Midwest Champions 2019

Midwest Champions 2019

Women’s Division 1

This past weekend, finishing out their first ever season competing in D1, the Chicago Lions became the Midwest Champions by defeating the Metro Valkyries 29-24!

We couldn’t have asked for a better day, or a more focused group of players.  That focus would be tested as the Lions were penalized with a yellow card just 19 minutes into the match.  That yellow card would allow Metro to pressure the Lions, putting up 14 points to take a 14-7 lead.  However, the team regained their composure and turned the tide before halftime to lead 19-14.

The second half saw back and forth play as both teams demonstrated solid defensive posture.  Metro would tie the score at 19, but then the Lions took command gaining a 29-19 lead.  An unfortunate knock-on in the try zone took away a try that would have brought the team to a 34-19 lead and allowed Metro the opportunity to bring the score to a 29-24 level.  At the end, though, the Lions defense held firm into the final whistle.

Women playing

The Lions dominated lineouts, winning all 13 of ours and stealing 1 of 2 Metro lineouts.  As usual, Benny Hershik provided solid, accurate throws, with Aurora Macek establishing a dominant jump and our boosters a firm foundation. Scrums were evenly matched, as were tackles and rucks.  At the end of the day, it was continuity and phase play that allowed the Lions to move the ball to space at the corners and attack from touch-line to touch-line.  Scrumhalf Cara Thayer implemented an excellent attack plan throughout the course of the game, moving the ball into defensive weak points and imposing our game plan on the Valkyries.   Jillian Stariha earned Lion of the Match honors for her solid play at Inside Center – providing that continuity.  Jillian was also awarded the players’ Lightning Lion award.

Michelle “Corkey” Corkery (#5) would follow up her LOM performance vs. Detroit with another Star, along with Michelle Fogelsanger (#13) and Katie Lohaus (#14).

We would like to thank all our friends and family who came out to support the team this season and hope to see you all out in the Spring as we prepare for our run at the National D1 Championship!

~ Coach Bruce Snyder

Men’s Division 1

The Lions (7-1 and champions of the East Conference) took on Kansas City Blues (8-0 and winners of the West Conference) in the Midwest Championships on Saturday in Lemont. KC’s undefeated season was particularly impressive coming from the highly competitive West Conference which includes Palmer and Metropolis. KC bolstered their ranks with the additions of a number of current and former MLR players.

KC came out of the gate hot, diving on a smart grubber kick through to the try zone to score after 3 minutes. The Lions responded with a smart pass off a 5-meter scrum from scrumhalf Joe Van Zyl to winger Dan Coci to score in the corner. Hooker Kevin Lydon was next to score after sustained pressure on the KC line. Fullback Harry Deck slotted the conversion. KC responded after a missed tackle saw them break free and leave it tied 12-12 at the half.

The second half saw KC score first again on a penalty kick. It was all Lions from there on as the boys found another gear and played a smart territory game to sustain pressure in KC’s 22. A dominant lineout game helped the Lions get two more scores, one from prop Frikkie De Beer and second from a lineout interception by Lydon. Now up 24-15 with 15 minutes to play, the Lions defense was barbaric and their blitz defense shut down KC’s opportunities to get the ball to their danger men on the wings.

The Lions sealed the game when center Spencer Cameron slipped through off the fringe of a ruck to make the final 31-15. It was a fantastic result from fiercely played game between two closely matched teams. Man of the Match was captain and eightman Andy Rose, who carried phenomenally, with center Jake Hidalgo and Coci getting special mentions for their sustained defensive efforts and Kevin Lydon for his 2-try performance.

I would like to thank the fans, friends and alumni as always for their continued support but especially on this Saturday night as they were out in full force and voice. I know it lifted the guys to hear the cheers from the crowd and it gave them that feeling of a 16th man advantage, thank you all!

Next up, the Lions will play in the USA Rugby Elite Cup against the winner of the American Rugby Premiership. The ARP was a tightly contested contest amongst NYAC, Old Blue and Life, with Life winning on the final week, setting up a rematch of last season’s national semifinal, which saw Life beat the Lions in a close match.

