2019 WPL Expert Picks – Week 6

Top team matchups vying for conference command
The Eastern Conference seems to be anyone’s for the taking, especially after this week, while the Western Conference leaders will face off head-to-head for an exciting Week 6.
Kicking off the second half of the Women’s Premier League season is East’s top of the table, Atlanta (3-1) at home versus the challenging Beantown (2-2) side. Though the Harlequins are top of the table for record and points (15) there is a two-way tie for 2nd place with New York and Twin Cities, both 2-2 records with 10 points a piece. Beantown does have a 2-2 record, but they are in 3rd place due to points (9), and with a much needed win and hopeful bonus point, could see them into a potential two-way tie for 2nd place in the East. Other than Life West (4-0), Atlanta is one of the hottest teams of the season riding a three game winning streak, only after losing their opening game to this Beantown side. The Harlequins will be soundly prepared in facing off against a tough Boston club, who provided them their only loss of the season so far.
The Berkeley All-Blues (2-2) will host ORSU (0-4) in Northern California, where these West Coast clubs will be aiming to ramp up their efforts in gaining momentum moving forward. Berkeley is headed into this week’s matchup coming off a home victory against San Diego in Week 5, and will be looking to replicate the outcome against an ORSU side who is striving to find their footing within the 2019 season.
In the other Eastern Conference game, the Twin Cities Amazons (2-2) will have home field advantage against Chicago North Shore (1-3), in the solo Sunday matchup. Seeking to avenge their season opening loss against North Shore, the Amazons will surely have their hands full in stopping the passionate Chicago side. Following last week’s stellar performance against New York, Twin Cities are intending to repeat the outcome and even the score on their head-to-head matchup with the conference rival. Chicago has had an impressive defensive front giving up a season average of only 18.25 points per game, while the opposite can be mentioned regarding their offensive points per game, an 11.5 average seemingly heightened by the 31 points scored in the opener.
To wrap up this week’s preview, we present the Match of the Week with Overall record and points leader, Life West, at home versus the West’s 2nd ranked team, Glendale Merlins (3-1). The Merlins are riding a three game win streak after their first, and only, loss to the Gladiatrix in the season opener. This will be the last time these two clubs face-off in the regular season, with the Merlins traveling to the West Coast for the second week in a row in hopes of toppling the top team of the season, thus far. Life West has been unreal in their first four matches, averaging a massive 43.5 points per game, while only conceding an average of 15.5 points to their opponents. Glendale has been the team to score the most points against Life West this year so far, and may have the secret formula in breaking their stellar defensive front.
Teams on Bye-Week: San Diego Surfers & New York Rugby Club

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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.”

Club Rugby Review – Weekend Of September 14/15

After a few weeks of initial matches, the fall men’s and women’s club rugby season began in earnest on Saturday with over 100 games in action in the Atlantic North, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Frontier. New clubs made their marks, champions were upset, and contenders began their march to the throne.

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.

Mid-Atlantic (Men’s)

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.

Mid-Atlantic (Women’s)

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.

Frontier (Men’s)

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.

Frontier (Women’s)

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

Midwest (Men’s)

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.

Midwest (Women’s)

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.

WPL Round-up Week 5

The fifth week of the Women’s Premier League has elapsed, and now all 10 teams have completed the first half of their regular seasons. The closest game of the weekend again involved Berkeley, which was coming off of a two-point loss to Glendale in week four.
“Recovering from that loss with Glendale was, surprisingly, easy,” Berkeley head coach João Moura explained. “The team realized it was a close game and could have gone either way. … It was a good learning moment for us and one more step in our season’s path, providing us with a good opportunity for another hard but motivated week of work preparing the game with San Diego.”
The Surfers traveled to the Bay Area and took the first lead through a Megan Foster try. The All Blues then spent the subsequent 30 minutes setting up four scores: two tries from New York transfer Kristen Siano, and one apiece from Allison Byrne and Bulou Mataitoga. Siano also added two conversions for the team’s 24 points.
“On one hand, we focused essentially on what has been our strengths: An organized defense trying to reduce spaces and take advantage of the good work the forwards have done in the set piece to enable us to play with quality ball,” Moura reviewed team foci. “On the other hand, and perhaps most importantly, was to continue to improve each player’s capacity to maintain mental toughness through the whole game. In both of these two aspects, the team was amazing!”
San Diego responded through a Foster penalty and tries from Teigan MacDonald and Julia Buescher, but Berkeley held on for the 24-18 win. Berkeley (2-2) got the bonus point for four tries and sit in third place in the WPL West, while 1-3 San Diego got the bonus point for a loss by fewer than seven points.


