Western Club Championships Go Down To The Wire

The USA Rugby Western Championships were held in Harmon Park in Fort Worth.  New champions were crowned in the men’s and women’s divisions.

Day 1

-Men's Division I-

The men's Division I western final was played Saturday night and Belmont Shore Rugby edged out a 29-27 victory over the Austin Blacks. Austin scored first to take a 3-0 lead in the fifth minute of play. Belmont then scored fifteen straight points including a pair of tries to open up a 15-3 lead. The Blacks then scored a try plus the conversion kick to cut the Belmont lead down to 15-10. Austin the scored a try in the 57th minute and following the conversion kick they now took a 17-15 lead.

In the 64th minute Austin got a penalty kick to increase their lead 20-15.The lead then went back to Belmont in the 67th minute as they got a try and a conversion kick. Belmont was back on top 22-20. Austin then took the lead back in the 76th minute with a try and conversion. Austin now led 27-22. With the scoreboard already at zero, Belmont maintained possession for five minutes and were awarded a try to tie the match 27-27 with no time left. They then hit the conversion kick to clinch a spot in the national championship with a 29-27 come from behind victory.

-Women's Division I-
In the Western semi-finals the Austin Valkyries defeated the Tempe Ninjas 45-21. The Life West Gladiatrix took down the Utah Vipers 41-20.

-Men's Division II-
The Denver Barbarians defeated the Eastside Tsunami 48-12 setting up a final with the San Diego Old Aztecs who defeated a tough Texas-side in San Antonio Rugby 45-35.

-Women's Division II-
The semi-finals saw Old Pueblo defeat Austin 36-0 and St. Louis defeat Sacramento 48-30.

Mens Division III

In the Men's D3 Western semi-finals the Austin Blacks defeated Santa Fe Santos 36-7 and Wichita Barbarians defeated Bend Roughriders 45-12

Day 2

-Women's Division I-
In the final Life West displayed their championship pedigree and defeated Austin 58-7 and will next face the Raleigh Venom in the national championship.

-Men's Division II-
In the final Denver trailed 19-17 at halftime. They then outscored San Diego 41-7 in the second half to clinch the Division II Western crown with a final score of 60-24.

Denver head coach Brian Erichsen knew fitness would be the Barbarians strength in the second half.

"We had a slow start today, we knew the first forty would be a struggle," Erichsen said. "We worked really hard all season with our fitness, the back forty would be ours."

Erichsen and his team now look forward to a challenge from the East.

"Have no idea what to expect from nationals from the east," Erichsen said. "We will continue to polish our game up and see how that competes with the east."

Up next for the Barbarians is a match versus the Detroit Tradesmen for the Division II National championship.

-Women's Division II-
In the final St. Louis defeated Old Pueblo 26-23 to claim the Division II crown. St. Louis head coach Amy Holtsclaw saw similarities between her squad and their opponent.

"We knew that they play pretty much the same style of game we play," Holtsclaw said. "When we got a report on their style of play, we said oh great it's us." Holtsclaw credits her team depth to helping her squad advance.

"One thing that we have been blessed with this whole season, every sub we put in is just as good as the person we took off the field," Holtsclaw said. "It makes player selection really challenging which is a great problem to have as a coach."

St. Louis will meet Charlotte Rugby for the national championship.

-Men's Division III-
In the Western final after a scoreless first half. The Austin Blacks defeated Santa Fe 11-7 and are on their way to play for the Division III National Championship where they will meet Long Island Rugby in the final.