Wheeling, WV — Last week, the Wheeling University rugby team’s under-15 season ended when they lost to Brown 27-7. However, the 15 season will continue for several of the Cardinals’ key contributors as they have been chosen to play with Pittsburgh’s U23 team in Nashville, Tennessee. They will face the USA Rugby South U23 team on December 4.
The Cardinals will send nearly all of their starters and some key bench contributors to the event. The list of players heading to Nashville includes Tino Ajay, Lawula Bata, Josh BlankenshipAshcraf Boutfanzout, Chief Chipfumbu, Zach Ekey, Navin Couch, Aaron Juma, Rua Karimazondo, Adam Keffaoui, Clarouly Meca, Michel MuleyaLarry Old, Antonio Tangreand EJ Vidal. Several of these players went to the game last season while others are making their first trip. Wheeling’s top scorer of the 2022 15 season tops the list as Juma has scored 12 tries this season to lead the club. Bata and Chipfumbu have also been key offensive contributors this season and will look to help with the Pittsburgh Forge. On defense, heavy hitters including Blankenship and Muleya will head into the game as they hope to keep the defense going.
Wheeling Rugby has had a year of ups and downs this season, starting slowly before recovering to qualify for the playoffs. After starting the year 2-3 on aggregate and 0-2 in the Big Rivers Rugby Conference (BRRC) game, the Cardinals came back strong, winning their last three conference games to earn a spot in Game 1. BRRC Wild Card. They then faced Adrian College, who they played in their last regular season contest, in this Wild Card game. The offense was electric on the night and collected 31 points as the Cardinals won 31-22 to advance to the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) D1 playoffs for the first time in program history. They faced Belmont Abbey in their first round match and won a defensive affair 19-13. Ultimately, their tournament run would come to an end as they fell to No. 1 seed Brown, 27-7. It’s been a solid first season of D1 play, and now some of the team’s stars will represent the team on the national stage.
The Pittsburgh Forge U23 team will face the USA Rugby South U23 team in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, December 4 at 1 p.m.