Somebody has to make a statement this weekend as the DI league seasons expand a little and reach some important conclusions elsewhere.
PAC and Schuylkill River are scheduled to play a makeup game this weekend, although the weatherman thinks some rain might put the kibosh on the contest.
Still, with a victory, PAC can clinch 1st place in MARFU. The team ahead of them at the moment, Norfolk, has finished all their games.
The Philadelphia-area side, Schuylkill River, has, like PAC, two games left on their schedule. They can jump into a playoff spot if they secure six points in their two games. So a loss isn’t the end of the world, as long as they get four tries or a close loss, or both.
PAC doesn’t mind so much the long gap between league games, even though such a gap plays havoc with their continuity, because it allows them to see some injured players heal, and to bring in some new athletes.
Key for PAC was the arrival in October of Toshi Palamo, a longtime all-star on both coasts. Toshi’s brother Arona (aka Seta) is now with the club and is expected to help upgrade their backline.
Nothing earth-shattering in the Lone Star State as the 2-4 Huns take on Fort Worth, who are 1-6. HARC, 1-4, play 3-4 Dallas.
Dallas can’t clinch the 2nd playoff place in Texas, but they can get very close with a win. And in fact, it’s more important to look at it pessimistically from the Dallas point of view – if they lose, and the Austin Huns win, they are in trouble.
There are six teams in Texas. One of them, the Dallas Harlequins, aren’t eligible for the playoffs. So that means five are playing for four playoff spots. The Austin Blacks already have 1st place sewn up, so the chase is on for the other home game. Dallas should wrap it up, but the Austin Huns can overehaul the Reds if they claim two wins out of three and the other team falters.
HARC has some rain postponements to play, and so could well make a late run for the 4th spot.
Belmont Shore has not confirmed 1st place in Southern California, but they are close. Only OMBAC can catch them, and to do so they will certainly have to beat Shore on the final weekend of the regular season, and have had to catch up by at least one, possibly two bonus points.
OMBAC captain Joe Fontana doesn’t worry too much about that; he is just pleased to see the team coming together.
“From where we started to where we are now, there’s been nothing but improvement,” Fontana told RUGBYMag.com. “We’ve got tons more growth we can do, but everybody’s starting to gel together, and I think this is the closest OMBAC team I’ve ever been a part of. We enjoy ourselves, but when we go through those gates, we have a business mentality.”
Fontana says Head Coach Eugene Mountjoy leads the way on that. His passion for the game rubs off on the players. They know they may not finish first, but they sure as heck are eager to secure 2nd.
OMBAC travels to Las Vegas this weekend. Las Vegas is 2-4-1, but should not be overlooked.
“At home they are one of the best teams in the country,” said Fontana.
Meanwhile Back Bay plays Los Angeles and 2rd-place Santa Monica faces Belmont Shore.
If Shore wins and OMBAC gets at least a couple of bonus points, Santa Monica is confirmed in third place. Everyone else is battling for 4th, with Vegas on the inside track.
Longtime top dogs in NorCal Olympic Club got upended last week 10-9, but Head Coach didn’t feel too put out about it.
The O-Club is a team of mostly white collar players, and that can be a good thing as away trips aren’t as burdensome as they are to some other teams. But the tradeoff is, sometimes players are pulled away for work or a work trip over the weekends.
Last week Olympic Club had to put former flanker and now center Rikus Pretorius in at flyhalf. He did very well, but they just couldn’t get the tries they needed.
Is O-Club through their difficulties? Hard to say. Lehner is optimistic, but guarded about the team’s prognosis. They play SFGG this week, and basically have to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Elswhere in the league, the most intriguing matchup will be the EPA Bulldogs against San Mateo. San Mateo is an up-and-coming outfit and could put down a marker with a good showing. The Bulldogs are undefeated, but two of those wins have been the two winless teams in the league, so they still have something to prove.
Charlotte plays Boca Raton in Florida for the game that will confirm who is third and who fourth. Meanwhile the Atlanta Renegades play New Orleans in a clash of 1st v 2nd. The Renegades need to win both of their final matches, and need New Orleans to lose both, to take 1st.
Glendale is 3-0-1 and have looked less than stellar in their last two matches. They play 1-2 Denver Highlanders in a game that would have been thought of as a slam dunk three weeks ago. Now? Probably still a Raptors win, but not guaranteed.
This week's scheduled DI Club games:
PAC at Schuylkill River
HUNS at FTW
HARC at DALLAS
Los Angeles at Back Bay
Belmont Shore at Santa Monica
OMBAC at Las Vegas Blackjacks
Sac Capitals at Barbarians
EPA Razorbacks at Sac Lions
South Charlotte at Boca Raton
Atlanta Renegades at New Orleans
Denver Highlanders at Glendale