In Men’s Rugby, Gaels Defeat Boston College Eagles in the Inaugural Teddy Smith Classic

The play on the pitch brought together connections across the country and across generations. And it helped spread awareness for mental health issues while celebrating what’s best about the game.

by Club Sports | February 12, 2024

The February 11 Men’s Rugby match-up between Saint Mary’s College and Boston College helped spread awareness for mental health issues while bringing two institutions together that have current and past ties.

The Gaels won a resounding victory, 74–7. But the score belies the fact that the game was an excellent display of both teams’ skills, coordination, and work ethic. Quick play from the Gaels ensured successful efforts to move the ball wide. Flyhalf Sosaia Pongi ’26 and center Dominic Besag ’26 demonstrated their offensive abilities throughout the match by scoring multiple tries. King Matu ’24 showed skill and power by breaking through the Boston College defense throughout the match. But the Boston College Eagles stayed solid while utilizing penalties and set pieces to reset and respond to SMC’s offense. 

Breaking Through: King Matu ‘24 dodges the defender while carrying the ball up the field. /Photo By Rebecca Harper
Breaking through: King Matu ’24 dodges the defender while carrying the ball upfield. / Photo By Rebecca Harper

The energetic start from the Gaels continued into the second half with veteran player Erich Storti MA ’24 leading the team. Scoring opportunities continued for both teams with three Gaels finding the try zone: Nathan Deegan ’26, Noah Miller ’27, and Brian McKeon ’25.

Mario Storti ‘26 is pushed into the try zone by Erich Storti MA’24 in an attempt to increase the lead against Boston College.
Strength: Mario Storti ’26 is pushed into the try zone by Erich Storti MA ’24. / Photo by Rebecca Harper

Moraga to Boston

The current Saint Mary’s connection to Boston College Rugby comes from SMC Alum Holden Yungert ’17, who is in his second season as a coach for the Eagles. His tenure at SMC is notable and worth recognizing.  Yungert played on each of the championship teams while at Saint Mary’s: in 2014, 2015, the 2016 7’s, and in 2017. He was recognized as the MVP in the 2017 win over Life University.

That 2017 college rugby championship was captured in the Goff Rugby Report so: "The Gaels won the scrum, and O'Connor took off to the left. The powerful forward was almost untouched and had one man to beat. Behind him was scrumhalf Holden Yungert. O'Connor slowed down enough to let Youngert swerve to his right and popped a perfect pass. Yungert was in under the posts."

Yungert was one of the first Gaels to enter Major League Rugby and is going on his eighth season, currently playing with the New England Free Jacks.  

 SMC Alum Holden Yungert ‘17 encourages the Boston College Players during the half to continue the fight against the Gaels.
Coach’s Corner: SMC Alum Holden Yungert ’17 encourages the Boston College players during the half to continue the fight against the Gaels. / Photo by Rebecca Harper


The Teddy Smith Classic

This inaugural match-up was in honor of Boston College player Teddy Smith. Teddy was a tough competitor who embodied everything that’s best about rugby. He was the MVP of Boston College Men's Rugby as a sophomore in 2006 and over the years has positively impacted players, fans, and teammates throughout the Boston College Rugby community. 

Teddy's connection to SMC comes from his brother, Charlie Smith ’06, who played rugby at SMC, and grandfather Ted Smyth ’38, who also attended Saint Mary’s. Smith’s uncles  are also SMC alumni: Dan Smyth ’70 and Joe Smyth ’80, who played baseball at SMC. 

In 2023, Teddy passed away on Easter Sunday. This game was in recognition of his legacy to broaden awareness for mental health. The Smith family also started the Teddy Fund, which raises money and awareness for a variety of organizations that focus on mental health for young people. Robert Taylor from the National Alliance on Mental Health was in attendance at the game, as was John Paye, president of the Northern California chapter of NFL Alumni. Both Taylor and Paye are serving the local community by attending sporting events and sharing stories to support mental health awareness for youth. Teddy's legacy will continue to provide an impact through the work of the Red Head Ted Fund, and events like the Gaels-Eagles rugby match-up offer support and awareness in our community. 

Teddy Smith Classic Rugby Match
A legacy to be proud of: From left, Teddy Smith playing rugby for Boston College. Charlie Smith, Teddy's father, thanks supporters Robert Tyalor and John Paye. SMC lines up for the national anthem while displaying T-shirts supporting the Teddy Foundation. Teddy's rugby jacket on display at the game.

CATCH THE GAELS ON THE FIELD: The next home match for Men's Rugby is Saturday, February 17 at 1 p.m. against UCLA.

READ MORE: From the archives — “2017 D1A CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE: Another Classic As Gaels Beat Life For D1A Title,” from Alex Goff Report