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Forge Offers Summer Youth Rugby at BGCWPA Carnegie!

CARNEGIE, PA – The Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club is extremely pleased to announce a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania to offer youth rugby programming to campers at the Carnegie location this summer. Current player and alumni volunteers from the Forge will be instructing children ages 5 – 13 every Tuesday and Thursday beginning today, June 11th, through August 15th. This will be the Forge’s first effort in directly facilitating youth rugby programming in addition to currently supporting independent programs in both Moon Township and the North Hills via grants and in-kind donations.

This youth initiative, and all charitable giving, is being managed by the club’s Community Rugby Committee which is directed by Brooke Gawlas, a Community Reinvestment Act Officer for Washington Financial Bank. The committee is dedicated to finding the best ways to reinvest club assets towards the organization’s charitable mission of growing rugby and improving the game in our area. Such initiatives include, but are not limited to, hosting developmental and education clinics for coaches, players, and referees; offering youth and high school rugby programming to area athletes; and financially supporting other area rugby organizations and players through grants and donations.

Speaking specifically regarding the partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, Brooke remarked: “Fostering the growth of participation in Rugby Union is at the forefront of the Pittsburgh Forge’s mission. It is through these volunteer efforts that we are not only able act on our mission, but also give back to the local communities that we call home and support vital organizations like the Boys & Girls Club.”

For more information on this youth program and the Forge Grant Program, please e-mail the club at

Club Member Spotlight: Brittany Marnell

Brittany Marnell playing for the Pittsburgh Highlander Women, carries the ball against the University of Pittsburgh Women in October 2015.


The second spotlight in our Member Spotlight Monday series is a hard-working rugby mom known for her fierce competitiveness on the field and from the sidelines – Brittany Marnell. Brittany, the wife of Club President Bill Marnell, remains a part-time player (especially summer 7’s) while being a full-time mother of two and rugby coach.

Brittany obtained her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education 2011 and her Master’s degree in Special Education in 2012 from California University of Pennsylvania. Brittany, from the South Hills of Pittsburgh, returned home and began teaching at a number of different area schools prior to landing a position Clairton Elementary School; there she teaches 1st Grade.

We were able to catch up with Brittany to chat about her rugby and coaching experiences…

Q. Can you give us a brief introduction and tell us about your playing history and experiences with Pittsburgh Rugby?

A. My name is Brittany Marnell. In addition to being a member of the Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club, I am also the current Head Coach of California University of Pennsylvania Women’s Rugby Club. I began playing rugby in 2007 for Cal U when I was a freshman in college. During my tenure there, which totaled five years in order to earn my Master’s Degree, I played predominantly in the centers for several very talented teams. After graduation, I began playing for the Pittsburgh Highlander Women where I moved from the centers to flyhalf. After playing full-time with the Highlanders for a few years, I took the job as Head Coach of the Cal U Women.

Q. The transition from player to coach seems to be the natural progression for many as they continue their rugby careers. What motivated you to first make this jump?

A. As I played senior rugby, my husband and I decided we wanted to start having children and expand our family. This coincided with Cal U’s women’s coach, Jason Edsall, leaving to take a position on the eastern side of the state. I realized that with a growing family my opportunities to play would be fewer and farther between and what a better way to stay involved with, and give back to rugby, than to coach at my alma mater. It was important to me to remain involved with rugby in some way and this opportunity allowed me to do that while growing my family in Pittsburgh.

Brittany Marnell coaching the California University of Pennsylvania Women’s Club in April 2017.


Q. One of the best things about the sport and community of rugby is that it has so much to offer beyond the outcome of each game. Can you tell us a little about the team(s) you currently coach and the messages you try to instill in your players?

A. During my tenure at Cal U, my girls have accomplished many things. On the field, we’ve earned berths to the NSCRO 7’s National Championships four years in a row, a tremendous accomplishment. Additionally, this past season, the girls also won the ARU NSCRO 15’s championship and we finished third in our region ranking 11th in the country at that level. This on the field success has coincided with tremendous growth off the field, as a club/ organization and my girls have grown as individuals and rugby players. One of the most important messages that I try to instill into all of my players is that rugby is so much more than just a sport. Rugby is a culture, can take you to new places, and bring into your life some amazing people that can become lifelong friends, or even like family. We’ve had several players earn their way to regional and conference select sides that has afforded them the ability to travel all over the country and the opportunity to play at a high level. This includes the Invitational 7’s Tournament in Las Vegas and the College Rugby Championships in Philadelphia. While playing at Cal, and those various select teams, many of my girls made close, lifelong friends that they remain in contact with today. When my husband and I got married, more than half of our wedding party was made up of fellow ruggers who remain like family to us today. This concept is important and something that makes rugby much different than other sports.

Q. It’s easy to look back on our playing careers and pick out the most memorable and rewarding experiences as athletes. What has been the most memorable and rewarding part of your coaching journey?

