Union County Mudturtles Win National High School Tier II Rugby Tournament

The Union Mudturtles won the National High School Tier II Rugby Championship Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 16.

UNION COUNTY, NJ - Michael 'Chicken' Dabulas of Westfield and Khalil Burns of Linden led 25 Union County teammates to the Rugby National Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina on May14 - May 16.

The first game on Thursday, 5/13 was against a tough North Bay team from California. Kevin Trotter broke 6 tackles on a 60 yard run to start the Mudturtles on their way. Mike Hogan, Jatece Wright (2 tries) and Jonadony Brevette also all scored in the 34-27 victory. Union was ahead 34-10 with 12 minutes left, but North Bay was able to cut lead to 7. Trotter made a magnificent open space potential game tying tackle at the 5 meter line to seal the win. Zach Koch, Nick Ballas, Tom Morley and Greg Blaine all had outstanding defensive games for the Mudturtles.

On Friday, the opponent was Fishers from Indianapolis. Wright, Daniel Johnson, Dabulas, Burns and Nick Costa all scored tries in the 29-10 victory. Dabulas' kicking game and Costa’s punishing defense dominated play. Brendan Collum, Fred Gladis, and pound for pound toughest player at the tournament, Ben Kelly all had outstanding games. Gladis and Collum controlled the line-outs all game. Nick Costa blasted his way through the entire Fisher squad to set up the Daniel score. Dabulas was the smartest player on the pitch from beginning to end, Wright was the fastest and Kelly's scrum management helped win the day. Kelly's blocked kick late was a game sealer for the Union side.

Sign Up for E-News

The Championship game on Saturday pitted the Mudturtles against home town and well supported Charlotte Catholic. The Charlotte Catholic team had scored a total of 135 points in the 2 games leading up the championship game. The Union squad held them to only one late try in the hard fought 17-5 victory. Wright started scoring for Union with a 60 yard run off a beautiful Dabulas pass. The Mudturtles had a 10 minute goal line stand towards the end of first half led by Collum, Burns, Costa, Gladis, Brendan Cunningham, Ballas, Hogan and others that seemed to take the air out of the Charlotte team and their fans. Wright scored again to start 2nd half. Brendan Cunningham had a nifty long run to set up that score. Matt Zimmerman was all over the field for Union in 2nd half making tackles. Mike "Road Rage" Hogan finished the scoring for Union to seal the Championship.

The venue in Charlotte was great with 24 teams from all over the country participating in the tournament. Head Coach Joe “Straw” Dabulas gave all of the coaching credit to assistant coaches Bill McLaney, Jack Zimmerman and Ivano Mirandi. Grace Dabulas, younger sister of players Chicken and Jack, gets credit for most enthusiastic and loudest fan. General Manager and overall team Mom Diane Dabulas gets credit for being most nervous fan.

The State Championships are next on the target for the Mudturtles!  For more information about the Union County Mudturtles Rugby Club, current schedules and to register for the summer flag rugby program, please visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Sun, May 20, 12:30 PM

Church of Christ, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Community Blood Drive

Giving Back Health & Wellness

Mon, June 4, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Tue, June 5, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Goethals Bridge to New Jersey to be Closed Friday Night through Sunday

May 16, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Goethals Bridge to New Jersey will be closed to all traffic beginning 9 p.m. Friday, May 18 until 9 p.m. Sunday, May 20. 

The Eastbound to NY will remain open. Officials said the closure is necessary to construct the entry and exit ramps for the new westbound span.

At 9 p.m. Sunday night, the westbound span is expected to open in its final configuration, three ...

The 15th Annual Tour de Elizabeth Comes to Elizabeth this Sunday

ELIZABETH, NJ - Cyclists of every skill level are readying their bicycles in anticipation as the 15th annual Tour de Elizabeth that will roll through the city.\ this coming Sunday. 

This year’s ride, which is titled “Destination Elizabeth,” will begin and end at City Hall, is a family-friendly, 15-mile recreational tour of the City of Elizabeth’s historic ...

Elizabeth Receives $125k Infrastructure Grant from Union County

May 7, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ – The City of Elizabeth will receive $125,000 through the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ fourth annual Union County Infrastructure grant.

The annual grant is dedicated to funding projects aimed towards economic development growth and improvements to roads, facilities and more. Approximately $1.5 million in grant funding was awarded throughout Union County ...

Video Shows School Board Member In Altercation With Police at Traffic Stop in South Orange

May 17, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Orange Maplewood School Board Member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad got into an altercation with a South Orange police officer who stopped her for speeding last month, in which she used profanity, complained when she was issued a ticket and called South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll “a skinhead cop.”

Lawson-Muhammad also appeared to suggest that she would ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

'The Sting' with Harry Connick Jr. Slithers and Shakes at Paper Mill

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and Chicago.  Scott Joplin’s music is intertwined with the show, especially “The ...

Sample Ballots Now Available on Union County Clerk Elections Website and App

May 17, 2018

Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi announces that sample ballots for the June 5 Primary Election are now available on the Union County Votes mobile app for Apple and Android devices, and on the County Clerk’s election website at

“The mobile app and website enable voters to see their sample ballots quickly and conveniently on their computers, laptops and other ...