Legends and Heroes: The Fly-halfs


So you might be asking yourself, why are we focusing on fly-halfs for this issue of the newsletter? No idea. Don’t they get enough credit, glory, notoriety, and press as it is? Yes. But, does that make them any less worth our time, appreciation, and affection? Absolutely not. Besides, if I make them look good they might buy my drinks at the happy hour at Stan and Joe’s the night before the gala. I’m a writer with little money and a seven week old...a beer sounds pretty good right about now.

It wasn’t easy to get the four selected fly-halfs to respond, but when they did, their passion for the game and for this club reverberated through all of their responses.

Michael “Bergie” Bergeson had an illustrious rugby career playing for the University of Utah, Gonzaga Law School, the Spokane Rugby Club, and finally coming to Severn River in 1982. He began his career playing wing and center, but eventually found his sweet spot at fly-half. “I really liked to read the defense and exploit weaknesses. I also liked to disrupt the opposite forward play by anticipating breaks from the wing, forwards, and the number 8,” he remembered. With the help of excellent teammates like Marty O’Neill at fullback, Pete Freeman at scrummie, Mike and Chris Posko as well as Jeff Arendt at centers, Bergie could use his dummy pass and know his guys would be there to back him up. For Bergie, this game is all about chemistry with the guys on and off the field. From the photo, it’s pretty clear that he had a strong connection with his scrumhalf and no one was getting in the way of that channel.

Ruth Seerey is a rugger for life. Playing for Severn River on a dare from her friends when the women’s team was just starting to form, she had an immediate impact with the knowledge she brought from her years with Chesapeake and her alma mater, UMBC. WIth her kangaroo leather Diadora cleats and a knack for nailing dropkicks mid-play, Ruth was a dynamic fly-half with a calm confidence that her teammates admired. While the position could be frustrating when she received a tough pass from the scrummie and kept “passing the shit” on down the line or getting nailed by the opposing fly-half after a bad pass, her love of the strategy of the game had her hooked from the start. Reading the field and “orchestrating what might happen three plays from now...I’ve always loved figuring out that aspect of the game.” Ruth continues to promote youth rugby as a Head Coach with the Green Hornets program in Severna Park.

The current fly-halfs are following the path laid for them by these outstanding alumni of the club. Charlee and Punchy seem to be related to Ruth and Bergie...if only by the blood they’ve left on the pitch.

Charlee “Charles” Bryan started playing rugby at Towson University and joined Severn River in 2011. A utility back (like so many rookies), Charlee learned much of the game from fullback before moving to fly-half. Once in the new position, her pension for trickery and love of controlling the opponent was really able to shine.  While not a lot of people talk about defense enough, Charlee’s favorite move is to work with her flankers, especially Sweet Dee Crovo, to force the attacking opposition to see a hole in the line that isn’t really there. “We like to turn that into a little game where I feed them right back into the middle where they get blindsided by my more than ready flanker.” With Eminem in her headphones and a family of sisters to support each other, “there's just this feeling that comes with playing the sport- words can't do it justice.”

Erik “Punchy” Dronberger began playing with Severn River in 2001 when he was fifteen. He continued to play in college and returned to Severn in the summers before joining the men’s club in 2009. As another notch in his belt, Punchy played wing in South Africa for Klerksdorp in 2012. With a love of pressure and the adrenaline rush that comes before getting crushed while setting his teammates up for a perfect pass, Punchy loves to be “in control of the giant chess match” that is a 15s rugby match. With a remarkable memory for specific game moments, Punchy is the kind of fly-half who can remember his successes and failures to grow as a cerebral player.   

I could go on and on about Charlee and Punchy, but come out to a match and see their dedication for yourself. All four of these flyhalfs made a few things abundantly clear in their interviews:

  1. They relied heavily on their 8-men, Flankers, and Centers for support, but all have a deep appreciation for every player on the field.

  2. They love the pressure of making decisions under fire...even if it means getting wrecked occasionally.

  3. They all have a 6th sense.

  4. They are all fiercely loyal.

But perhaps most importantly, each player stressed that Severn River is their rugby family, the team that they think of most fondly as their own.

Maybe I should buy them a beer.