Wednesday, March 2, 2016

7th Annual Frostbite Tournament Wraps Up

By Brendan Triplett

The annual tournament in its seventh successful iteration was underway over the weekend it what couldn’t have been a better turnout in better conditions. The tournament, which is held every year at Hempfield High School, played the host to over 30 teams in the area that range from the smallest High Schools to Division I Universities coming together for a great weekend to celebrate the sport and get the teams in the dirt. Tournament Director Tom Hallowell couldn’t speak highly enough about the program, “Sure we have a trophy to play for but the tournament is about more than that. It is the probably the first tournament of the season for many of these teams and this entire thing is more about getting these groups together, knocking the rust off, and having fun.”

So let’s be honest, this event is fun and everyone wants to see the hometown teams get into the game and hone their skills for the upcoming seasons. Even the collegiate teams don’t pass this event up and we know that everyone on that level is looking forward to seeing how their teams will fare in the Las Vegas Invitational, March 3-5, and who will come back vetted for the Collegiate Rugby Championships in June. 

Take the jump to read more.

With that said I expected that most of the bigger teams that would be participating in that event would be resting their top 12 players. This was true but I think what made this event so interesting is that when the star players are out we are able to get a better look at the quality of the depth of these competitive teams. Millersville and Pittsburgh took definite time to review gameplay for their newer guys and, as DI-AA conference rivals, they battled out close games that ended in nail biters. The majority of the Universities were able to blood their younger players and everyone got some time on the pitch to work out the first game jitters and shake off the cobwebs from the off-season. This is especially good for several of the clubs that have been gym-bound and unable to play on any of the dedicated fields due to weather.

The tournament was hosted, prepped, and assisted by players from the Roses RFC and Penn Legacy and each group of like teams were broken up into brackets. Men’s Collegiate, Women’s Collegiate, High School Men’s A and B, and High School Women’s A and B. The two day event led off on Saturday with three shorter 25 minute matches and finished on Sunday with two longer 45 minute matches. All of which were full XV’s sides. Points for the brackets were broken down as three points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero points for a loss. So let’s get down to our results by bracket:

Men’s Collegiate
Winner - Mount Saint Mary’s
Runner up – Cornell University

Women’s Collegiate
Winner – Kutztown University
Runner up – Stonybrook University

Men’s High School A
Winner – Calvert Hall
Runner up – Mount Saint Joseph’s

Women’s High School A
Winner – West End
Runner up – North Bay

Men’s High School B
Winner – North Penn
Runner up – North Bay

Women’s High School B
Winner – Penn Legacy
Runner up – Fairfax Va.

The most impressive teams for the weekend were Mount Saint Mary’s Men’s, Kutztown Women’s, and West End Women’s who all managed to sweep the tournament undefeated. While Cornell University and Franklin & Marshall showed good form in joining together a team of players on the pitch that had never known each other before but came together to form a solid fighting force. The High School men’s A bracket also had some good tension when Calvert hall and Mount Saint Joseph’s came together for an end of day tie breaker to pull a champion from their 4-1 records going into Sunday, with Calvert Hall ultimately winning 5-0.

We caught up with one of the tournament facilitators, Coach Bryan “Red” Hynes. You will recall him as the former coach, of 15 years, at Millersville University until retiring and taking a position with Roses RFC as a forwards coach. Working together with Joe Capp, Hempfield High School’s Women’s Coach, and Steve Lied, Hempfield High School’s Men’s Coach, they led the charge to ensure that the tournament ran smoothly. Over the past few years he has noticed a definite increase in both participation of teams and attendance. With the sport growing across the country, and being represented in the 2016 Olympics, the game is growing and Coach Red mentions that events like the Frostbite Tournament not only help the teams prepare for their respective seasons but also provide a venue that the local community and other fans of the sport can come together and educate newcomers to the programs.

This is not some small weekend skirmish in the mud and Coach Red knows how strong the event has become, “We have worked out the kinks and we are growing. Concessions, team sales, warm facilities, and turf fields. This is a great way to kick off the season.” I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. The ruggers all got a chance to get into the game and new players and veterans alike got a shot to play some quick games, have a good time, and go back to their clubs with some pitch-time to show off the work that they have all been doing in the gym during the off-season. Keep an eye out on our collegiate teams as the gear up for the 7’s season and keep a definite eye on the young ruggers from local High Schools there was some speed and attack ball that impressed. Ruck on!

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