Club Rugby Saturday 6 Pack: PRP Begins

As another exciting weekend of club rugby kicks off around the country, USA Rugby is proud to bring you this week's Club Rugby Saturday Six-Pack, highlighting six of the most intriguing matches across the country.

PRP Opening Weekend

The re-start of the Pacific Rugby Premiership is this week's lead focus, with 3 exciting matches taking place and filling half the six-pack slots.

The Life West Gladiators, runner-up in last year's Northern California Division I, take on the Santa Monica Dolphins, last year's runner-up in Southern California Division I, in what is sure to be an early statement match for both sides. Santa Monica was the 2005 & 2006 Men's Division I national champions, and has been one of the nation's top clubs for several decades - including multiple appearances in Club 7s National Championship events as they infused their club with several younger players. Life West is a fairly young club, but has accomplished much in a short period. In their debut season, they won the 2014 Men's Division III National Championship, and then proceeded to win the 2015 Men's Division II National Championship in their second season. Since moving to Division I, the Gladiators have appeared in consecutive D1 national quarter-finals, and have also made two appearance at the Club 7s National Championship.

Similarly, the champions of both regional competitions from last year also meet, as host San Francisco Golden Gate (SFGG) battles Belmont Shore Rugby. SFGG is the only current team in the PRP to have previously won a PRP Championship, winning the inaugural season's title match in 2014. SFGG also appeared in the 2015 and 2016 PRP championship matches and last year saw an impressive 12-0 season end just short at the hands of the eventual champion Austin Huns. SFGG also has three national championships, having won the 2013 USA Rugby Elite Cup in its only year of existence, as well as the 2011 and 2009 Rugby Super League championships. Belmont Shore also has an impressive championship history, winning four Rugby Super League (RSL) championships (1998, 2003, 2004, 2007) and appearing in 9 title matches. Belmont Shore also won the 2012 Men's Division I National Championship as well as 3 Club 7s National Championships (2009, 2011, 2012) in five cup championship appearances.

In the other match, potential PRP and D1 favorites Old Mission Beach Athletic (OMBAC) will face Olympic Club Rugby, who - being founded in 1908 - are arguably the nation's oldest rugby program. OMBAC has 13 national titles in total, winning 6 Division I championships between 1989 and 1996, plus the 2006 Rugby Super League championship, and 6 Club 7s National Championships (1985, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006). Overall, OMBAC has appeared in a nation-leading 19 total national championship matches. Olympic Club (OC) have been national runners-up in both 15s and 7s, but a national title has eluded them thus far in their storied history. OC finished second in Men's Division I in 2011, and also finished second at the 2003 Club 7s National Championship at Founder's Field in Pittsburgh. Overall, Olympic Club has made it to 6 national semi-finals in 15s and 7s.

Be sure to read our 2018 PRP Preview for a more in-depth preview of the exciting teams and players in this competition.

Red River Women's Division I: Austin Valkyries vs. Houston Athletic

The Austin Valkyries and Houston Athletic (HARC) have been the top two women's clubs in Texas for several years in a row. The Valkyries have won the league the last two years, but HARC won the league in 2015 and features Eagles prop Nicole James, who recently played in the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland. Despite HARC's win over the Dallas Harlequins last weekend, Austin will be a difficult test, as the Valkyries have emerged into one of the nation's top women's programs over the last two years. The Valkyries are led by Claire Tilton, who has scored 248 points for Austin since the 2015 season, and Jordan Ynostrosa, who accumulated 91 points for the Valkyries last season while playing 15s and attending the Club 7s National Championship. 

Carolinas-Georgia Men's Division II: Southern Pines Rugby vs. Chapel Hill Warriors

Down in North Carolina, a huge top-of-the-table clash is happening at the National Athletic Village in Pinehurst: Southern Pines Rugby (SoPi), a Division III National Semi-Finalist in 2017, hosts first place Chapel Hill. The Warriors won the first match of the season between the clubs on October 7, 25-21, led by its explosive back row trio of Kent Mackman, Wade Berreth, and Bryce Jahner, who had all 25 of Chapel Hill's points. Southern Pines is formidable competition, however, and have standouts such as Cormac Kenan and Mitchell Houston, who were a major part of SoPi's long run last year.

Northern California Women's Division II: Life West Gladiatrix D2 vs. Sacramento Amazons

The Amazons continue to roll in Northern California, winning both of their opening matches, as they try to reclaim their throne as the west coast's top D2 club (Sacramento was the Division II National Runner-Up in 2014 and 2015). In their way stands the Life West Gladiatrix reserve side, who last week topped 2017 Division II National Runner-Up, San Francisco Golden Gate, by a score of 29-12. Both teams now stand 2-0 and at the top of the Northern California Women's Division II table. The Amazons had difficulty with Life West's D1 National Champion first side last week, but the Gladiatrix first team will be busy with the Berkeley All Blues reserves this weekend.