Rugby club makes national mark
The Brandywine Rugby Club, based in West Chester, reached USA Rugby's Division II title game.
By any measure, the Brandywine Rugby Club's 25th season was its most successful.
Brandywine, based in West Chester, reached the senior men's national championship game of USA Rugby's Division II in Glendale, Colo.
It lost to Red Mountain (Ariz.), 41-18, on June 1. A day earlier, Brandywine topped Detroit, 31-8, to reach the final for the first time.
"It was just a phenomenal experience," Brandywine president Chris Vely said. "It was a complete team effort, starting with head coach George Betzler and captain Owen Gardner.
"It was truly monumental in terms of how many people it takes to get something like this done. All the players were extremely satisfied with everything except the loss in the finals."
En route to the national championship game, Brandywine won the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union playoffs. It beat Raleigh, the defending national champion, by 17-5 in the playoffs, in April, and by 17-14 in the season opener, in February.
"We had high hopes," Vely said. "We were on track."
Brandywine also raised more than $14,000 in its sixth annual Scrum for Six, which honors former club member Michael Bartone and raises money for the Michael Bartone Memorial Foundation.
Bartone died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2002, and the foundation funds an annual scholarship and supports the fight against ALS.
The amount raised exceeded the $13,500 average over the previous five years.
"It was extremely successful," Vely said. "Michael Bartone was such a big part of the club."