UB Rugby was well represented at the 2022 National Collegiate Rugby All-Star Shield Challenge select side tournament held January 15-16 in Houston, as five members of the club competed against other select sides from across the country. A portion of the players travel costs were sponsored by the UB Rugby Alumni Association.
Hooker Dominic Nassivera '22, 8-man Omar Elabdouni '23, scrumhalf Paul Appleby '22, inside center Matt Conforti '22, and winger Kelvin Huynh '23 spent the weekend training and playing as members of the Tri-State Vikings in the Shield Challenge and the Rising Stars competitions.
The boys arrived in Houston mid-week joining a group of 40-plus players from across the Northeast as members of Vikings, one of eight regional teams at the tournament. After five training sessions held over two days, Conforti was named to the side competing in the Shield Challenge, Elabdouni, Huynh, and Nassivera were named to the Rising-Star squad, and Appelby was picked to play for both squads.
The first day of competition was noted by extremely high winds which affected every team's game plans as wind wreaked havoc on kicking. The Rising Stars split their Saturday matches, losing on a last-second try to the Great Lakes Thunderbirds but rebounded, beating the Southeast Bears by two scores in a game that featured a "UB hat trick" with tries from Dom, Paul, and Omar.
The All-Star squad had a rough first day, going 0-3 in pool play with losses to the New England Independents (who won the tournament), the Pacific Coast Grizzlies (tournament runner-up), and the Mid-Atlantic Sharks (finished 6th overall).
The second day of the competition saw much improved playing conditions as the teams took the pitch. With an injury depleted lineup, the Rising Stars suffered losses at the hands of the Midwest Barbarians and the New England Independents. Despite the losses, the Rising Stars claimed a 3rd place finish out of five teams based on total tries scored over the course of the tournament.
In the knockout round of the Shield Challenge, Tri-State opened with a loss to the Southeast Bears but exacted some measure of revenge in the afternoon beating Mid-Atlantic to claim 5th place overall out of 8 teams. Appelby notched two tries on the weekend, with Elabdouni and Nassivera each scoring a try.
"This tournament was the best competition we've ever played with and against, and it was extremely eye-opening all the talent and rugby knowledge that was being shared during our trip.
From all of us, we really appreciate the help financing this trip. We played our best rugby, made a lot of memories. We even ran into UBRFC alum Matt McCarthy and gave him an old jersey! I hope we'll be able to do more trips like this in the future." - Kelvin Huynh, UBRFC President
The UBRAA is registered with the New York State Department of State as a not-for-profit corporation and is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.