With the Men’s DII Club Round of 16 fast approaching, clubs in the East Pool 2 are looking to adapt to whatever their opponents throw at them. The pool is made up of Buffalo, New Orleans, Village Lions and Doylestown.
|Buffalo Rugby Club|
|Village Lions: Ed Hagerty photo|
While Buffalo know that Doylestown is a strong club and they have experience against the Village Lions after playing them already this season, they do not really know what to expect from New Orleans, according to Buffalo coach Ron Astridge. “But the team that we worry about is New Orleans because we don’t know anything about them except for the fact they were competitive with the [Tampa] Krewe in the South Finals,” he said. “We’re just going to start by playing our game and then adapt as necessary just as we have all season.”
New Orleans will offer tough competition in Buffalo’s first game this weekend. The team went 8-1 this spring and, as Astridge stated, put up a good fight against the Tampa Krewe in the South Final Four. The Tampa Krewe is the defending DII national champion. If Buffalo can get the jump on New Orleans, they will have to keep the pressure on for all 80 minutes to get the win. “We’ve shown a little softness with the lead,” Astridge added. “We need to keep our concentration for 80 minutes.”
While New Orleans remains an enigma, Buffalo know what to expect from the Village Lions after they narrowly beat the New York City club in this year’s Four Leaf Tournament. “We know from our meeting in the final of the Four Leaf Tournament that the Village Lions are hard to contain,” Astridge said.
This is what the Lions are hoping for, to use their backline to outpace defenders to the try zone. “We’re particularly strong in the backs, playing quick expansive rugby,” President Bret Costain said. “We have a lot of depth too so that’ll help us.”
But before the Village Lions can think about facing Buffalo, they have to make it past Doylestown first. The Pennsylvania club made it to the national title game last year and pushed the Tampa Krewe into overtime before losing, 29-17. “We came from behind and beat Doylestown… Things are pretty tight; it’s tough to say,” Costain said.
The Village Lions are riding a wave of confidence after beating DI New York Rugby Club this past weekend. “We just came off a big one, we beat DI NYRC,” Costain added. “Our team’s pretty tough on ourselves in terms of our standards. We’re looking to reduce handling errors, tighten things up in the pack, it’s going to rain all week so it could be sloppy.”
Whatever the situation, the teams will have to be flexible and adapt to each situation they are presented with. “We don’t like to characterize ourselves as having a specific style,” Astridge said. “We will try to play wide, narrow or deep depending on what we’re facing. We feel our strength is the intelligent choices we make during the during the course of a game.”
However they have to do it, all teams in the pool are looking to take the next step in the playoffs. “Our goal is to get to Colorado, that’s why we’re going to Virginia, as a stepping-stone to Colorado,” Costain said.