A. By far, the most rewarding part of my coaching journey has been witnessing the success of my club and several of my individual players. When you teach someone the game and quickly realize the potential that they have as an athlete, that really gets you excited about coaching them. Then when the light bulb goes off and the player begins to realize and utilize their potential, that’s very rewarding to me as a coach. On a team level, we’ve been able to create a culture and atmosphere on our club to the point where young ladies want to join the rugby team and know that we play competitive rugby both in 15’s and 7’s. We are a club  looking to better ourselves on the field of play and in life as well. That has been the most rewarding thing for me… seeing my club and my girls progress forward as players and young adults.

Q. There are a lot of people who might be wary to become involved with rugby beyond stepping on the field as a player. What would you say to someone to encourage them to coach or become involved in some other way?

A. There are so many great and rewarding opportunities available to a person within the rugby community beyond playing. Many players retire from playing due to age, injury, or changing family dynamics. I feel a great, if not the best way, stay involved within the community is to become a referee, coach a side, or administrate at some level. If coaching seems too much or too intimidating at first, signing on as an assistant coach is a great way to get your feet wet. From an administration standpoint, being involved with your local senior side and serving on a committee or board is also a great way to get started before totally diving in. Just because you aren’t able to continue playing doesn’t mean you’re done serving and growing the game!

Forge Offers Free Summer Fitness & Touch

Senior Men’s Player Billy Gordon finds a lane against South Pittsburgh at the 2018 Steel City 7’s Tournament in Wexford, PA.


PITTSBURGH, PA – In accordance with the Pittsburgh Forge’s stated mission to offer rugby programming to all athletes in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, the club is pleased to announce free co-ed fitness and touch 7’s this summer for all interested persons over the age of 18.

The training and touch sessions will be held at the club’s game day pitch located at Phillip Murray Park just behind Arlington Elementary School near Pittsburgh’s Southside. The fitness training sessions will be rugby focused and begin around 6:15 pm every Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesdays, the training will be led by a member of our senior women’s side while on Thursday, the training will be led by a member of the senior men’s side. The training will run approximately 45 minutes to an hour until co-ed touch 7’s begins shortly after 7:00 pm.

Senior Women’s Player Brooke Gawlas carries the ball at the 2018 Steel City 7’s Tournament.

Last summer, the Forge was thrilled to average 50 – 60 participants for each session of co-ed touch 7’s. Often the club needed to set up multiple fields to accommodate 6 or so teams playing each night. In addition to being attended by current Forge players, the sessions were also attended by other area senior clubs, Forge men and women’s alumni, and a number of collegiate players home for the summer. Last season, the Forge charged $20 for all participants, but this season, thanks to the generosity of the club and the Pittsburgh Public School District, the Tuesday/Thursday fitness and touch sessions will be free of charge.

For any players interested in participating in Summer 7’s Tournaments this year, they should attend a touch session and get in touch with men and women’s side leadership. Both the men and women plan on attending a number of regional social tournaments including Rock ‘N Roll 7’s in Cleveland, Hall of Fam 7’s in Canton,  and of course, the Forge’s own tournament, Steel City 7’s, on July 20th. There will be a cost for each player planning to attend any of these tournaments and some additional training may be held the week leading up to each tournament.

For more information regarding the club’s free fitness and touch 7’s programming, or information regarding our Summer 7’s Tournament schedule, please contact the club or visit our Facebook page.


Club Member Spotlight: Jaime Filipek

Jaime making an impressive break on attack as the Angels take on NOVA in 2015.


The first spotlight in our new Member Spotlight Monday series is a well-known figure in the Pittsburgh rugby community and has been a longtime member of our rugby family – Jaime Filipek. Jaime, also called “Boo” by those who’ve shared the field with her, is most well-known for her never-quit attitude and infectious love of the game.

Jaime obtained her undergraduate degree from West Virginia University in 2007, and having grown up in the Pittsburgh area, returned home to obtain her Master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh. She has been working at PUMP since 2013 and is currently serving as their Program Development Manager.

She suffered what would have been a career ending injury during the 2015-2016 season with the Angels, and after taking the necessary time to rest and recover, spent a year as their Head Coach during the final season for the team. In 2018, the Forge women were lucky to have Jaime come out of retirement to take the field with them during their first season as a new club.

We were able to catch up with Jaime to chat about her rugby experiences and hear about a neat event she organized coming up in June – here’s what she had to say!

Q. Can you give us a brief introduction and tell us about your playing experience with Pittsburgh Rugby?
A. My first experience with Pittsburgh Rugby was when the Angels coached my high school rugby team – Schenley – beginning in 1999. I couldn’t wait to come back and play with them after high school and college! I started playing for the Angels in 2007 when I moved back to Pittsburgh from WVU and played with them through the Spring of 2016. During that time, I was privileged to act as Captain from Fall 2009 through Spring 2016. We were fortunate to be very competitive during that time and in addition to winning two National Championships we also placed 2nd in two National Championship Competitions and 3rd in two National Championship Competitions. I came out of retirement to play with the Forge for their inaugural season and have had a blast playing again!

Q. You’ve had a pretty impressive journey since you started playing rugby when you were younger. When you picked up a ball the first time, did you ever think rugby would shape your life as it has?
A. My first game was so confusing so probably not! It was the first ever U-19 women’s game in Western PA. We got the hang of it pretty quickly though and I really fell in love with the sport! We got to do some cool trips to play throughout the Midwest since we ended up having a pretty solid high school team and I think that helped to hook me too, as I had a chance to really experience some of the rugby culture.

