Friday Apr 24, 2009 in Grassroots Rugby Division III Clubs
April 24, 2009 – The nation’s DIII men’s clubs are entering into the final push for the national championship.
Sixteen teams will begin play in the Round of 16 and national quarterfinals May 16-17, half in Columbia, SC and half in Austin, Texas.
Here’s where the teams are at present.
In the Pacific Coast, it’s all decided, with Mission having won Northern California, and therefore the #1 PCRFU seed, Phoenix winning Arizona (#2 seed) and Budd Bay the Pacific Northwest (and #3).
For Budd Bay this championship ends an 11-year odyssey. Founded in 1998 the Olympia, Wash. club had never made the DIII post-season before. But April 4 they downed longtime rivals Eugene 51-10 to make the PNW final against Oregon Sports Union’s DIII side.
In a dramatic finale held at Budd Bay’s home field, Budd Bay prevailed thanks to three Chris Cousins tries and an 80th-minute penalty goal by Trevor Anderson for a 29-26 victory.
For Anderson this was a highlight of a career that has been central to Budd Bay. Anderson (pictured lining up said game-winning kick) has played for the club during its entire tenure, leads the club stats in tries and points by a considerable margin, and has also served as club president, coach, and, currently, the U19 boys coach.
Anderson learned to play rugby while studying in Australia. He was actually asked to help some Australian students play gridiron, and ended up being recruited to rugby instead.
“Doing something to put your team into the playoffs like that is something every player would like to do,” said Anderson. “And it was the highlight of my rugby career, but at the same time I didn’t do it alone. The guys have been really committed and have been led well by Chris [Counsins.]”
Anderson said he drew inspiration from the hometown fans, including the current U19 players whom he coaches, as well as their parents. The Budd Bay boys and girls teams have both won championships and been nationally ranked, but this is a first for the men’s team.
“To a certain extent something like this helps unify rugby in Olympia and I am more proud of that than anything,” Anderson said.
In Southern California, there’s one more weekend of play to go, but it’s all over for seedings. Beaumont has wrapped up the league with a 10-2 record. Their two losses were 15-14 to OMBAC in March and 31-13 to Orange County last weekend. Eagle Rock has sewn up the #2 seed.
In the West, the playoffs start May 2, with Fort Worth, Northern State, Scott Air Force Base, and Wichita in the semis.
Quarterfinal challenge matches were played April 18 to determine this final four.
St. Louis declined to challenge Fort Worth. Northern State beat Alamo City 43-10, Scott AFB handed McAllen a 34-7 defeat, and Wichita edged New Mexico Highlands 15-8.
In the Northeast, Danbury (Conn.) won the Northeast championship in November with a 13-11 win over the Middlesex RFC. To reach the final Danbury crushed New London 62-3 while Middlesex defeated Buffalo 13-5.
“It’s our first trip to a National Championship,” said Danbury captain Chris Smith. “We’ve made the Northeast RFU playoffs before but winning the Northeast DIII is the best Danbury has ever done. In preparing for Nationals, we’ve been playing higher level DI or DII sides. We’ve played D1INew Haven and this weekend we’re playing White Plains. These games give good indications of what we have to improve on and how ready we are to play.”
Smith said that winning the NRU and going to nationals means a lot for his club.
“[It] bolsters recruiting because guys want to be part of a championship team. For a number of our older, veteran players, competing for a National Championship represents an opportunity to end their careers on a really high note.”
Three Eastern Penn RFU clubs, Harrisburg, Old Gaelic, and Lehigh Valley, along with Blacksburg from Virginia recorded quarterfinal victories on April 11th and will meet in Roanoke this weekend to decide the Mid-Atlantic RFU D3 Club Championship.
Harrisburg Coach Wade Edris said Harrisburg defeated Lehigh Valley but lost to their perennial nemesis, Old Gaelic, in the EPRU playoffs last fall. He promised a tense semi between Harrisburg and Lehigh Valley.
“Our mission is to win on Saturday, assuring a trip to South Carolina … then play the best match possible on Sunday to maximize seeding for South Carolina.”
April 25, 2009
Roanoke , VA
Old Gaelic v Blacksburg
Harrisburg v Lehigh Valley
April 18, 2009
Old Gaelic 20, Roanoke 5
Blacksburg 32, Western Suburbs 22
Harrisburg 30, Warrenton 17
Lehigh Valley 16, Virginia 15
The South RFU DIII championships will take place this weekend with Triad (NC) facing Hilton Head (SC) and Pensacola (Fla.) facing Savannah (Ga.).
Hilton Head RFC president Jason Carnes believes his team may be favored to win the South DIII title.
“We’ve only lost three games in the last four years,” said Carnes. “That being said, we don’t know that much about our semifinal opponent, Triad. Hilton Head has put a tremendous amount of effort into achieving our goal of being National Champions; winning the South RFU title is an essential element in achieving that goal.”
Carnes said his team approaches the season seriously, interspersing extra training days and weight work around the regular Tuesday and Thursday nights.
“It’s very much a serious enterprise,” said Carnes. “We run this club like a business in the sense that our goal is to win rugby games and as long as we’re being ethical, that’s the only thing that matters.”
Columbus / Ft. Benning , GA
April 25, 2009
Hilton Head v Triad
Pensacola v Savannah
April 11, 2009
Triad 29, Lejeune 0
Hilton Head 15, Birmingham 9
Pensacola 37, High Country 21
Savannah 19, Pasco County 10
After two rounds of play, the Men’s Midwest DIII championship will be decided this weekend when four clubs (Lexington Blackstone v Cleveland Eastern Suburbs and Fox Cities v Bremer County) face off in the Midwest semifinals and final.
Cleveland Eastern Suburbs (CES) president Dom Matteo said the semifinal “will be a classic matchup. We hear that Lexington has some pretty good backs, while our strength is in our pack. We don’t look that big, but our pack has been a force to be reckoned with for the last year or so.”
CES faced Lexington in the playoffs last year but didn’t fare well due to injuries.
Making it this far is important for this club.
“It’s really been a phenomenal thing,” said Matteo. “We’re starting to see all the effort we’ve put into local high school programs come to fruition. Guys who played in high school, who went off to college, are coming back to Cleveland and are playing for our club. They’re familiar with our guys and our program, so we have now a nice mix of youth and vets. With the excitement of the local playoffs and going on to the Midwests, recruitment has improved and a lot of old boys we haven’t seen for a while are helping out with fund-raisers and in other areas. The DIII Championships have stirred up a lot of excitement.”
April 25, 2009
Lexington v Cleveland
Fox Cities v Bremer County
November 3, 2008
Lexington 27, Fort Wayne 5
Cleveland Eastern Sub 46, Fox Valley 12
Fox Cities 35, Cedar Rapids 14
Bremer County 29, Fon du Lac 5
Round of 16
October 27, 2008
Fort Wayne 20, Rockford 15
Lexington 34, Erie 3
Fox Valley 41, Kalamazoo 8
Cleveland Eastern Sub 55, Queen City 7
Fox Cities 44, St Paul 27
Cedar Rapids 33, Peoria 24
Fon du Lac 33, Metropolis 10
Bremer County 50, Northwest 7
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- Ed Hagerty and Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com