WATCH BERKELEY VS SAN DIEGO REPLAY 


On the other side of the WPL West, Glendale beat a visiting ORSU 98-0, a victory that added some valuable separation in the standings in terms of point differential. Kaitlyn Broughton, the former Atlanta Harlequin who debuted for the Merlins in week four, scored six tries from wing. Fellow finisher and wing Beatrix Amaral added three tries, while prop Az Nalbandian, No. 8 Carmen Farmer, flyhalf Gabby Cantorna, center Juliann Tordonato, and reserves Jeanna Beard, Kelsie O’Brien and Allison Schrenker all added a try apiece. Cantorna kicked five conversions, while McKenzie Hawkins slotted four.
The Merlins are 3-1 sit in second place in the WPL West behind 4-0 Life West. The 0-4 Jesters are looking for their first win of the season.


WATCH GLENDALE VS ORSU REPLAY 


In the WPL East, both victors scored 22 points and earned a bonus point for four tries scored. New York and Beantown kicked it off with a Saturday night game.
“We’re still building confidence in our attack, so there was a huge focus on defense,” New York head coach Tiff Faaee said of work leading into the match. “We’ve been very good with chaos rugby at the moment – putting the pressure on, creating turnover ball, and then seeing if we can score. If we do that, then the offense will come.”
Host Beantown took the first lead as flyhalf Tatjana Toeldte slotted a penalty. Minutes later, wing Sarah Levy scored for the lead change and lock Alycia Washington dotted down to close out the half, 10-3 to New York. Both defenses stood the test for the majority of the second half, but then in the waning minutes, New York broke through for back-to-back tries from Gio Cruz and Misha Green. Flyhalf Tess Feury’s conversion afforded the 22-3 win and the bonus point moved 2-2 New York into second place in the standings.
“They were having fun,” Faaee noted a change in the team’s demeanor. “The WPL makes people anxious at the start because it’s next level, and college kids are coming through and they need to adjust. Now that we’re in game four, there’s more clarity and confidence, and you’re hearing more voices on the pitch. There’s more positive reinforcement, because everyone’s doing their job, and it showed in the result.”


BEANTOWN VS NEW YORK REPLAY 


Twin Cities and Beantown are also 2-2 in the WPL East, and all conference members have at least one win. Atlanta (3-1) leads and logged its third victory of the season, defeating the 1-3 Chicago North Shore 22-7 on the road.
“Conditions were wet, as there was a big storm the night and morning before kickoff, so it was hard to maintain continuity with a number of handling errors,” Atlanta coach Ros Chou noted. “North Shore was skilled in attacking our breakdowns forcing turnovers. Their goal-line defense was like a brick wall, and with the wet conditions we didn’t have a ton of success moving the ball to the edges like we normally would do.”
With that said, wing Mo Compito scored minutes into the match and established a lead that Atlanta would not relinquish. A trio of Harlequins debutants – New York transfer Shamira Robles, Beantown transfer Kelli Smith, North Shore transfer Christiane Pheil – added dimension to the game, and Robles scored two first-half tries. Flyhalf Corinne Heavner kicked a conversion for 17 points in the first stanza. Host North Shore broke up Robles’ tries with a converted score to keep it close but then lock Lisa Jackson put the game away with a bonus point-awarding try.
“Last year I think we only had one win on the road and it was against the D.C. Furies,” Chou reflected. “To have two road wins has definitely been a morale boost, and the excitement on the team continues to build. We are getting more familiar with each other, and look forward to be full steam ahead when we get Darian Lovelace and Chi Chi Chukwueke back in the mix [from injury]. Selections will get more difficult, but we have a group ready to step up to the challenge and ready to keep improving every week.”


