John Vitale has been one of the best tighthead props in American rugby for several years. Very quiet and unassuming, he’s the sort of the player who makes his most eloquent statements on the field.
Vitale is a central figure for the Chicago Lions and his presence was certainly felt this past weekend. Vitale came back from injury earlier this fall, but hadn’t quite hit his best form and was rested a little by Head Coach Marty Wiggins.
But Vitale led the way Saturday in an upset of Palmer College of Chiropractic. The Lions beat previously undefeated Palmer 42-19, and Wiggins pointed to the presence and leadership of Vitale as a huge part of the effort.
The Lions needed that win, as their playoff prospects haven’t looked the best since two early-fall losses in league play. That one victory, and Vitale’s significant contribution up front, has put them in position to challenge for the #2 seed in the Midwest crossovers with the South next spring.
Note: The Lions dedicated their game to their ailing president, Keith Brown, who was pleased to hear of the victory when the club visited him in the hospital that day. Wednesday, October 19, Brown passed away. RUGBYMag would like to join the rugby community in expressing our condolences to Keith's clubmates and family.