Forge Women Hire New Head Coach

 

Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA – After a search of several months and having vetted several qualified candidates, the Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club is extremely pleased to announce the hiring of Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez as the new Head Coach of the Forge Women.

Alex has enjoyed an illustrious rugby career throughout Mexico and Texas, and brings a wealth of experience as a player, coach, and administrator to our talented and historic women’s program.  His reputation precedes his arrival in Pittsburgh, as he is in the process of relocating to the area to join family nearby.  Throughout his years in the sport, Alex has been selected to the Mexican National Team, voted the Mexican Rugby Union’s Most Valuable Player (1983), named an advisor for the Mexican National Team, voted Rugby Texas’ Coach of the Year (2012), and in Spring 2020 was named to the Texas Rugby Hall of Fame.  Perhaps his most lasting contribution to the sport, however, has been his ability to foster grassroots rugby, founding and subsequently administering five separate collegiate and senior clubs throughout his career, many in areas with little to no prior rugby exposure.

Coach Alex Ramirez

Alex comes to Pittsburgh from McAllen, Texas, where he has most recently coached the McAllen Knights Women’s Team, a program which he founded in 2018 as a complement to the McAllen Knights Men’s program that he himself had established twenty-six years earlier in 1992.  While Alex spent a number of his playing and coaching years in McAllen, his career carried him throughout the region. 

Alex began his rugby career in 1976 with the Citibank Mexico Rugby Football Club, before joining the Reforma Athletic Club in Mexico City in 1977.  Reforma consisted largely of European players living in the area and was one of the founding clubs of the Mexican Rugby Union.  From 1977 through 1980, Alex developed tremendously and enjoyed success in Reforma’s back line, eventually becoming the club’s Captain and earning his first call-up to the Mexican Select Side. 

In the summer of 1980, Alex reestablished a rugby program at the University of Americas in Puebla, where he simultaneously played and coached through 1983.  During this time, Alex’s selections to the Mexican Select Side continued, he earned his way onto the Mexican National Team, and was elected as Vice President of the Mexican Rugby Union.  At the conclusion of the 1983 season Alex was named the Mexican Rugby Union’s Most Valuable Player.  In 1984, Alex moved to Houston, TX and played with the Houston Rugby Club until 1986 when he was forced to step away from the game due to injury and work commitments.  In 1992, however, he moved to south Texas and formed the McAllen Knights RFC men’s program.  Over a ten-year period there Alex played, coached, and served as Club President, and in 2002, even led an undefeated McAllen club to become Runners-Up of the Texas Championship.

Alex moved back to Cordoba, Veracruz, Mexico in 2002, and shortly thereafter in 2004 founded the rugby program at Tec de Monterrey University in 2004, where he again assumed playing and coaching responsibilities for the club.  From 2004 to 2006, Alex was also appointed as an advisor for the Mexican National Team and was behind the establishment of the first Select Side Camp at the Tec de Monterrey Campus Central in Veracruz, the success of which has led several other Tec de Monterrey campuses to offer rugby programs today. 

Alex returned to the United States in 2006 where he resumed his familiar player-coach role with the McAllen Knights.  In 2008, he once again led the undefeated Knights to the Texas Championship and again finished Runner-Up.  Alex continued to coach the Knights through the 2011-12 season before moving to northeast Houston and taking a job as the Head Coach of the Kingwood High School Boys Rugby Club. In his first season there, Alex led the club to the State Championship and finished as Runner-Up and was subsequently named the Coach of the Year by Rugby Texas.  Alex coached the Kingwood HS Boys for another three years, finishing third in the state in 2015. 

In the summer of 2015, Alex took on the challenge of forming a senior level men’s club in northeast Houston, something that had never been done before.  Alex named the club the Kingwood Crusaders, and served as their President and Coach until 2017, even stepping on the field as a Scrumhalf as needed, despite being well into his sixties, when the program’s numbers were wavering in the early years. 

In 2017, Alex returned to Mission, Texas and rejoined the McAllen Knights as their coach. In 2018, Alex founded the McAllen Maidens Women’s side where he’s coached since.  In the spring of 2020, Alex was inducted into the Texas Rugby Union Hall of Fame for his lifetime of hard work and success in rugby.

For more information regarding playing or coaching opportunities with the Pittsburgh Forge, please contact us at PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com.

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 PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com.

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 www.pittsburghbrewing.com

Forge Women Seeking Head Coach

Nicole Burkett dragging a defending with Forge support at the ready.