The Lions will play Life on Saturday, November 23, at Life University outside Atlanta, time TBC.

~ Coach Dave Clancy

Sports Complex – J. Tyke Nollman Field

Sports Complex – J. Tyke Nollman Field

Field

Saturday, September 21st, 2019 was a historical day for the Chicago Lions as we revealed the second completed phase of the Lions for Hope Sports Complex, the J. Tyke Nollman Field. It was a day that Lions from all generations have been waiting for; finally, we have a home. The emotional reaction from alumni, fans, and rugby players was overwhelming.

Sign Nollman

Leading up to Saturday’s event, the Lions received numerous congratulatory emails from rugby players and clubs around the world who either came to Chicago on tour or played against the Lions on their home fields. Several mentioned Tyke and some mentioned that they still have the Lion statue in their clubhouse. The Lions’ reach is truly global and continues to grow each year!

Starting with the Rookie Rugby program and ending with the Men’s D2 side, rugby was played on the new field from 9am to 6pm. Over 500 people showed up throughout the day, with the biggest crowd in attendance between 12:30-4:00 pm.

This project would not have been possible without the support of the Lions’ generous donors. The Lions would like to recognize and thank the core volunteer group:

  • Pat Bolger
  • Kevin Drewyer
  • Paul O’Connor
  • John Duggan
  • Tony Rio
  • The First Fifteen, President’s XV, Captain’s XV that made the purchase of the land possible
  • All of the individuals who donated and volunteered their time over the past five years to make this dream a reality.

Sign First Fifteen

Sign President's Fifteen

We would also like to thank the current CLCA board and the past board members for serving the Lions. We also thank our partner, Chicago Hope Academy.

Chicago Hope Academy

A special thanks to the following for their generous support:

  • The Jay and Jane Nollman Charitable Foundation
  • The Mark and Mary Ann Kaufman Foundation
  • The Bruce and Marjorie Calvert Family Fund
  • Pat and Tracy Bolger

Sign Calvert

Sign Kaufman

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Chicago Lions Merges with Chicago Wapiti

Chicago Lions Merges with Chicago Wapiti

Chicago Lions Rugby merges the Chicago Wapiti Rugby Football Club to expand its youth program

August 12, 2019, Chicago

The Chicago Lions Rugby organization, established in 1964, have joined forces to expand the Chicago Lions Youth Rugby Program to include middle school and rookie rugby. The merger is mutually beneficial, and a pooling of resources will allow a complete pathway for its players focused on development and growth.

For the Lions, this will kick start their competitive youth program that started with a High School Boys team in the spring. This will also allow their Lions Community Rugby players an opportunity to continue their rugby journeys and play contact rugby. Director of Youth Rugby Andy Rose says,

“This is great news for both organizations as Wapiti is a great and well-run organization. This merger has been the development of a long-standing relationship between the two organizations and means the Lions can now provide a pathway for players as young as 5 years old all the way through to men’s and women’s programs. This merger has allowed us to skip ahead several years as we are not starting from scratch. This is a very exciting time for the Lions and Chicago as a whole.”

For Wapiti, the players will have a permanent home at Lions for Hope Sports Complex, as well as access to world class coaches and international players.

The addition of the Wapiti program along with Men’s and Women’s 15’s and 7’s, and the recently started Chicago Lions Youth program will give the Lions a holistic organization to go along with the new facility that is being built with the first field ready in September. Chicago Lions President Jeff Simon stated,

“We have always admired what Chicago Wapiti RFC has done building a city youth program from scratch. Joining forces to advance youth rugby made sense as our first field is completed, and we continue our youth rugby outreach in the North Lawndale/East Garfield Park communities.”

In 2011, Chicago Wapiti became the First Youth Rugby Club in Chicago focused on Rookie Rugby, Wapiti now includes Middle School and High School level for both girls and boys to create an enjoyable environment centered on the developmental aspects of rugby focusing on the finest qualities of the game – integrity, physical fitness, responsibility, skill development and sportsmanship – while having fun. According to Dan Kirk,

“Partnering with the Lions and its fantastic Community Program dramatically expands the reach of rugby in Chicago and will make it accessible to all its diverse communities. We are thrilled to begin the next chapter in youth rugby in our city.”

