Club Rugby Review – Weekend Of September 14/15
Atlantic North (Men’s)
In American Rugby Premiership, two Atlantic North clubs traveled south to Georgia to meet the defending DI Champions and the development academy for the MLR’s Rugby ATL. The home teams won both matches as Life defeated Mystic River, 39-15, and 404 Rugby Atlanta crushed Old Blue, 45-6.
Up north in the NERFU, Worcester upset DII’s top squad, Newport, 21-0, and the Mystic Barbarians and South Shore remained undefeated with wins over Boston and Hartford. After making the move down from DII to DIII, Amoskeag and Albany look to be firing on all cylinders winning their first two matches. Charles River and Boston Maccabi continue to look strong also staying undefeated. Lastly, Upper Valley and Monadnock remain the only unbeaten teams in DIV as Upper Valley took down in-state rival, Freedom, in a close 24-20 match and Monadnock blanked Rutland, 74-0.
As for the Empire matches, DII’s Long Island rebounded from a big loss last week to hold off a late surge by New York Rugby Club to win 39-36 in the closet match of the day. The Buffalo Rugby Club and the Fairfield Yankees remained undefeated in the division and in a minor upset, Montclair Norsemen dropped New Haven, 27-10. Montclair is an ever-improving club and they showed that Saturday with a comprehensive win running in four tries while only conceding one.
All four regions of the Empire DIII saw action on Saturday as games were played in New York City, the Atlantic, New Jersey, and Upstate. In one of the fiercest clashes in NYC, Lansdowne RRC and the Village Lions scored four tries apiece as Lansdowne was better with the boot to win 29-26. An early season upset saw Greenwich outwork the defending Atlantic champions, Danbury, by a score of 41-31 and Suffolk drubbed White Plains 53-0. In New Jersey, Morris continued to be dominant beating Monmouth, 33-7, and Bayonne kept pace by beating Princeton AC, 27-12. Upstate results saw Syracuse, the Rochester Aardvarks, and KenTon win by large margins and Buffalo stayed undefeated with a 44-21 victory over the Genesee Creamers.
In Empire DIV, Queens Rugby Club got its first win beating the Gotham Knights, 29-12, NYRC overpowered Long Island, 41-19, and Union County eked out a 14-12 win over the Fairfield Yankees, 14-12.
Atlantic North (Women’s)
South Jersey got its second win of the Mid-Atlantic North season, defeating York & Lancaster 41-5. Outside center Jenelle Fuller scored four tries on the day, while hooker Julianne Warner, and No. 8 Gabriella Wood also contributed tries. Fullback Jamie Lynn Fortuna kicked the conversions.
In New England, both victors won by large margins: North Shore topped Seacoast 56-5, and Amoskeag beat South Shore 59-7.
The second week of DI play saw both teams who played in the conference championship fall. Schuylkill River captured their first ever victory over MAC champion Rocky Gorge with a 27-25 last second win. Ben Janssen scored in the corner with no time left and captain Brian Keown nailed the conversion from sideline. The Norfolk Blues started their fall with a bang by beating NOVA, 34-28, and Baltimore-Chesapeake and Potomac picked up their first Ws of the season.
With DII not starting until next weekend, DIII was active with a full slate. Severn River, Rocky Gorge, and the Washington Irish remained perfect in the Central and the Washington Renegades notched their first win by beating NOVA, 17-10. In the opening weekend of the south, Rappahannock, Virginia Beach, and Roanoke won while the Northeast Philadelphia Irish, Media, Delmarva, Schuylkill River, Wilkes-Barre, Reading, and Lehigh Valley were victorious in the EPRU. The game to watch this Saturday is Media versus NE Irish as both clubs impressed last season with undefeated records and it should be a smashing match.
In DIV, Phoenixville White Horse almost shutout the Baltimore Flamingos, 60-5, and the Patuxent Lions’ Michael Morgan scored in the 76th minute for the 29-24 win over the Washington Renegades.
In the Mid-Atlantic, Doylestown beat Chesapeake 46-0, and 2018 national finalist Harrisburg held off James River in a 19-12 contest. The Harlots have seen player turnover since nationals and new, young captains were ushering in a new attack system. James River brought a full, hard-hitting roster to the game and took a 12-7 halftime lead
“[B]y the second half, we had brushed off the cobwebs and started executing our attack successfully,” Harrisburg veteran Courtney Reapsome explained. “Harrisburg’s defense was successful in creating pressure that lead to James River knock-ons, and Harrisburg dominated in lineouts and scrums, winning their own set pieces and strongly contesting and even stealing James River ball.”
Wing Nicole Ciccarelli scored Harrisburg’s three tries, and flyhalf Lauren Shissler, “who created great turnover/poached ball at the breakdown,” per Reapsome, kicked the extras.
In the Empire GU, Morris beat Union 79-0, and Monmouth defeated Danbury 31-3. Of the New England GU matches, two were close: Hartford’s 33-28 victory over Portland, and Providence’s 13-12 win over Albany. Providence had the first-half momentum but a stout Albany defense held up multiple dive-over attempts and limited Providence to an Anne Venner dropgoal. The Sirens took control in the second half and put down two tries for a 12-3 lead that held until the final 10 minutes of the match.
“We have a really good scrumhalf, [Tiffany] McCoy, who dictates our game and does a really good job of looking at the field and seeing where the play is going and moving people,” Providence captain Tiara Mack said. “We had a couple of injuries – our prop and hooker – in the first half … so our tempo was off a little bit in the second half. But in the last 10 minutes we got into a groove.”
