The Spartans Conquer the NSCRO Challenge Cup Championship
The 2018 NSCRO Challenge Cup National Championship was held at Founders Field in Cheswick, PA on April 21-22. NSCRO thanks Matt Rosemeyer and the Pittsburgh Harlequins RFA on creating this outstanding venue. The 4 Regional Champions who participated were MiraCosta College (Oceanside, CA), John Carroll University (Cleveland, OH), Wayne State College (Wayne, NE) and the University of New Haven (New Haven, CT). This was the first appearance for these teams at a National Championship.
When the dust settled, it was the Spartans of MiraCosta College that claimed the title. Read their “Cinderella” story here.
The first semifinal was New Haven take on John Carroll. Strong running by New Havens backs propelled them to a 14-10 halftime lead. The tide started to turn in JCU’s favor in the second half but UNH kept pace but failed hold its lead and were edged 29-26. Next up were Wayne State and MiraCosta. Wayne scored first but the Spartans quickly responded with 3 first half tries to take a 21-7 halftime lead. Led by powerful forward play from Pierre Pretorius and Angel Rodriguez along with breakaway runs from center Jeremy Santiago and winger John Edington, MiraCosta won the day 38-19.
On Sunday the weather continued to be just right for the players. New Haven faced Wayne State for third place and their attack really clicked for most of the match as they scored 8 tries in a solid 46-12 over the Wildcats of Nebraska.
In a final that appeared to be up for grabs, MiraCosta despite getting off to a slow start took a commanding 22-5 halftime lead. Six second half tries by the Spartans found them on top 56-5 at the final whistle and capped their off “Cinderella” season in perfect fashion.
The NSCRO Challenge Cup playoff system which was inaugurated in the 2014-15 season for the men's playoff system has about 100 clubs currently participating. The goal of the Challenge Cup is to further the growth of small colleges who are working hard to reach the top but have yet to find success at the NSCRO’s Champions Cup playoffs which includes more than 200 clubs. The Challenge Cup is helping these teams achieve greater awareness and support on and off the field which, in the past, would have only been possible through a successful run in the larger, more competitive Champions Cup.
NSCRO President Steve Cohen remarked that “the importance of the Challenge Cup should not be underestimated as trams find their participation brings better and positive rugby awareness at their school – both from the administration and student body – which will help benefit the club moving forward. In addition, this Championship has sparked alumni interest and financial support. Our goal is to inspire teams that rarely, if ever, have had the chance to be in a National Playoff System and as we continue to help legitimize rugby in the eyes of the schools across the country.” John Carroll University received unexpected and generous support from their school including charter bus, hotel rooms and food allowance for the event.
The event was a great success thanks to the support of many people and companies, including but not limited to:
Matt Rosemeyer for hosting it at Founders Field
Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. – The Top Sponsor of NSCRO – Learn how Penn Mutual is committed to collegiate rugby and also helping you achieve life’s possibilities by visiting www.pennmutual.com/rugby
Rhino Rugby – The Official Equipment and Ball Supplier of NSCRO – Visit www.RhinoRugby.com to outfit you team with equipment, apparel and balls that facilitate improve performance.
Bill Krecker his event support
USA Rugby Appointed Referees – Lex Weiner and Gavin McCandless
Mark Seaton of the Allegheny RRS for providing ARs
Match Commentator – Mark Palmieri
At the NSCRO Awards Ceremony, NSCRO President Steve Cohen, presented the following awards:
Team Gift Certificates
Rhino Rugby generously provided gift certificates as follows:
1st Place = $500
2nd Place = $250
3rd Place = $150
4th Place = $100
1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place and 4th Place
1st Place = Gold; 2nd Place = Silver and 3rd Place = Bronze
Heart & Soul Awards
These awards are given to a player on each team who have been an inspiration and significant contributor to their club on and off the field. Award recipients were given were given an NSCRO custom match ball, signed by their teammates:
In photo L-R:
Jeremy Santiago - MiraCosta College
Riley Byrne - University of New Haven
Brandon Jensen - Wayne State College
Jamie Mascaro - John Carroll University
NSCRO "All Championship XV"
The All Championship XV recognizes the 15 best players by position. Each player received a custom NSCRO t-shirt:
|1 - Prop||Jeff McMahon||University of New Haven|
|2 - Hooker||James Desmarteau||John Carroll University|
|3 - Prop||Angel Rodriguez||MiraCosta College|
|4 - 2nd Row||Ian Tunnel||University of New Haven|
|5 - 2nd Row||Pierre Pretorius||MiraCosta College|
|6 - Back Row||Ian Crilly||MiraCosta College|
|7 - Back Row||Danny Hayes||MiraCosta College|
|8 - Back Row||Robert Morl||John Carroll University|
|9 - Scrumhalf||Gabriel Martinez||MiraCosta College|
|10 - Flyhalf||Craig Downey||University of New Haven|
|11 - Wing||Tylor Rowles||Wayne State College|
|12 - Center||Barrett Lyons||University of New Haven|
|13 - Center||Jeremy Santiago||MiraCosta College|
|14 - Wing||John Edington||MiraCosta College|
|15 - Fullback||Josh Bens||John Carroll University|
To download a copy of the All-Championship XV team, click here.
To view the Challenge Cup Championship videos, go to our YouTube channel.
University of New Haven - 2017 East Coast Region Champion
John Carroll University - 2017 Central Region Champion
Wayne State College - 2018 West Region Champion
MiraCosta College - 2018 Pacific Coast Region Champion
2017-18 Challenge Cup Playoff Bracket
rev. 30 April 2018
2017-18 List of NSCRO Men's Clubs
rev. 07 September 2017
2016-17 Challenge Cup Playoff Bracket
rev.11 April 2017
"NSCRO has done a tremendous job for schools like Christopher Newport University and us. There is such a separation between levels and it's great for more teams to have post season opportunities. W&L has 800 men and with varsity sports that comes down to 600 men to make up our team. NSCRO and the Challenge Cup has meant a lot to our alumni, fans, school and players. All have been much more excited about what's happening with our club. The school recently removed two fields to make way for more housing so field space has been a real issue this Spring. Having a post season like the Challenge Cup has helped get us field space and kept practice attendance up. Thanks again for everything."
~John Welsh, Washington & Lee University Head Coach
"Even though the rugby club at Pacific has been around since 1908, this is the first time that the club has achieved such success and it has greatly increased awareness both on campus and off. Attendance at home games was doubled this year and both on campus groups and alumni have been very supportive. Financial support from the school for travel has been very generous and fundraising has been more profitable than usual due to our greater exposure."
~Kreg Nelson, University of the Pacific, Head Coach
"With our club making it to the NSCRO Challenge Cup National Championship it has brought lots of excitement to our campus and opened many students eyes to the great sport of rugby. We have also had a tremendous increase in support from our alumni and the community here in Greeley. We have received the support of a few companies from the Denver area to help fund the trip to Nationals. The excitement created by our recent success should ensure that UNC Rugby will continue to grow and improve over the next couple seasons!"
~ Erik Smith, University of Northern Colorado, Club President
Salem State University - 2015 Challenge Cup East Coast Region Champion
Point Loma Nazarene University - 2016 Challenge Cup Pacific Coast Region Champion
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis - 2015 Challenge Cup Central Region Champion
University of Northern Colorado - 2016 Challenge Cup West Region Champion