6 Pack Club Preview: September 21-22

Men’s D1 – Mid-Atlantic: Rocky Gorge Rugby vs Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies
This matchup between Rocky Gorge and Baltimore-Chesapeake is great game to note due to the proximity of the clubs, and the great competitive effort that is spawned from it. Last week, Rocky Gorge was narrowly defeated in their opening season match against Schuylkill River Exiles, but a mere 2 points, and will be looking to bounce back and recover from the loss. This is a especially tough defeat so early in the season, because Rocky Gorge had not lost a single game in 2018/19 season until the finals against Life Running Eagles. This is a tough team, with a renewed since of motivation heading into week 2.
Head Coach of the Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies, Steve Elliot, had plenty of good things to note about the upcoming match. “The Rocky Gorge match is always circled on our calendars at the beginning of the season. First, because Gorge and BC are only 20 minutes apart, and second, because their club has become the standard in the union. We are always keen to measure our progress against a side that plays a precise and physical style of rugby, lead by MLR’s Old Glory captain Josh Brown.” Elliot added, “We are excited to have the chance to play them early in the year to see if the evolution of our playing style is on track. It will be very demanding from a physical sense as well as requiring sound execution and creativity. Our forward pack has traditionally been a strength and that continues this year. Our backs are quite young and quick but undersized when compared to Gorge. All in all, we are excited and optimistic about our chances.”
Women’s D2 – Mid-Atlantic: Doylestown Dragons vs Norfolk Storm
This women’s Mid-Atlantic clash will take place in Doylestown, PA with the Doylestown Dragons taking on the Norfolk Storm. This will be Norfolk’s first game of the season, and will be aiming in improving on last year’s successful 6-2 record. The Dragons are coming off a convincing win against Chesapeake Rugby, and will test their metal in a game where the clubs haven’t played each other in over a year.
Doylestown Dragons Head Coach Mary Merlo had this to say about her club and its progression. “The last time we played Norfolk, Spring 2018, we met halfway and played a tight, rough match with short numbers. Our team has changed a lot over the past 18 months, and in the absence of some long time vets, we’re taking the first two matches to test new talent coming up through the ranks.” Merlo also gave praise to a few of her standouts and players to watc, “Morgan Stifler (Bloomsburg) will be filling the boots of 15 year vet Kerryn Winiesky at scrumhalf. While 3 year captain Grayce Fjeld will be joining the dark side, transitioning from a 10 year career in the forwards to the open space of the centers. And you might just catch rookies Nikki Gonzalez and Katie (Baby Katie) Casey out on the wing filling in for vet Lisa Rake, sidelined with a broken finger last weekend. (Get well soon bud).
We are Looking forward to building more continuity and trust in the depth of our roster in the next match up against the Norfolk Storm at Fall Fest, a double header and club home opener this Saturday. Handshakes, brews and a pig with our pals to follow.”
Norfolk Storm head coach Bryan Dyer also chimed in regarding his club’s previous competitions with Norfolk, and his excitement towards this upcoming match. “We’re excited to make the 6-hour journey up to Doylestown this weekend, and it’s always a good battle between the clubs. Doylestown brings the competition we love to face, challenging us from set pieces to open play on the field. This will be our first taste of rugby for the season, since Hurricane Dorian postponed our first matrix match.
Dyer continued, “Norfolk is home to the biggest Naval Station on the east coast, which brings civilians and military service members from all walks of life and rugby experience to us. Our demographic influences the dynamic of the team every season, and we never know who will come through our door and for how long. With plenty of new faces this season the team is excited to rebuild and train up the next wave of the Norfolk Storm.”
Women’s D2 – Midwest-West: Oconomowoc Rugby vs County Will Morrigans
Another women’s D2 matchup is highlighted because of all the great action the division has in store for all rugby fans and supporters, especially in the Midwest. Shoutout to all new clubs this season, along with those who have decided to jump up a division, like Oconomowoc has done currently.
The Oconomowoc RFC will be looking to improve on their last two defeats to start off their season, but club captain Katie McNeil has high hopes in her club’s ability against a tough County Will Morrigans side. McNeil states, “Oconomowoc is a new team in the Women’s D2 league this season. Every week we are looking forward to the opportunity to further develop our team as we progress through this fall season. We are a young team with our average player age at 22 years old, and many of our players are directly out of our Wisconsin High School Girl’s league. Our side has two players who also coach at the high school level, and our team takes pride in the fact that we are working hard to grow the game and provide opportunities for girls to continue to play rugby at a higher level. We have learned a lot in our first two weeks in league matches, and we are excited to host the Will County Morigans, a team that we have only played against once in our team history.
County Will Morrigans club founder, Bridget Forsythe Hope, is also looking forward to their match against ORFC this weekend. Hope adds in, “The County Will Morrigans are counting down the days to step out on the pitch this Saturday against the Oconomowoc Rugby Club in Wisconsin. The Morrigans are on a quest to sample the finest WI cheese, ruck with the locals, and continue to bring a satisfying mix of “serious fun” to this D2 Conference. These passionate rugby players come in a wide range of ages, experience, and ability levels; they are looking forward to bringing their play book to life while also doing their best to throw their opponents’ plans off track. This group of good-looking Hooligans takes great pride in making rugby accessible to all women in the greater Will County and Chicago area.