ATLANTA VS CHICAGO REPLAY COMING SOON 


WEEK 6 MATCHES

Beantown (2-2) @ Atlanta (3-1)
Berkeley (2-2) @ ORSU (0-4)
Glendale (3-1) @ Life West (4-0)
Chicago North Shore (1-3) @ Twin Cities (2-2)

Scouting For The Next Women’s Eagles

Rob Cain shares some insights from the WPL Tour that is currently underway.
One of the best ways to find the talent on the pitch is to go to the pitch. That is precisely what Women’s Eagles Head Coach, Rob Cain has been doing on his Women’s Premier League (WPL) scouting tour. WPL is the highest level of domestic competition for women rugby in America. With a year under his belt and having already experienced this tour before, Cain is finding the process to be positive in more than one way.
“It’s been great to be back out seeing the players in their own environments, being part of trainings and having the individual skill sessions, watching some great individual and team performances , thank you to all the clubs and colleges for being so open , this contact time is crucial as it our joint collaboration for the players development. Thanks to the past year and the number of test matches our national team has played, we have a good understanding of what international rugby is demanding from our players – from a tactical, physical and technical standpoint. This allows us to identify how we can best support the players whether, through individual, positional or unit attributes,” Cain noted.
“Run catch pass , seeing space , ability to beat defenders , being creative, problem solving these are things that we are we looking out for and its been great to see this throughout the game.” While scouting, Cain explained how they are looking for players that fit in the national teams’ short and long term development plans.
“Short term and long terms this allows us to have more inner competition in the player pool, we want to see players do well and challenge each other through their performances and form. We know the positive direction we are headed. Our players showcased some great strides during the Women’s Super Series performances and unpacked some very important trends while playing against some of the best teams in the world. This inner competition through our domestic game is fundamental to the players continued development, its been great to see so many close games so far , enabling players to consistently experience so many different challenges , all the time learning through experiences”.
“In terms of building a team, we are looking in the long term perspective from where we are. With a World Cup on the horizon, we want to give athletes enough playing opportunities that help them become a more settled squad with a definitive USA Women’s playing style.” Luckily, Cain is seeing many players who are showing great potential. There is nothing better than seeing people do well and showcase their talents. There have been some really nice surprises while on tour, in terms of where we saw players at the regional training vs. where they are now.”
“I would say the first few weeks of the WPL and alongside my involvement with the U-20s in the UK and the All-Star week has unearthed many players who are making impressions.” Cain shared that the number one thing that a player can do to make a good impression is to be themselves.
“We want players to showcase what they can do, what they are good at, and what makes them stand out. What makes them, them. If you carry the ball well then carry the ball; if you have great feet/step and can beat a player then do it; if you are quick then show us; if you are a dominant scrummager or strong in contact, let’s see it. Whatever it is you do well, show us. Apart from this, our message is always simple things done well. Focus on the small details; everyone has something slightly different.”
“We are very much focusing on individuals during this time. There are so many questions we ask while scouting but here are a few we think about: do they study? Do they work? What challenges could they face away from rugby? Where they are currently in terms of their skill sets; what sets them apart; how long will their development take; how can we best support them; and do we think they transition their domestic form onto the international stage”
“These are exciting times ahead for the program – more contact time, more games, more test matches, more opportunities to turn the IF into a WHEN with success against the top teams in the world.” Cain will continue the WPL scouting tour through the first week of October. To learn more or
support your local WPL team visit wplrugby.org.

6 Pack Club Preview

The 6 Pack Club Preview has returned for the 2019/20 seasons, choosing 6 matchups across all Men’s & Women’s Club Leagues, Conferences, and Divisions. Heading into the weekend of the 14th/15th of September, there are some very exciting matches taking place in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and New England Regions. Buckle up folks, because this year of club competition will be as fierce as ever, with much of the competition atmosphere and layout remaining similar to last year. Here to present the first 6 Pack Club preview of the year are the following teams and regions:

Women’s D1 – Midwest: Chicago Lions v Chicago Rugby

Chicago Rugby has started their 2019 Fall campaign with a streaking hot 3-0 record, and will be taking on the D1 newcomers, and city rivals, Chicago Lions. The Lions have historically been a solid side never to be reckoned with and with the overall Chicago atmosphere of Women’s competition heating up with the WPL North Shore side, there will be plenty of great talent and matchups to be seen throughout this division for years to come. Coach Bruce Snyder of the Lions is extremely excited for this upcoming crosstown matchup and weighs in.
“This match represents a great restart to our season. We’ve had the last three weekends off and are now heading into a seven week stretch where we will be playing every weekend. Our players have worked hard to learn and build their skills, and everyone is excited to apply what we’ve been working on.
I have no doubly this weekend will set the tone for the rest of the Fall season.” Snyder adds, “We look forward to hosting Chicago Women this weekend and to having a highly competitive contest with them. They were our final friendly in the Spring, and we were able to gain a lot of experience from that match.” Check this box for our Matchup of the Week, because there is sure to be end of summer fireworks in the Windy City.

