Boulder, Colo. – No. 8 Wheeling Jesuit is fighting to break the dominance that Army, Kutztown, and Penn State have held over Rugby East, and they get a chance to prove that they belong with the elite when they take on the No. 9 Nittany Lions this Saturday. The match will be played at 1 p.m. ET at Bishop Schmitt Field in Wheeling, WV.
Both teams kicked off their Rugby East seasons with wins last weekend. Wheeling Jesuit beat Iona 37-19 in a very physical game. Iona held on to the ball for most of the match, but Wheeling Jesuit was able to capitalize on the opportunities the Gaels gave them. The speed and strength of the Cardinals pushed them to victory last week, with seniors Allan Hanson, Zachary Reichenbach, and two time All-American Peter Malcom shining. This team is big, strong and fast, and sophomore Cecil Rich is the epitome of that. The 6’2” 255-pound prop scored a try against Iona, and has been on the radar of the USA Eagles, along with Malcolm. The Cardinals are imposing, and have the ability to bust out a long run with their speed.
“I think Wheeling will have a formidable team on the field on Saturday.” Explains Penn State head coach Chris Amoratis. “I think it will be an exciting match to watch. I want to see the boys focus on our performance. If we play our game and are disciplined around our structures we should see the result we are looking for.”
Penn State was able to finish out their game with St. Bonaventure with a win, but it wasn’t pretty. They went up by 10 points with two tries by sophomore wing Tyler May, but gave up try, a conversion, and a penalty kick to the Bonnies, which tied the game at 10-10. The Nittany Lions went on to win the game 23-10, but it took them the last 30 minutes of the match to establish that lead.
Before their first Rugby East game, Penn State lost to DI-AA power American International College 34-27. Though the game was a friendly, this showed that the team was venerable. The teams were tied at 27 in the 66th minute, but the Nittany Lions weren’t able to hold AIC, who scored a try in the 75th minute to take the game. AIC was smaller in stature than Wheeling Jesuit, but they were fast. The addition of size that the Cardinals bring to this game could spell bad news for Penn State.
This very well could be the game that propels Wheeling Jesuit into the upper echelons of Rugby East, and this top 10 matchup will be one that rugby fans won’t want to miss.