The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club (PFRC) consists of four (4) competitive sides; Men’s Division II, III, IV and Women’s Division II all competing in the Midwest Competition Region (MCR). The women’s side consists of forty-nine (49) registered players with thirty-five (35) regularly attending training and games.  The Forge women went undefeated in their inaugural regular season (2018) and made it to Midwest Playoffs in each of their first two seasons. They are also actively developing a second side while searching for a Head Coach for immediate hire.

The Head Coach is expected to make a commitment of time, energy, and effort to the development of our women’s side. All of the club’s sides compete in a fall XV’s season. Due to MCR seasonality, the spring season is a mixture of friendly matches, tours, tournaments, ‘Select Side’ competition and qualifying matches (if the USAR playoffs are achieved).

The Forge trains twice per week in the evenings and plays approximately six (6) league matches per season (per side). Away fixtures could be as far as five (5) hours in some cases. Friendly matches, tournaments, and playoff competition have taken us to places like Tennessee, the Carolinas, Florida and Iowa. The team would require the  coach to also attend team meetings, serve on some committees, and be available to conduct individual feedback sessions at the coach’s discretion. The Head Coach would also have the ability to build a coaching staff for assistance.

The Head Coach would be expected to lead the team in providing development to all of the players, regardless of level and skill. 

Expectations include:

  • Must USA Rugby Level 200 Coaching Certification (Level 300 is preferred);
  • Ability to create game strategies and develop players of all skill levels;
  • Ability to coach both forwards and backs;
  • Regularly attendance at games and training sessions;
  • Possess strong leadership and communication skills;
  • Possess a motivation to continue rugby education and to build one’s knowledge set;
  • Research opponents for appropriate game prep;
  • Be accessible for players to request feedback regarding game play, fitness, rugby IQ, etc.

What we have to offer to you:

  • A seasonal stipend commensurate with experience;
  • An atmosphere of competitive players willing to constantly learn;
  • A large alumni network for professional connections (see “Note” below);
  • A professionally ran club with an active Board of Directors.

If interested, please provide the following to PGHForgeRugby@gmail.com:

  • Professional Resume;
  • Rugby Resume;
  • At least one (1) rugby reference;
  • An explanation of coaching style, strategy, and any additional information you deem necessary to share.

We will be accepting coaching applications throughout the winter months in hopes or hiring a permanent coach for the Spring 2020 season. Interviews will be offered on a rolling basis once appropriate documents are received. We thank you in advance for your interest in coaching our club and look forward to learning about what you can bring to our organization.

Sincerely,

PFRC Coaching Committee

PghForgeRugby@gmail.com

Note: We understand that coaching is a serious commitment and other factors affect your ability to coach. We are ready to supply access to our rugby network within the city if necessary for job placement. Please inform us of what assistance, if anything, you would be looking for from the club.

 

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.

D2 Men Secure Top Seed in Midwest Eastern Conference

Forge Center Craig Williamson carrying the ball against the Cleveland Crusaders.

 

Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA – After this past weekend’s 60 – 5 dominating win over Chicago’s Southside Irish Rugby Club, the Forge D2 Men have finished Midwest league play undefeated, posting an impressive 6 – 0 – 1 record and earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference. With that seed, the Forge are guaranteed home field advantage through the first two rounds of the Midwest Playoffs.

During their first season as a club in the fall of 2018, the club earned a very respectable 5 – 3 record during league play and a birth to the Midwest playoffs as a Wild Card. With that seed, the club traveled more than eleven hours to Cottage Grove, Wisconsin and were handed a humbling 34 – 5 defeat. The next spring spring, determined to better themselves as a side, the Forge participated in the Midwest’s  Thunderbird Elite Cup playing several Division I clubs including Scioto Valley RFC, the Cincinnati Wolfhounds and the Chicago Griffins, earning a 2 – 1 record against those sides. The club’s coaches and captains were hoping that the high-level competition would improve the side’s skills and mental toughness.

The fall league competition would be revamped for the Forge as the teams from upstate New York were replaced with Midwestern sides from the Chicago area; however, the Forge would open the season against a familiar foe, the Cleveland Crusaders. Last season, the Forge would lose both games of the home and away series with the Crusaders by a combined three (3) points. The Crusaders go on to eventually win the coveted Midwest Championship at Division II.