She concludes with, “Their opponents would be wise not to underestimate them; for this team has been learning how to tuck and roll together for more than 15 years. While New Zealand may kick off their matches with a Haka, the Morrigans have their own pre-game tradition known as the ‘True star‘. Though most elements of this tradition are consistent, there remains some variations each time The True Star is performed. This beloved pre-game ritual allows players an opportunity to connect through both repetition and improvisation – a skill all rugby players know is invaluable come game time.
Men’s D2 – Empire: New Haven Old Black vs Buffalo Rugby
The New Haven Old Black RFC has had a tough start to their 2019/20 campaign, by unfortunately dropping their first two games of the season. They are currently riding the momentum of being led by former (and newly reappointed) club founder, Bob Chester and are trying to work their way to the top of the table in the Northeast. New Haven is led by some young talent in the centers in Nik Griswold and Danny Holland, and Steve Cappello has taken on a leadership role in the front row working with the group of forwards. With a combination of young players and veterans, NHRFC looks to build on the first few weeks of the season and hit their stride at the right time.
Buffalo head coach, Jon Garbin, has rebutted his clubs prowess as last year’s top of the table champion, while continuing that momentum with two wins already this season. He mentions, “Our match-up with New Haven presents the first challenge of traveling to an opponent. The depth we’ve been fortunate to have in our past two games has been buoyed by having both our D2 and D3 sides at home. However, our mantra of ‘next man up’ or #HorsesInTheStable, as it came to be known as last year should allow us to put forth a strong side regardless of the circumstance. We last played New Haven in 2016 at home, so it will be exciting to play on their turf against, what will surely be a strong side and an exciting match, as we look to stay atop the table in the Empire GU.
New Haven’s founder, Bob Chester, gave a shoutout to success of his club in present and past years, “Buffalo is always a tight team who do the basics very well. Many of their players come from the high school and collegiate programs coached by Buffalo old boys, and it has resulted in heaps of success over the years – it’s always a challenge to have them on our schedule.”
Men’s D3 – Midwest-Iowa: Iowa City Ducks vs Clinton Muddy River
Wrapping up the men’s sides this weekend is the Iowan D3 matchup, with Iowa City holding the last victory between the clubs’ last game in 2018. Clinton Muddy River RFC is looking rebound from last year’s season, and will be engaging their athletic and enthusiastic approach towards this tough Ducks club.
Clinton Muddy River’s President, Tyler Cozzolino, had this to say about their upcoming matchup, “This weekend we’re looking for our first win. We have a lot of youth and inexperience on the team but they are starting to step up and figure out what has to happen in game time situations. We feel like we match up well with Iowa City, and it’s our closest away game which always helps. The final score of our last two games doesn’t particularly show how we’ve been playing as a team, and we have a chance this weekend to show what who we really are. What we may lack in rugby knowledge at the moment, we certainly make up for with effort and athleticism.
Iowa City’s Vice President, Tyler Dailey, had much praise for his club’s efforts and ability to overcome obstacles. He added, “Iowa City and Clinton are two historic teams in the state of Iowa who have managed to stay intact over the years. While both clubs continue to face adversity from player availability and numbers, you can be guaranteed our physical play on the field always makes for a great match-up and entertains the crowd every time we meet.”
Women’s D3 – NERFU: Seacoast vs South Shore Sirens
Concluding our 6 Pack Preview for this weekend, is a NEFRU divisional matchup that is welcoming newcomers, South Shore Sirens and their first home match for the competition. The side first gathered in the spring of 2018, as part of the South Shore Anchors RFC family, and were officially welcomed into the union in June 2019. They’ve took that momentum into the summer 7s season, earning 3rd and 1st place finishes in Newport and Boston, respectively. After strong attendance and high energy through pre-season 15s training, they dropped their first match against Amoskeag 59-7, but are determined to make their mark through the rest of the 2019 campaign.
South Shore Sirens Captain, Kelly Kryzak, had these inspiring words in reflection of her club, their play, and the positive effect the sport rugby has on its community, on the whole. “Being a leader of a new club has been challenging but also extremely rewarding. Every new player comes to us with a different rugby backgrounds and different obstacles they must face in their own life. Every week we come together for practices and games and suddenly we aren’t so different. We all share the same love for this sport and we work hard to achieve our goals as a team. I am so proud to be a Siren and proud to be a part of the South Shore Rugby community. Not only are we building a successful team, we are building a family of strong women who support each other on and off the field.”
Victoria Thomas, Sirens Forward and Anchors Community Outreach Officer, also chimed in on the club’s potential and future success. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a solid club behind us supporting us every step of the way. We genuinely wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the support and encouragement that we’ve received from the Anchors. They put us and our development and our team on the same level as they do theirs, and that alone has helped us grow exponentially in the last year.”