National Small College Rugby Organization LLC: Latest News: NSCRO Men's National Championship - St. John's Repeats with Win over New England College

SJU 2014 National Champion
2014 NSCRO National Champion - St. John's University - Photo by Marc Williams
Wednesday, April 30
NSCRO Men's National Championship - St. John's Repeats with Win over New England College

Written by Steve Cohen, NSCRO President

- Glendale, Colorado - April 26-27

The 2014 NSCRO Men’s Small College National Championship kicked off at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO – Rugbytown USA - on Saturday afternoon under blue skies and 70 degrees. With one of the largest crowds (over 1000) ever to attend a collegiate event at Infinity Park present...something was "in the air" at this Mile High pitch. Was it the atmosphere of the setting, the screams of the fans or just the total preparation of the 4 teams that resulted in every match being an exciting one? I suspect it was a combination of all that led to great tries, sound defense, inspired play, amazing comebacks and more treated the fans to the best of small college rugby. A total of 303 points was scored in 4 matches.

The last 13 minutes of the Championship final belonged to St. John’s University and at the final whistle…they stood on top as the 2014 NSCRO National Champion with a 37-25 win over New England College. In the 3rd place match, the University of Denver pulled away late to secure a 45-31 win over Mount St. Mary's University. In Saturday's semifinals, St. John's came from behind to beat Denver 42-33, while New England College held off a strong second half comeback by Mount St. Mary's to win 54-36. 

The live web streaming production at Infinity Park was first-class with outstanding match commentators in Dallen Stanford and Ray Viers supported by the use of high definition cameras and a high speed internet connection which provided the finest coverage ever seen in collegiate rugby in this country. With nearly 2600 unique streaming connections, it is estimated that well over 10,000 fans watched the NSCRO Championship during the week. In one case at a school auditorium, a large screen was used for over 100 fans in attendance.

The pathway to the NSCRO National Championship began last September and has winded its way down to the ‘best of the best’ – the top 4 small college rugby clubs in the country. With 215 colleges participating in the largest college division of any sport in the country, aiming for the top was a challenge indeed. However, 3 of last year's semifinalists found their way back to Rugbytown. Was this by chance? Not the case. It was the preparation and planning by their coaching staff and the player's dedication that has created these excellent rugby programs that have been built for success...year after year. NSCRO salutes New England College, St. John’s University and the University of Denver, for doing so. Joining this party is NSCRO newcomer Mount St. Mary’s University.

New England College (Henniker, NH), the NSCRO Northeast Region Champ, has been rebuilt from the ground up in just 3 plus years under head coach Jeremy Treece along with Rupert Leeming and Aaron Warner. NEC joined the New England RFU in 1984 but fell on hard times in 2006 and disbanded until reforming in 2011. What they’ve accomplished in just two years of league play is amazing and a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the players and coaches. In 2013, they finished 3rd in both NSCRO National 15s and 7s Championship. Lions rugby is now established and a bright future is assured.

Mount St. Mary's University (Emmitsburg, MD), the NSCRO Mid-Atlantic South Region Champ, was the Champion of the Potomac Conference in the Conference's first year in NSCRO. With a top coaching staff led by Jay Myles along with Jim Bonner and Tony Flay, they proved that the right preparation to play rugby for 80 minutes is the key to success. The University's Executive VP was in attendance and wrote to the University President the following:
"I have observed and photographed hundreds of rugby matches at various levels and do not recall being so impressed with a team. Besides being well-mannered, your team's members played with heart, passion, tenacity and exhibited excellent sportsmanship. Although the team didn't win the tournament, the old adage of "it isn't whether you win or lose but how you play the game" certainly applies. They are a group of fine, young men and as far as I am concerned, they were the winners."

St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN), the NSCRO Central Region Champ, led by coaches Dan Franklin, Tammy Cowan and Mike McElroy, have created a rugby program that develops student-athletes into solid rugby players year after year. They are only the 3rd team in the history of these Championships to repeat as Champion. Furman University did so form 2003 to 2005 and Bentley College won back to back titles in 2006 and 2007.

The University of Denver (Denver, CO), the NSCRO PacWest Region Champ, are led by coaches Allan Wilson, Stu Halsall, Jono Stephens and Joe Moli. They have built a strong foundation for a top class college program with outstanding school support and facilities. They will continue to be among the 'best of the best' for a long time to come.

The below Handout has the complete match reports which were provided by Bernie Decker, Rugby Blogger for Rugby Atlas at www.rugbyatlas.com.

NSCRO is the home of small college rugby. Our goal is to create a great small college rugby experience for all involved...players, coaches and fans, through responsive leadership, a well-matched competitive structure and a highly effective administration.

NSCRO is all about the growth and development of small college rugby and the young adults such as those we see before us. In fact, we no longer refer to this “division” as Division 3 but more properly as small college rugby. The small college division is the largest in the country with over 200 men’s and nearly 80 women’s colleges.

After watching these players this weekend demonstrate their rugby prowess, it is evident that the only thing small about small college rugby is the size of their school’s enrollment. These teams know how to “play big”.
Full-time undergraduate male enrollments are: DU = 2300; SJU = 1900, Mount = 800 and NEC = 500

In 2002, when I first created the East Coast Div 3 Championship, little did I know how this event would grow and the importance it has become for so many players, coaches and fans. I am very proud and honored to be part of this great sport and to guide NSCRO down this path.

Rugby is a tough sport that upholds sportsmanship and is filled with the spirit of unity and cooperation. It is in ways the perfect sport to foster the growth and development of young adults who as student-athletes work hard to make themselves and others proud of their accomplishments.

NSCRO is very pleased to have brought you this event at this outstanding facility, which we've done so as part of our continuing desire to raise the standards for small college rugby and inspire young adults to be as successful as they can be both on and off the field of play.

NSCRO would like to thank the following for their support of Small College Rugby and make the weekend at Infinity Park a spectacular rugby experience for all…
The schools, parents, alumni and friends of the players.
The City of Glendale along with Kieran Nelson and the entire Infinity Park staff including the medical team (ATC and EMTs).
Jenna Anderson and her “ball kids”.
Barret O’Brien of O’Brien Rugby Supply.
The web streaming broadcast team of Patrick Guthrie, Matt Brown, and their crew plus commentators Dallen Stanford and Ray Viers.
World Rugby Shop for providing the match balls and referee kits.
USA Rugby for the appointment of National Panel referees, Tim Luscombe and Scott Green.
The Eastern Rockies Referees Society for providing referees for our 7s tournament and ARs for the National Championship matches including Dan Hattrup, Greg Wolf, Gary Hartzell and Dave Fellows.
The NSCRO staff of Owen Dennis and Greg White along with our match reporter Bern Decker and official photographer Marc Williams.

World Rugby Shop is the Official Online Retailer of the NSCRO. NSCRO Small Colleges are eligible for discounted pricing from WRS. For details, go to http://www.eteamz.com/NSCRO/news/index.cfm?id=5477191.
To show your support for small college rugby, purchase NSCRO gear at http://www.worldrugbyshop.com/NSCRO as a portion of all sales goes to NSCRO. All of the matches including this Awards Ceremony are available on DVD.

A DVD order form is available on the NSCRO website. Please place your order ASAP. 

If Small College Rugby is your passion like it is mine, please contact me at sdcohen4@mindspring.com, to find out how you can become part of NSCRO's exciting future and growth.


Handout: 2014 National Championship Match Reports