The East Has Found Their Club Champions

Over the weekend the best teams in the East made their pilgrimage to Obetz, Ohio to vie for a place at the National Championships, in two week’s time. It was a weekend of tightly fought matches that showcased the best that club rugby in America has to offer.

Day OneAll of the Eastern Club Championship Semi Finals were held on Saturday with the winner’s advancing to the Eastern Championship Matches on Sunday.

-Men’s Division I-

Old Mystic vs. Norfolk Blues:
The men from the greater Boston area opened the game up at a frantic pace and before the crowd had a chance to find their seats, Mystic River had opened up a twelve-point lead. Norfolk responded with tries of their own, but every time they scored Mystic had an answer for them and at the half the Blues were down 26-12. The second half was a quiet affair as the Blues tried to fight their way back into the game, while Mystic held them at an arm’s length. Mystic advancing through to Sunday, 36-15.

New York Athletic Club (NYAC) vs. Chicago Lions:
NYAC and the Chicago Lions squared off against one another to see who would be advancing to face Mystic in the Eastern Championship. The game started off in a tight affair as Chicago took advantage of poor discipline from NYAC to kick 3 penalties and 20 minutes in they lead 9-7. However, once NYAC got on the referee’s good side their aggressive style of play yielded major rewards for them as they started to run away with the game.  NYAC advanced 50-36, in large part thanks to fly half, Harry Bennet and number 8 Scott Williamson who contributed 30 of the teams 50 points.

-Women’s Division I-

Boston Rugby vs. Detroit Rugby:
What started as a close game between Boston and Detroit, quickly became a one-sided affair. In the first six minutes of the game Boston had already cracked the Detroit defense twice and opened up a 12-0 lead. Detroit looked as if they were on their way back into the contest when they crossed in the 13th minute, but Boston had other ideas. Boston scored twice more before the half, to lead 22-5 heading into the break. The second half was less active with Boston shutting Detroit out and adding some garnish to the score line. Boston Advanced 37-5.


Raleigh Venom vs. Philadelphia Rugby:
It was a reversal of what had been seen in the other games when the Venom and Philadelphia took the field. The game started as a blowout with Raleigh getting out to a 24-5 lead just after half time, and looked unstoppable, Philadelphia thought otherwise. Philadelphia launched an attempt at a comeback, but their efforts to rally their troops feel short. They scored two tries to bring it within nine points, but missed conversions hindered their ability to apply any real pressure to the Raleigh lead. Raleigh won 24-15.


-Men’s Division II-

Detroit Tradesmen vs. Morris Rugby: 
Periods of frantic and dizzying scoring sprees followed by lulls in activity told the story of this game. The first twenty minutes were uneventful with neither team able to penetrate the other’s line. It all changed in the 25th minute when Detroit scored the game’s first try. That ignited the Tradesmen’s’ fuses as they went on to score twenty points the seven minutes following their first try. Morris climbed back into the game after overcoming the shock onslaught and brought the margin down to 7. However, as soon as they did that another intense period of scoring ensued and the Tradesmen scored a further fifteen points to but the game to bed. The Tradesmen moving on, 35-13.

Atlanta Renegades vs. Doylestown Dragons:  
Heading into the weekend this matchup looked to be one of the most intriguing of the quarterfinals and it did not disappoint. The Renegades got out to an early 8-0 lead, but that lead didn’t last. Doylestown blasted back and scored the next 17 points and was up at the half. Straight after the half Atlanta struck back and drew the game within two. From there the two teams trade scores neither able to establish a conclusive lead. That was until the 70th minute when Atlanta’s Corey Patton scored his third try of the day to seal the victory, 27-25.


-Women’s Division II-

Providence Rugby vs. Cincinnati Kelts:
As the cliché goes “Defense wins championships”, and Providence proved that it at least gets you past the Eastern Semifinals, as they blanked the Cincinnati Kelts. It was a complete team performance on both sides of the ball for the women from Rhode Island. Not only did they shut the Kelts out, but they spread the ball around in attack. The backs were threatening all day and proved that their threats weren’t empty, as three of the team’s four tries came from backs. Their opponents would be either Charlotte or Harrisburg.

Charlotte Rugby vs. Harrisburg Rugby:
In lightning fast fashion, Charlotte got on the board against Harrisburg declaring their intentions from the get-go. Harrisburg was left reeling but managed to right the ship and as they scored on half time they cut a lead that once was as big as twelve down to only five. Harrisburg then scored the first try of the second half to go up by two, and send Charlotte looking for answers. Those who go looking will often find what their looking for, and Charlotte’s search for answers proved fruitful. They bounced back to score fourteen unanswered points. Harrisburg scored within the final five minutes to add some drama, but they were unable to regain the lead, and Charlotte would advance to the Eastern Championship.


