Temple Men's Rugby: Owls push forward - Collegiate Rugby Championship
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  – April 11, 2017  – Temple University Men’s Rugby Club will once again being making an appearance at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. The owls have made serious strides in their program over the years. When current Head Coach John Sciotto started a decade ago the squad was down to 14 players, today it hosts around 100 annually.

“Every once in awhile I’ll  go through a thing where I’m thinking about walking away. But then I can’t because these kids have so many things working against them. We’re fighting for practice space. They get small stipends from the university. Our equipment is just beaten up and I’m trying to work on sponsorship to fix our equipment. They’re working jobs, they have classes and they’re trying to have social life and college. And yet these kids keep showing up and putting in the hard work…and I felt like a hypocrite if I’m, ‘Well it’s too hard for me,” explained Sciotto.


Playing for the owls means no scholarships and limited funds, but despite the lack of university driven incentive, the birds continue to soar. They currently compete as part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union in their Division 1-AA Keystone Rugby Conference. In the last 10 years the team has done very well. Under Coach Sciotto’s reign Temple’s been to five league 15s championships, two 7s league championships (with a 7s program that only started three years ago), and won the Philadelphia City 6 Tournament two of the last four years.

Their 2016 CRC appearance went as follows:

  • Wisconsin 33 vs. 0 Temple
  • Clemson 12 vs. 19 Temple
  • Temple 12 vs. 21 Utah
  • Dartmouth 17 vs. 5 Temple

Giving Back

When the players aren’t waking up at 5 a.m. for weightlifting sessions they can often be found volunteering in a variety of ways. This past year the team worked with a local marathon setting up barricades and passing out water to the participants. Other examples include working with the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House via basic labor to assist with renovations and cleaning. Additionally the team participates in an annual tournament run in memory of Josias A. Sterling a teammate who drowned; the proceeds are donated towards an organized that teaches underserved youth to swim.

Building A Program

A lot of the team’s participants come in as “diamonds in the rough” as athletes with previous athletic experience, but very limited rugby knowledge. Recently the team has been partnering with other Temple athletic teams to gain access to more athletes. Just this past fall for the first time the rugby program was given access to sit in on walk on tryouts for the football program, a Division I NCAA team. If an attendee doesn’t make the football cut and Sciotto is impressed, he brings the team’s president and captain to talk with the athlete about any potential interest they might have in trying rugby. In his first year with the football program Sciotto has brought in four new players.

Sciotto has also worked with the wrestling program for the last two years. Not only does he get access to the wrestlers, but due to the smaller amount of ruggers need in the spring with 7s, he encourages ruggers who are more suited to 15s to try wrestling in the spring.

Although many students come to the team with limited rugby experience, every once in awhile the Owl’s gets lucky. Coach Sciotto sites the club’s current President, Michael Wellstein, as a serious attribute to the squad. The 21-year-old senior has been playing rugby since middle school. A local who attended Conestoga High School, he played on U15 and U19 teams before coming to the university.

“Rugby was definitely a big part of my decision. Temple was actually the only school I looked at and Temple’s one of only two I applied to,” said Wellstein who has participated in the CRCs all three years he’s been in college so far.

One of his favorite CRC memories was as a freshman playing the University of California’s Golden Bears. Right before the match began he looked over at the other team and realized he wasn’t staring at just an ordinary collegiate rugby player.

“I remember when I was in high school I used to watch this guy Seamus Kelly play on the U.S. National team and I was like, ‘Wow! That guy’s a beast!’ And then I get on the field at CRC 7s and I look across from me in the lineup and he’s standing right there and I’m like, ‘Oh jeeze this is real now. I better be ready to tackle this guy!’

About United World Sports:
United World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com.

About The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company:
Since its founding in 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by its noble purpose to create a world of possibilities. At the heart of this purpose is the belief that purchasing life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping individuals, families and small businesses unlock life’s possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions. This is accomplished through a national network of more than 5,000 financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible. Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Honor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at http://www.pennmutual.com.

About NBC Sports Group:
When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of a unique array of broadcast television, cable television, radio and digital sports assets, including NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, 11 NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital.

Media Contacts:
Jim DeLorenzo, [email protected], (215) 266-5943
Joe Favorito, [email protected], (201) 746-0005
Clara Lefton, [email protected]

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