A roar of 15 strong


Submitted Photo

The Iron Lions get set to take on Hollidaysburg in first round of states.

HATFIELD-“Fifteen as one, there might be fifteen players on the field, but we play as a unit, team and no matter the score, one team with one goal,” was the message made known and held by the 2019 North Penn Iron Lion’s Rugby team as their journey to the state tournament out at Penn State Berks commenced in the heart of May.

Composed of players from Lansdale Catholic, Souderton, Pennridge and prominently North Penn, the North Penn Iron Lions hoisted a 6-1 record on the regular season, setting them up with a 4th seed spot heading into the state tournament and a vibe that was more than just your average team chemistry.

“Friendship honestly set us apart. We were never the biggest team, or most intimidating, but we had the skills and bond that led us to wins. From fox to brick, everyone was treated and felt like they were a part of a family and we all worked together. No one headed out to be the all-star, we were all heading out to be the all-star team and do the most in a state run,” said captain and North Penn senior, Augustine “AJ” Covelins.

“Going in we weren’t tense, or nervous at all. We were ready to go, not intimidated and ready to go in and play as one,” stated North Penn junior Justin O’Neill.

The team chemistry off the field, including an overnight visit to a hotel out at Penn State Berks, propelled the Iron Lion’s performances on the field with team orientated plays such as the “Rolly Polly” that stood out as a go-to play between Covelins and fellow captain and North Penn senior, Brian Arnold.

“Throughout the whole season, between AJ, Keegan [Roy], and myself, we always had chemistry between us three, because the ball always starts with Keegan and we dish it to each other doing the most when we were on the field together. AJ and I have been on the team since 9th grade and through all four teams I have been on, this team was the most closely knit, all playing and striving for a single goal all the way into states,” said Arnold.

The hard work and dedication for a team punching a ticket to a state championship run all starts in the early parts of the season where competition isn’t against others teams, but against themselves and teammates around them that they would soon call their brothers.

“From early on we created a vibe for ourselves as a hard working team and an on and off the field bond. Mini camps in October, teaching some new guys the sport and pre season work out on parking lots in winter weather made us step up, work really hard and make any field our own field to get better,” commented O’Neill.

With all of this work, dedication to the game, and bond from top to bottom of the roster, the Iron Lions would roar their way into the first round of States, topping Hollidaysburg in the Quarterfinals and bringing their team energy up and putting the North Penn community name up in the top 4 of rugby teams in the state.

Submitted Photo
Captain Auggie “AJ” Covelins pushes through the opposition with possession at midfield

“Everyone on the team put in the most all season and especially in those final games, I went on that field with my brothers and would die for each and everyone of them fighting and working as a team. We came out all ready, blazing into states and even though it didn’t go the way we wanted, we always played and battled as one,” stated Covelins.

“The dedication the seniors brought like Brian and AJ pushed us from the start into the run we got heading into states and the connection won’t be as deep without them. They were the glue, keeping us together and making us not only a hard working team, but brothers on and off the field,” said North Penn junior, Keegan Roy.

The Iron Lions would fall in their next game to Kiski Valley, who would go on to win the State Championship, in the semi-final game and even though all the hard work, dedicated hours to their craft and strong team connection didn’t pay off in a state chip trophy and banner, the bond each and every player formed with each other and the team as a whole sets up a bright future for up and coming Iron Lions into the team’s rugby program.

“If these guys like Justin, or Keegan come up asking you to play rugby and you have no idea what the sport is, or how to play it, it’s completely fine. It’s a great sport once you get to know it, fun all the time and it’s all about respect. A hooligan sport played by gentlemen,” said Covelins.

“You don’t have to be the most athletic kid and we will work with you and give you a shot at being a part of the team. Where there is a team with unity, there’s victory and you can’t do it by yourself, you gotta do it with your friends,” concluded Arnold.

North Penn Iron Lions are always looking for those seeking to join a team and to do the most on and off the field to improve themselves as a team and an individual. The Activities Fair in September and mini camps in October are great ways for new players to meet the veteran players, coaches and get introduced to a team and sport all about respect and hard work ethic. These characteristics highlight the goals of the 2020 North Penn Iron Lion’s Rugby club team and they look forward to seeing you at the Activities Fair and mini camps in the fall if you want to be a part of a team built around a culture, mojo of a family, and band of brothers.