Once completed, the Lions for Hope Sports Complex will be recognized as a safe place for the community to gather through rugby and other organized field sports. We will expand life opportunities for the area youth and increase their social capital. Visit www.lionsforhopesc.org to learn more.

Chicago Lions Rugby is part of the CLCA (Chicago Lions Charitable Association) which is a 501(c)3 organization and in 2015, The CLCA partnered with Chicago Hope Academy to build the Lions for Hope Sports Complex, a premier rugby centric facility, in the North Lawndale/East Garfield Park community. Chicago Hope Academy is an inner-city Christian school catering predominantly to minority youths, which was started in 2005 by Bob Muzikowski, a former Columbia University and Old Blue NY flanker.

The Chicago Lions were founding members of the Rugby Super League, current Midwest Men’s champion, have won numerous Midwest Championships, have participated in over 9 National Club Championships and were National Club 7’s Champions in 2010.The Lions Women’s 7’s made the national championships 6 out of the past 7 years. A Pride of Lions has gone on to represent the United States as Eagle National Side players. The Lions also had the good fortune of having Paul McNaughton (IRE) and Kitch Christie (RSA) coach of 1995 RWC Champion Springboks as members. Former Club Presidents Dick Smith and J. Tyke Nollman plus Bill Fraumann are members of the US Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame.

For more information, contact Jeff Simon at 847-921-0872 or email chicagolionsclca [at] gmail [dot] com. Interested players or coaches can email Coach Andy Rose at youth [at] chicagolions [dot] com.

Annual Keith Brown Golf Outing 2019

Annual Keith Brown Golf Outing 2019

Keith and Lisa Brown

Keith and Lisa Brown

On Friday, July 12th, we had the annual Keith Brown President’s Cup Golf Outing at Old Orchard CC in Mt. Prospect. We had over 70 golfers and another 10 attend the reception. Lisa Quinn and her foursome regained their title with a score of 17 under! It was a great day for the Lions with so many alumni getting together. A special thanks to Jim Kearney, Tom Lynch and Lisa Quinn for organizing and running a great event.

The President’s Cup Golf Outing is named in memory of past Chicago Lions Rugby President, Keith Brown.

As President of the Chicago Lions, Keith was an inspirational leader and a passionate advocate for the sport of rugby. Keith was instrumental in the formation of the CLCA and in building the partnership with Chicago Hope Academy. His dream of the Lions owning our field is now a reality.

The Keith Brown President’s Cup Award has been established to honor Keith and his boundless efforts in building the Lions organization. As we move forward, the annual award will be bestowed upon the President or Administrator who exemplifies dedication, leadership, longevity, the love of the Club… and of course the game.

Previous award winners are Ed Kane, Dick Smith and David Hall. This year’s winner is Jeff Simon.

Thank you to the following:

  • Taft Law as our Cocktail Hour sponsor
  • Mark Wilcox and Matt Campbell as our prize sponsors
  • All our hole sponsors who supported this great event
Summer 7s Update

Summer 7s Update

While we haven’t finalized our Men’s coach, Matt Wagner has stepped up help lead training sessions. Matt has been club captain and sevens captain, besides a long-time Lions 15’s and 7’s player.

Jeremy Nash will once again lead the Women’s program. If anyone wants to help with the Sevens program, please contact Jeff Simon at chicagolionsclca [at] gmail [dot] com.

The Men’s training is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday @ 6:30pm and the Women’s training is Monday @ 6:30pm, Tuesday and Thursday @ 8pm. New players are always welcome.