Q. How have your experiences with rugby shaped the message you try to share with others through your work with Pittsburgh Sports League and the PUMP program?
A. I passionately believe that rugby, and all sports, have the capacity to enrich our souls and build our confidence and self-esteem. It is so organic in a team setting that you don’t even realize the impact that it is having on other parts of your life. It builds character to be on a team and that character makes you better at your job and in your personal life. My job with PUMP and the PSL is basically to make sure that people have an opportunity to play and that when come out they have fun. Rugby has taught me a lot about the gratitude and simplicity that it is to be able to compete as an adult in recreational sports. It gives people a healthy outlet to be present, fit and to experience new areas of Pittsburgh, and new people. I would never have had the opportunity to apply for my job without rugby, and I wouldn’t have my best friends in life without rugby. It has absolutely helped to mold me into the person I am, and I try to share that passion in my job, with new ruggers and in PUMPed to Run.

Jaime posing with her PUMPed to Run group, a weekday morning running group composed of residents of local homeless shelters and volunteer mentor runners.


Q. You have an upcoming event on June 9th – can you tell us a little about it?
A. On June 9th at 8:00 am we have a 5k that benefits our PUMPed to Run program. PUMPed to Run works in local area homeless shelters to give marginalized populations in Pittsburgh the opportunity to exercise with a team mentality. PUMPed to Run has been a passionate program that I helped develop in 2016 and have continued to lead ever-since! Proceeds for the 5k go to purchasing running shoes and gear for all participants so there are no barriers to their athletic desires, and they can compete safely. The 5k will take place in Highland Park. All registrants will receive a t-shirt, fruit, water and baked goods. You can register for the event here.

Q. Are there any ways for people to become involved or support your program in addition to registering to participate in the upcoming 5K?
A. We are always looking for mentors to run with our participants. We also always need new or lightly used clothing and running shoes – we are in special need of XL and larger sizes currently. You can learn more about those opportunities here.

Q. If there was someone who might be considering joining rugby for the first time or any other fitness or exercise activity but is nervous about it, what piece of advice would you share with them?
A. To try and relax and enjoy it! It’s okay to have no idea what is going on, I think just going for it and avoiding hesitation will set people up for success. Knowledge of the game will come and ask questions – it is the best way to learn! Especially with rugby, everyone is eager to help and welcome new players to the game.

Social Media Links

D2 Men Upset Scioto Valley in Obetz

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


OBETZ, OH – This past Saturday, the Forge D2 men traveled to the beautiful Fortress Obetz, just outside Columbus, Ohio to take on the Division 1 side of Scioto Valley, the Columbus Rugby Club. This was the Forge’s first match in this year’s Midwest Rugby Union Thunderbird Cup Premiership, and a re-match of last August’s pre-season match at Founder’s Field. The Midwest Thunderbird Cup is a non-league competition that pits Midwest sides against one another that wouldn’t normally compete in fall league competition. The Premiership is the elite competition, with a mix of Division 1 and top-tier Division 2 sides.

The weather was perfect for rugby with a mix of clouds and sun and very comfortable temperature of approximately seventy degrees for the 2:00 PM kickoff. From the onset, Columbus came out flying and put pressure on the Forge right out of the gate. Just five minutes in, the Forge would give up a penalty try due to a high tackle that unfortunately resulted in a quick seven point lead for the home side. A few minutes later, Columbus would strike for another converted try to go up 14 – 0 at the ten minute mark.

Down by two scores, the Forge were able to regroup, led by their eightman, Tony Cardamone (SRU). Tony would score the Forge’s first points of the day, powering for a try at the twelve minute mark. Andrew Knuttel (PITT) would had the tough conversion to cut the Columbus lead to seven.

After three tries in the first twelve minutes of the game, the defenses of each team began to tighten up. The Forge’s defense was led by outside center Neil Reynolds (UPJ) and flanker Alex Gordon (SRU). It would take another several minutes, and many phases from the Forge to secure their second score of the day, a thirty five-meter penalty kick off the boot of Knuttel at the twenty-five minute mark to close the gap, 14 – 10. After the score, the Forge would maintain possession and continue to test the Scioto defense. At thirty-five minutes, the Forge were able to take advantage of numbers out wide and spring fullback Billy Gordon (Villanova) into the try-zone for the Forge’s first lead of the day. Knuttel would miss the conversion, but the Forge would see their first lead well into the first half, 15 – 14. To close out the half, Knuttel would hit another penalty kick, this time from forty-meters out, to increase the Forge lead to four, 18 – 14, at the half.

The second half would begin much like the first, with Columbus putting on pressure and scoring early. Just six minutes in, Columbus would spring for a converted try and retake the lead 21 – 18. Just minutes later, they would add another try, under the posts, but the Scioto kicker would miss the easy kick, giving Columbus a narrow eight point lead, 26 – 18, with plenty of time remaining in the game.