Men’s D1 – Midwest: Palmer College Dragons vs Kansas City Blues

Men’s Division 1 is ready to blast off with a great matchup between these two determined clubs. Last year, KC had taken both matches when the two clubs faced off, but Palmer is excited about the opportunity to give the Blues a taste of their own medicine. Head coach for Palmer College, Giovanni Frapporti is especially enthusiastic in his club’s potential this year, along with the division as a whole.
He states, “Kansas City has always been a solid team to play against with a roster rich in experienced players that know how to play properly. On our side, 100% of our players are students at Palmer College of Chiropractic.” Frapporti also mentions the obstacles and determination his team faces, “Going through the chiropractic program and rugby is not easy at all but I am very proud of the work they put in at every practice. We have a great group of skilled players but most importantly a solid group of friends. Where technique is missing we put our hearts in. This Saturday is going to be the first wall to walk through in order to achieve the goals we have set at the beginning of the season. It doesn’t really matter with which roster they’ll come with in Davenport this weekend, we will be ready to play our best rugby.”
The perennial powerhouse Kansas City Blues side is looking forward to their Fall campaign, and will be taking their preparation for every team across the board on their schedule seriously. Looking to improve on their 3-5 record from previous season, Head coach James Paterson chimes in on the clubs present focus,
“The last 12 months the Kansas City Blues have gone through a rebuilding phase introducing a new system and staff. The spring season this year was a big improvement over the fall of 18 and we expect continued gains as we improve our core skill set and player depth.” Paterson continues, “This weekend will be a good barometer of where we are at. Palmer the last couple years have finished at the top end of the conference. They play a good brand of rugby, have an excellent set piece and are very physical. We look forward to playing this weekend and showcasing some exciting new talent coming out of the Kansas City Blues Rugby Program.”

Women’s D2 – New England: Albany Knicks vs Providence Rugby

The Albany Sirens are coming off an unsatisfying 2018/19 campaign, with high hopes of trending upward toward Division 2 stardom and success. Coming off an unfortunate loss vs Worcester Shamrocks, the Sirens captains (Mel Weils and Camila Osses) along with head coach (Lori Staples) have encouraging words for continuing their pathway against the Providence side.
“[We] are going into this game head-strong in order to play against an opponent that shares the same intense dedication to the sport” says Weils. “We are familiar with each other’s style, and have had the opportunity to face off in past 15s and 7s games where we are competing to the nail-biting end.
The competition is fierce and [we] are looking forward to a fast-paced and creative game against Providence.”, concludes Osses. Head coach Lori Staples mentions, “Providence and ourselves have been closely matched for years in terms of our style-of-play, team composition and competitiveness. We last played Providence in the 2017-18 season and split our home and away series back then.” Looking to shake off a disappointing road loss to Worcester, Staples adds, “We’ve had a lot of turnover on our squad since we last played Providence in 15s so I’m looking forward to seeing how our new players take on the challenge of this exciting rivalry.”

Men’s D2 – Midwest: Indianapolis Impalas vs Cleveland Crusaders

One of the top matchups of the week is the Midwest showdown between the Impalas & Crusaders. Both of these teams finished second in their respective regions, but now have found each other fighting for supremacy within the same conference. The Impalas were known to have a high-powered attacking presence throughout all 80 minutes, with impressive athletes commanding both the forward pack and backline. This matchup will be a great determinant to showcase which team has more grit and capability of withstanding a grueling test match.
“We have an incredibly tough matchup this weekend, as we travel to an always tough Indianapolis Impalas team.”, says Cleveland president, Terry Kilbane. “As the reigning Midwest Champs, we know that we are going to get everybody’s best shot, and there are no easy Saturdays on the schedule this year. We will win or lose this game on our defense and ability to work together within our structures. We believe we have a very talented group, capable of great things, but first things first, we have to perform on Saturday.”
Although the Impalas show fine potential, the Crusaders are not a team to sleep on. Their incredibly impressive Fall 2018 campaign sent tons of momentum into spring. Even though the Spring 2019 schedule did not pan out as they had planned, the fire has been burning in the belly of this strong Cleveland side. Their last week’s close loss to Pittsburgh Force, 12-15, was a nail-biter to the end, but the club is sure of amending their mistakes and errors coming this weekend in Indianapolis.