This season, the Forge would be tested early playing the defending Midwest Champs in Cleveland right out of the gate. Thanks to stellar team defensive play and tries from scrumhalf Rous Kluever (PITT) and Sam Angelo (SRU/ IUP), the Forge was able to exact revenge on their rivals to start the season with fantastic 15 – 12 win over the Crusaders on the road. This important win would set the tone for the 2019 fall season.

The next weekend, the Forge would come home to play a new and unfamiliar foe, Lincoln Park Rugby. It was an extremely hot day which evened the playing field as both sides struggled to stay hydrated and move in the heat. In the end, the Forge were able to get tries from Rous Kluever, Alex Gordon (SRU), Frank Cacciotti (Geneva), and Craig Williamson to defeat Lincoln Park by a score of 29 – 20 and improve to 2 – 0 on the young season.

Center Neil Reynolds carries the ball against the Crusader defense. Photo: Cody Fulton

 

On September 21st, the Forge would travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to take on the Impalas. These two clubs met in the spring during the Thunderbird Cup with the Impalas defeating the Forge on home soil in Pittsburgh. The spring game proved chippy and physical and would be the first of match of a budding rivalry between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.

On this day, the Forge would battle hard in a hostile Indiana environment to earn a 26 – 26 draw. Tries were scored by Andrew Chapman, Tyree Massie (Cal U) [2], and Tony Wilson (Woodland Hills HS). With the bonus point for tries scored, the Forge was happy to leave Indiana with three points earned out of a possible five given the circumstance.

To close out September, the Forge would host the Chicago Blaze, another unfamiliar foe from the City by the Lake. The Blaze were 3 – 1 and at the top of the table at the time and would be yet another great test for the Forge men. With tries from Chris Austin, Rous Kluever and Neil Reynolds (UPJ), the Forge would cruise to a 20 – 5 victory and take over first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time with a 3 – 0 – 1 record.

Just two weeks removed from playing the Impalas in Indianapolis, the Forge would host them in Pittsburgh on October 5th. Fresh off the draw from September, the Forge were looking defeat the Impalas handily on home soil. Unfortunately, like most good rivalries, this match would not be so easy. The sides battled back and forth the entire match, with the Indianapolis holding a one-point lead (17- 16) at the half. In the second half, when one side would slot a penalty kick, the other would as well; when one side would find the try zone, the other would as well, too.

With just five minutes remaining, the Forge found themselves down by six (30 – 24) before loose forward Tony Cardamone (SRU) would find the try zone and inject life into his teammates and the home crowd. After the conversion was missed, the Forge were still down by one point (30 – 29), but savvy scrumhalf  Rous Kluever would find the try zone with just one minute remaining to stun the Impalas and secure the win for the Forge. After the Andrew Knuttel (PITT) conversion, the final score read 36 – 30. Knuttel would be named the Man of the Match thanks to his four (4) penalty kicks and two (2) conversions for 16 points on the day. Other tries were scored by flyhalf Tyree Massie and center Billy Gordon (Villanova).

Center Craig Williamson scoring a try between the posts on Forge Day. Photo: Cody Fulton

 

To close out their home schedule, the Forge would host the Cleveland Crusaders to close our their home and away series with playoff implications on the line. After a quick initial score by DC MLR’s Zach Forro to put the Crusaders in the lead early, a try by center Craig Williamson, followed by a conversion and a couple penalty kicks by Andrew Knuttel saw the Forge take a 13 – 5 lead into the half. After Williamson’s second try of the game at the fifty-minute mark (converted by Knuttel), the Forge were flying high with a 20 – 5 lead and time dwindling down on the Crusaders. After a couple of yellow cards gave the Crusaders new life, they would battle back to close the gap to one point (20 – 19) at the seventy-minute mark. Forge prop Christian Mans would extend the lead at seventy-eight minutes, but a try in extra time would give the Crusaders a chance to win the game on the conversion with no time remaining. Thankfully for the Forge, the kick would fall short and the Forge would sweep the season series against the Crusaders by a score of 25 – 24. Similar to last season when the Crusaders swept the Forge by three (3) points, the Forge were able to turn the tables and sweep the Crusaders in 2019 by a total of four (4) points.

To close out league play, the Forge would travel to Chicago to take on the Southside Irish. Neil Reynolds (3), David Ashline (PITT) [2], and Bryce Markwardt (SRU) [2], would all put down multiple tries on the way to a convincing 60 – 5 win. With the victory, the Forge would finish the season with a 6 – 0 – 1 record and secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

This weekend, the Forge will host the number two seeded club from the Chicago sub – league, Lincoln Park Rugby. The game will be held at the Forge’s home pitch at Phillip Murray Field with a 2:00 pm EST kickoff scheduled. The address for Phillip Murray Field is 725 Mountain Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15210. The game will be followed by the Forge’s third side hosting California University of Pennsylvania.