Knuttel would miss an opportunity to cut into the lead when his penalty kick would sail right at fifty-five minutes, but also like the first half, the Forge were able to keep the ball in their hands and apply pressure on Scioto Valley. After threatening for several minutes, lock Brandon Benvenuti, playing great on both sides of the ball, was able to find flanker David Ashline (PITT) for a try near the touch line at the sixty-five minute mark. Knuttel would miss the conversion before exiting the game a few minutes later with a head injury. With the deficit down to just three points, 26 – 23, the Forge kept battling for the ball and kept heat on Columbus.

After a try was called back for a Forge player stepping into touch, Pittsburgh was able to make a fantastic play on the ensuing Scioto Valley lineout and once again Ashline was open for the clutch try at the seventy-three minute mark. Scrumhalf Rousseau Kluever (PITT) would miss the conversion, but the Forge had the lead back, albeit narrow, 28 – 26.

The Forge would play a possession game for the last several minutes to attempt to close out the game. While the Forge were able to mostly maintain possession, Scioto Valley was able to regain the ball and threaten with only a few moments remaining. As they drove down, Tony Cardamone was once again able to show his value to the club by drawing a much needed penalty for not releasing just as Scioto Valley was crossing into Forge territory. With the change of possession, Kluever was able to find touch with his boot on the next play and cement the Forge upset over the Division 1 Scioto Valley. This week, the Forge’s top side will host another Midwest Division 1 club, the Cincinnati Wolfhounds at White Oak Park  in Pittsburgh.


First XV: 1 – Derek Neubauer, 2 – Andrew Knuttel, 3 – Frank Cacciotti, 4 – Andrew Chapman, 5 – Brandon Benvenuti, 6 – David Ashline, 7- Alex Gordon, 8 – Tony Cardamone, 9 – Rousseau Kluever (C), 10 – Tyree Massie, 11 – Julyan Jenkins, 12 – Josh Robertson, 13 – Neil Reynolds, 14 – Bryce Markwardt, 15 – Billy Gordon

Reserves: 16 – Percy Taylor, 17 – Lance Reaghard, 18 – Tim Bagatti, 19 – Yhong Thepboon

Substitutions: 50’ – Taylor for Neubauer (TC), 55’ – Bagatti for A. Gordon (IJ), Reaghard for Chapman (TC), 68’ – Thepboon for Knuttel (IJ)

Discipline: None

Referee: Unknown, Midwest Rugby Referee Society



Tries: Ashline (2), T. Cardamone (1), B. Gordon (1)

Conversions: Kluever (0/1), Knuttel (1/3)

Penalty Kicks: Knuttel (2/3)

Man of the Match:  Andrew Knuttel


D3 Men Show Promise, But Fall to Akron/Canton

AKRON, OH – While the D2 men were in western Ohio taking on Scioto Valley, the D3 men traveled with sixteen players to the University of Akron to take on a split squad of Akron and Canton Rugby. After being shut out in the first half, the Forge D3 men were able to dot down three tries and hit an impressive drop kick in the second half while showing a great deal of improvement and promise. Final score Akron/Canton 51 – Forge 24.This upcoming weekend, the D3 men will host a split squad of Greensburg Rugby Club and Cincinnati Wolfhounds (D3) at White Oak Park following the Premiership match.


First XV: 1 – Duc Cao, 2 – Brett Albrecht, 3 – Jason Edsall, 4 – Eric Kress, 5 – Bill Marnell, 6 – Julian Randall, 7 – Nick Hebert, 8 – Charlie Cross, 9 – Steven Joachim, 10 – Al Cochran, 12 – Blayze Richardson, 13 – Cory Hushon, 14 – Tama Galu, 15 – Nick Cardamone

Reserves: 16 – Robert Gregg

Substitutions: Various

Discipline: None

Referee: Unknown, Ohio Rugby Union Referee Society



Tries: Randall (1), Richardson (2)

Conversions: Cochran (3/3)

Drop Kick: Cochran (1)

Man of the Match:  Al Cochran

Forge Men Play Up to D1 Competition this Spring

Captain and Forge scrumhalf Rous Kluever looks for touch against the Cleveland Crusaders on Forge Day; Saturday, October 13, 2018. Photo Credit: Kiyomi Knox


PITTSBURGH, PA – After a tremendously successful fall 2018 season, the Forge Men look to continue to play up and improve. Both men’s sides were very competitive within their respective divisions as the D2 side made it to the Midwest Competition Region Semi-Finals in Madison, Wisconsin and the D3 side earned a 6 – 2 record during league play and made the D3 East League playoffs.

Due to that on-field success, the Forge were invited to participate in the Midwest Competition Region’s Thunderbird Cup Premiership this spring which will pit many of the union’s Division 1 and top tier Division 2 clubs against one another in a structured spring league. In addition to the Forge, top tier sides that made last fall’s D2 playoffs were invited including: the Indianapolis Impalas, Wisconsin Rugby Club, and the eventual Midwest Champion, the Cleveland Crusaders.

The Thunderbird Cup will afford the Forge the opportunity to play three (3) Midwest D1 sides in addition to Indianapolis. Outside of that competition, the Forge’s first side will also play former Mid-Atlantic D1 side, Wilmington RFC later in the spring. New club Match Secretary Bryce Markwardt also followed suit when scheduling the Forge’s second side as well. He scheduled three (3) matches against Division 2 competition and a final match against the Columbus Castaways, a perennial Midwest D3 powerhouse.