Women’s D3 – Mid-Atlantic: York & Landcaster Thorns vs South Jersey Devils

The York & Landcaster Thorns are yet to begin their divisional play this 2019 campaign, and are hungry to avenge their previous sub-.500 season. York & Landcaster are looking to be ‘Thorns’ in the side of their divisional rival, South Jersey Devils this upcoming weekend. The Devils however, are divisional championship defenders and will not be a club to roll-over to the determined York & Landcaster side.
Head coach Chris Kevenaar of South Jersey not only is looking to retain a successful tradition, but also has other priorities this season, “Coming off a championship season we have some rebuilding to do after losing eight starters and three subs to injury and relocation. Rookies are stepping up and returning players are diving into new roles. In our first away game of the year against a very physical Lancaster side and a particularly cheeky flyhalf.” Kevenaar mentions the keys to their success as, “We are looking to contain on defense and force turnover ball to create offensive opportunity. On the offensive side, we are preparing to come out with stability, ball control, and to hit good lines.”

Men’s D3 – Mid-Atlantic: Philadelphia Gryphons vs Northeast Philadelphia Irish

Another crosstown matchup this weekend includes the city of Brotherly Love, aka Philadelphia. This match is expected to go down exactly like a brotherly contest would go, with plenty of hard hits and intensity. The Northeast Philadelphia Irish had bolstered an outstanding season in 2018/19 going without a loss, unfortunately until the final game of the season where they had lost to Grand Rapids. We expect this game to include lots of tries, a few cheeky scuffs, and plenty of fun play.
The head coach for the Gryphons, Phil Egner, has some color commentary on his expectations for this game, the season, and the “game after the game”. Egner states, “We are looking forward to our game against NE-Irish this week. It will be a great opportunity for the Gryphons to test their defensive & attack systems and build some momentum into this new season.” He continues with, “Appreciating that NEI had an excellent record last year and having suffered a heavy loss to them at the beginning of last season – we eagerly accept the tough challenge ahead of us. The fresh blood (recruits) has brought a lot of energy and creativity into the squad. The coaches and supporters are very excited for this new generation of Gryphons to take the home field and play some quality, running rugby. The Gryphon’s strive to provide a friendly, inclusive, safe and positive environment to learn & enjoy rugby. Regardless of the final score – we are sure to have a fantastic day of competitive rugby followed by fun, friendship and free ‘soda’ at the Gryphon’s renowned drink-ups!”
Regardless of the final score – we are sure to have a fantastic day of competitive rugby followed by fun, friendship and free ‘soda’ at the Gryphon’s renowned drink-ups!”

2019 WPL Round-up Week 4

Four teams picked up bonus points and three victors won on the road
Women’s Premier League West Conference standings leader, Life West (4-0) is the first team to four wins, having traveled to San Diego (1-2) for a 40-16 victory.
“We are very pleased with the result against San Diego in what was a physical and combative game,” Life West Director of Rugby Adriaan Ferris enthused. “The defensive effort in particular was a highlight, especially after giving up four tries in the game last week. Our connection on defense and physicality in contact set the tone for a strong performance.”
Leti Hingano led all point-scorers with a try and five conversions, while Amy Naber Bonte (2), Elizabeth Cairns, Nicole Strasko and Neariah Persinger also scored. Megan Foster took advantage of three penalty opportunities and also converted Ashlee Byrge’s try to end the day 11 points.
“We are able to head into the bye round in good shape and reflect on a some key learnings we have taken away from each game so far,” Ferris looked at the previous month. “We know it is only going to get tougher in the back half of the season.”


WATCH SAN DIEGO VS LIFE WEST REPLAY


Twin Cities also heads into a two-week prep period with some momentum, having downed New York (1-2) 39-20 in Minnesota. For head coach Rebecca Radtke and assistant coach Lynelle Kugler – who are former Amazons – and the squad itself, the first half of the season has been a learning process.
Twin Cities head coach Rebecca Radtke mentioned of whether the team is where it should be midway through the season. “I’m new to them as much as they’re new to me. It’s as much of them learning about me and Lynelle as us learning about them. I’ve learned that they can be more physical than they think they can be,” the coach said of lessons along the way. “Against Beantown [in week two], they initiated contact at all levels, on offense and defense. Today, when they found themselves as initiators of contact that led to positive outcomes.”
Good communication wove a more cohesive performance, and the team got an early lift as fullback Kaelene Lundstrum scored in the third minute. New York’s Chloe Jex answered 20 minutes later following a yellow card advantage, 5-5. Twin Cities sent Brittany O’Dell and Katana Howard into the try zone, and the first of Danica Mooney-Jones’ conversions put the home side up 17-5. By game’s end, Sarah Roche, Kelsey Coley, Shaena Sparrow and Rachel Lentsch added tries for Twin Cities, while New York added 15 second-half points through Misha Green’s try, Gianna Solomon’s conversion and Tess Feury’s penalty. The Amazons sit in second place in the WPL East, and New York will travel to Beantown Saturday to close out the first half of the season.


