Fifteen DI men’s clubs are in league play this weekend, with several looking to make important statements for the remainder of the season:
New England takes the weekend off, so they are idle. The rest are in action:
Buffalo is still nipping at Old Blues heels, sitting at 4-0 and just behind their NYC rivals by a bonus point. Buffalo plays 2-2 Monmouth and, after a week off to rest, will want to build on a superb win over a very tough White Plains team September 22. Led by Greg Campo and Nick Kismierski, Buffalo is on fire.
New York (1-3) plays 1-3 Long Island in a must-win for both if they are to have any thoughts of playoff rugby. The aforementioned 4-0 Old Blue play White Plains, who are 3-1 and itching to move higher. White Plains and Old Blue have the best defenses in the league, so this could be a low-scoring tussle. But Old Blue is also averaging over 54 points a game.
Village Lions, 1-3, face 0-4 Morris. The Lions have already pulled off one upset, and could vault into 4th if they win and Monmouth loses.
NOVA stirred the pot with a big tie of PAC last week. They wake on winless Washington and should win comfortably there. Pittsburgh, at 3-1, takes a week off.
In a battle of winless teams, 0-3 Baltimore-Chesapeake plays 0-3 Media. The winner will be thinking it’s time to turn the corner. The loser will wonder where that corner is.
At 3-0, Maryland, which edged Pittsburgh 22-20 last week, will face Schuylkill River. Exiles hooker Owen Lentz said his team can’t have a hangover from the victory in the Steel City, but it’s worth noting that Maryland didn’t really get their game going until late. They will want to start well this time.
And finally, PAC takes on rivals Norfolk. The Blues are only 1-1 as they haven’t played a league game since September 15. Now, with PAC a little shaken thanks to last week’s tie, and with three teams place above the Blues, this is a crucial matchup.
“It’s a big game for us,” said Norfolk Head Coach Chris Porter. “We already have one loss and with Pitt, Maryland, NOVA, and PAC playing well, we can’t afford to drop these head-to-head games. There is a lot of rugby left, but you want to be in control of your fate come end of the season.”
True enough. A loss for Norfolk puts them 1-2 with Schuylkill, Maryland, and Pittsburgh to come. Not one of those games is a gimme.
As outlined earlier on RUGBYMag.com, this is the time when the Midwest season gets thrown through a blender. Some teams have games against all other pools, while others don’t. Some 1-3 teams have a shot at winning their remaining games, while other teams at 3-1 better watch their backs.
Chicago Lions should win at the Chicago Blaze. The 3-1 Detroit Tradesmen are a team that has to be careful, especially traveling to undefeated Cincinnati. Indianapolis and Columbus just want to win a rugby game. Palmer is dead set on rebuilding their record, and could start nicely against 1-3 Milwaukee.
The game of the week has to be the Chicago Griffins, 2-1-1 after tying the Lions last week, and 4-0 Metropolis. This game is played in Minneapolis, and with the Griffins missing two top forwards (off with the USA Selects team), Metropolis has to be favored.
Out west there are two more games in the league. Boulder and the Denver Highlanders were on the losing end of humbling scores last week. They look for some better news this week against each other.
Kansas City, 1-0 in the league, take on a strong Glendale squad in Colorado. The Raptors will be without their captain, and his backup, as both are with the USA Selects.