The Runner Sports

USA Men’s Club Rugby DI/DII Playoffs: Elite 8 Move On, East/West Nationals May 20-21

Next stop Nationals! On May 20-21 the USA Rugby Club Championships moves to the next biggest stage: Pittsburgh for the East and Tucson for the West. It’s the Elite 8 of US Club Rugby with a total of 16 DI and DII clubs still holding destiny in their hands, each championship a mere three wins away. There is a light at the end of this title and it just so happens to be the gleam off two National Championship trophies.

In two weeks the Nationals kickoff and The Runner Sports will be your source for knowledgeable and comprehensive coverage of our rugby nation. I’ll be previewing the May 20-21 Nationals next week but for now, it’s time to look at the weekend that was.

So, I’m not Nostradamus…Ruggsterdamus, I like that…but out of 10 matches I predicted seven correctly with one really big oops; yes, I may have miscalculated how good San Francisco Golden Gate is…just a bit.

DI West Region:

San Francisco Golden Gate vs Oregon Sports Rugby Union Jesters: 90-0 SFGG

I picked an upset in this match, ORSU 31-SFGG 29, and SFGG smashed my thought of a possible stunner early as they established themselves among the top seeds with this dominating performance. Up next for Golden Gate is the well rested Austin Huns, my favorite among the field.

Austin Blacks vs Life West Gladiators: 36-28 Life West

Life West mixed power and speed to maul over and run around the Austin Blacks. I predicted a balanced Life West victory and that’s what they produced. The Gladiators will take on Belmont Shore who took the Pacific South Championship by beating Old Mission Beach Athletic Club.

Belmont Shore Dolphins vs Old Mission Beach Athletic Club: 31-28 Belmont Shore

OMBAC kept this match much closer than expected but Belmont Shore pulled out the 3-point victory. I picked Belmont Shore 35-12, despite their up and down season Belmont Shore is heading to Tucson.

DI East Region:

Rocky Gorge vs Pittsburgh Harlequins: 38-15 Rocky Gorge

I picked Rocky Gorge 28-15 and sure enough, Pittsburgh’s Cinderella story came to an end as expected. Rocky Gorge looks to be the on a path to the title, are they the class of the East Region? We’ll see as they take on Elite Mystic River.

Columbus Rugby vs Chicago Lions: 33-20 Chicago

This may have been the best match of the day. The weather was crisp and the pitch was dry and quick, my predicted score of 20-17 was a bit low but Chicago still came out on top. The match was back and forth, a slugfest as anticipated. Each side used power attempting to dominate the other, it was a bruising match. Columbus fought through a red card to Roland Suniula and a yellow for an illegal tackle to keep the lead until Angus MscClellan’s try was converted by JP Eloff. From there it was all Chicago.


Moving on to DII we have moved into the Sweet 16 with the St. Louis Bombers already having dispatched the Glendale Raptors D2 29-3 to claim the Frontier. Seven matches remain but with little information coming out of the South, I’ll only be reviewing six matches.

DII West Region:

Sacramento Blackhawks vs Tacoma Nomads: 47-26 Sacramento

As predicted the Nomads’ Cinderella story ended. While the score was higher than my predicted 28-17 the Blackhawks run continues but their next challenge is huge…a storm is brewing for them as Little Rock awaits.

Austin Blacks D2 vs Little Rock Stormers: 48-34 Little Rock

I predicted Little Rock 45-35 and this match played out almost exactly as expected. Two evenly matched sides went head-to-head in power but Little Rock had the speed and fitness advantage on this day. Watch the GiftTime Rugby Network’s production here.

Ventura vs Red Mountain Warthogs: 39-10 Ventura

Ventura’s attack continued to roll and against a formidable Red Mountain defense that is impressive. I predicted Red Mountain 56-20 blowout but the Outlaws demonstrated a level of skill and consistency I did not expect. Early on Warthog penalties and the Outlaw boot of fullback Lucas Vieira were the difference but Ventura didn’t rely on opposition mistakes; try after try came as a result of their well executed plan of attack.

DII East Region:

Philadelphia-Whitemarsh vs Washington Irish: 42-12 Washington

Philadelphia-Whitemarsh scored two tries early in the second 40 but Washington had already put their stamp on the match by that point and put their foot on Philadelphia-Whitemarsh to finish them off. I predicted Washington 23-17 in what I thought would be a much closer matched contest but it was evident early the Irish were the class of the pitch. Washington fly-half Taylor Teaford converted four of five tries and hit three penalty kicks.

Wisconsin vs Detroit Tradesmen: 25-12 Detroit

Last year’s runner-up Detroit continue their run to claim what eluded them last year. My prediction of a defensive led win by Wisconsin (19-15) fell through as Detroit flexed their powerful attack. In a match that had its share of penalties and chippiness, Detroit matched up well against Wisconsin’s staunch defense and took advantage of key mistakes.

Mystic Barbarians vs Morris Lions: 16-7 Morris

Morris took this match as expected but my 45-20 scoreline discounted the Mystic defense. In a hard fought defensive struggle these two clubs put it all on the line but Lions fly-half Blaze Feury took over the match with a penalty kick and converting his own try late to seal the victory.

Life Running Eagles vs Miami Tridants: 68-7 Life

It was a huge weekend for the Southern Competitive Region as Life and Miami dispatched Boca Raton and Chattanooga respectively on Saturday setting up their Sunday matchup. The contest, broadcasted live via Facebook, was dominated by speed as the Running Eagles lived up to their name on a quick pitch. The Tridents looked as if they hadn’t recovered from the previous day while Life had fresh legs and the Running Eagles’ precise execution put an end to the previously undefeated Tridents successful season.


Let me know your comments and any first hand accounts of the matches in the section below or tweet them @TheRunnerSports or to @rugbynation_USA but be sure to keep following The Runner Sports as we keep you up to date with comprehensive USAR men’s club action!

  • Cr4yol4

    Did the appeal go through, because the schedule has the Chicago Lions playing Rocky Gorge and NYAC playing Mystic River

    • Jason Graves

      Yes, I need to edit that; Lions vs Rocky Gorge, NYAC vs Mystic River. It will be correct for the upcoming preview. Thank you and great catch!