LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Quarterfinalists for the 2017 USA Rugby Women’s Division I and II Club National Championships have emerged from Competitive Region playoffs. Four teams from each division will head to Pittsburgh’s Founders Field, while the other eight teams will play their Quarterfinals and Semifinals at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.
The two teams from each division capable of winning their May 20-21 National Playoff matches will earn a spot in their respective division’s National Championship game June 3-4 at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo.
Women’s Division I | Eastern Playoffs | Founders Field – Pittsburgh
2014 National Champion Chicago North Shore fell just short of another Division I title last spring after falling to the Seattle Saracens in the Finals. If the women from the Windy City want to return to Infinity Park to take another crack at a National Championship they will have to navigate through a difficult four-team field in Pittsburgh that begins with a May 20 Quarterfinal against Northern Virginia Rugby.
The North Shore-versus-NOVA fixture will be a repeat from a Rugby Gold Cup contest that saw the Virginia side down Chicago, 25-22. Since the loss, North Shore has looked very sharp beating Raleigh Venom and Detroit twice, including this past weekend’s 55-0 defeat of Detroit to take the Midwest Championship.
Following two losses to Raleigh during the regular season, NOVA upended the Venom in the Mid-Atlantic Final. Raleigh still makes the National Round of 8, however, and will face Beantown May 20 at Founders Field. Beantown beat Empire’s best when it downed previously-unbeaten Monmouth, 26-10, to reach the Quarterfinals.
Women’s Division I | Western Playoffs | Kino Sports Complex – Tucson
A year after claiming ownership of the 2016 Women’s D2 National Championship, the Life West Gladiatrix are eyeing Division I’s top prize. Life West has run over the competition in Northern California without much difficulty, but will be hoping to work hard over 80 minutes in order to beat its Quarterfinals opponent, Austin Valkyries.
Like the Gladiatrix, the Valkyries have not been truly tested by their conference opponents. In fact, Austin beat Houston Athletic, 77-0, in the Red River Championship game.
The Tempe Ninjas showed there are no sevens specialists. After qualifying for the 2016 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships, the Ninjas upset Santa Monica to win Southern California’s Women’s D1 competition. Tempe’s next test will come in the form of one of the surprise stories from this year’s club scene. The Utah Vipers were too good for the Denver Black Ice and Glendale Raptor’s D1 side, winning the Frontier Region. Utah won its three matches in April by an average of 25 points per contest, so the Vipers will be pleased that Glendale gave them such a tough match in the Frontier Finals, 15-14, in favor of Utah.
Women’s Division II | Eastern Playoffs | Founders Field – Pittsburgh
Wisconsin Rugby’s move to D1 opened the door for a new team to take the Midwest Division II Conference and the Milwaukee Scylla took full advantage. Not only is Milwaukee a conference champion, but it is undefeated, too. Most recently Scylla beat Buffalo Rugby in the Round of 16 to set up a May 20 date with Harrisburg.
Like Milwaukee, Harrisburg knows what it is like to finish second best to Wisconsin Rugby. Harrisburg lost to Wisconsin in the National Semifinals in 2016. Mid-Atlantic postseason wins over the DC Furies and Brandywine Riot have Harrisburg back in the eastern portion of the National Playoffs.
Fort Miami is the new champion of the South. The team took Florida’s spot in the South Playoffs after avenging a loss to Orlando. That was followed by a hard-fought South Semifinal win against Charlotte, and a 37-point handling of the Knoxville Minx in the Final.
The recent success has Fort Miami focused on a 4-1 Providence Rugby team. After proving to be New England’s best D2 side, Providence beat the Empire’s Morris Pride, 19-5, to reach the Quarterfinals.
Women’s Division II | Western Playoffs | Kino Sports Complex – Tucson
The only team in Northern California capable of beating San Francisco Golden Gate was Life West. Golden Gate’s second-place finish in NorCal places the team in Division II’s Round of 8 to face Houston Athletic. Like San Francisco, Houston finished second in its conference, only losing to the conference champions. Though neither Division II Quarterfinalist was able to beat the likes of Life West or the Austin Valkyries, they will be stronger in their run to Nationals because of those defeats.
The Old Pueblo Lightning will remain in Tucson for the Quarterfinals. The team has won five consecutive matches, including the Southern California Championship game against Pasadena, 27-24. After coming up just short of the Round of 8 last year, the Lightning have drawn the St. Louis Sabres in this year’s Quarterfinals.
The Sabres lost to the Kansas City Jazz in October, but beat them when it truly counted. The two sides met May 7 and St. Louis fly half Kate Kloster scored five tries to lead her side to a 38-24 victory over the Jazz, setting up a Quarterfinal matchup against Old Pueblo.