Thunderbird Cup Revs Up Over Holiday Weekend

Despite the pending holiday and chilling temperatures, the Midwest men’s clubs headed full steam into another round of the Thunderbird Cup this past weekend.

Despite the pending holiday and chilling temperatures, the Midwest men's clubs headed full steam into another round of the Thunderbird Cup this past weekend. With the recent decision to move all Midwest competitive matches to the fall, the inaugural Thunderbird Cup now fills this void giving teams a chance to settle old scores and showcase new talent.

Cleveland Crusaders vs Detroit Tradesmen (Premier Division)
In the first round of the Premier Division, Cleveland hosted the Detroit Tradesman for an anticipated kickoff match. The first forty kept the score close with the Crusaders pulling ahead 14-12 at the half. Despite travelling with just 18 and a number of players fielding new positions, Detroit was finally able to find a rhythm within their pack overpowering Cleveland to land a decisive 45-19 victory.

Columbus Rugby vs Chicago Lions (Premier Division)
The Chicago Lions showcased a thrilling season opener with a notable win against Columbus' Scioto Valley RFC. The Lions started the scoring frenzy with try just three minutes into the match quickly followed by a rebuttal from Columbus to tie things up. Chicago quickly turned up the pace though to nearly shut out Scioto Valley with eight successive tries. However, Columbus remained persistent, managing to grubber one final try through as well as convert for a final of 56-12.

Toledo Celtics vs Pittsburgh Rugby
To kick off their spring seasons, Pittsburgh RFC travelled to Toledo to face off against the Celtics.  While Toledo was able to take an early 12-0 lead in the first half, the Celtics proved no match for the Pittsburgh offense who managed to pound in four tries throughout the second half. The score nearly ended at 24-25 in Toledo's favor when the official noticed a prior Pittsburgh conversation had not been recorded, ultimately leading to a 26-25 win for the Pittsburgh side.

Oshkosh Pigs vs Fox Cities Gargoyles
Due to poor weather the Oshkosh Pigs home match vs the Fox Cities Gargoyles was postponed until next Saturday.

Northwest Woodsmen vs Milwaukee Black & Blue
Another close match took place northwest of Chicago as the  Milwaukee Black & Blue travelled south to face the Northwest Woodsmen in their first full match of the season. The lead was traded a number of times as both sides vied for dominance leading to a tie up until the final minutes. Just seconds before the final whistle, Milwaukee was able to score one last try to win 27-22.

Milwaukee Rugby vs Chicago Blaze
Heading north for another match on the road, the Chicago Blaze fielded a combined Division II/Division IV side against the forward-heavy Milwaukee team. Despite heavy winds and a lack of reserves on both sides, both teams aggressively fought for territory with possession largely maintained by the Blaze throughout the first forty minutes. Although Milwaukee was able to dot down two quick tries late in the second half, the Blaze still came out victorious with a 29-19 win due to a substantial early lead set by their explosive backline.