The Forge will open the spring competition schedule on Saturday, March 30th when they send one, split squad to take on Phoenixville White Horse. Phoenixville fields two competitive sides at D2 and D4 in the Mid-Atlantic Competitive Region and are former Division 3 Mid-Atlantic Champions from 2018. This past fall was their first at Division 2 where they currently maintain a record of 3- 4.

The following weekend, the Forge will open Thunderbird Cup play as they travel to Obetz, OH, just outside Columbus, to take on the Columbus Rugby Club. Last fall, these two clubs played one another in an early August match that saw Columbus defeat the Forge at Founder’s Field by a score of 19 – 14. The Forge are looking forward to playing at the Fortress Obetz, one of the premier rugby pitches in the country and exacting revenge on their friends from Scotio Valley. The Forge D3 men will also be on the road, heading to Akron for a friendly match.

Forge Center David Gregg attacks the heart of the Hooligan defense. Photo Credit: Kiyomi Knox


On April 13, the Forge will play their spring home opener as they host the Cincinnati Wolfhounds in Thunderbird Cup competition. The Wolfhounds are another Midwest Division 1 club who will be eager to defeat their second Pittsburgh side within a year. The Forge D3 men will also be hosting the Lehigh Valley Hooligans, who much like White Horse, were Mid-Atlantic D3 Champions in 2017 before being promoted to Division 2.

The Club will be taking a bye week over Easter Weekend before playing again socially on April 27th. A large contingent of Forge players will be playing on the Slippery Rock Old Boys Side (SLOBS) at the university’s annual “Rugbyfest” while some other players will travel to Lawrence County to play in the tournament on a social Forge side. Competitive play will resume on May 4th when the Club hosts the Indianapolis Impalas and Washington Rugby Club at Phillip Murray Field. Indianapolis was a Midwest D2 Semi-Finalist team like the Forge, losing to the eventual Midwest champion, the Cleveland Crusaders. Washington Rugby Club is another Mid-Atlantic Division 2 side whom Pittsburgh traveled to and defeated in the spring of 2017.

The following weekend may be the Forge’s most challenging of the season. Both sides will travel to Chicago, Illinois to take on the Chicago Griffins’ first and second sides. The Griffins, who are a very strong Division 1 program, boast a 6 – 2 fall record, good enough to sit tied atop the Midwest D1 standings. As mentioned above, the Forge D3 men will take on the Griffins D2 side as well.

Pittsburgh Forge Men discussing half time adjustments against the Greensburg Maulers. Photo Credit: Florence Griffin


To close out the season, the Forge will return home to take on Wilmington Rugby Club and the Columbus Castaways at Phillip Murray. Wilmington is another Mid-Atlantic D2 side who was recently relegated from Division 1 competition. The Forge D3 men will host the Columbus Castaways who annually compete in the Midwest D3 playoffs. That will be an excellent test for the Forge’s second side to go against one of the league’s best Division 3 clubs over the past several cycles.

Indoor training will begin on Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Greentree Sportsplex just outside the City. Training sessions will be held every Thursday night in March from 9:30 PM – 11:00 PM. Once the weather breaks, the club will return to Kennard Field in the Hill District for training every Tuesdays and Thursday evening from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM. The club expects to begin training at Kennard on Tuesday, April 2nd. See the club’s calendar for specific training information.

Any interested in joining the club this spring season should e-mail us at


Date Forge D2 Men Forge D3 Men
March 30 at Phoenixville White Horse (D2)
April 6 at Columbus Rugby Club (D1) at Akron Rugby Club
April 13 v. Cincinnati Wolfhounds (D1) v. Lehigh Valley Hooligans
April 27 at Slippery Rock Rugbyfest (Social)
May 4 v. Indianapolis Impalas (D2) v. Washington Rugby Club
May 11 at Chicago Griffins (D1) at Chicago Griffins (D2)
May 18 v. Wilmington Rugby Club v. Columbus Castaways (D3)

The Forge Elects Inaugural Board of Directors

PITTSBURGH, PA – This past Saturday, the Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the American Serbian Club in Pittsburgh’s Southside. This was the organization’s first formal meeting since the merger of Pittsburgh Rugby Club and the Pittsburgh Highlanders took place in April of last year.

In addition to formally approving the Club’s Bylaws and Budget for 2019, the Club also elected its’ inaugural Board of Directors after being managed by an interim-board for the past year; the interim-board was comprised of both merging clubs’ officers. Moving into 2019, the Forge will be managed by a nine-person formal Board of Directors consisting of a Club President & CEO, a Club Treasurer & CFO, aClub Secretary & COO, a Director of Men’s Rugby, a Director of Women’s Rugby and four (4) Independent Directors with some degree of independence from the organization.

President & CEO: Bill Marnell

Bill Marnell, a Risk Officer with Dollar Bank, was elected the Forge’s first President and Chief Executive Officer. Bill has been playing and administrating rugby in the Pittsburgh area for the past fifteen years. He is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania where he began playing rugby in 2004 while earning a Bachelors and Masters in Business Administration; Bill still serves as the Head Coach of the Men’s Rugby program there. He played for the Pittsburgh Highlanders from 2011 until the merger, and served as the Highlander’s President from 2012 until 2017. In addition to coaching, Bill also serves as the Secretary of the Midwest Territorial Union and on the Midwest’s Competition Committee as the Men’s D3 Commissioner and Eastern League Coordinator. Additionally, Bill serves USA Rugby as the Secretary of the National Competition Committee.

