National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) hosted their National Championship All-Star tournament the weekend of Jan 21-22, 2023 in Round Rock Texas and the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union successfully defended our National Title to make it two in a row!
The team went 6-0 on the weekend and earned an incredible 189-39 overall scoreline. In pool play the scores were 31-0 against Allegheny, 26-5 against Colonial Coast, and 38-12 against Northern Lighs to win the pool and set up a quarterfinal match against Rugby Northeast which we were able to win 25-0 and move on to the semifinals. The team fired on all cylinders in the semi-finals earning a 47-5 victory over Ohio Valley in an amazing performance.
This resulted in a Championship Game rematch against Colonial Coast who seriously came to play. The match actually went to overtime following a 17-17 draw in regulation. In the extra period we were able to kick the ball from deep in our own zone and find space. Colonial reclaimed the ball but Saira Alexander and Morgan Mattia had a great kick chase and were the next to arrive. Saira was able to steal the ball and get it to Morgan with enough space to race down the sideline and score the National Championship winning try in a 22-17 victory. Given how the first matchup between these sides went you have to give Colonial Coast a huge amount of credit for their performance as well and for a great weekend overall.
Saira Alexander was named Tournament MVP by Rosalind Chou and Irene Gardner from Premier Rugby Sevens and she was joined on the All-Tournament team by Lindsay Foster, Morgan Mattia, and Rosalyn Page.
With a second National Championship for the EPRU in two years the following players are not multiple time National Champs: Ciara Sharkey (Captain both years), Gianna Calciano, Lindsay Foster, Morgan Mattia, Hannah Plotkin, Kina Nichols.
The first time National Champions are: Saira Alexander, Rosalyn Page, Jaiden Bowen, Elena Facey, Sofia Hernandez, and Adriana Cavazos.
The only seniors/grad students on the team are Ciara Sharkey, Gianna Calciano, Hannah Plotkin, and Kina Nichols so there is plenty of opportunity for this team to continue growing and developing together.
This year also marks the second year in a row where an EPRU sophomore was named tournament MVP. Morgan Mattia won the honors last year so she has the distinction of being a two-time National Champion and a two-time All-Tournament team member.
The full roster with schools and class year is:
Ciara Sharkey – Grad Student, Marywood
Gianna Calciano – Senior, Loyola
Lindsay Foster – Sophomore, East Stroudsburg
Morgan Mattia – Junior, East Stroudsburg
Hannah Plotkin – Senior, Shippensburg
Kina Nichols – Senior, Swarthmore
Saira Alexander – Sophomore, York
Rosalyn Page – Sophomore, Marywood
Jaiden Bowen – Junior, York
Elena Facey – Sophomore, Shippensburg
Sofia Hernandez – Freshman, Loyola
Adriana Cavazos – Freshman, Swarthmore
We are very excited to see that six different schools each provided two players. It shows that the talent is spread throughout our Union.
On the coaching/admin side of things our team was supported by Scott Stratton and Chris Ward who also both currently serve on the EPRU Board, as well as Ali Tare and Elise Galinskie who attended the event and Jamie Fortuna who helped assemble and prepare the team in the months leading up to the event.
Special Shout Out to Jenn Stratton because it’s Jennuary so we have to mention her.
Lastly, we would like to send our love and appreciation to everyone who supports this program. That obviously includes the players, coaches, admins etc involved directly but also includes all of the players, coaches, and supporters back home – not to mention the parents! – who help our Union, and the athletes within our Union, develop and grow on a day-to-day basis so that we can even provide opportunities to participate in events like this, let alone play at a high level.