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Written by Alex Goff    Thursday, 17 April 2014 10:43    PDF Print Write e-mail
DI Playoff Picture Latest
Clubs - Men's DI Clubs


Nineteen teams remain in the hunt for the DI club championship - three in the Northeast, four in the Mid-Atlantic, one in the South, two each in the Midwest, Red River, and Southern California, one in the West, and four in Northern California.

New York Athletic Club has the Northeast wrapped up even though they lost to Old Blue this past weekend.

The big question remains whether it is Old Blue or Boston that will join them in the playoffs. The #2 team from the Northeast travels to Life University for a play-in.

"Defensively we were much better," said Old Blue Assistant Coach Stephen Lewis, who acknowledged that OBNY defense was a problem in the fall. Old Blue lost to Boston last fall, but won comfortably in a non-league game earlier this year. Bolstered by the play of Nate Auspurger at scrumhalf, Old Blue believes they are a stronger team now.

Meanwhile, the Mid-Atlantic regular season is done and the playoffs loom. Norfolk, Baltimore-Chesapeake, PAC, and Schuylkill River will play off April 26 and 27, with the winner making the national quarterfinals. The Norfolk Blues, who won the regular season standings, are strong favorites.

There are still games to play in the Midwest, but it's down to a two-horse race. Metropolis leads in the standings but it could all come down to the May 3 game between the two teams. The If Kansas City can stay within three points over the next two weeks, which looks likely, then it's all down to that game.

So the playoff scenario for the Pittsburgh national quarterfinals May 17-18 looks like this:


NYAC v. Old Blue, Boston, or Life (winner of Old Blue v Boston April 19 plays Life for the right to play NYAC).

Metropolis or Kansas City v Norfolk, Baltimore-Chesapeake, PAC, or Schuylkill River.

Metropolis leads the Midwest but it will be down to the May 3 game with KC. Norfolk is favored in the four-team MAC playoffs.


In the playoffs set for Dallas on May 17-18, there is also a distinct lack of clarity.

Provo has officially won the West conference, with the conference standings now including the two teams that pulled out - Glendale and Denver - to show a relatively full schedule. Provo and Utah Islanders split their two games, but Provo on their victory more impressively and win the league.

Because the West league is reduced, the winners will have to play in to get to the quarterfinals. Here's where it gets fun - Northern California originally declined to have their #2 team travel to the West champion for the play-in. So the play-in now involves the #2 from the Red River conference.

But Dallas is petitioning to have that game at home, not in Utah. Oddly, had Northern California had that option of hosting the game, they would have accepted it.

And ... if travel is forced on Provo, they would prefer to travelt California.

What is likely, however, is that the #2 team from Red River will be Dallas and they will play Provo for a spot in the quarterfinals. The #1 team from Red River will likely be New Orleans, given that the final match for New Orleans is against HARC, who just lost to Dallas 93-0.

In Southern California, Los Angeles and the San Diego Old Aztecs will play for the title. These two played this past weekend, with the Old Aztecs winning, but LA had already clinched 1st, so that result isn't necessarily a harbinger of the championship game.

In Northern California, the quarterfinals saw Santa Rosa and Fresno advance. The semis are set for April 26 with Santa Rosa against East Palo Alto Razorbacks, and the heavily-favored Sacramento Lions against Fresno.

So the Dallas bracket looks like this:
Los Angeles or San Diego Old Aztecs v Provo or (probably) Dallas
Sacramento, EPA, Fresno or Santa Rosa v Most likely New Orleans
(Sacramento is strongly favored in Northern California)



 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 16:51    PDF Print Write e-mail
Northeast Olympic 7s Holding Open Tryouts
Sevens - All-Stars


The Northeast Olympic Development Academies (ODA) will be holding open tryouts for all male players aged 18 and over with the Empire (New York) Academy on Saturday, May 10 at the Columbia University facility at Baker Field in New York.

Check-in is as 11.30am.

The New England Academy will then follow with their tryouts in Boston on Sunday, May 11 with an 11:30am check-in.

Players must be pre-registered and the combine will include both standardized athletic testing and live scrimmages. Led by Academy Director of Coaching Steve Lewis, coaches from both Boston and NYC will attend both combines to assess all athletes, with invitations to participate in the Academy program to follow shortly.

The mission of the Northeast Combined ODA, is to identify, develop and prepare regional rugby players to challenge for places in the USA Men’s National 7’s squad and the USA Olympic team for the Rio games in 2016. The Empire and New England ODA’s will compete as a combined Northeast team in the various elite tournaments to be held in Philadelphia (May), Houston (June), New York (July), Limerick, Twickenham and Glendale (August), and Las Vegas (February 2015).

Players accepted into the Academy will train and compete with their home club 2 nights per week and the Academy one night. Access to professional training and development will be provided with personalized seasonal conditioning and nutritional plans along with the highest level of staff and guest coaches.