Olivia Lindsey, a Wealth Servicing Associate at The Coury Firm in downtown Pittsburgh, was elected to remain the Treasurer (and Chief Financial Officer) of the Club after serving in that capacity on an interim basis for the past year.  Olivia obtained her Bachelors of Science degree at Penn State University where she began her rugby career in 2009. While there, Olivia went on to win four (4) National Championships while serving as the Treasurer in 2011 and President in 2012. After graduating, Olivia moved to Pittsburgh and began playing for the Pittsburgh Angels where she was elected the co-captain of the Club for two years and then the Treasurer in 2018.

Secretary & COO: Billy Gordon

Billy Gordon was elected the Club Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. Billy works as a Civil Associate for Michael Baker International’s Bridge Design Division. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering at Villanova University where he began playing rugby in 2012. Billy served as the club’s captain during his junior and senior years as well as serving as the President in 2015. During this time, Billy oversaw the programs promotion to Division I. After graduating, Billy returned to Pittsburgh and began playing for the Pittsburgh Rugby Club, serving as the men’s Match Secretary for a number of years.

In December, the Forge Men’s side elected Neil Reynolds to represent them on the Board of Directors. Neil received his Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from Duquesne University in 2015 after earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 2010. Neil began playing rugby at UPJ in 2007 where he served two years as Vice President. After moving to Pittsburgh for school, Neil began playing for the Pittsburgh Highlanders where he served a number of years as Captain and Vice President before being elected President of the Club in 2017.

Director: Kirsten Andrews (left) with Treasurer & CFO: Olivia Lindsey (right).

At the women’s team meeting in mid-January, Kirsten Andrews, a Counselor at the Office of Vocation Rehabilitation, was elected to represent the women’s players on the Board of Directors. Kirsten earned a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh where she began playing rugby in 2009. While there, she served the club as the Secretary from 2011 until 2013. After graduation, Kirsten began playing for the Pittsburgh Angels were she was elected the Women’s Convener in 2016 and served until the merger this year.

Dr. Sam Akhavan was selected to serve on the Forge’s Board as an Independent Director. Dr. Akhavan is an esteemed sports medicine physician for Allegheny Health Network (AHN), the official medical partner of USA Rugby’s senior national teams. Dr. Akhavan accompanied the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2015, and has served as the head match physician of the USA Rugby Seven tournament for the past several years. Dr. Akhavan also directs the orthopedic sports medicine fellowship and orthopedic research program at Allegheny General Hospital and is the medical director for the Pittsburgh Riverhound’s soccer training academy. Dr. Sam has assisted the Pittsburgh Rugby Club and then the Pittsburgh Forge as a game day physician for the past several years.

Men’s Director Neil Reynolds (center) with Director Dr. Sam Akhavan (second from right).


The Club also selected Rebecca Trapp to serve on the Board of Directors. Rebecca is currently the interim-Head Coach for Youngstown State Univeristy’s Women’s Rugby where she’s served as an assistant coach since the program’s inception. Additionally, Rebecca serves as the Head Coach of the Allegheny Rugby Union’s (ARU) Women’s Select Side Program. Rebecca’s rugby career spans nearly two decades with most of that time being spent playing for the Pittsburgh Angels where she won two Senior Women’s D2 National Championships and also in Canada.

Gary Lobaugh, an External Affairs Manager for Pennsylvania American Water, was also selected to serve on the Board. Gary has a rugby career also spans nearly two decades, beginning at Allegheny College in 1991. Gary played most of his rugby with the Westmoreland Highlanders where he served as President for several years in addition to playing all over the country. Later, Gary served as the ARU’s President from 2003 – 2008 before moving to regional and national rugby governance. Gary served as the Secretary of the Midwest for a number of years before focusing on club competition. Since 2013, Gary has managed Midwest Competitions while serving on USA Rugby’s National Competitions Committee. Additionally, Gary served as a senior club representative to Congress for USA Rugby from 2011 until 2018.

Director: Des O’Connor
Finally, the Club selected Desmond O’Connor to fill the final Independent Director role. Des is currently the Chief Operating Officer for AKM Productions/ Kontent Core. Des moved to Pittsburgh from Ireland and bagan playing rugby for the Pittsburgh Rugby Club in the 1980’s. In 1993, Des earned a Master’s of Science in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University. From 1999 until 2003, Des served as the President of the Allegheny Rugby Union.

Donate to Help Forge on their Playoff Runs

To our alumni, supporters, and friends –

In our first season as an organization, we’ve already experienced a tremendous amount of on-the-field and off-the-field success. Thanks to our dedicated players, coaches, sponsors, supporters and alumni, we’ve been able to unite like-minded rugby enthusiasts throughout western Pennsylvania and create something new to grow the sport we love in the city that we love.

