Saturday’s Six-Pack Filled With Exciting Matches

This weekend as teams prepare for their quarterfinals a select few are going out on to the pitch to get a run around before the season comes to a close. These are six of the best games that are taking place all over the country. 

Women's Division I Albany Knickerbockers vs. Philadelphia Rugby:
Two teams that enjoyed a renaissance year in 2017/18 but bowed out last weekend, just shy of qualifying for nationals, have come together to play one another in a friendly this weekend. For Philadelphia, they went undefeated throughout the year, until last weekend, when they lost to the Raleigh Venom. For Albany, they were 5-2 in regular season play. At the end of last season nobody from the outside looking in would have expected the transformation that's taken place this year, as last year Philadelphia and Albany both only won one game. When speaking to Philadelphia's coach, Arturo Bravo Nuevo he put a lot of it down to the commitment of the players. "It was a great season, it was the first time that we've had a D3 side. There was a big effort to improve we moved from having 25 people to training to having 50-60 people there. The path that the team is on is a good one." That path that he talks about? "Our goal is to create a good experience and pathway to D1," Nuevo explained.

Getting to the stage that both teams got to is an impressive feat, but there is still room to improve and mature; this is what they hope they will gain from this weekend.  To continue to improve they will need to face quality opposition. This weekend Philadelphia will be focusing on their discipline. According to Nuevo, while it had been a strong point for them all season, but failed them last weekend, something they are looking to rectify. "We need to find a way to calm down. Usually we will give away five-six a game, in the first half alone we gave away more than that. If we're calmer, there will be less penalties."

They'll need to be calm this weekend, as Albany is a team that has proved they can be lethal when given any opportunity to pounce. The Knicks will be looking to attack through running hard, and hitting sharp angles to help jar the defense open for their back to find holes. Nuevo suggesting he'll be looking for that, "They're a very physical team, they're going to be bigger than us and stronger than us. We'll have to be sharp as they are a very well coached team."

This match will prove to be a tough test for both teams, and will mark an interesting chapter in their journey to continue to improve and grow their clubs.

 

Rocky Mountain Men's Division IV: Denver Barbarians D4 vs. Colorado Springs Grizzlies D4:
In an all Colorado affair, the Barbarians D4 will take on the Grizzlies D4 in the Frontier Region Division IV Championship Game. The Barbarians have been in fine form this year, and have not dropped a game, in at least four of their games this season they have scored in excess of fifty points. Not to be outdone Colorado has had a solid season of their own, going 5-1 and only dropping their first game of the season. Both teams have stingy defenses but with the Barbarian's attack being so lethal the Grizzlies will have their hands full all day.

Pacific South Men's Division II Playoffs: Oceanside Chiefs vs. San Diego Old Aztecs: 
This matchup will determine which team goes ahead to face San Antonio Rugby in the national quarterfinals next weekend. These two teams share an intimate knowledge of each other, having met twice already this season. For the Old Aztecs, who went 5-3 on the year, one of their few losses was to the Chiefs. The Chiefs on the other hand suffered their only loss of the season to the Aztecs in the beginning of February. Throughout their two games this year they have been separated by one point. The Old Aztecs won the first encounter by two, the Chiefs won the second by one. With these two teams being so evenly matched it will be impossible to separate them on Saturday and there well could be one defining moment whether it be a mistake or a penalty that determines the outcome.

Texas Men's Division IV Championship: Fort Worth Rugby D4 vs. Houston Athletic D4:
The top two teams of Division IV in Texas will go up against each other this weekend to try and claim the season's title. Fort Worth has had a busy, but fruitful, season going 8-2. They've been a well-balanced team throughout the year recording a point differential of just under 400. However, well they've done for themselves this year, they'll have to work for everything they get this weekend. While Houston has been quieter in comparison, they have been just as dominant. In their six wins this year, they've amassed an average winning margin of 41 points. With two teams that like to score the result will likely come down to whichever team is able to dictate the tempo of the game and cause the most havoc at the breakdown.

Major League Rugby New Orleans Gold vs. Seattle Seawolves:
The Seawolves and the Gold both started the season off in fine form landing victories that many saw as big upsets. Since then they have not been able to rekindle the intial magic that lead them to such a promising start to the season. This weekend they'll both look to get their seasons back on track. Seattle has the unenviable task of travelling across from the Northwest to the Southeast. It will be interesting to see how much travel impacts their ability to compete as the match wears on. This could be a game that is won and lost in the efforts from the substitutes coming off the bench.

Major League Rugby: Glendale Raptors vs.  San Diego Legion:
Going into the season most pundits, when asked who would be in the championship game, would have said San Diego and Glendale and only four weeks into the season that prediction could well be on track. Glendale is the only undefeated team left in the competition, while San Diego isn't too far behind them sitting at 2-1. Glendale's halves and centers combinations has been serving them well, and is a big reason for their success. With capped Eagles such as Shaun Davies, Will Magie, Bryce Campbell and Chad London making up the combinations its clear to see why they've been such a handful. The Legion are littered with Eagles of their own including Ben Cima, Cam Dolan, Chris Matina, Nate Ausperger, Dylan Audsley and Ryan Matyas. This will be about as close to an Eagles inter-squad scrimmage as you will have ever seen. It promises to be a great spectacle and if the weather holds up it could be the perfect conditions for running rugby.