With a victory, the Forge would then host the winner of the other (Eastern Conference) quarter final match between the Cleveland Crusaders and the Chicago Blaze being played in Chicago. The Eastern Conference Championship will be held on Saturday, November 2nd. We welcome all fans of the Forge and Pittsburgh to join us for this weekend’s game, it’s the first senior men’s club playoff game hosted in Pittsburgh in nearly two decades.

Forge Men Excited for Fall 2019 Season

Pittsburgh Forge Men pause for a picture under the goal posts after defeating the Syracuse Chargers to open up league play on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

 

PITTSBURGH, PA – After a long summer off, the Forge Men were thrilled to get back at it in August in their preparations for the fall 2019 season. Coming off 2018 fall season which saw both sides earn playoff berths and a challenging spring campaign, the men were looking forward to growth both in numbers and competitiveness that would allow them to take the next step.

Both Midwest leagues that the Forge compete in experienced some change since last fall. In Division 2, Pittsburgh and Cleveland will no longer play cross-over matches against clubs from upstate New York. Rather, the entire Midwest territory is split into four: North, West, Central, and East. The eastern clubs, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, will play each other twice in a home and away series while playing crossover games with three sides from the Central, predominantly Chicago sides. Two clubs from each league will earn a spot in the playoffs, so the Forge will need to finish ahead of either Cleveland or Indianapolis to earn a playoff berth.

In Division 3, the league was split into Ohio and Pennsylvania (ARU) sub-divisions last season, each with four sides. This allowed home at home series within each club’s union/ state and cross-overs only occurred during the league playoffs. This season, Canton has merged with Akron to eliminate a team from the competition. With only seven sides, the league was consolidated into one league with each team playing one another. Rather than league playoffs, the side at the top of the table at the conclusion of league competition will enter directly into Midwest playoffs.

The D2 men will be challenged right away by traveling to the Midwest Champion Cleveland Crusaders in week one. Last season, the Forge lost to Cleveland in Ohio by a narrow margin of 31 – 29. About a month later, the Forge looked to exact revenge on the Crusaders at home but lost by an even less margin of 32 – 31. This season, with increased knowledge, better conditioning and some different faces, the Forge look to improve upon last year’s performances.

Forge forward Alex Gordon carries the ball against the Cleveland Crusaders. Photo Credit: Kiyomi Knox

 

The D3 men will also open their season on the road when they travel to Mt. Pleasant, PA to take on the Greensburg Maulers. Last season, the Forge swept the season series against the Maulers by an aggregate score of 153 – 24. This first match will be a chance for Coach Allan Murray to get a better look at several new players for the Forge include scrumhalf Francois Deniau and loose forwards Michael Rennie and Zach Seger (RMU), all of which may play a role on the club’s higher side as the season progresses.

The following week, the men will host their first home matches of the season. The D2 side will host Lincoln Park Rugby Club, an unfamiliar foe. Last season, Lincoln Park went 4 – 3 – 1 against western Division 2 sides. On the contrary, the D3 men will host a familiar foe, the South Pittsburgh Hooligans. Last season, the Forge also swept that season series by an aggregate score of 81 – 46. To close out the day, the new D4 developmental side will host a local collegiate side from Point Park University.

On September 21st, the third week of competition, the Forge Men will once again be on the road. The D2 side will travel to Indianapolis to exact revenge on the Impalas. This past spring, as part of the Midwest CR’s Thunderbird Cup, the Forge lost narrowly at home to the impressive Impalas. Indianapolis went 5 – 3 last season in the west and were also a playoff side. The D3 and D4 men will travel to western Cleveland to take on two Rover sides. Last season, in the league playoffs consolation game, the D3 men bested the Rovers by a score of 50 – 20. Both sides will be using D4 as developmental, and this will be the first of a home at home series between the sides in fall 2019.

The Forge will once again return home as September closes out. The D2 side will host the Chicago Blaze, another unfamiliar foe from the central league. Last season the Blaze went 2 – 5 – 1 in western D2 competition. The D3 men will host the Eastern League champions from last season, the Presque Isle Scallywags. Last year, the Forge split the series with the Scallywags. The two sides met in Erie last September with Presque Isle dealing the Forge a humbling loss by the score of 30 – 14. The Forge was able to exact revenge about a month later in Pittsburgh, dealing the Scallywags their only loss of the season by a score of 21 – 17. The club is still searching for a D4 opponent for this weekend.

