Friday Night victory

With a stonewall defense and an intense offensive attack, the Chicago Griffins pounded the Detroit Tradesmen Friday, 46-24 for the club’s sixth victory in a row and payback for the club’s only loss of the season. 

The Griffins jumped off to an fast start against the Tradesmen, scoring five unanswered tries in the first 25 minutes of the match to take a 20-0 lead. The Tradesmen came surging back, scoring three tries in the next 15 minutes to close the gap to three points. Score at the half was Griffins 20, Tradesmen 17.

The second half was all Griffins, however, when four minutes in the Griffins scored and converted to make the score 27-17. Detroit came back, however, and scored to make it Griffins 27, Detroit 24, with 18 minutes left in the half.  

Three minutes later, the Griffins scored from a penalty tap close to the Detroit try line. The conversion by flyhalf Joel Conzelmann was good to boost the score to Griffins 34, Detroit 24.  Two more Griffin scores in the final four minutes made it 46-24 as the Detroit defense began to fold. 

Despite the final score, the match was a tooth-and-nail fight as the Griffins made a number of goal line stands that took momentum away from a strong Detroit side.  The Tradesmen also had a vocal and large sidelines group cheering them on. 

“I’ve never had so much fun playing a match,” Griffin captain Erik Jacobson said later.

The Chicago Condors and Silverbacks and their fans also added to a substantial sidelines crowd cheering on the Griffins.  Both teams had Friday night matches – the Silverbacks lost to Dominican University 21-7 and the Condors defeated Oklahoma University 35-7.

Scoring tries for the Griffins were scrumhalf Luke Stringer, center Andrew Suniula, fullback Elliot Bath, wing Takudzwa “Z” Ngwenya, and wing Solomone “Solo” Pauuvale. Other scorers remain to be sorted out and will be named in the next bulletin. Conzelmann kicked three conversions.

The match was played under the lights at Columbus Park in clear but cold conditions. Many thanks to Old Boys Carl Dittmer, Charlie Byrne, John Metzger, Ed and Sheryl Michals, Jay Rizzo, Tiny McLaughlin, and others who cheered on the Griffins. 

Kudos to referee Sean Bastic and assistant referees Pete McHugh and Brittany Simunac for managing a tough night game.

The Griffins will play the Chicago Lions Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Lions’ pitch in the season final.

Griffins Beat Columbus

The Chicago Griffins scored their fifth straight Division 1 victory Saturday by defeating the Columbus RFC, 47-10, at Columbus. 

Welcome to the Windy City!

Griffins Defeat Wolfhounds in a Lopsided Match on a Blustery Day

The wind was a factor. The temperature was a factor. But also in the mix was a strong Griffin RFC running and kicking game that defeated the Cincinnati Wolfhounds Saturday, 69-20.

“Boffo!” said Charlie Byrne, Griffin Old Boy, at the social following the match. “Welcome to the Windy City.”

It was the second victory for the Griffins over Cincinnati, a good Division 1 rival that is having a difficult season.  Cincinnati is winless for the fall season so far. 

The lopsided score came in the second half when the Griffins scored 45 points and Cincinnati answered with 13. Cincinnati appeared to be surging back from a 24-8 halftime deficit, but was unable to hold back the attack from Griffins forwards and backs. In spite of winds gusting above 30 mph, Flyhalf Joel Conzelmann kicked 7 of 11 conversions to add 14 points to the board. 

Other top scorers for the Griffins included Flanker John Luhrsen with 3 tries and Scott Peterson with 2. The following had one each: center Josh Allen, center Andrew Suniula, lock Erik Jacobson, scrumhalf Luke Stringer, and wing Ngwenya “Z” Takudzwa. It remains unclear which Griffin had the 11th try. 

Scott Peterson playing No. 8 was selected as Griffins’ Man of the Match for his breakaway runs. Eric Lalley, also playing No. 8, was selected Man of the Match for Cincinnati for his tough offense and defense. 

Griffin player/coach Suniula said the Griffins got into their groove early, scoring two tries in the first 15 minutes of the game. But once the Griffins adjusted to Cincinnati’s attacks, the Griffins didn’t let up. 

“It took us some time to get used to their style of play,” said Drew. “They were playing 10 minute rugby.”

Griffin captain Erik Jacobson summed up game conditions this way: “It was fucking cold.”

Many thanks to the Old Boys who braved the weather to watch the match: John Smyth, Charlie Byrne, Mike “Big Mac” McCormick, and Dan Fachinni. 

The Griffins will travel to Ohio to take on the Columbus Rugby Club on Saturday, Oct. 27. 

Stay tuned for details on the match between the Griffins and Detroit Tradesmen on Friday, Nov. 2 under the lights as part of the Rugby Weekend.


Griffins Defeat Lions in Final Seconds!


An electrifying 80 meter breakaway with less than a minute left vaulted the Griffins TO VICTORY!

Taking a pass from outside center Josh Allen, Griffin winger Takudzwa Ngwenya sprinted down the sideline untouched to score the winning try. 

Griffin Old Boys and fans on the other side of the field erupted in cheers as Ngwenya, nicknamed “Z,” placed the ball down in the Lion’s try zone. Joel Conzelmann, playing scrumhalf, kicked the conversion to add two points to Z’s  try.

Referee Josh Houston whistled the end of the game moments later.

Assistant referee Patrick Platteuw watched the play unfold from his position as touch judge.

“It was a good pass (from Allen) and I gave a thumbs up to the ref that it was good,” said Platteuw after the game. “There was nobody in front of the Griffin wing.”

The play was set up by flanker John Luhrsen who poached the ball from the Lions in loose play.  A series of rucks and good passing moved the ball outside and to Allen and Z.  The score was especially notable since the Griffins played the final 20 minutes of the game with only 14 due to a red card against their fullback.