-Men’s Division III-

Long Island Rugby vs. Fort Wayne Rugby:
Neither team, this year, was accustomed to losing as they had both been incredibly successful throughout the year against their local competition. Both teams knew that this weekend would be tougher than any other weekend they’d played all year. Those expectations were met, especially in the first twenty minutes, when the two teams were locked in a tight tussle. In the twentieth minute, down by three Fort Wayne went a man down, and that was the turning point in the match. Long Island scored a try and extended their lead to 10, from there on out Fort Wayne continued to play catch up but never got as close as they were prior to the yellow card. Long Island walking away victorious 30-14.

Palm Beach Panthers vs. Phoenixville White Horse:
Both teams were undefeated going into the weekend, and unfortunately for one of them that was about to change. In a game that went back and forth continuously, which included four lead changes, the result wasn’t clear until five minutes out from full time. Going into the half Phoenixville trailed by six, and within the first five minutes of the second half they had taken the lead for the first time since the 20th minute. However, the Panthers struck back with 15 unanswered points to place the nail in the coffin of White Horse. The Panthers ended the game up 29-16

Day 2Mystic River vs. NYAC:
These two North East rivals were more than familiar with one another as they entered Sunday’s Eastern Championship Match, having played each other four times already this year. There was no denying this would be an enthralling match as these two teams have each won one National Championship in the past three years. Mystic opened their account first, scoring in the 9th minute. They looked again to threaten twice in the next ten minutes getting the ball deep within NYAC’s territory but two interceptions were converted into NYAC tires and against the flow of play NYAC found themselves in a commanding position. At the half NYAC led 22-5. Two minutes into the second half Mystic scored to come back within ten but a penalty for NYAC further extended their lead to thirteen. However, in the next ten minutes Mystic scored two tries and retook the lead in the 59th minute to be ahead 26-25. The two teams continued to go at each other trying to extend or maintain the lead and ultimately as the final whistle blew there had been no change to the score line and Mystic River advanced to the National Championship match as the representative for the East.

-Women’s Division I-

Raleigh Venom vs. Boston Rugby:
Similarly, to their first match Raleigh, jumped out to an early lead against their opponents. This time, however, Boston wasn’t going to go away. Things were looking dire at one stage as the Venom were out to a 17-point lead in the first sixteen minutes. Boston looked to have figured it out when they brought the lead back down to ten as play approached the half hour mark. Raleigh was not perturbed as they continued to score and rebuild their lead, extending it to 22 points. Boston hung around the match and would not go down without a fight. They made a serge in the closing stages of the match to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. They scored 21 points in the final minutes but it was too little too late and Raleigh won the Women’s D1 Eastern Club Championship, 29-28.

-Men’s Division II-

Detroit Tradesmen vs. Atlanta Renegades:
A helter-skelter start to the Men’s Division II championship match set the tone for the rest of the game. The Tradesmen and the Renegades engaged in a call and response early on with four lead changes occurring within the first 20 minutes of the game alone. Eventually, as the dust settled from the opening quarter of the game, Detroit emerged with the lead. The rest of the first half played out without too much fervor, but the Tradesmen were able to give themselves a buffer as they added a try late in the first half. The second half picked up where the first left off and all of a sudden, the Tradesmen found themselves out in front by fifteen. Just as they were looking comfortable Detroit lost a man to the sinbin and the Renegades capitalized drawing the gap to within eight. Things were getting hot under the collar for the tradesmen and it only got worse when with three minutes left Atlanta crossed once more to bring it to within one point. The last-ditch efforts weren’t enough though as Detroit crossed with one minute left to extend their lead to six. Detroit moving on 32-26.

-Women’s Division II-

Charlotte Rugby vs. Providence Rugby:
A wild finish saw the women from Charlotte rugby Advance through to the national championship after they scored a try on the last play of the game. The first hour of the game was the quiet before the storm. In the first hour Charlotte scored two tries to have, what seemed like a comfortable fourteen-point lead, but then a shift in momentum occurred. Shortly after Charlotte pulled ahead by two tries, Providence responded and bagged a try for themselves making it 14-5. Ten minutes later they bagged a second try making it 14-12 with 15 minutes left in the contest. Now the team that had been out of it for an hour was right back in the thick of things with a chance of stealing it at the end. In the 75th minute it looked as if they had with a penalty goal to edge ahead by one point. Providence now lead 15-14. Charlotte came back determined and full of gusto, and from the kick off looked to apply pressure straight to back onto Providence: it worked. Charlotte was able to restrict providence from effectively clearing their line and as the game went into injury time the pressure became too much. Charlotte dotted the ball down to claim the victory and Eastern Championship, 19-15.

-Men’s Division III-

Long Island Rugby vs. Atlanta Renegades:
Contrastingly to all of the other games that were played in Obetz the Championship match for the Men’s Division III saw no scoring at all in the first half. It took until the 45th minute before Long Island crossed the line to claim the lead. That jubilation was short lived, as less than ten minutes later the Panther’s snatched the lead away; only, for it to be taken back moments later by Long Island. As time expired the Panthers scored to draw the score level. The equation was simple, make the conversion and you advance to the National Championship, miss and you go to extra time. They went to extra time. In extra time Long Island was able to control the game and the scoreboard scoring two tries while shutting out Palm Beach. Long Island won in extra time, 22-12.