PITTSBURGH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB’S MISSION
We foster and promote the growth and development of the game of Rugby in the Pittsburgh area, increase the awareness of Rugby and its traditions, and facilitate participation in Rugby at local, national, and international levels. The Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club is comprised of about 300 members that Men’s Rugby, Women’s Rugby, and Old Boys (35+) Rugby.
The Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club was established in 1964. Since that time, the club has identified itself as an organization of diverse and colorful people with one common passion: to play the best rugby possible. In the long history of the club, people from all occupations have played for the team including doctors, lawyers, mechanics, students, police officers, engineers, etc. The team has grown to represent the city from which it has sprung. Whether it be its diverse makeup of members, its hardworking and gritty reputation, or even the colors it wears (Black and Gold), the PRFC is the city’s team. We play in the city. We practice in the city. Hence our nickname as we have come to be known around town – “Pitt-City”.
As we head to the future, things are looking bright, as our direction both on and off the field is positive. Young, quick, and hard, the new-look PRFC plays an up-tempo, quick rucking game. We are proving ourselves on the field. Off the field, a newly installed executive committee is launching plans for a rugby-only facility, hopefully in the city limits. For weekly updates and information on the club, check our Web site at www.pghrugby.com.
The Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club is always glad to welcome new players to the team. All experience levels are welcome. If you are interested in joining the club as an experienced player or if you are an athlete looking for a new sport, we encourage you to contact us. Comprehensive contact information is available on our Web site.
The Pittsburgh Women’s Rugby Club was founded in the spring of 1976 and earned the nickname Angels soon afterwards when the ladies nicked a lawn ornament from a nativity scene and carried it with them as a mascot. The first members of the team were graduates and students of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh and some professional women working in the city. In 2003, the Angels split from their university players to compete as a senior women’s club. By 2003, the Angels formed an official partnership with their brother team, the Pittsburgh Men’s Rugby Football Club.
The Angels were very competitive in the Midwest and East for a number of years, playing the country’s top-ranking teams on a regular basis. In 1981, under Coach Jean-Pierre Pontier, the Angels finished second at the National Championships in Chicago.
The Angels took a short hiatus in the mid-80s. With the help of Leslie Bertel and Bari Wolynn, the Angels reentered the union in 1990, and the organization was rebuilt to regain prominence in the Midwest. The Angels maintained their competitiveness during the 90’s with the help of coach Roger Costello. The team remained a force in fifteens and had one of the best sevens teams at that time, finishing 2nd in the 2000 Midwest championship and 3rd in 2003 under coaches Tony Chappie and Angelo Pagliotti.
It was the hard work of Leslie, Phyllis Long, Lori Altenderfer, Jessica Ezykowsky, and Zie Raines, that enabled the Angels to not only remain competitive, but to also take on the task of teaching young women to play the game we love. In 1999, the Angels were approached by the Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby Football Club to start a community based youth rugby program for young women in the Pittsburgh region. Teams from Schenley, Carrick, Canevin Catholic and Fox Chapel high schools participated.
On the field, the Angels became a force to be reckoned with in Division II rugby. After a 2005 Wildcard playoff berth and last-second loss to Detroit, the Angels regrouped and forged a path to nationals. In October of 2006, the Angels took home the Midwest Championship and entered nationals seeded second. After a long weekend of rugby, the Angels returned from Raleigh in third place for the nation.
After a few rebuilding years the Angels became a dominant presence in the Midwest bringing home Championships in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013-2014. With each Midwest Championship the Angels received a trip to the National Championship Tournament. In 2009 The Angels traveled to Houston, TX where after an exhausting 2 day, 4 game, 10 team bracket the Angels lost in the Championship match to a Raleigh team they had beat the day before. In 2010 a very injured Angels side competed in Phoenix, AZ and placed 3rd after beating Raleigh 11-10 in the last match. Virginia Beach, VA hosted the 2011 National Championships where the Angels again made it to the National Championship match but came up short against Raleigh for a hard 2nd place finish.
In 2012 the Angels finally won their first National Championship against a tough Severn River team in Fort Myers, FL with a score of 8-0 after beating Norfolk and Fort Miami. Aoibheann ‘Bean’ Cline was name USA Rugby MVP of the game for igniting the defense of the pack. The team was led by Head Coach Dr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Chappie; Pack Coach Pete Morris; and Captains Jaime Filipek and Tricia DiBasillio.
The 2013-2014 season was the first split season for the women under USA Rugby. Under the new structure the Angels beat Severn River and Beantown to qualify for the National Championship game. In a fierce match-up the Angels prevailed over the Sacramento Amazons in Madison, WI by a score of 36-26; Stephanie Burkhardt was named MVP of the game. The team was led by Head Coach Dr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Chappie; Pack Coach Pete Morris; and Captains Jaime Filipek and Melanie Slater.
After winning Back to Back USA Rugby Division II National Championship titles, the Angels have decided to move to MARFU Division I to compete at a higher level. We look forward to the increased competition and fun new challenge ahead of us!