LAFAYETTE, Colo. – A pair of wins in the Women’s Division I Playoffs have advanced the Life West Gladiatrix and Raleigh Venom to the June 3-4 USA Rugby Club Championships, while Milwaukee Scylla and San Francisco Golden Gate will play for the Women’s Division II National Championship thanks to victories in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals.
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The Women’s Division I Final between Life West and Raleigh will kick off Saturday, June 3, at 5 p.m. MT. Milwaukee and San Francisco’s bout for the Women’s Division II National Championship will take place Sunday, June 4, with a kickoff time scheduled for 1 p.m. MT.
West Playoffs | Kino Sports Complex | Tucson, AZ
A 46-point win in the 2016 Women’s Division II National Championship match prompted a move to Division I for Life West. Amazingly enough, the Gladiatrix have looked just as dominant in their run to the D1 title game.
In Arizona, former AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans Bitsy Cairns and Amy Naber scored a pair of first-half tries to help build a 43-5 halftime lead against the Austin Valkyries before eventually dusting off Texas’ best, 85-5, in the Quarterfinals.
Life West’s Semifinal opponent looked just as sharp on Day 1 of National Playoffs. The Utah Vipers nearly matched the Gladiarix’s 85-point outburst by putting 81 points on the Tempe Ninjas during a 64-point Quarterfinal win. The Vipers, however, were not able to match their success in the Semifinals versus Life West.
After trading opening tries, the Gladiatrix reeled off 31 consecutive points to take a 38-5 lead into halftime. Utah did well to start the second half on the front foot and produce a second score in the 45th minute, but the Vipers’ momentum would be short lived. Life West scored the game’s final 35 points to simultaneously claim a 73-12 win and a second straight trip to Infinity Park to play for a National Championship.
The Women’s Division II competition in Tucson also produced a Bay Area-versus-Texas showdown in the Quarterfinals, and, like the D1 matchup, the California side got the best of the Lone Star State squad. San Francisco Golden Gate fly half Lindsay Kinsler tallied a season-high 27 points to lead her team to a dominant, 62-14, victory over Houston Athletic. On the same day, local side Old Pueblo Lightning scored the Quarterfinal’s first 17 points against the St. Louis Sabres and ended the game with a try from open side flanker Deidre Kruckenberg to stave off the Mid-America Champions, 30-15.
The support from the home crowd at the Kino Sports Complex would not be enough to push Old Pueblo across the finish line, however. Golden Gate took an 18-3 advantage into intermission and eventually punched its National Championship ticket with a 30-10 win over the Lightning.
East Playoffs | Founders Field | Pittsburgh, PA
After showing well against cross-conference competition during the Women’s Gold Cup, Raleigh had little trouble with New England Conference Champion Beantown. The Venom scored 34 first-half points to beat the newly-minted Women’s Premier League side.
The other club joining the now-10-team WPL competition, Chicago North Shore, will not be heading back to Club Championships. Northern Virginia Rugby scored the Quarterfinal’s first 18 points against the Midwest powerhouse. North Shore produced a valiant comeback, but NOVA managed to proceed to the National Semifinals, 28-24.
The East Semifinal pitting NOVA versus Raleigh was the Mid-Atlantic rivals’ third match against one another in the span of a month. NOVA got the better of the Venom in the previous two fixtures, winning by a combined score of 33-10. Despite its success in April, NOVA could not make it three-for-three. Raleigh’s 18 points were enough to overcome NOVA by eight and set up a National Championship fixture against Life West.
Harrisburg Rugby was unable to reach a second consecutive Women’s Division II National Semifinal after being ousted in the Quarterfinals by Milwaukee Scylla, 23-10. Sixty-five minutes of playoff rugby produced a 10-10 tie, but Scylla added two tries and a penalty kick in the final 15 minutes for the 13-point victory.
Milwaukee’s Semifinal opponent was Providence Rugby thanks to the New England side’s 18-15 win against Fort Miami. Providence sprinted to a 10-0 lead in Pittsburgh and did enough down the stretch to narrowly beat the champions of the South.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw Milwaukee and Providence exchange blows in an evenly fought contest. Scylla slowly inched away from Providence, though, and eventually put itself in the Division II National Championship game with a 41-17 triumph.