Saturday 6-Pack

This week's USA Club Rugby Saturday Six-Pack features matches across the nation as competitions continue to start up or resume, including the launch of competitive play in Florida.

Florida Women’s Division II: Fort Miami Rugby vs. Orlando Rugby

There is little room for error in the second division of women’s rugby in Florida, with only five teams in the competition, there is intense scrutiny over each game. In week one of their schedule that scrutiny will be magnified exponentially, as the top two teams from last year square off. Fort Miami will be seeking to defend their title while Orlando, after drawing blood in their last bout, will be moving in to usurp the reigning champions.

As you may expect a rivalry is brewing between these two clubs. “There is a huge rivalry,” Fort Miami Coach Eyal Hakim noted, “look at football… with Michigan and Michigan State – they (Orlando) are our in-state rivals.” In the last three years, the title has gone to either one of the two teams. This adds extra intensity to the match-up, as whoever wins the series, in all likelihood, will go on to win the league. Both teams are painfully aware of that fact and the lift in intensity when these two teams meet each other is noticeable. “It is always a fight, it’s never an easy game,” explained Hakim.

“It is always a fight, it’s never an easy game”

Eyal Hakim

As they head into Saturday’s fixture Fort Miami will be looking to reclaim the bragging rights against Orlando, as their potential perfect season, last year was foiled by Orlando. “We need to make sure our heads are on right…there was a little bit of cockiness and it didn’t fit our style of play,” Hakim candidly explained. Luckily, having played them so many times, they will know what to expect from Orlando. “They are a hard running and hard punching team,” explained Hakim. When asked what they will have to do to ensure that they don’t lose two on the trot, Hakim noted, “Defense will be key to us winning… we’ll be wanting to generate turnover ball and use it to our benefit.”

While this weekend is only the first step of many on Fort Miami’s quest to repeat it is an important one. Hakim was quick to reiterate that there is more than one game that makes a successful season: “We’ll need to maintain our team, keep injuries down and keep within our system.” These aren’t the only steps that are being taken to ensure they can build upon last season. Last year Fort Miami was the champion of the Southern Conference, but that is where the goals ended for Hakim in his first year, now he wants more and has “set the goals further.” Saturday will be a good test to see if they are on their way to reaching lofty expectations. 

Florida Women’s Division II: Jacksonville Sinners vs. Tampa Bay Krewe:

In the other opening weekend match for women’s rugby in Florida, the Tampa Bay Krewe will field their first women’s team in a long time this weekend as they will take on Jacksonville. Jacksonville has been languishing at the bottom of the table for the past several years. The Sinners will, undoubtedly, be hoping that if they can beat the Krewe on Saturday it may be the spark that they need to move up into a more competitive position. 

Red River Men’s Division I: Austin Huns Vs. Dallas Rugby :

This game pits the last two Red River Competitive Region Champions against each other. The Huns won the Red River title last year while Dallas won it in 2016. Despite not winning the Competitive Region Title in 2017 the Reds were able to pull off a victory in capturing the RugbyGold Cup Championship. Both teams have had success on the national stage too, with the Reds making it to the semis twice in the last four years, and the Austin Huns winning it all last year.

Pacific South Men’s Division II: Tempe Old Devils vs. Las Vegas Irish:

Tempe have, over the course of the past couple of years, enjoyed a rollercoaster of emotions. In 2016 they experienced the highs of winning the National Championship and enjoying promotion to Division I in 2017, to now finding themselves back down in the second division after a major year of national realignment. Their opponents, the Las Vegas Irish, have been enjoying modest success over the last few years. In 2017, they were crowned Southern California Rugby Football Union’s Division II Gold Champs and reached the semi-finals of the Pacific South.

Pacific South Men’s Division II: Oceanside Chiefs vs. Black Bay Sharks:

Both sides have been at the top of their geographic region for the last couple of years, with the Chiefs coming out as SCRFU Division II White Champions in 2017, and Black Bay coming in as runner-up in the 2016 Gold division.  Both teams made it to last year’s SCRFU semi-finals but were unable to advance.

Red River Men’s Division III: San Antonio Rugby D3 vs. McAllen Knights:

It may only be early in the season, but there is already shaping up to be a must-win this weekend. With only the top team advancing to the playoffs, and a single wild-card across three competitions, no team can afford a slip-up. As the standings currently lay, San Antonio sits in pole position and McAllen sits in third. With San Antonio having played one more game than McAllen and having already chalked up a loss, this weekend will provide each team to get a leg up on the other in the hunt for the playoff berth.