While we’ve asked a tremendous amount from you already, we once again ask you to support our club. We are proud to say that both our men and women’s sides have secured places in the Midwest Competition Region playoffs, and we’ll need all the help we can get from you to get there.

Pittsburgh Forge Women after their defeat of the Columbus Squirrels in the first round of Midwest Playoffs on Saturday, October 27th, 2018.


On Saturday, November 10th, our women’s side will be hosting a tough Buffalo Women’s Rugby Club in the MCR D2 Women’s Conference Final. With a win, the women will travel the following weekend to Lemont, IL (just outside Chicago) for the Midwest Championship and perhaps a birth in the USA Rugby National Championships in May.

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.


Also on Saturday, November 10th, our men’s D2 side will be traveling to Cotton Grove, WI (just outside Madison) to take on a tough Wisconsin Rugby Club in the MCR D2 Men’s Semi-Final match. With a win, the men would also travel the following weekend to Lemont, IL for the Midwest Championship and a potential birth to the USA Rugby Nationals.

Please consider donating to our club to assist with travel for our playoff bound sides. If you would rather donate through other means, feel free to contact the club to organize. As a federally registered 501c3 non-profit organization, some donations can be considered tax deductible. We are happy to supply a receipt of your donation upon request.

Thanks in advance,
The Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Forge Rugby Club

Help Here on our Donations Page

D3 Men Drop Wild Game in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, OH – After six weeks of league play, the D3 men found themselves in second place in the Allegheny sub-league of the Midwest Eastern League. The top two clubs from both Allegheny and Ohio would have a shot to win the league and earn a spot in the Midwest Playoffs on November 10th and 11th. While earning a number one seed would have been ideal, failing to score a bonus point in their match against Presque Isle afforded the Scallywags the right to host the game and forced the Forge on the road to the east side of Cleveland.

The Crusaders would open the scoring at the five-minute mark with an unconverted try only to be answered quickly by the Forge with an unconverted try of their own. Talented winger Yhong Thepboon, on a bit of a hot streak as of late, found some space to the outside to tie the game, but flyhalf Al Cochran (PITT) was unable to convert the kick and give the Forge the early lead. Both clubs would then go on to play twenty minutes of hotly contested rugby before the Crusaders would expand their narrow lead.

At twenty seven minutes, the Crusaders would jot down a converted try, followed by another converted try at thirty four minutes. Just two minutes later, at thirty-six minutes, the Crusaders would add their third consecutive converted try to expand their lead to 26 – 5 as the half was coming to a close.

With just a few moments remaining in said half, the Forge was on the attack, driving the ball deep into the Crusader defensive zone. A turnover afforded the Crusaders possession and they kicked the ball into touch to take the heat out of a hot kitchen. At that point the referee blew the whistle to stop time and afford an injury minute to a downed Percy Taylor (Woodland Hills) while the Crusaders retired to their sideline for what they assumed was half. As play resumed, the Forge executed an uncontested lineout and scrumhalf Nick Cardamone (SRU) darted down the field towards the Crusader goal-line as Cleveland began to realize what was happening.

From the Crusader bench attacked an un-uniformed Crusader reserve player to make a try-saving tackle on Cardamone as the Forge scrambled to support their teammate while being confused as to what was occurring. Amidst the chaos, the referee finally blew the whistle to stop the play and calm the situation down. After a long deliberation, a penalty try was awarded to the Forge, but no cards were issued for the ineligible player, much to the protest of Forge captain Justin McCallister (SRU) and the assigned assistant referee. The score at half read Crusaders 26 – Forge 12.

The Forge opened up the scoring to begin the second half with an excellently executed drop goal from the boot of flyhalf Al Cochran. This brought the Forge to within two scores with thirty-five minutes still to play. Just a few minutes later, however, the Crusaders would add another try to extend their lead back to 16. The Forge coaching staff attempted to jump start the club with some fresh legs, bringing on powerful forward Blayze Richardson (Cal U) on for Dan Andrus and speedy utility player Bryce Markwardt (SRU) on for David Gregg (IUP). The spark seemed to be effective as the Forge were able to battle down the field and spring talented winger Jurnee Wilson (Cal U) for a try at fifty-minutes. After the conversion kick by Cochran, the lead was cut to nine points once again.

After the try, the Forge bench and assistant referee were once again astonished when the reserve player that made the illegal tackle to conclude the first half was permitted into the game as a substitution at the fifty minute mark of the second half. Again, protests to the referee were waived off. With precious time ticking away, Forge winger Nate Hoellman, on for Jurnee Wilson, would touch down a try at the sixty-seven minute mark, and after the conversion kick from Cochran, the lead was down to only two.

The Forge would battle hard to take the lead, but ultimately, the Crusaders would score one final converted try at seventy-eight minutes to seal the game and earn the right to continue to strive towards the Midwest Playoffs. Final score read Crusaders 39 – Forge 29.



