Women’s DI – Midwest: Boston Rugby vs Raleigh Venom
Starting off this week’s Club 6 Pack Preview, is a Midwestern battle between two teams who are very familiar with one another throughout the years. The Raleigh Venom, established in 2002, are a USA Rugby Women’s Division I team that competes within the Midwest union and finished #3 nationally in 2016, and #2 nationally in 2017 and 2018. The Raleigh Rattlesnakes, launched their first season in 2007 with a U-19 league, in hopes of promoting interest and knowledge of the sport within our local youth. Our youth program now consists of boys and girls teams starting at age 4 and running through competitive high school programs.
The Boston Women’s Rugby side is an established club fostering the spirit of rugby on and off the pitch for over 40 years. Founded in 1976, the Boston Women’s Rugby Football Club was formed, making it the oldest independent women’s club in Boston. Since then, they have captured the New England Rugby Club Championship titles for both 15s and 7s, and have represented the Northeast at the national level. BWRFC has renewed itself as a national level contender with significant coaching changes and a recent influx of young talent.
The Boston Women’s Rugby Football Club promotes teamwork, leadership, discipline, and physical activity both on and off the pitch. Their athletes span a variety of backgrounds and careers, such as lawyers, nurses, engineers, students, and accountants. Players contribute to the community through philanthropic events each season, from coaching youth rugby to volunteering at local charity races.
Men’s DI – Midwest: Metropolis Rugby vs Milwaukee Barbarians
Metropolis Rugby has been having a great start to the season thus far having a 3-1 record, with their only loss having a 3-point differential to the powerhouse Kansas City Blues. The club will be looking to get back on track by facing the (so-far) winless Milwaukee Barbarians (0-3). A staunch defensive presence has helped Metropolis stop their previous opponents, which the Barbarians will be aiming to reverse their attacking trend and put up a good-showing against one of the top sides in their competition.
Joseph Birdsall, the head coach for Milwaukee Barbarians chimed in how his club is taking in the 2019 season with Metro as their next obstacle. “The Barbarians are underdogs every week and playing away at Metropolis this week is no exception. Metro is lethal with ball in hand and [we] need to limit errors throughout the match to stay competitive. Every match is a real test against the highest level players in the country.”
Birdsall continued, “Last week, Wesley White of Austin Herd and Lindenwood fame created exciting rugby moments for the Barbarians in Saint Louis. This week, the Barbarians are focused on winning key matchups against the NOLA contingent of Metro: Jared Abt v Kavika Peniata in the front row, Anthony Sims v Ekapatelisio Veamatahau at 8 and Alex Mross v Joeli Tikoisuva on the edge. Both sides are very familiar with their strengths across the pitch so it should be a great match.”
Women’s DII – Carolinas-Georgia: Charleston Hurricanes vs Savannah Shamrocks
With the Carolinas-Georgia competition recently in full-swing, the Hurricanes (1-1) will host the Shamrocks (1-0), in a cross-conference showdown that will provide its fans plenty of passionate play. The Savannah Shamrocks are proud in their experienced coaching and support staff, along with a strong membership network and partnerships with local businesses for support which have greatly helped the club in recent years. They are excited in traveling to Charleston in taking on the Hurricanes. The Shamrocks will be hoping for their luck against this enthusiastic coastal club that have, in recent years, not only increased their club size, but also their success.
The president of the Charleston Hurricanes club, Claire Cox, mentioned the history and development of their club within the sport and community, in recent years. “The Charleston Hurricanes Women’s Rugby Football Club was founded in 2003 with the same goals we have today: promote the sport of rugby in the south, increase women’s participation in the sport and represent the fine city of Charleston, South Carolina. When we first started, we did not have enough players to field a 15’s side and so we teamed up with the Savannah Shamrocks every year to play full games. Four years ago, that partnership helped develop two full sides of women’s rugby teams. Since then, an intense rivalry has developed on the pitch, and the same players remain friends for the social afterwards. This match will be as powerful as the founding players who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into this game.“
Kate Lyker, the head coach of the Savannah Shamrocks is excited for the upcoming game, and the growth of her club since the beginning of the season. “Any match against the Charleston Hurricanes is always a fun one. Last year was our first year back in the matrix playing them, but we have played numerous friendlies against them. It is a hard-fought game each time and things seem to come together for us. We lost some experienced girls over the summer, so I am looking forward to seeing some of our girls step up into new roles and our new girls experience their first match. We have been putting in a lot of work at practice and I hope that we will be able to show that on the pitch. It will be an excellent match and cannot wait to see the continued growth on both sides.”
Men’s DII – Pacific Northwest: Tacoma Nomads vs Boise United
The 1-1 Tacoma Nomads will be hosting the (tied for) top-of-the-table 1-0 Boise United club, which had almost eclipsed the century mark in their previous week’s contest. Although Tacoma’s attack should not be reckoned with either, with their side putting up 64 points in their first two games against solid Pacific NW challengers. According to Tacoma Nomad’s website, “Over 40 years ago a group of players founded the Tacoma Rugby Club. Today, our club consists of three ever expanding programs for men, women, and youth. Our greater community includes: an active Old Boys organization, a long list of dedicated sponsors, local rugby enthusiasts, and our player’s families. Everyone involved plays a key role in keeping the spirit of rugby alive in Tacoma!“
With the Boise side keen in accepting the road challenge, Tripper Povar, president of the Boise United club, mentioned much of the club’s success due to the hard work and skill of his teammates. “The 2018-2019 Pacific Northwest (D2) Champions, Boise United Men’s RFC will head up to the Seattle area in efforts to fend off a talented Tacoma Nomads team. The Nomads, who have grown in numbers and skill, shook up the conference early this fall by beating a strong ORSU team in Portland “on the farm”. Tacoma will be looking to return to form against Boise United to defend their home ground.