The match was a tough seesaw battle with the Griffins taking advantage of several mistakes by the Lions, including a missed pass in their own end zone recovered for a try by Griffin hooker Manny Aranda.

The Griffins scored in the first five minutes with a try in the corner by Luhrsen in a penalty rush. Conzelmann couldn’t convert and the Lions came back with two penalty kicks to make the score 6-5. With Aranda’s try, the Griffins then led at the half, 12-6.

The Lions came back in the second half with a try and conversion.

With 20 minutes left, Griffin center Matt Crabtree blocked a kick and recovered it in the Lions end zone to score. Conzelmann converted and the score was Griffins 19, Lions 13.

The Lions kicked a penalty goal and with six minutes left in the match, took the lead, scoring from a lineout at midfield – Lions 23, Griffins 19. The Griffins sideline fell quiet as time ran out. But the team playing one man short continued to dig in and fight their arch-rivals.  Great forward play in the loose led to the final Griffins’ score.

“A determined and resilient performance saw the team overcome playing 30 minutes down a man and force a turnover deep in our own territory that was spun wide and turned into a game-winning try as time expired,” said Griffins President Brendan Brown.

In a second match, the Griffins B side lost to the Lions B side.

Games were played under cloudy skies with a light rain or drizzle falling occasionally. A post-match social was held at the Mecca Supper Club in Edison Park, attended by players from both teams.

Founders Brewery Griffins’ Man of the Match was No. 8 Scott Peterson, whose fierce running attacks kept the Lions on their heels. The Lions’ Man of the Match was Andrew Rose, also No. 8, who led attacks by the Lions forwards.  

Other notable Griffin performances include prop Timmy Paulsen, prop Kevin Knox, second rows Erick and Charlie Jacobson, and center Matt Crabtree.

Overall, it was a great day for the Chicago Rugby Club and its affiliates, which include the Griffins. All CRC clubs scored victories:

The Chicago Sirens defeated the Fox Valley Vixens, 81-5.

The Westside Condors beat the Chicago Exiles, 29-7.

The Silverbacks defeated the Bloomington Crashlanders, 61-5.  

The Griffins have a bye this coming weekend. Next match is a home game against the Cincinnati Wolfhounds Oct. 20.       


Tour-de-force Win for Griffins!


In an on-the-road tour de force performance, the Chicago Griffins RFC defeated the Cincinnati Wolfhounds Saturday, 36-32.

“It was huge win on the road traveling with only 19 players,” said Griffin President Brendan “BB” Brown.

The game was played at the Wolfhounds home pitch.  Scoring for the Griffins were Manny Aranda, Christopher Williams, Joel Conzelmann, Nick Szopinski, and A.J. Milano.

The Griffins “Man of the Match” was Conzelmann at flyhalf. Joel, 25, played for the University of Michigan and Grand Rapids. A talented player who can kick penalty goals and conversions, he helped lead the Griffins in defeating Columbus on Sept. 22.

The Griffins are now 2-1 in Midwest Division 1 play.

The Griffins will be at their home pitch when they take on the Chicago Lions this Saturday, Oct. 6, in the next installment of this long-running and fierce rivalry. Stay tuned for more details later this week. Information also will be available on the Griffins website and Facebook page.

Tries: Manuel "Manny" Aranda, Christopher Williams, Joel Conzelmann, Nick Szopinski, and AJ Milano

MAN OF THE MATCH: Joel Conzelmann




In a scrappy match played on a beautiful breezy day, the Chicago Griffins defeated Columbus RFC Saturday, 36-19.


Winger Pat Marek on way to a try. 

Matt Crabtree on his way to score.


The match was tooth-and-nail to the end, although Columbus scored first with a try in the corner, the Griffins came back in the first half with great passing in the back line and aggressive attacks by the forwards.

Two tries by Griffin fullback Toni Falatau early in the game gave the team momentum to keep a tough Columbus squad at bay, putting the team up 17-5, including a penalty kick by flyhalf Joel Conzelmann.  Center Matt Crabtree scored another try with five minutes left in the half and Conzelman kicked the conversion. Columbus came back, scoring a try from a scrum at the Griffin 22. The conversion was no good after the Columbus kicker moved and John Luhrsen rushed him, finally tapping the ball off the tee.  Midwest Referee Enrique Alvarez allowed the play, agreeing that the kicker moved.

At the half, it was Griffins 24, Columbus 10.  In the second half, a series of penalties against the Griffins gave Columbus the opportunity to score on three kicks, putting the Ohio club within five points. The Griffins scored again, missed the conversion, giving the club a lead of 29-19. With five minutes left, the Griffins scored again with another conversion by Conzelmann. Final 36-19.

It was Family and Friends Day for the Griffins RFC  and its affiliated clubs in the Chicago Rugby Club – Condors, Silverbacks, Sirens and Frogs.  The Condors lost a tough match to the Rockford RFC, 38-26 and the Silverbacks fell to the Indianapolis Impalas. The Sirens obtained a forfeit as the Rockford women’s club did not field a team. The Frogs-Rockford Old Boys score is not yet in. 

Many thanks to the CRC for putting on a great cookout and all-around first order rugby event.  Thanks to Griffin Old Boy Buzz Frank, who subbed in as grill master for the CRC cookout. Buzz agreed to be grill meister for future Griffin home games. Other Griffin Old Boys at the scene included John Metzger, Jay Rizzo and Ed Michals. 

The Griffins travel to Cincinnati to play the Wolfhounds RFC in their next Division 1 match on Saturday, Sept. 29.  The Griffins will play the Lions on Saturday Oct. 6 at home.

Photos provided by Griffin team photographer Sheryl Bury-Michals