The DI club playoffs are soon upon us, and now is a good time for RUGBYMag.com to consider how the clubs stack up.
We've spent countless hours poring over the teams and their records, their competition, and their performances.
It's a tough one, because some of these teams have been playing regularly in difficult leagues, some have been playing in easy leagues, and some haven't been playing at all.
It's only now, April through May and into June, that all these teams play at the same time.
So this is what we have at the moment. What perhaps is most of interest is that the top two teams have actually lost games in league play. Everyone is entitled to one bad day; they are also entitled to show improvement. Right now it's hard to think of a team that can take care of business as well as Belmont Shore. Meanwhile Glendale has continued to improve greatly. The next group are all teams that won their leagues relatively comfortably.
After that come teams that have placed second in their leagues, but in leagues that are very competitive, along with clubs where questions remain. The Boston Irish Wolfhounds are a team that, despite not winning their league, look to be ready to break out, thanks in part to some additions (11 since March 1) this spring.
Two of the teams that have done relatively well in league play that we've left out are the Denver Barbarians and Chicago Lions. Both are Super League clubs who also compete in DI. We think the Barbarians are already not the team they were in the fall, while the Lions are a team we're on the fence about. They might be able to go deep into the playoffs while their RSL team is in action, or they might follow the path of every other Super League program, and struggle in the spring. We will wait.
Also not there, most of Northern California. The Sacramento Lions, Sacramento Capitals, San Mateo and EPA Bulldogs are all just fine, and all roughly equal. Ultimately we kick for touch on those and leave them on the bubble.
(Video highlights of #1 Belmont Shore v. #7 Santa Monica here)
RUGBYMag.com DI Men's Club Top 20 April 14 2011
1. Belmont Shore
3. Austin Blacks
5. Olympic Club
7. Santa Monica
9. Atlanta Renegades
10. Mystic River
11. Boston Irish Wolfhounds
15. Kansas City Blues
16. Los Angeles
17. Kalihi Raiders
20. Long Island