2019 Eastern Club Championships Preview

Teams in the East will take to the field over the weekend in the hopes of making it to the National Championships.

Watch Live on Flo 

Full Weekend Schedule: 

Men’s Division I Eastern Championship:

Chicago Lions vs. Life Running Eagles: Saturday 5/18 5pm ET

Two of the toughest teams in the country face off, with the Chicago Lions take on Life’s Running Eagles. It has been a successful year, by all measures for both teams. The Lions were outstanding throughout the Fall tearing their way through the Midwest, while the Running Eagles were impressive beating some of the biggest names in club rugby, including New York Athletic and Mystic River. Teams, especially in Club rugby, can change drastically over the course of 6 months, however both teams have weathered the changes nicely. The Lions were crowned the Champions of the Midwest after taking down Palmer College, 30-13. Spearheading those efforts for the Lions were centers Cam Spencer and Jack Casey. Both players are excellent with ball in hand with the ability to both run powerfully and to distribute when needed. When they go up against the Running Eagles this weekend, they’ll be taking on a team that has been on fire offensively. In their last two games they have scored just shy of 150 points. One of the big standouts in those two games has been number 8 Maciu Koroi who has been a nightmare for defenses tearing up the field and being an absolute menace in the breakdown. He has lead the Running Eagles all season and expect him to provide similar levels of destruction on Saturday. The game will likely be decided by the work in and around the breakdown. Life likes to play up tempo rugby and Chicago, while not adverse to quick running rugby, have a big physical presence. If Chicago can bully Life at the breakdown, it’s their game, but if Life can match up the running Eagles will advance to the National Championship.


Women’s Division I:

Northern Virginia Rugby vs. Metropolis Valkyries: Saturday 5/18 3:15pm ET

In the inaugural year of the Eastern Senior Women's Division I competition, the winners were Northern Virginia Rugby. They will take on a Metropolis Valkyries side that will be looking to make up for letting the Midwest title slip from their hands. After dominating the Midwest in the Fall, the Valkyries fell at the final hurdle to Detroit Rugby. This Spring they have been on a mission to make a mends for that slip up. They have been on a roll, with only one loss against the Raleigh Venom. Their opponent has, similarly, been impressive throughout the year. Going 6-1, NOVA has been carried by their impeccable offensive displays. They’ve won their games by an average margin of victory over 40 points. The wins have come as team efforts, with their top five try scorers averaging 4 tries over the season. They share the ball around and work well in packs, which makes it incredibly hard to plan against. Metropolis' best bet to stop NOVA will come from Stephanie Alliev and Abigail Smith, between the two of them they have combined for 32 tries on the season. If they are able to get going the Valkyries will be hard to contain. If they are subdued then the match will swing in NOVA’s favor.  

Detroit Rugby vs. Raleigh Venom: Saturday 5/18 3:15pm ET

After an impressive run through the Fall, Detroit Rugby will now take on the Raleigh Venom for a shot at the Easter Club Championship. Detroit went 4-2 during the Midwest’s regular season, but staged a coup when they took down the previously undefeated, Metropolis Valkyries 12-5. The win was the sign of a crescendoing Fall, in which Detroit grew from game to game. However, Spring has not been as kind to them. Since the Midwest Championship game they have only logged one win in five games. Meanwhile their opponents, last year’s runner’s up, the Raleigh Venom have recovered from a slow start to romp home to end the season. After starting 0-2, the Venom  have gone 7-2 in their last nine games. A big part of their success has been the play of their active backline, who has contributed the majority of their points. This has the potential to cause issues for Detroit, who do not possess an offense of similar firepower. What they do have though is a staunch defensive presence and a very strong pack. Detroit will need to look to their forwards if they are to rediscover their form from the fall and get their season back on track. Raleigh will have the advantages of form and experience to lean on Saturday; but, Detroit has already proven once this season they are capable of rising to the occasion, so they cannot be counted out until the final whistle is blown. It will be a tough battle, but expect the winner to pull away in the closing stages.


Men’s Division II:

Buffalo Rugby  vs. Doylestown Dragons: Saturday 5/18 1:30pm ET

Buffalo Rugby taking on Doylestown’s Dragons will be one of the best games of the opening day of playoffs. Buffalo was a force to be reckoned with all year, going 7-1 during the regular season and then carried that form into the second half of the season, going 4-0 through the Atlantic North playoffs. Their flanker Maninderjit Singh has been one of their stand out players during the run, scoring over 10 tries throughout their impressive run. What makes the stat even more impressive is the fact it has been done in only seven games. Their opponent, the Doylestown Dragons, has been even more dominant going 11-0 against Mid-Atlantic opponents, with an average margin of victory sitting at 37 points per game. They have been achieving this mainly through strong running from the likes of their outside center and number 8 Bruce Dolan and Eric French, respectively. However, while both teams possess strong firepower on offense, their defense is equally as impressive. Neither team will have the ability to run over their opponents as they are used to and will have to be creative in their attempts to get through the tough defense that lays in front of them.  It will be a bruising encounter and one which will likely make the following game on Sunday, for the victor, a tough affair.