With eight minutes to go, Naz Cardoso and Melissa Keene scored tries, and Ashley Hanson’s conversion afforded the one-point win. Worcester, which beat Charles River 38-12, currently leads the standings at 2-0.
In the third week of the Rocky Mountain Rugby Eastern Rockies Cup, an early season tournament between DII and DIII clubs, Boulder grabbed their second W with a 37-point victory over the Queen City Rams, 59-22, and the Denver Highlanders added to their win total with a 35-26 triumph against last year’s Eastern Rockies Cup runner-up, the Colorado Springs Grizzlies. The competition will take a break until October 5 when Colorado Springs takes on the Denver Barbarians and the Denver Misfits host the Laramie Lumberjacks.
Speaking of Laramie, the Lumberjacks rebounded from a difficult loss last month to nearly double up Marauders Rugby, 63-35. Laramie should be a team to watch as it features former USA Falcon Cody Jerabek and several Wyoming Cowboys alumni from a period where Wyoming was one of the strongest teams in the nation.
The second Saturday of the Rocky Mountain Rugby Challenge League saw two high-scoring affairs as Boulder scored 12 tries to knock off Queen City, 74-43, and the Denver Highlanders cracked Colorado Springs, 58-19. The results from the weekend are a good reflection of the depth and parity in the competition.
In the Frontier, Kansas City Jazz beat Boulder 80-5. Lauren Kuklenski led all scorers (2T, 10C) and Amanda Hull touched down four tries. Kansas City Jazz beat Boulder 80-5, and Lauren Kuklenski led all scorers (2T, 10C) in Kansas City Jazz’s 80-5 win over Boulder. Amanda Hull led try-scorers with four.
On Sept. 28, the DI East will kick off its league play, and the new DI Texas/Frontier will return to action (Glendale won the only game thus far 61-19 against Denver Black Ice) the same
As the Midwest entered its third weekend of play, the summer rust is off and many teams are flexing their muscles. In DI, each winning team scored over 30 points as the Chicago Lions, Chicago Griffins, Metropolis, and the Kansas City Blues outworked their opponents on Saturday. Metropolis and the Blues are now undefeated atop the west division and Lions and Griffins move to 2-1 and 1-2, respectively, in the east. The cross-town Chicago rivalry is renewed again this coming weekend as the Lions host the Griffins on Saturday.
In DII, the Green Bay Celtics and Wisconsin improved to 2-0 in the west while the Pittsburgh Forge remains the only undefeated team in the east. With wins over the Indianapolis Impalas and the South Side Irish, the Cleveland Crusaders and Chicago Blaze kept pace with the Forge and Milwaukee gutted out a 39-36 win over the Chicago Lions to pull to 1-1.
It was a party in DIII as 24 games were played in seven regions. In Chicago, CRC, the Northwest Woodsmen, the Chicago Riot, and the Lake County Gladiators each routed their competition and the Pittsburgh Forge, Akron, and the Cleveland Crusaders remained perfect in the east. The Crusaders were challenged the hardest as the Rovers were in the lead until the final play where Ryan Sands scored and David DiFrancesco booted the 33-32 game-winner.
The Bremer County Bucks pushed their record to 3-0 with a big win over Clinton Muddy River in DIII Iowa and Metropolis, Sioux Falls Crow, and the St. Cloud Bottom Feeders won in Minnesota. Up in the North, the Kalamazoo Dogs, Fort Wayne, the Tri-City Barbarians, and Traverse Bay Blues blew out their opponents and Louisville, Columbus, Queen City, and White River won in the South. Lastly, Oconomowoc Rugby demolished Fox City, 53-5, and the Oshkosh Pigs outlasted the Milwaukee Black and Blue, 31-24, in the Wisconsin region.
In DIV Buckeye, the Lancaster Men of Stone and the Columbus Castaways earned their first wins and the Westside Outcasts remained unbeaten via forfeit. Out in the Central division, the Chicago Blaze tamed the Kenosha Mammoths, 73-0 and Indianapolis blanked the Sliverbacks, 24-0, while in the Iowa division, Des Moines beat Iowa Falls, 34-12, and Cedar Rapids toughed out a 32-27 win over River City.
The Midwest has been playing games since Aug. 17 and teams like Wisconsin already have five league matches behind it. Last weekend carried a ton of anticipation as 3-0 Chicago took on DI newcomer Chicago Lions for the teams’ first Windy City showdown.
“Absolutely, there was pressure to perform,” Chicago Lions head coach Bruce Snyder asserted. “Chicago Women were just coming off solid victories over Detroit and Wisconsin. They have an athletic, experienced team, so our focus was to build a basic foundation. We focused on the go-forward and basics of ball carry into contact. That set the stage for everything else.”
Lions wing Devon Gold scored the first of three tries approximately five minutes in and kicked off a 58-point run. Chicago flyhalf Sarah Anderson snapped the shutout with a penalty goal near the 60th minute. By game’s end, Megan Loomis (3), Rachel Grecky, Benny Hershik, Kelley Hirt, Katherine Lohaus and Jillian Stariha scored tries. Scrumhalf Aleia Bellcross kicked all but one of the conversions.
“We have a big match against Metro this weekend, which is also the first weekend at our new pitch, the J. Tyke Nollman field at the Lions for Hope Sports Complex,” Snyder added. “We hope to continue this momentum into that match.”
In other games in the Midwest, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee Scylla won their respective matches, with the closest margin of victory, 36-32, occurring between the Michigan team and Dayton. In the Pacific Northwest, Bend, Tacoma and Emerald City beat their respective opponents by more than 40 points.