Club Rugby's Saturday Six-Pack: April 15, 2017
LAFAYETTE, Colo. – As we enter the business half of April, senior club games across the country are mounting in importance. Included in this week’s Six-Pack is a look at the East Coast’s most underrated team, Rocky Gorge, a cross-gender double-header in Austin, as well as important clashes from Southern California, the Midwest and Rocky Mountains.
Schuylkill River Exiles vs. Rocky Gorge
Rocky Gorge isn’t undefeated in the Men’s Mid-Atlantic Division I Conference, but it might as well be. The club’s lone conference defeat came against lowly Wilmington on a Saturday in which Rocky Gorge also competed in a friendly against New York Athletic Club, which essentially left a B-side available to fall to Wilmington, 39-5.
By eliminating the scheduled flop against Wilmington, Rocky Gorge has won the rest of its nine match by an average of 43 points per contest. One of those wins came against the Exiles way back in September. In that game, Rocky Gorge bombarded Schuylkill River with 42 points to open the game before the Exiles could get itself on the scoreboard, and Gorge eventually cruised to a 49-12 victory.
It’s difficult to determine if Schuylkill River will be able to close the gap on Rocky Gorge this time around. The boys from Philly have had only one conference game in 2017. After besting Wilmington, 54-17, their April 1 Mid-Atlantic fixture was forfeited by the Potomac Exiles, and the team hasn’t played since. At least the Exiles will be well rested heading their challenge of topping the conference’s top team.
Regardless how rested Schuylkill River is, it’s going to be hard for them to stop Rocky Gorge’s Cima brothers. Matias Cima has five tries and 62 total points on the season, while little brother and capped Eagle Ben has 60 points of his own in just five Mid-Atlantic games this season.
Austin Valkyries vs. Glendale Raptors
The undefeated Valkyries have struggled to find competitive games in the Red River Conference this season, making Saturday April 15’s friendly against the Glendale Raptors the perfect fix for the team eyeing a second consecutive trip to the Division I National Playoffs.
The spring season has typically been one of development for Glendale’s Women’s Premier League side. This year, however, the Raptors’ deeper roster is competing to reach Nationals as a Frontier Conference Division I team. The Frontier Conference, although low on numbers, is highly competitive. The Utah Vipers were able to down Glendale in the fall, and just last week they bit again, dropping the Raptors, 55-33. Factor in Glendale’s April 1 defeat to Lindenwood University and the Raptors will roar into Austin riding a two-game losing streak. In order to get back to its winning ways, Glendale will want to bottle-up Austin’s Geneva Smith. The full back struck for three tries during last week’s 74-0 shutout of the Dallas Harlequins.
Austin Huns vs. Glendale Raptors
It’s Glendale’s turn to hit the road for its home-and-away series with the Austin Huns. The Raptors will arrive in the Lone Star State seven weeks after besting the Huns, 41-10, at Infinity Park.
Glendale might have gotten the better of Austin back in February, but the Huns have posted some impressive results since then. In March the Huns soundly defeated New Orleans and Dallas Harlequins before kicking off April with a 48-22 victory over Rugby Utah Select XV. Even more impressive was last week’s 40-19 win against reigning Red River Conference Champions the Dallas Reds to propel the Huns to the top of the current Red River standings.
An Eagle-littered Raptors squad had been blowing away its competition until D1A Rugby’s BYU proved the team from Colorado can be beaten – almost. The Cougars welcomed Glendale to Provo, Utah and nearly knocked off the star-studded squad, losing 41-39.
Santa Monica Dolphins vs. Belmont Shore
The Southern California Men’s Division I regular season title will be decided in Los Angeles Saturday, April 15 when Santa Monica hosts Belmont shore. The boys from Long Beach enter the fixture with an equal record of 8-1, but maintain two standings points more than the Dolphins’ total of 39. Belmont’s lone loss of the season came against Santa Monica two weeks ago, but Belmont Shore is hoping to flip the script on the Dolphins after having disposed of the Tempe Old Devils last week, 58-12.
Santa Monica has been perfect on the season minus a slip-up against Old Mission Beach Athletic Club in February. Since its loss to OMBAC, the Dolphins have won four in a row by an average of 35 points per contest.
Toledo Celtics vs. Detroit Rugby
Detroit Rugby stands between the Toledo Celtics and a perfect regular season in Midwest’s Men’s Division III Conference. The Celtics have won each of its nine contests by double digits except for one – its 25-24 win against Detroit back in September.
The one-point loss to Toledo isn’t Detroit’s only blemish. The men from the Motor City fell to the Tri-City Barbarians in mid-October, but have won each of its four games since then in convincing fashion. Last week against the Detroit Tradesmen’s D3 side, Tim Cowley, Jonathan Lyskawa and Lucas Rucinski combined for seven tries in Detroit Rugby’s 52-13 win over its crosstown rivals.
Denver Barbarians vs. Provo Steelers
The Denver Barbarians can go a long way in securing Rocky Mountain Division II’s second seed into the Frontier Playoffs by defeating Provo Saturday, April 15. Despite the Barbos’ win over Glendale Raptors’ D2 side last week, no team in the Rockies is going to catch Glendale at the top.
Regardless of the current form Denver showed off against the Raptors last week, Provo is a formidable opponent. In fact, it was just last year that the Steelers reached the National Semifinals of the Men’s Division II Playoffs. The Barbarians will need to be at the top of their game for a second consecutive week of they want to top a team like Provo that possesses an unique blend of both power and skill.
Supporting Denver’s efforts this year is former University of Oklahoma All-American Michael Al-Jiboori in the midfield, and a host of Colorado State alumi, including Evan Geist, Carmine Hernandez and Ryan Walker.