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Mount Men's Rugby High School Academy Team Excels

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The Mount Saint Mary’s University Men’s Rugby High Performance Academy (HPA) high school team is living up to its name, finishing second with a record of 5-1 in the national High School 7s Rugby Championship at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships May 31 through June 2 outside of Philadelphia. 

hpa-2-small.jpgDeveloped last fall by Jay Myles, director of men's rugby at the Mount, the Mount Men's Rugby HPA offers a unique pathway for high school rugby student athletes to experience elite-level competition and coaching under the Mount men's rugby banner. 

The team, featuring players from five states across the Mid-Atlantic region, competed in several tournaments and held training sessions last fall but only had a brief training session in Philadelphia before beginning competition. Despite the lack of practice time together, the HPA team posted a 3-0 record on the first day of tournament play, beating Schuylkill, West Chester and Simon Gratz with a point differential of 105 at the Greater Chester Valley Soccer Association Fields in Malvern.

hpa-3-small.jpgDay 2 play moved to the Academy Fields at Talen Energy Stadium where the Mount Rugby HPA beat Gorilla Rugby 24-5 in the quarterfinals and Atlantis Rugby 15-0 in the semifinals to advance to Sunday’s final.  The final, held in Talen Energy Stadium, saw the HPA team take on defending champion Bishop Shanahan from Philadelphia. In a tough battle, Shanahan held off the Mount Rugby HPA 17-12 to retain the championship title. The weekend was an incredible success for the Mount Rugby HPA program, who finished the weekend with a 5-1 record.

“It was just an incredible opportunity for these young players to showcase their talent at such a professionally run event!” Myles said.

The HPA team is coached by Jon Grasso and Mike Williams.  Grasso, a highly respected sevens coach, has coached for Beltway Elite and Stars Rugby.  His strategic and developmental expertise provide the technical and fundamental foundation for the program. Williams, C'01, is a former captain and standout player for the Mount. He came to the HPA program with close ties to the Philadelphia rugby community where he has coached in the high school program of the Media Rugby Football Club.  The coaches work to identify potential team members based on talent, work ethic and character. “We are able to have success because we bring in hard-working guys who really care about winning and are willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team,”  said assistant coach Williams.

The Mount Rugby HPA team is fully supported financially by the university. Many of the HPA student athletes have committed to attend the university in the fall.  Robert Brennan, C'85, a university men's rugby team veteran and the Mount's vice president of university advancement, cheered on the team over the weekend and voiced his excitement for the future. “Spending time with our HPA players and families at the CRCs was a great opportunity to see the future of Mount rugby," Brennan said. "The level of play and the confidence of these young men was something I have not seen from high school players in the past.  Coach Jay Myles has done an exceptional job of assembling a group of talented players and quickly forging them into a team that not only competes but enjoys the process.”   

Prior to the CRCs, the Mount Rugby High Performance Academy had competed last fall in a local Rugby Pennsylvania Tournament and the New York Sevens Tournament.  The HPA looks to continue generating momentum and fostering competitive rugby. “The Mount Rugby HPA has the potential for greatly increasing the rugby skills and knowledge of top-level high school players in the Mid-Atlantic regions, and I’m looking forward to being part of this new venture,” said coach Grasso.

The Mount Rugby HPA's next tournament will be the Surfside 7s on July 13 in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.