WATCH TWIN CITIES VS NEW YORK REPLAY


Rain had slowed the first half of the aforementioned match, and Beantown (2-1) and Chicago North Shore (1-2) experienced similarly wet conditions in the Windy City. Beantown head coach Tadhg Leader asked for three things: 1) A fast-up defense that cut off passing lanes and pressured North Shore’s wide-open attack; 2) an uptick in physicality in contact; and 3) a tactical kicking game. The first half went according to plan, and the visitors used its possession to put hooker Kathryn Treder and wing Kat Phelan away for tries, 10-0 at the half.
“Tats [Tatjana Toeldte], our flyhalf, again did a great job in the conditions, constantly putting them under pressure and turning them around through her kicking game,” Leader said of standouts. “The kick is only as good as the chase, and I told our wing, Brittany [Dykes], that her job was to chase down everything that was kicked. Put pressure on them and make them feel uncomfortable.”
Leader also called out lock Claire Collins and flanker Claire Stingley for setting the tone in the forwards, and was pleased with the oppressive defense. There was more parity in the second half and North Shore did well to take advantage with a penalty while holding Beantown scoreless: 10-3 the final. “We used the bench with confidence and now know that we can bring fresh blood on the field and they’ll do a good job,” Leader highlighted WPL first-timer T Fletcher as one such impact player. “Three weeks ago in my first game, I might not have made those subs as quickly, because I wasn’t aware of who they are and what they can do.”


BEANTOWN VS CHICAGO REPLAY COMING SOON


The closest game occurred in San Francisco, where Glendale (2-1) and Berkeley (1-2) scored three tries apiece. An extra conversion, however, afforded the Merlins the 19-17 win, while the All Blues settled for the bonus point in the loss. Glendale No. 8 Carmen Farmer and scrumhalf Carly Waters worked well together off the back of the scrum and making consistent meters on the short side. Farmer scored the team’s two first-half tries, which built on penalty opportunities. A scrum penalty saw the No. 8 tap quickly through Berkeley’s five meter, and the second occurred after three penalties allowed the first half to extend well beyond 40 minutes. Again from short range, Farmer drove across the line and Gabby Cantorna’s earlier conversion afforded 12 first-half points.
Following a yellow card near the 20-minute mark, a solid lineout moved wide to fullback Serena Liu, who worked the defense with Laura Thacker as the outside option and scored. Ten minutes later, Katy Augustyn finished off a controlled forward campaign to the line. The ball then moved one pass away from the breakdown and the Eagle hooker used that room to dive across. Sam Miller converted for the 12 first-half points. The home side quickly extended its lead to 17-12 three minutes into the second half.
“They definitely had some speed, and a couple players who are new that we haven’t seen before,” Glendale vice captain and Player of the Match Joanna Kitlinski said of Berkeley’s assets. “So I definitely think they have some good players, but overall we made mistakes and we let them capitalize on a couple of those knock-ons and offloads that we had. It was definitely our ball that we gave to them.”
With fewer than 10 minutes remaining in the match, flanker Rachel Ehrecke took a quick tap from inside Berkeley’s 10 meter for the try and tying points. WPL debutant McKenzie Hawkins kicked the centered conversion for the 19-17 lead that held through regulation. “We were tied pretty much the entire game. And then in the second half we decided that we had to pick it up and kind of finish it out,” Kitlinski said. “But Berkeley, it’s definitely always a battle when we play them, so we knew it was going to be a close game.”


WATCH GLENDALE VS BERKELEY REPLAY


WEEK 4 RESULTS

East Conference

Beantown 10 – 3 Chicago
Twin Cities 39 – 20 New York

West Conference

Life West 40 – 16 San Diego
Glendale 19 – 17 Berkeley

WEEK 5 MATCHES

Saturday, September 14th

ORSU (0-3) @ Glendale (2-1) – 1:00 PM MDT
San Diego (1-2) @ Berkeley (1-2) – 1:00PM PDT
New York (1-2) @ Beantown (2-1) – 6:00PM EDT

Sunday, September 15th

Atlanta (2-1) @ Chicago North Shore (1-2) – 12:00PM CDT

ON-BYE

Life West (4-0) & Twin Cities (2-1)


FOLLOW 2019 WPL SEASON