Club interest leads to conference crown

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

It has been a roller coaster of an unexpected season for Pitt-Johnstown’s Farm Ape club rugby team.

The team is closer to a national championship competition participation after winning the Three Rivers-Silver conference Nov. 1 against Gannon University, 42-29.

Farm Ape rugby plays in the National Small College Rugby Organization.

At the beginning of the season, the team started with only nine students and was desperate for more participation and interest from students.

The roster was so thin that the team had to forfeit the season’s first game.

“As the season progressed, we recruited more people and actually took the time to practice and take it serious,” senior rugby player Josh Horner said.

“We have developed a great fan base and interest in it more on campus.”

The team started out 1-2, including a forfeit loss to Gannon, but a homecoming victory against Thiel College helped propel the team for the rest of the season.

“We were losing at halftime in the championship game and it was not looking good, but we fought back and tied it up to go into overtime,” Horner said.

“We don’t have an official coach, we have to pay out of pocket for a lot of things that other clubs take for granted.  We knew we did not drive three and a half hours to lose.”

Farm Ape ended up scoring two more tries (scores) and sealed the victory.

The team has advanced to the Region 3 semifinals Nov. 15-16 in Elkhart, Ind., with the win.

“We are a small club with limited resources and I am proud at how well we have meshed together to form a brotherhood,” Horner said.

“We have relied on each other to bring UPJ rugby to the forefront of successful clubs.”