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2019 NSCRO Champions Cup, The Claremont Colleges

The Claremont Colleges Capture the 2019 NSCRO Champions Cup National Title

By Brett Anker, NSCRO, 05/02/19, 3:30PM EDT


2019 NSCRO Champions Cup winner, The Claremont Colleges

It was a successful weekend at Siena College with the 2019 NSCRO Champions Cup being presented to The Claremont Colleges. After failing in the national championship final last year to a tough Iowa Central Community College team, The Claremont Colleges captured its second Champions Cup in three years with a 57-17 win over Christendom College.

In the semifinals, the top two seeded teams, Christendom and Claremont came away with convincing wins. Christendom defeated Endicott College 60-17 while Claremont overcame St. John’s University 49-12 to set up the final.

Sunday’s play began with the 3rd place match between St. John’s and Endicott. The question that is always asked…, “Will both teams ‘show up to play’” after being disappointed by their semifinal loss. The answer was yes! However, the Johnnies showed why they were consistently one of the best sides in NSCRO with a 36-17 victory.

The championship match got off to a fast start with two tries scored in the first five minutes. Claremont got on the board first with a converted try but Christendom struck back through hooker Will Arnold. With the conversion missed Claremont led 7-5.

The Lions got on the board again with a pair of tries from winger Max Sickinger. The first came via an intercept try and the second in the form of a line break and several stellar offloads. At 30 minutes Claremont led 21-5.

Things looked to turn around for the Crusaders but the tremendous defense from the Lions kept Christendom out. Eventually, Claremont forced a knock on inside the five-meter line and prop Frankie Reyes darted up the middle. After a few phases, flanker Abe Asante drew two defenders and found winger Ethan Takeyama who took it 60 meters for a 26-5 lead.

Claremont allowed the Crusaders to get back into the game thanks to ill-discipline. Twice in the span of five minutes, ill-discipline resulted in a pair of yellow cards. With a two-man advantage, Owen Kennedy dove over to cut the lead to 26-10.

However, a few minutes later Kennedy was sent to the sin bin for a repeated infringement at the breakdown. The Crusaders forced a pair of knock-ons but Asante found his way over to extend the lead to 33-10.

The wheels came off for Christendom immediately after as the Lions took the kickoff and went straight up the gut for a converted try to extend the lead to 40-10. With a late hit, Christendom lost another player to a yellow card.

The Lions added three more tries before Christendom added one at the end for a final score of 57-17.

It has been an emotional year for the Lions. Claremont lost team leader and standout Connor Pederson to a torn ACL in the fall. Despite being a young squad and losing one of their key men, Claremont stepped up this championship weekend.

“When you lose a player like Connor you don’t replace him. Everyone else had to step up. We had a handful of guys step up into leadership roles,” said Claremont Assistant coach Scott Bracken. “Connor was still a huge part of our team, attending every training session and every match. He acted as the captain in every way except on the pitch.”

The loss of a key player didn’t deter a Claremont team that was on a mission to get back to the finals this year after having an uncharacteristic lopsided loss in last year’s championship.

“We were definitely disappointed in how we finished in 15s last season. At the start of the season, we knew we had something to prove coming from last year and the boys came out this weekend and we couldn’t be prouder,” said captain Matthew Grundlingh.

The Southern California school played a consistent brand of rugby over the course of the last four years. This season, culminated with convincing wins this weekend, provided Claremont with their second national title.

“I thought the guys were remarkable. [Just] like we have been doing all year, we made the proper adjustments and come away with a title,” Bracken concluded.

Chance Sears was named the tournament MVP while Frankie Reyis was named the Next Level Rugby player of the game. The All-Championship XV team is as follows:

2019 NSCRO Champions Cup MVP, Chance Sears of The Claremont Colleges

1.   Brian Wahl, The Claremont Colleges

9.   Vince Duhig, Christendom College

2.   Will Arnold, Christendom College

10.  Thomas Audino, Christendom College

3.   Frankie Reyes, The Claremont Colleges

11.  Ethan Takeyama, The Claremont Colleges

4.   Owen Kennedy, Christendom College

12.  Lucas Hackett-Provenzano, The Claremont Colleges

5.   Matthew Gash-Gilder, Endicott College

13.  Pat Newton, Christendom College

6.   Dominic Odden, St. John’s University

14.  Nick Cuddeback, Christendom College

7.   Tim Marra, Christendom College

15.  Matthew Grundlingh, The Claremont Colleges

8.   Chance Sears, The Claremont Colleges



The following Heart and Soul award winners (pictured left to right) were given a custom NSCRO match ball, courtesy of Rhino Rugby:

Tim Marra – Christendom College
Max Sickinger – The Claremont Colleges
Tim Havenaar – St. John’s University
Bryan Palmatier – Endicott College


The following IMPACT players (pictured left to right) were all awarded a free custom mouthguard kit, courtesy of Impact Mouthguards:

Max Sickinger – The Claremont Colleges
Dominick Odden – St. John’s University
Matthew Gash-Gilder – Endicott College
Tim Marra – Christendom College

2019 NSCRO Champions Cup Heart & Soul award winners
2019 NSCRO Champions Cup IMPACT players