburgh, Steve worked as the Head Coach for the Pittsburgh Harlequins from 2006 until 2012 and then the Pittsburgh Rugby Club from 2013 until 2016. Stephen is currently a USA Rugby Level 200 certified coach.

Professionally, Coach Walsh’s expertise lies in professional training and development with more than 30 years of experience in presenting educational and instructional training programs. Since the early 2000’s Stephen has worked as a training manager for a number of different companies. For the last several years, he has worked for Oxford Seminars as an instructor specializing in certifying students who are becoming English, English as a foreign language and English as second language instructors. Steve is also a certified personal trainer.

Coach Walsh is extremely excited about Forge Men’s Head Coach and assisting the club in their goal to become the City’s premier club for senior men’s rugby. He looks to develop a competitive, high level first side that will compete for regional and national championships in the short term in addition to competitive second and third sides that will compete in their own right. Steve has also expressed a desire to assist the club in growing and cultivating the game in the City of Pittsburgh and regionally. Coach Walsh brings to the Forge his vast playing and coaching experiences in additional to a level of professionalism not seen by many amateur clubs in the United States.

The Pittsburgh Forge’s Summer 7’s programming begins on Tuesday, May 22 at Phillip Murray Field near Pittsburgh’s Southside. Training will be held every Tuesday and Thursday evening in the City at 7:00 PM.

The club’s XV’s season will begin in August 2018. Any interested men are strongly encouraged to contact the club at PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com.

Pittsburgh Forge Women Announce Jason Edsall as Head Coach

Jason Edsall PhD, LAT, ATC, CSCS

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Forge, the city’s newest and largest rugby club, is pleased to announce that Jason Edall has been hired as the Head Coach for the women’s XV’s program beginning in August 2018.

Jason has nearly 20 years of playing experience at the collegiate and senior club levels. Jason’s playing career began in 1998 while attending Slippery Rock University for his undergraduate degree in Athletic Training. There, Jason predominantly played in the backline. Upon graduation from SRU in 2002, he attended Salisbury University for his Master’s Degree and played in the backline there until 2004. After a short time away from playing, Jason joined the Westmoreland/ Pittsburgh Highlanders in 2008 and played all over the field for the Club for seven years before work took him across the state where he joined the Wilkes Barre Breakers for two years. Finally, upon his return to Pittsburgh in mid – 2017, he once again returned to the Highlanders as a part time player.

In the midst of his playing career, Jason began coaching as an assistant for Salisbury University in August of 2005. While there, he also established and coached the Eastern Shore Sharks Rugby Club, a community based club that offered rugby to boys and girls ages 16 – 18. In 2014, while on staff as a professor at California University of Pennsylvania, he coached the women’s program until his employment moved him to Wilkes Barre, PA. There, he was on the staff for Kings College Men and Women, established collegiate programs at Marywood University and player/coached on his senior club side. In August 2017, upon returning to Pittsburgh, he was hired as the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Highlander Women and was named the Allegheny Rugby Union’s Men’s Select Side Coach in February 2018. Jason is currently a USA Rugby Level 300 certified coach.

Jason Edsall (center) playing for the Pittsburgh Highlanders in March 2015.

In addition to playing and coaching rugby, Jason also serves the area as a USA Rugby Level 200 certified referee and as the Treasurer of the Allegheny Rugby Union.

Professionally, Jason has worked as both an athletic trainer and professor at a number of different college and universities. In 1998, Jason began working on the medical staff for the Pennsylvania Special Olympics before becoming an Athletic Trainer at Slippery Rock University. In 2002, he worked as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer while attending Salisbury University. That is also where he began his teaching career, instructing a course in Kinesiology as an Adjunct Professor in February 2004. Next, Jason spent three years in Maryland as the Head Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Snow Hill High School before returning to Salisbury University as an Adjunct Professor in 2006.

Next, Jason then spent several years at Seton Hill University as an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach, while also working at SNAP Fitness as the Head Fitness Professional until 2015. In 2012, he began working at California University of Pennsylvania where he instructed courses and served as an Athletic Trainer before moving to Scranton, PA and becoming the Director of Athletic Training Education at Marywood University. He also served as a professor there. In 2016, Jason earned his PhD in Athletic Training from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and was able to move back to Pittsburgh in 2017.

Jason Edsall (far right) graduating with his PhD from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals.

Jason is currently the Program Director of Athletic Training and Exercise Science at Chatham University where is he also overseeing the development of a varsity men and women’s rugby program to begin in the fall of 2018. Although he has no interest in coaching that program once it’s established, Jason is tasked with finding great coaches to lead that program. This would be the third program that Jason has helped established during his time in rugby.

Jason is extremely excited about joining the Forge coaching staff and assisting the club in the betterment of rugby in the City of Pittsburgh. He looks to cultivate a competitive women’s side that will compete for regional and national championships in the short term. Jason looks to be involved in the Forge’s summer programs and continue to assist the Allegheny Rugby Union’s male select side program.

The Pittsburgh Forge’s Summer 7’s programming begins on Tuesday, May 22 at Phillip Murray Field near Pittsburgh’s Southside. Training will be held every Tuesday and Thursday evening in the City at 7:00 PM.

The club’s XV’s season will begin in August 2018. Any interested women are strongly encouraged to contact the club at PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com.

For more information on Jason, please visit his faculty profile at Chatham University’s website: https://www.chatham.edu/athletic-training/facultydetails.cfm?FacultyID=618

The City’s Newest Club: The Pittsburgh Forge

Pittsburgh Rugby Club merges with the Pittsburgh Highlanders to form the Forge

The Pittsburgh Rugby Club and Pittsburgh (Westmoreland) Highlanders Rugby Football Club are extremely pleased to announce the merging of their clubs effective June 1, 2018. This merger will bond Pittsburgh’s oldest and largest rugby club with one of the area’s most successful clubs in recent years to form an all new rugby organization. The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club (PFRC) will feature two (2) men’s sides competing at the Midwest Competition Region’s Division II and Division III levels as well as a women’s side that will compete at the Midwest CR’s Division II level.

While the club will feature Pittsburgh’s traditional colors of black and gold, both clubs found it best to create a brand new organization that offers competitive playing environments for men and women in the city, regardless of level or ability. The club has plans for future growth in both the men and women’s competition levels.

The Pittsburgh Forge has been granted 501c3 charitable status and plans to give back extensively to the local rugby community. As a federally recognized non-profit, donations to the club may be tax exempt and will be used to support youth, high school and collegiate programs throughout the Pittsburgh area. It is the goal of the Pittsburgh Forge to not only become the premier destination for senior rugby talent in Western Pennsylvania, but to also give back to the community that supports our club by fostering rugby programs at the grassroots level.

Please stay posted for more exciting announcements from the Forge as we move through the summer and into the fall season, where the club will be playing its inaugural league schedule. If you have any questions in the meantime, or are interested in joining or supporting the Forge in any way, please contact us via e-mail at PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com.