Several teams are emerging as contenders in the Men's DII club ranks, as the competition in the warmer states heats up.
Santa Rosa and Diablo Gaels both moved to 3-0 in Northern California, although in very different ways. Diablo slugged it out with San Jose and edged the Seahawks 16-15. Meanwhile Santa Rosa rode roughshod over Berkeley 71-17.
Rosa hopes to keep the win streak going next week against Vacaville; that game is for the For Pete's Sake memorial fund, named after Peter Eiermann, longtime rugby player and philanthropist.
While things are tight in NorCal, the Southern California league is even more intriguing. As expected, the San Diego Old Aztecs lead the league with a 5-0 record. But also undefeated is a team no one expected to compete, Ventura County.
Started three years ago, Ventura County was a DIV club, then DIII, and now DII.
"We really didn't know what to expect," said club president and co-founder Shawn Love. Ventura County was formed because Love and others didn't have a local club. They have a lot of young players from Cal Lutheran on the squad, and managed to survive two early matches without some of their starters.
However, when wings Trevor Muslin and Marcus Mulick returned to the field, the offense started to click, and they reeled off three bonus-point victories, including Saturday's 46-5 defeat of a slid Pasadena team.
"We were really tight early on," said Love. "But we started to relax as we went along in the season. We realized we can compete, and we relaxed and started having fun with it."
Now, suddenly, they are looking at a key game in two weeks - those 5-0 Old Aztecs.
"I think we're going into that game with nothing to lose," Love said. "We are going to see where we are as a team."
In Arizona, Tempe and Red Mountain won comfortable, and look, as usual, to be the top teams in that league.
Things are not so clear in Texas, where the Dallas Area Rugby Club lost 8-3 to Shreveport to drop to 4-2, while The Woodlands won over Frisco to go to 4-2. It was a day of surprises as St. Thomas University eked out their first win of the season, 12-10 over Bay Area. It's still all to play for in Texas.
Further East to the South, Little Rock slapped around Huntsville 80-7 t move to 2-0, while Nashville beat rivals Memphis 20-10 to go to 3-0.
The Columbia Old Grey has started well, also, at 3-0.
But the team that perhaps has really turned heads is Naples, now 8-0 in Florida.
Naples beat the Pelicans 57-0 on the weekend, with Ryan Shore scoring multiple tries and conversting several, as well.
Scott Lewis was once again a big part of the Naples effort, just as he was when Naples upended Orlando last week in a battle of unbeaten teams.
And the Pacific Northwest continues to offer a tight clash at the top.
Portland and ORSU met in a game of two northern Oregon teams both 4-1. ORSU emerged victorious in that one, and are now tied atop the PNW DII South, tied with Snake River. The Eastside Axemen defeated the Rovers to move to 4-2 in the North.
So with all this, we can now start to establish which teams are the best DII clubs around the country:
Northeast: Middlesex, Montauk, Portland
Mid-Atlantic: Doylestown, Rocky Gorge and possibly Roses, Wilmington and Washington Irish
South: Naples, Orlando, Nashville, Little Rock, Columbia, and possibly someone else.
Midwest: Eastside, Bremer County, Dayton, Wisconsin
West-North: Glendale, Colorado Springs
West-Texas: Dallas, Woodlands
West-Central: Omaha GOATS, St. Louis Bombers
West-Rio Grande: Albuquerque
SoCal: San Diego Old Aztecs
SoCal-Arizona : Tempe, Red Mountain
NorCal: Santa Rosa, Diablo
PNW: Snake River, ORSU, Portland, Eastside Axemen
That's 32 clubs in the DII landscape with a realistic shot at glory.