While their neighbors and longtime rivals to the north, Iona College, prep for the main draw of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships next weekend at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia, Fordham University will be riding a high of success into the Freedom Cup qualifier as well.
The Rams, whose history in rugby dates back to the dates of when Vince Lombardi was on the gridiron in The Bronx, won the Shield at last weekend’s USA Rugby Championships, and have gone on an impressive 18-2 run, including capturing the Liberty Conference Championship in the Olympic sport of Sevens rugby this spring.
Their wins last weekend included a 29-5 victory over Nevada, and a narrow loss to perennial power Utah kept Fordham from even higher results.
Head coach Andrew Gheraldi has returning star Maxim Zhitnik, its top player, the son of former NHL star Alexi Zhitnik, again leading the attack, backed up by senior Nathaniel Fisher and the pair of Argentine stars by way of Greenwich High School, Fermin Moraiz and Mateo Gowland. Gowland is also no stranger to success on the field for the Rams, having been a part of Fordham’s 2017 Final Four qualifying soccer squad. They will also be joined by Jared Smallwood and Logan McIntyre, the former team captain who has returned from injury and remains one of the best collegiate flankers in the nation.
Fordham has used the mantra of #RamsRising for several years now, and the result has been an uptick in onfield success in everything from soccer to softball (with the exception of the still struggling men’s basketball program). Can that rise continue to men’s rugby next weekend in Philly? Recent results are encouraging, and that makes the Rams one to watch and see if they can rise to the main draw with qualifying success in Philly.