When you consider the rugged, hardworking background that has helped make Pittsburgh what it is today, the fact that rugby is a growing sport in the region should come as no surprise. One of the people pushing for that growth is Sam Angelo: a board and team member of the Pittsburgh Forge.
The Pittsburgh Forge is a rugby club and federally recognized non-profit comprised of a Division II and III men’s league and a Division II women’s league. The team is comprised of a wide variety of local rugby enthusiasts of various skill levels between the ages of nineteen and forty; Angelo himself is a teacher, but he plays alongside everyone from engineers to doctors to public safety workers.
Angelo’s own passion for rugby began ten years ago at Slippery Rock University. At 6’1″ and 235 lbs, he seems almost custom-built for a sport that heavily favors the strong and sturdy. He was recruited for college football but soon found himself on the school’s rugby team as well. Now a teacher, he continues to foster his love for the sport through his active role on the Forge.
Rugby is a tough sport, and although there’s always a risk of injury when you’re clashing head-to-head with other athletes, there are also many benefits to playing the game. Angelo lists physical fitness as just one of the perks Forge members receive from their shared passion.
“The social aspect is huge,” he says. “A lot of guys come to hang out with other guys. There’s a brotherhood among the players. No matter what other social categories or activities we’re in, we’re still close and goofy with each other.” He says the team regularly hangs out at the appropriately themed South Side pub Ruggers, which is owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Rugby Club. “On the field or off, it’s a fun atmosphere.”
The team also gives back to the local community, especially because of the connection they feel with the city.
“We practice and play in the South Side, but we’ll do things like community clean-ups or planting trees or landscaping in other parts of the city. Some of the guys are getting a youth league together. We’re trying to grow the sport in the city and especially with the youth,” says Angelo.
Angelo and the rest of the Forge have done impressive work in helping to establish the rugby community as a significant athletic group in Western PA, and he takes a lot of pride in how much the team has grown since he joined. Currently, the Forge alone is comprised of around 40 men and 30 women. Angelo says that they will never play a league team and compares the Forge to a CFL team rather than one in the NFL, but they still travel to locations such as New York, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis.
Whether you’re male or female, young and promising or a few years past your collegiate athletic days, white-collar or blue-collar, the friendly and welcoming sense of community within the Pittsburgh Forge is proof that rugby really can be for everyone. The team represents everything that makes the city great, demonstrating diversity, friendliness, charitability, and of course, the ruggedness that Pittsburghers are known for. Whether you’re experienced in the art of tackling people or have never held a ball in your life, the Pittsburgh Forge is open to newcomers of all experience levels. Check out their website if you want to learn more about one of the greatest unsung teams of Steel City.
Dugan & Associates is proud to sponsor and support the Pittsburgh Forge.