Povar continued, “Boise United will be relying heavily on its core of returning players lead by Captains Taylor Thomas (Backs) and Zundel Molifua (Forwards) to set the tempo this Saturday. Boise will also be expecting a lot from a few key playmakers such as Skyler Larsen, Senituli Taufoou and Vidal Davis. Boise coaches expect a strong battle upfront from Tacoma – a team that is known for having a big, ferocious and mobile forward pack. This should be a good test of dexterity for players on both sides with the numbers 1 through 8 on their backs. Be on the lookout for Boise United’s reupholstered backline which was built for the modern game.”
Women’s DIII – NERFU: Amoskeag Rugby vs North Shore
This great division 3 matchup, will take place on Amoskeag (2-0) home-turf with a valiant and passionate North Shore (2-1) side. North Shore currently leads the conference in points, 1 above Amoskeag, which the victor of this game will come away with a much needed win and points moving forward in the competition. Andy Ryan, Head Coach for Amoskeag, had this to say about his club’s chances against North Shore, and its repercussions. “In an emerging Division III competition in the northeast, Amoskeag Women’s Rugby prepare to take on one of their toughest opponents of the season, North Shore Women’s Rugby. Both teams were dropped from the Division II conference to the newly formed Division III conference this season, leaving them fighting for the opportunity to advance back to Division II. The match this weekend may be the most important to secure a Division II spot for next fall.“
The Amoskeag and North Shore women’s teams have a historic rivalry that has them competing for a lead spot each year. Last fall, Amoskeag took the win over North Shore in the Division II league match. In a hard-fought game at the NERFU Rugby Cup this past May, North Shore narrowly defeated Amoskeag. Coach Ryan with Amoskeag continues, “The Amoskeag women expect strong competition from their rival each time they hit the pitch. North Shore typically plays a forward central game that can be difficult to defend, however, [we] have prepared well and looks forward to continuing dominance in league matches. With the match-up this weekend, our club intends to set the record straight.”
“I respect North Shore for their determined play,” said Ryan. “We have been training to neutralize their threats, especially around the ruck. Our ladies have been working hard all season on fitness with a focus on individual and team defense. I’m confident that our game plan along with solid leadership on the field will see us come out on top.”
Amoskeag forwards captain Jami Almonte also noted, “Our team has been putting in some serious work this season in order to establish ourselves in the top of this new division. Not only has our skill level and fitness improved immensely with each passing week, but the heart and dedication on and off the field is our gold star. These girls work hard and fight through every match like it’s their last, as a unified team. Almonte continued, “To me, Amoskeag is really special, because win or lose (although losing is not in the plan), we are there for each other and keep our positive attitudes and good sportsmanship until the end. We can’t wait to face off against North Shore, yet again, for a hard hitting and intense match!”
North Shore, realizing the importance of this match, is extremely keen in taking their challenger head-on and not backing down for the entire 80 minutes of play. Kali Vozeh, captain stated, “Saturday’s game is very critical for us. We’ve played Amoskeag for years, and they’ve consistently been close games. A few years ago at the NERFU tournament, we played [them] in the finals, losing just 3-0. That’s the type of hard fought match you remember vividly and drives you in your next contest. We’re striving to prove ourselves as a Division III powerhouse, with hopes to move to Division II next year, and this game is an important step. While we have a few key injuries, but we feel confident that we can bring home the win with our dynamic and strong squad.“
Men’s DIV – Midwest: Chicago Silverbacks vs Kenosha Mammoths
This spirited matchup between the Chicago and Kenosha sides will be a great division 4 contest with plenty of dedicated and wistful supporters and players alike. The Chicago Silverbacks are an incredibly giving club in that they aim at creating positive change within one of the most financially and crime burdened section of the city. The program offers both athletic mentoring, as well as leadership development opportunities, relationships with positive role models and the ability for local youth to connect with their community in a way that promotes an active lifestyle and a constructive, inclusive culture.
Kenosha’s President/Coach/Current player John Slupik, and also Coach/Current player Joey Giorno, had this collective statement about their match versus the Silverbacks of Chicago. “The match-up for this week’s game is going to define the [Kenosha] Mammoths. Unfortunately, last year’s match we lost 55-50, and our defeat came from an impressive comeback from the Silverbacks. This year we trained and conditioned with the goal to not let up. Us losing a winnable game due to fatigue, injuries, and a shallow roster, put a vision in our eyes to win. This season is going to solidify us and our club not to be reckoned with. With a lot of the older guys stepping away, and with limited players to pull from, a winning season will give us something to move forward with.“
Women’s DI – Midwest: Boston Rugby vs Raleigh Venom