2019:

  • June 15th: Forest City 7s @ Rockford – Qualifier 1
  • June 22nd: Firehouse 7s @ Lemont – Qualifier 2
  • June 29th: USAR Open Qualifier TBC
  • July 6th: Beach rugby @ Montrose Beach*
  • July 13th: Legacy 7s @ Brighton, Michigan – Qualifier 3
  • July 20th: Midwest Championship 7s @Cincinnati, OH
  • August 10th/11th: National Championships @ venue TBC

*USA Rugby is hosting a Beach Rugby tournament July 6th at Montrose Beach. This should be very interesting and the Lions will be helping out.

Training sessions are held at Altgeld Park at 2640 West Harrison Street. Street parking is available.

Lions Summer Camp – August 5-9, 2019

Lions Summer Camp – August 5-9, 2019

The Chicago Lions are extremely excited to launch our first ever Lions Summer Camp. The camp is open to 8-14 year olds and will run from Monday, August 5th through to Friday, August 9th, 2019. The camp will start at 9 a.m. (drop off will open at 8.30am) and will end at 3:30 p.m. each day (with 1 additional hour of supervised free play to 4:30 p.m.). Participants will be provided with lunch and snacks, as well as a camp t-shirt. The camp will be hosted at the brand new Lions for Hope Sports Complex (2637 W. Polk St., Chicago).

This is not just a rugby camp but a personal development camp. The camp is based around three major concepts:

  1. physical literacy
  2. arts and culture
  3. personal development

The camp will cover the following personal development themes:

  • leadership
  • team building
  • conflict prevention and resolution
  • self-reflections and awareness
  • community service
  • goal setting
  • nutrition

To complete the physical literacy concepts, we will introduce the following sports: rugby, baseball, golf, an obstacle course and soccer. For arts and culture, we will be focused on the different cultures found in rugby adapted into some fun activities and exercises.

  • Resident (28th Ward, North Lawndale, East Garfield Park): $50 deposit
  • Non-resident (all others resident): $200
  • Deadline for registration will be August 6th @ 11.59 pm
  • Waivers will be printed and signed on the first day of the camp

Scholarships are available – please email Andy Rose at youth [at] chicagolions [dot] com.

Wanted: Men’s Sevens Head Coach

Wanted: Men’s Sevens Head Coach

Lions 7sThe Chicago Lions are now searching for a qualified and motivated person for the role of Sevens Men’s Head Coach. This is a fantastic opportunity to work with an ambitious group of players that represent this winning club in the Midwest Rugby Union.

The goal of Chicago Lions Rugby is to win a national championship, establish a competitive academy, and network and recruit Chicago Lions players.

The Head Coach will lead 2 teams – 1 Elite and 1 Developmental – in all training and performance aspects, and will be responsible for developing a successful team environment during the selection, preparation and competition stages.

This opportunity would be from the beginning of June through the National Championships held on August 10-11th, 2019.

  • June 15 – Forest City 7s, Rockford, IL
  • June 22 – Firehouse 7s, Lemont, IL
  • June 29 – USAR Open Qualifier, location TBD
  • July 13 – Legacy 7s, Brighton, MI
  • July 20 – Midwest 7s Championship, Cincinnati, OH & Midwest AGM (Sunday)

Come be a part of a storied tradition with many past and current National caliber player at a state of the are training facility. Coaching stipend with bonus potential is available.

About the team

Chicago Lions Rugby is a premier rugby club in the Midwest and has been a consistent powerhouse in the United States rugby scene since the club’s inception in 1964.

The Chicago Lions are the only team in the Midwest to field fully competitive sides for Men’s Division 1, Men’s and Women’s Division 2, and Men’s and Women’s 7s. The Lions have had several teams within our organization, including an over-35 Grey Lions squad to keep our extensive network of players old and new active and involved. We have an elite, experienced coaching staff and are fortunate to also have a full-service training staff partnership with Athletico at their disposal for training sessions and matches both home and away.

The Lions call Chicago Hope Academy Field their home, located at 732 South Washtenaw in Chicago. This location is a direct result of a long term partnership with Chicago Hope Academy. This partnership with a private, coed college prep school for urban youth creates unique sponsorship opportunities for the club and its supporters. The Lions are also spearheading the development and coaching efforts of the Chicago Hope Academy youth rugby club.