High School Championship

Downingtown Boys, St. Gregory’s Academy and Downingtown Girls all secure their places in history as 2012 Pennsylvania State High Rugby Champions.

By Jay Abom, May 21st, 2012

HS Boys Club Division (Downingtown 12, West Shore United 11)

With a razor thin win 39-35 win over Doylestown in Saturday’s semifinal,Downingtown entered the final hoping to become the first two time winner of the state title. West Shore, the reigning MARFU Champions, had a more comfortable semifinal win over South Hills, 55-5.  West Shore notched the match’s first points with an early PK. Downingtown responded with a converted try to go up 7-3 and West Shore followed with a try of its own to go ahead 8-7. Both team’s defenses kept the other from breaking though to the goal area. West Shore tacked on a PKfor a 11 to 7 lead. The match continued at frenetic pace before Downingtown was able to dot down a try for a 12-11 lead with about 10 minutes to play.  Both teams had several possessions to regain or extend a lead but neither team could break through and Downingtown ended up on top, 12-11.  Doylestown defeated Pittsburgh South Hills for third place.

HS Boys Division (St. Gregory’s Academy 24, St. Joe’s Prep 18)

In the high school single school division, St. Gregs faced off against their East Penn East division rival, St. Joes Prep. In Saturday’s semifinals, Prep got up early on Bishop Shanahan and maintained their lead against a Shanahan squad that kept pressing to the final whistle in Prep’s 45-36 win. The same was true in the other semifinal as St. Gregs jumped on Burrell 21-0 before the Burrell boys began to march back only to fall short in the 34-31 St Greg victory.

In Sunday’s final, the teams kept each other between the 22s as St Gregssucceeded on three long PKs to get out to a 9-0 lead. St Joes answered midway through 1st period with an 8 take under the posts to close the lead 9-7.  Prep took its first lead shortly thereafter with a penalty kick, 10-9, however, that lead was short lived as St Gregs finished the 1st half with a try in the final seconds to go up 14-10.

The second half ensued as a defensive struggle as the teams played to a stalemate for the first 15 minutes of the half. After notching a PK earlier in the half, St. Joes retook the lead 18-14 with another strong plunge from their powerful 8-man. With about 7 minutes to play the lead switched for the fourth time in the match as St Gregs ran a creative and well executed misdirection penalty play for a try under the posts to nose ahead of Prep 21-18. A PK by St Gregs later made it a 6 point margin with 4 minutes to play. St Joes remained determined to regain possession, but St Gregs kept the ball in hand and held on for the 24-18 final. Congratulations to the boys from St Gregs who ended the season undefeated and who may have just played their final match as a team due to the recently announced closure of their school.   If so, they certainly went out in great style.  In the third place match, Bishop Shanahan defeated Burrell.

HS Girls Club Division (Downingtown Girls 50, State College Girls 12)

The final match of the weekend was the first ever PA State HS Girls Rugby Championship match.  Downingtown scored early and often on State College, ending the first half 28-5, and finishing the second stanza in similar fashion, for the 50-12 final.

Thanks to all those who helped to make this event a success.  The Pittsburgh Harlequins were great hosts and the weather could not have been better.  The quality of play was outstanding, reflective of solid coaching and hard work put in by the players and coaches on their way to the finals.  Congratulations to all of the teams that participated in the 2012 State Championship Tournament.