Forge Center David Gregg attacks the heart of the Hooligan defense.

 

To start October, the Forge will enjoy a few weeks of home cooking. First, on October 5th, the Forge will host the Impalas in the return match of the home at home. With the D3 men off with a bye, the D4 men will enjoy their return match of the home at home series with the Cleveland Rovers. The following weekend will be Forge Day, the club’s annual homecoming celebration. Both the D2 and D3 men will host the Cleveland Crusaders. This will be the return game in the series against the D2 Crusaders while it will be the first time the D3 sides meet since the Crusaders controversially beat the Forge in the league playoffs last year by a score of 38 – 29. The club is currently looking to secure a D4 match that weekend.

The following weekend, both sides will finish up league play the same way it began… on the road. The D2 side will travel to southern Chicago to face the South Side Irish. The Irish were a 1 – 7 club last season in the western league and were bested by the Pittsburgh Rugby Club in their last season of existence in 2017. The D3 men will travel to Ohio to face Akron, who recently inherited the Canton Maddogs. In the spring, the Forge traveled to Akron and played the newly combined Ohio side, losing a back and forth match 51 – 24.

The following weekend will be Midwest Playoffs for the Division 2 side while D3 earns a bye prior to the playoffs. The D4 developmental men will host Penn State – Altoona in a friendly match at Phillip Murray Field. If both D2 and D3 can make it through October, they will play in the Midwest Conference Playoffs scheduled for November 2, 2019. Winners of that round will travel to Chicago, IL on November 9th for the Midwest Championships and the right to represent the Union in the USA Rugby National Playoffs in May.

FORGE MEN FALL 2019 SCHEDULE

Date Division 2 Division 3 Division 4/ Develop
September 7 @ Cle. Crusaders @ Greensburg
September 14 v. Lincoln Park v. South Pitt v. Point Park
September 21 @ Indy Impalas @ Cle. Rovers @ Cle. Rovers
September 28 v. Chicago Blaze v. Presque Isle TBD
October 5 v. Indy Impalas Bye v. Cle. Rovers
October 12* v. Cle. Crusaders v. Cle. Crusaders (D3) TBD
October 19 @ South Side Irish @ Akron
October 26 Midwest Playoffs Bye v. PSU – Altoona
November 2 Midwest Playoffs Midwest Playoffs
November 9 Midwest Championship Midwest Championship

*Denote 2019 Forge Day; games played at White Oak Park. All other games are played at Phillip Murray Field near the South Side.

Forge Women Open Season Against Philadelphia

Forge Women lineup for team photo after their defeat of Buffalo

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – This Saturday, the Forge women begin their second competitive season with a scrimmage in Philadelphia. The women are slated to play against the D1 side of the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Football Club (PWRFC) in what is sure to be a challenging, fast-paced, physical match.

Last fall, during the club’s inaugural season, the Forge women were able to maintain an almost entirely undefeated record. The team lost only to Buffalo Rugby in the second round of the East Gold playoffs.

PWRFC and the Forge have met before. This past spring, the Forge were victorious over the well-established PWRFC in another friendly match. This upcoming scrimmage will be a platform to work out future lineups, positions, and other logistical questions that have pegged the team in the off-season. The team has been fortunate to have many new faces at practice, and this Saturday will give the coaching staff an opportunity to truly gauge the depth of the team.

Morgan Haggerty, a member of the team’s leadership group, expressed her positive outlook on the upcoming match.

“We have a ton of experienced returning players and many promising new players. I am excited to see the potential unfold and it all starts with our first scrimmage this Saturday.”

Mackenzie Dirlam, another member of the team’s leadership group, expressed similar enthusiasm.

“I am just excited to play for and with the amazing group of women we have, and I cannot wait to see what the season holds for us!”

Captain Chelsey Mitchell shares a similar sentiment.

“The team as a whole has a determined mindset that I’m confident will boost the play on the field, friendships off the field, and steer us toward a winning season,” Chelsey stated.

Stay tuned for the results of the upcoming scrimmage. The Forge’s full schedule can be found below:

9/7: Forge @ Philadelphia (non-league)
9/14: Forge @ South Buffalo
9/21: Forge v. Cleveland Iron Maidens
9/28: Forge @ North Buffalo
10/12: Forge v. Buffalo WRFC (Forge Day)
10/19: Forge @ Akron