Cleveland Crusaders vs. Atlanta Old White: Saturday 5/18 1:30pm ET

The Cleveland Crusaders were crowned the champions of the Midwest after a tough championship game win against Wisconsin Rugby. They have spent the Spring competing against Division I teams and without much success. The games have been well fought but the Crusaders were unable to put themselves on the right side of the scoreboard. Atlanta Old White, their opponents, have been enjoying a more successful Spring going 6-0. They have been doing so by running their opponents ragged. It will be a game of contrasting styles, the Crusaders who like to bang bodies and the Old White who like to run around and burn people with their speed. If the Crusaders can shut down the outside edges they will have the advantage, if Atlanta can match the physical battle they’ll have the upper hand.


Women’s Division II:

Providence Rugby vs. Harrisburg Rugby: Saturday 5/18 11:45am ET

Harrisburg, could very well have been the most dominant team in the country entering the national playoffs. They have routinely beaten up on their opponents and will look to do the same this weekend. However, they will face their stiffest challenge yet in Providence Rugby. Harrisburg went 7-1 during the regular season, hiccuping in their final game. They then cruised through the playoffs and look to have removed their cobwebs. Providence, comes into the match undefeated, but they have drawn two games. While Providence has been exceptional over the duration if their season, they haven’t exactly set the scoreboard alight. This could prove to be detrimental to their national championship hopes, as Harrisburg is lethal with ball in hand and consistently score in excess of 50 points a game. Providence, does know how to pull out the close victories which could prove crucial in this opening round encounter. If Harrisburg gets firing on offense it could be too much to handle, but if providence manage to keep within striking distance heading into the final 20 minutes, they may be able to pull away with the win.


Buffalo Rugby vs. Atlanta Harlequins D2: Saturday 5/18 11:45am ET

The winner of Providence Harrisburg, will face the winner of Buffalo Rugby vs the Atlanta Harlequins D2. The Harlequins have been unstoppable, scoring 435 points in only 7 league games, while conceding 37 in total. There is no doubting how impressive their season has been, but Buffalo are not a team they can take lightly. The women from Western New York have been exceptional all year too, they’ve only dropped one game on the year and it was a two point decision. Since then they have gone on to win their last six competitive fixtures. They have not been, as exorbitant in their victories, but their wins have come against some high quality teams. It makes the game a hard one to pick, as the Harlequins have been so dominant, but Buffalo have been consistent and have beaten some of the best teams in the country in order to advance this far in the season. It will be a close game, but the opening stages of the match could be what makes or breaks each teams hopes of advancing through to the next round.


Men’s Division III:

Long Island Rugby vs. Northeast Philadelphia Irish: Saturday 5/18 10:00am ET

Long Island, the national runners-up last year, will take on one of their biggest challenges since last year’s national championship, in the Northeast Philadelphia Irish. Both of these teams score an abundance of points and each team is not afraid to play high risk rugby as they search for the high reward. Long Island has cruised through the season never breaking a sweat. They averaged a winning margin of 84 points during the regular season, and hardly skipped a beat in the playoffs, averaging north of 70. The catalyst behind this has been their wings Alex DeSouza and Tyler Norris. The pair have combined for 40 tries on the year. DeSouza has lead the way with 24 and Norris is right behind him on 16. Northeast hasn’t been too far behind in terms of their domination of opponents. On average they have beaten their opponents by 55 points per game this entire season. Robert Rea and Riley McKee have been outstanding throughout the year. Rea, the fullback, and McKee, the flyhalf have scored 17 and 16 tries respectively. This  game will be a dazzling display of offensive power and one which will surely be entertaining to watch.


Grand Rapids Gazelles vs. Savannah Shamrocks: Saturday 5/18 10:00am ET

Grand Rapids and the Savannah Shamrocks will be an interesting matchup of two underrated teams. While those close to the clubs will know what they are capable of, to the outside their numbers may not stick out as much as those in the parallel match. The Gazelles have won every game they’ve played in this year, sans one against the Division I Detroit Tradesmen. In their wins they have won big they have won small, they’ve won convincingly and they’ve won ugly. They are a battle tested team and one which will fancy their chances to advance to Sunday and beyond. The Savannah Shamrocks have displayed a similar capability to grind out tough wins and to blow teams out. When they are at the top of their game they have beaten teams by excess of 90 points, but even when they’re not necessarily on top of their game they can still earn a hard fought victory. It is hard to find a part of either team’s game where they could have the outright advantage. This will be a hard fought battle for both teams and it will likely come down to the wire.