Burrell grads helped IUP win the Rugby Club Division II tournament

RJ Beach and Dom Holmes knew it meant coming together to help win the tournament.

Burrell’s graduates – RJ in 2019 and Holmes in 2020 – are teammates on the Kiski Valley team that captured the Rugby Club Division II tournament in May 2019.

Fast forward to 2022, and Beach and Holmes will meet again for a golden time. Meanwhile, they donate IUP jerseys and team up for the national title at the National Collegiate Rugby Division II 7s tournament in New Orleans over the anniversary weekend.

The Crimson Hawks have won six games, ending the national title with a 17-7 win from a 17-7 win over Lander (SC) in the tournament.

“Every time I talk about it, I’m happy, like it’s winning us over again,” said Beach, a joint captain with West Allegheny graduate Trent Stalling.

“He started the fall with the word‘ Mai Blink ’from the coach (Seth Erwin). We took to heart where we would just go and get the job done, nothing, without hesitation. If you think about it now, you can quit. We knew we were on the big stage, so it paid off a lot for us in the long run. ”

IUP dug deep against Lander in the playoffs when they came back from a 7-0 lead in the second half. Holmes was part of the scoring team that saw him record 17 unanswered points.

“We’ve been out for two weeks, and we can say we’re national leaders, and nobody can take that away from us,” said Holmes, a rising teenager. “As long as we were on the clock (in the title game), we had time to come back. We had to get on the roll. The thought was to go out and finish the game hard. . ”

IUP won three pool-play games and three more in the playoffs bracket.

“Since the last quarter, it’s been one of the best football games I’ve ever played, both competitively and professionally,” Holmes said. “We downed a man two games because of the yellow cards, but we kept playing together and it didn’t let a big impact on us. We did a lot of that in training, so if when that point comes, we know what to do.

The IUP started its title with a 12-5 win over Minnesota-Duluth on Day 1.

Beach and Holmes felt special after the win, as it was a measure of the payoff for the program and some alumni remembering the 2013 Final Four win over Minnesota-Duluth.

“We’ve had a good year until the national championship, but I don’t know what to expect,” said Beach, a senior player with the Crimson Hawks. “It was a big field, and we didn’t go there. We won that first game, and after that, I knew we were in that game for a long time. I knew we were in it. we have to go far. We have to continue to trust our game and play to the best of our ability. ”

The first day of competition ended with pool-play wins over Bentley (39-5) and The Citadel (19-17), which led the Crimson Hawks to the field on the day. 2.

Then came the quarterfinals with UNC-Wilmington.

The teams played multiple times, and UNC-Wilmington had the winning number, finishing first to the Crimson Hawks.

But one of the IUP players, coach Erwin and one of the game editors, Beach said, got an IUP score of 21-19 after editing.

A review of the game confirmed the Crimson Hawks more than two, and they don’t need to rest. The weight of a victory becomes the joy of victory.

“I think we were successful in editing my attempt to keep the mindset of the numbers,” Beach said. Coach Erwin wrote it. It’s like hockey in the form of hockey time where you take a break for two to three minutes before you start again. They did not allow us to rest or anything. They hit us right on the field. So we can’t argue then and there. We can’t know what’s going on. We thought we won, and we were all happy.

“Me and Coach, we went up to the officials after overtime and we explained that we had a score of 21-19. We waited 30 minutes to an hour and the referees talked to the people to run. When everything went well, they said overtime should not be played.

With the right result decided, IUP advanced to a competitive semifinal match against Northern Iowa, and the Crimson Hawks won 29-26 for a place in the title game.

Erwin, Beach and Holmes, who he worked with as the 2019 Kiski Valley team coach, said it was a big part of the team’s mission during the national tournament.

The IUP has taken a major step forward in the nations. Her resume was built with the help of three competitive wins in the regular season.

“RJ is a musician,” Erwin said. “He is not the most vocal man on the team, but he does work for us as one of the most talented players on the field. In New Orleans, he wasn’t the strongest player, but he was the man in the middle who really pushed our attack. He organized great races for the people by simply pulling on the defenses and making a smart decision. The defense was that he was a small man, but a strong man. He will not forget many things.

“For Dom, this is a competitive game. He’s a serious player, but he has a very good one -on -one ratio with a defender where he can rest over 70% of the time. That’s a big deal, even more. back to a competition where he was able to hit a lot of home runs and become a very strong player. ”

Holmes and Beach are turning their attention to the IUP 15s season, starting with a training camp at the end of August with the first scrimmage in two weeks into the fall season.

While the 7s games, a fast -paced and high -end game of traditional rugby, are played with seven players on each side in two seven -minute segments, 15 games of 80 minutes (40 semi -minutes). ) between groups of 15 on each side.

The Rugby World Cup uses the 15s format, while 7s is the current format for the Olympic Games.

“We hope to take some time from the national name to the fall,” Holmes said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review co-author. You can call Michael at 724-226-4665, mlove@triblive.com or Twitter .

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