Above L-R: Clint Smith (Rookie Of The Year), Ryan Kruszewski (Most Valuable Back), Djuan Spain (Most Improved Player), Kevin O’Sullivan (Dennis Shade Award), Mario Bones (Most Improved Player), and Jordan Heberle (Most Valuable Forward)
(Erie, Pa) With the Erie Rugby Club Men’s team actively preparing for a potential playoff run, the men took a break this weekend to honor our top performing club members of 2015 with the 43rd Annual Erie RFC Awards banquet. Hosted by the Presque Isle Downs & Casino, the Erie men traded in their rugby kit for suit and tie…and gathered with their significant others for a formal dinner and award ceremony.
The Erie Rugby Club would like to congratulate the entire Erie Rugby community on another outstanding year of rugby. Although not everyone receives formal awards each year, all have been essential to our success both on and off the pitch. We had a strong rookie class this year, and had many returning players from previous years. This mix of talent, youth, and experience helped the Erie men to a 6-0-1 Fall 2015 season. With only 3 matches remaining and under new coaching direction, Erie needs to win 2 of the final 3 matches to secure 1st place in the Midwest East division…and land our 6th playoff bid in the last 8 years.
Please join us in applauding the following award recipients (pictured above). These young men did an outstanding job last year, and we look forward to many more years with them!
2015 Dennis Shade Award — Kevin O’SullivanThe Dennis Shade Award is given each year to the individual that does the most for The Erie Rugby Club from OFF the pitch. In 2015, Kevin organized and secured funding for a new set of jerseys as well as landing sponsorship money from both Molly Brannigan’s and PI Downs & Casino. In addition, Kevin offered to take over as head coach after Jeremy Jaeger’s retirement. Thank you for everything, Kevin!
2015 Most Valuable Forward — Jordan Heberle (#3, #7)
The Most Valuable Forward award is given each year to the forward player (#’s 1-8) that had the biggest impact for the team from on the pitch (as a player). Jordan came to us in 2012, and made an immediate impact. His ball-running, place-kicking, and overall drive to be the best player on the field consistently has paid off in grand fashion for the Erie men. Jordan has had tries in almost every match he has played in all black, and continues to dominate every time he takes the field.
2015 Most Valuable Back — Ryan Kruszewski (#10)
The Most Valuable Back award is given each year to the backline player (#’s 9-15) that had the biggest impact for the team from on the pitch (as a player). Ryan has been the focal point of the backline for many years now, and is the first player in club history to receive the Most Valuable Back award for 5 straight years (2000-2015). His prowess on the field is unmatched in our league, and he is the first player in club history to come up from our U19 program to join the men’s team.
2015 Keith Branton Award — Clint Smith (#5)
The Keith Branton Award is given each year to the club’s “Rookie Of The Year”, and is named after our beloved club founder, Keith Branton. Clint joined us in the Fall of 2015, and hit the ground running. Through his impressive work ethic and drive, Clint was able to secure a starting spot in the first match of our season…and with zero previous rugby experience! He never looked back, and continues to improve with every match.
2015 Most Improved Player — Djuan Spain (#13) & Mario Bones (#4)
The Most Improved Player award is given to the player who improved the most from the previous year to the present. This year, however, the voting ended in a tie…with both Djuan and Mario taking home the coveted award. Mario joined our team last year, and has been a student of the game ever since. While Mario took to the game rather quickly, his work ethic and continued output on the field turned quite a few heads this past year. Djuan has been around our club for a few years, but became a full time player this past summer. After earning the starting Inside Center spot in our first match this season, Djuan has continued to improve with every game. He made a big impact in our backline with his field vision and impeccable tackling. We look forward to many more successful seasons with these two lads!