First XV: 1 – Justin McCallister (C), 2 – Brett Albrecht, 3 – Dan Andrus, 4 – Roy Wotring, 5 – Lance Reaghard, 6 – Nick Eritz, 7 – Percy Taylor, 8 – David Gregg, 9 – Nick Cardamone, 10 – Al Cochran, 11 – Jurnee Wilson, 12 – Stephan Patterson, 13 – Corey Jacobs, 14 – Yhong Thepboon, 15 – Devin Zangaro

Reserves: 16 – Ben Carozza, 17 – Paxton Thomas, 18 – Charlie Cross, 19 – Bryce Markwardt, 20 – Stephen Jochim, 21 – Mike Franzone, 22 – Nate Hoellman, 23 – Blayze Richardson

Substitutions: 49’ – Richardson for Andrus (TC), 50’ – Markwardt for Gregg (TC), 59’ – Hoellman for Wilson (TC), 62’ – Jochim for Cardamone (TC)

Discipline: None

Referee: Sam Naish, ORRS



Tries: Hoellman (2), Team Penalty Try (1), Thepboon (3), J.Wilson (2)

Conversions: Cochran (2/3)
Drop Goal: Cochran (1/1)

Man of the Match: Stephan Patterson (3)


No photos taken.

D2 Men Keep Playoff Hopes Alive at Home

Flanker Alex Gordon setting down his fourth try of the season against the Rochester Aardvarks on Saturday, October 20, 2018.


PITTSBURGH, PA – After a disappointing loss the week prior, the D2 men looked to keep themsleves in the Midwest playoff hunt by exacting some revenge on the Rochester Aardvarks at home. In their previous meeting on September 22nd, the Aardvarks squeaked past the Forge in Rochester by a score of 31 – 27.

On a sunny, but cool afternoon in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Forge kicked off to Rochester to begin the contest. After a few minutes, a Rochester winger was able to open the scoring with a try, a conversion and later a penalty kick to give the Aardvarks a quick 10 – 0 lead at the eleven-minute mark of the game. Just one minute later, Andrew Knuttel (PITT) would get the Forge on the board with a penalty kick of his own followed by a nice try by powerful lock Sam Angelo (SRU/IUP). That try would go unconverted by Knuttel, but bring the Forge back to within two points at the seventeen-minute mark.

At twenty-minutes, Alex Gordon (SRU) would have a nice carry and dot down his fourth try of the campaign followed by a Knuttel conversion. Gordon would continue to have a stellar game off the score sheet on his way earning his second Man of the Match distinction this season. Two injuries, first to forward Cody Fulton and then to fullback Billy Gordon (Villanova) would bookend a nice break away try by center Patrick Dobbins (UPJ) followed by a tough earned try from forward Tony Cardamone (SRU) to end the half. The Forge would take a 17-point lead into the break.

Center Patrick Dobbins on his way to scoring his first try of the day against the Aardvarks.


The second half would begin with the Forge conceding a penalty try to Rochester seeing front row player Frank Cacciotti (Geneva) being sent off with a yellow card. Playing a man down would not slow down the Forge, however, as scrumhalf and team captain Rous Kluever (PITT) was able to score his team leading eighth try of the season at the forty-seven minute mark. This was followed by Sam Angelo’s second try of the day at the fifty-minute mark.

Utility back Josh Robertson (SRU), on for the injured Billy Gordon, would add his second try of the season, the kicked converted by Knuttel, followed by Patrick Dobbins’ second try of the match, that kick also converted, but this time by Kluever. At sixty-minutes, the Forge held a commanding 55 – 22 lead over the Aardvarks.

Coach Stephen Walsh would bring on elusive forward Brandon Benvenuti in for Knuttel at sixty-minutes as well as high flying winger Eric David for Julyan Jenkins. Rochester would set down a try at sixty-two minutes before Benvenuti would dot down his second try of the season off a nice pick ‘n go near the goal-line. To close out the scoring for the Forge, flyhalf Tyree Massie (Cal U) would set down his second try of the season, converted by Kluever, before Rochester would get a bonus point, converted try just before the last whistle. Final score read Pittsburgh 67 – Rochester 36.



First XV: 1 – Derek Neubauer, 2 – Andrew Knuttel, 3 – Frank Cacciotti, 4 – Sam Angelo, 5 – Cody Fulton, 6 – David Ashline, 7- Alex Gordon, 8 – Tony Cardamone, 9 – Rous Kluever (C), 10 – Tyree Massie, 11 – Julyan Jenkins, 12 – Patrick Dobbins, 13 – Trevor Keough, 14 – Tony Wilson, 15 – Billy Gordon

Reserves: 16 – Kyle Franklin, 17 – Josh Robertson, 18 – Jackson Allan, 19 – Brandon Benvenuti, 20 – Eric David

Substitutions: 22’ – Frankin for Fulton (IJ), 31’ – Robertson for B. Gordon (IJ), 60’ – Benvenuti for Knuttel (IJ), David for Jenkins (TC), 70’ – Jackson for Cacciotti (TC)

Discipline: Frank Cacciotti – Yellow

Referee: Dan Houlihan, ARURS



Tries: Angelo (3, 4), Benvenuti (2), T. Cardamone (3), Dobbins (2, 3), A. Gordon (4), Kluever (8), Massie (2), Robertson (2)

Conversions: Kluever (2/3), Knuttel (5/7)

Man of the Match:  Alex Gordon (2), [co] David Ashline (1)


Photo Credits: Nicole Beswick

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