Rugby wins St. Patrick’s Day tourney

Paul Kalinauskas

After getting off to a slow start this spring by losing close matches to Division-I foes West Chester, Georgetown and Scranton, the Villanova Rugby club took advantage of a strong defensive effort to win the Washington Irish St. Patrick’s Day tournament held last weekend in Manassas, Va.

Villanova advanced to the semi-finals on Sunday after defeating Catholic University 22-0 and a team from the Ohio State University 12-5 on Saturday. Junior Jim Healy and sophomores Ryan Condon and Christopher Schaetzle led the scoring for Villanova against Catholic, with each having one try (rugby’s version of the touchdown, worth five points). Condon also contributed a try in the Ohio State game, along with fellow sophomore Dan Wolongevicz.

The win over the Buckeyes was inspired by the loss of starting flanker Christopher Schaetzle who injured his left leg after being hit behind the play. X-rays showed that Schaetzle broke both his tibia and fibula in his lower left leg.

On Sunday, Villanova advanced to the finals after defeating Hofstra via forfeit.

In the finals ‘Nova met up with a team from the University of Pittsburgh. Villanova got off to an early first half lead with two tries from junior captain Albert VanLaeken and never looked back in posting its third shutout of the tournament. Senior Paul Hagenberger added a try in the second half to complete the 18-0 victory. It was the first tournament victory for the Villanova Rugby club since winning the Schuylkill River Tournament in 2000.

“Our forwards played really well this weekend; they seemed to always be there for support,” captain Jim Healy said, commenting on the team’s performance. “Their strong play helped open up the field for our backs to score.”

The Villanova rugby club is back in action this weekend, when they will send two squads to compete in the Seventh Annual Philadelphia Collegiate Rugby Cup to be held at FDR Park in Philadelphia.