The 2012 Rugby Super League kicks off March 10th with an abbreviated slate of three games.
Old Blue at New York Athletic Club, 1PM EST, Travers Island, New York In New York, Old Blue travel to Travers Island to take on old rivals New York Athletic Club with a one o’clock season kickoff. Mike Tolkin will be at the helm for the final time for NYAC, before he takes up the position of the head coach of the USA Eagles. Fittingly it was against Old Blue that Tolkien had his first game in charge for NYAC.
The teams have had similar preparations for the season. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, it was tough to get actual games played.
Old Blue had a couple of games against Penn State, while NYAC got in a run at West Point, and both teams had inter-squad scrimmages to get some game-time in. Old Blue coach Marty Veale has been impressed with the effort his team in putting in, working on skills and fitness since team preparations began in December. Marty reports the core of the Old Blue team is back this year, but with the addition of a few new faces that will look to make their mark in the RSL.
NYAC’s Bruce McLane certainly expects Old Blue to be much better prepared and greatly improved from previous years. NYAC will counter with the likes of returning veterans Mike Petri, Brian Doyle and James Denise. One notable addition to the NYAC squad this year is Neil McMillan, the flanker who most recently was playing for Sale Sharks in England. NYAC has had the better of the meetings between these two sides over the last few years, but NYAC is certainly taking nothing for granted this time around. Weather forecast looks great for the first game of the season, with temperatures in the 40’s, with sunny skies, a far cry from conditions early in the season last year.
Dallas Harlequins at Life University Running Eagles, 1PM EST, Marietta, GA Further south, Dallas will suit up against last year’s finalists in Georgia. Similar to the New York teams, Life has had trouble finding games recently, so the start of the season comes as a bit of a relief.
It will be a new look Life team this year, as high profile players who departed include Phil Thiel, Pat Danahy and Paul Emerick, but player-coach James Isaacson is looking for new recruits Tom Katzfey, Benji Goff and Sammy Anderson to slot in nicely into a squad that retains the core from last year and will be the better from last year’s experience at reaching the final.
James reckons that with Dallas, Life is “stepping into the unknown”.
With it being the first game of the season, Life will concentrate on trying to implement its game on Dallas and see where Life’s strengths lie.
Dallas Harlequins’ Michael Englebrecht reports that there is great anticipation around the game for a number of reasons. Off the field, Dallas has made great strides in club management and administration and that has set the stage for being much more competitive on the field. On the field, it will be a much changed side for Dallas this season. Just two players return in the backs, but a few of the new additions have USA U-19 or U-20 experience. In the forwards, Pete Van Scoy, Zach Rutledge and Tim McNeely will be providing some senior leadership for a core unit that while young, have a number of RSL seasons under the belt.
Michael and the ‘Quins are eager for the test that Life will provide.
“We fully understand that Life, at home, is a formidable task for our new look Harlequin team but we are really looking forward to the challenge”.
Denver Barbarians at Utah Warriors, 2.15 PM MST, McCarthy Field, University of Utah, UT The final game of the day will be in Utah, where the Warrior will entertain the Denver Barbarians in what is expected to be another game played under nice conditions with temperatures about 60 and partly sunny. Utah had a great inaugural season last year and the team will be eager to put rumors of any possible sophomore slump to rest.
Denver’s Rob O’Connor says the team has retained the core players from last year, and has supplemented the roster with a few young players such as Hunter Leland, Jon Poynter and Kyle Hitt. Denver has had outings this spring against Park City Haggis and the University of Colorado, both wins, while dropping a close decision against top ranked college side BYU.
The RSL game is expected to kick off around 2.15, following the University of Utah’s matchup against Colorado State. That game should start at noon, followed by a b-side scrimmage.