This year started out with Chicago North Shore as the National Women's Champions. That title came with the team hoping to continue a strong club and help continue to build in a team that, like man in the city has a continous flux in players. As the winter season started team were hitting the gyms hard doing the last of their winter conditioning. Teams had their Superbowl Fundraisers, and as the Chicago rugby season kicks off, the South Side Irish hosted Whiskey 10s, a tournaments attended by Men, Women and College level clubs. Northern's Tournament of Champions had more teams than ever participate. The spring season also held many other tournaments that many players and clubs look froward to like Nash Bash and All Fool (which was canceled due to flood like weather conditions, that never came). The spring season also had the Men's Championship games as well as CARFU Cup and select side games.
In the CARFU Cup, American League Standing, Chicago Griffins took second, to Wisconsin. In the National League Standing, the Chicago Lions took first followed by the South Side Irish. The CARFU College Women's team has a great set of games. CARFU U23 Women's Select-Side had big wins with 83-0 v Indiana and 24-5 v Ohio. CARFU Women dominated with a day two win 20-0 to Illinois (IRFU) .
We also saw a lot of clinics this year, for youth and older players as well. We had the Dragons host a Rugby 101 session for people who were interested in learning about the game. Waisale Serevi, Two-Time World Cup Sevens Champion came through Chicago in April for his Serevi Rugby Training Camp. We also had a The Chicago Combine, held at Eric Solorio Academy High School in May. This was the first time that College and Universities went through the country searching for top athletes to bring into their rugby programs, just again showing how much rugby is in a state of growth in the US. We also had teams through out the city helping run youth clinics with the Wapiti once a month bring in their rugby expertise and getting children from 4-14 excited about playing this awesome sport. In addition to the Wapiti who's numbers have exploded from 2011-2012, we also saw the Junior Condors and the Chicago Riot start up youth rugby teams. The Chicago Park District has also begun to welcome youth rugby with Marquette Park starting up a program as well as Garfield Park hosting a rugby squad for their fall football players. iYRA continued to work with Chicago World Sports with their Rookie Rugby program branching out to CPS hosting after school programs. iYRA was aslo a part of East Garfield Park Olympics Sports Festival giving the sport further exposure to children who otherwise would have never seen the sport.
The Noble Network has become a strong youth rugby league. The Noble Network schools have probably the most concentrated numbers in not only young men playing but as young women who are becoming not only hooked on the sport but highly competitive players. We also have Fenwick High School, St. Ignatius, Brother Rice, St. Rita, Mt. Carmel, Morton, Glen Ellyn and a number of other high schools developing rugby teams. Malcolm May from Ignatius went to Vegas 7s to play for the Jr All American team. The Illinois Tornadoes boys team went on a small European tour playing in both England and Ireland. iYRA is also continuing to see growth in not only High Schools, but also Middle and Elementary schools. The youth how are playing the game can also no apply for a scholarship opportunity not only through the combine that will be coming again to Chicago this March, but Noter Dame is currently looking for young players to come to their school.
Summer Sevens, Chicago Clubs were seen all over the Midwest and the entire Midwest and more were at Fire House Sevens, hosted by the Chicago Blaze. The games had teams playing Friday with youth and high school games and Saturday games too with games starting early in the morning and continuing into the night. It was amazing to see three fields and totally packed side lines. The club even had to get a shuttle bus since their parking lot could not support the numerous cars fro players and fans who came out to the games. Lakefront 7's Tournament in Milwaukee, Rock & Roll 7's Tournament in Cleveland, and Hard Rock 7's in Grand Rapids were just a few of the summer stops for teams. The Chicago Lions went to Treasure Island in the 7s National Club Championships, showing once again that they are a team of speed and strength. The amount of running and condition in yet another hot hot summer lead to some fitter and faster teams than before and the level of play definitely seemed to be taken to another level.
The Blaze Celebraed their 30th Anniversary and Southern Illinois celebrated their 40th. The Chicago Lions and the Chicago Griffins both are no longer in Men's Super League. The Chicago Riot has had a progressive year, Riot advanced to Midwest Final Four for the 1st time which will be a game they are sure to be training for every day mentally and physically until spring comes. South Side Irish won their playoff games and will continue on in to the spring. The Griffins, move on to the National Round of 32 in the spring as well as the Midwest Cup Playoffs this coming spring. Chicago Women and Chicago North Shore both played their hearts out this fall with getting national bids but neither team making it to the Final Four. We saw the Chicago Griffins have Graham Harriman, Timothy Paulsen make their first premiers playing with USA Rugby. We also saw Andrew and Roland Suniula both make USA Rugby games stops. Chicago North Shore had Cristina Mastrangelo, Jenny Lui, and Kate Daley also playing around the world with the USA Eagles &s and 15s teams. We definately are the major city, be the playing level of rugby here in Chicago proves that it is not jsut a sport that is big on the coasts but is also a big game here in the Midwest.
Tags: Andrew Suniula, chiago north shore, Chicago Blaze, Chicago Griffins, chicago riot, chicago women, Christina Mastrangelo, condors, Graham Harriman, iYRA, Jenny Lui, kate dal, roland siniula, south side irish, Timother Paulsen, tournament of champions, USA Rugby, Wapiti, Whiskey 10s coaching