For registration information, please use the following link;

http://nroda.org/2014-tryouts/

Or contact Academy Director Sean Horan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 12:15    PDF Print Write e-mail
Varsity Cup Round 1 Video - Dartmouth v Clemson
MultiMedia - Game Footage


Varsity CupFull game footage of the Varsity Cup 1st round game between Dartmouth College and Clemson University.

Check out more about the Varsity Cup at varsitycup.us.








 
Written by Maikalina Madali and Joel Scott    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 16:36    PDF Print Write e-mail
New Coach Joins Sacramento Staff
Clubs - Men's DI Clubs


The Sacramento Lions have just completed the 2014 spring season at 8-1, and have secured first place in Northern California's Division-1.  The Lions are now entering the post-season leading their league for the 2nd year in a row after the arrival of head coach Iferemie Tawake, but this year's team has improved significantly and attributes much of their success to the newest addition of the coaching squad.  

Naituivau, left, with Tawake, at right.At the start of the 2014 spring season, the Lions welcomed former Fijian National player Epeli Naituivau in January as an assistant coach and forwards specialist, which has proven to be a very advantageous addition to the team.

Naituivau, a former Fijian national team prop and member of the 1991 and 1999 Fijian World Cup teams, brings a wealth of experience with over 39 appearances for his country, and 22 international caps.  Naituivau served alongside Tawake on their national side for nearly a decade, and has served in many capacities with the Fijian Rugby Union from player to coach.

"Epeli has been pivotal in helping to enhance the boys' training, introducing new drills and refining their skills," said Lions Head Coach Iferemie Tawake. "All of his past experience playing and coaching in Fiji is helping to bring this team to the next level as well as assist in the advancement of rugby here in the States."

Naituivau is heralded throughout the Fiji islands as a player and coach of great prestige, and has received ample praise for his abilities and passion to develop and progress the sport of rugby for his country. His accolades and achievements have been chronicled  in the Fiji Times, ESPNScrum and BBC News.

As a member of the Fijian National team, Naituivau had the opportunity to compete in the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups.  After serving two years with the Fijian army, he was called back for national team honors to play in the 1999 World Cup, which was the first Rugby World Cup to be held in rugby union's professional era.

Naituivau played his final game for Fiji in the 1999 Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final Play-offs, against England at Twickenham Stadium.  Where along side teammates Tawake and the legendary Waisale Serevi, the Fijian team pushed the highly favored England side, but lost 45-24.  In this game Fiji posted 3 tries to England's 4, but the boot of Johnny Wilkinson sealed the deal for the English as he notched 23 points off of seven penalty kicks and one conversion.  

A little unknown fact is that Naituivau became the oldest capped Fijian player ever when he played in this game at the age of 37 years and 151 days, up-ending his teammate and captain, Tawake, who was 37 years and 29 days.  This record has yet to be broken in Fiji.

In 1995, Naituivau decided to take on coaching in order to share his knowledge of rugby techniques. He was able to coach international level teams such as the Fiji Warriors, the Fiji Barbarians and the Fijian National Team.

To date, he has been certified for the International Rugby Board's coaching Level 1 and Level 2 in Fiji; and is currently on track to achieve Level 3.

Naituivau also had a position as Academy Coach within the High Performance Unit at Fiji Rugby from 2006-2012. His responsibilities included recruitment to the academy as well as referrals for the national team, and help develop players who were chosen for professional teams overseas.

"Naituivau has developed a range of skills in terms of coaching the game acquired from his playing days, and more so, from his professional development gained at Fiji Rugby, which surely puts him in good stead for venturing into coaching outside Fiji," said William Kong, Manager of Sports, Science and Medicine at the Fiji Rugby Union.

Under Naituivau's tutelage on the national team coaching staff, he helped lead the Flying Fijians to the Rugby World Cup in 2007. Naituivau's coaching contributed to Fiji achieving a trip to the cup quarter-finals for only the second time in their history after defeating Wales in the quarter final play-offs, 38-34, in what was described as one of the best matches of all time by Australian legend Michael Lynagh.  Despite a subsequent loss to South Africa in the quarter final, Fiji's performance at the time moved the team to 9th in the IRB world rankings – their highest position ever.

Naituivau also led the U20 Fijian National Team to the IRB Junior Rugby World Cup for three consecutive years from 2008-2010. He then helped coach the Fiji Warriors into the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup and the Flying Fijians into the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and Scotland Test Match ¬– all in 2012.

In 2013, Naituivau moved to California and was asked by Tawake to assist him in coaching the Lions.  Under this new coaching staff, the team has maintained steady improvement in gameplay as well as club organization. With just one loss in the regular season thus far, Naituivau has high hopes for the Lions in the 2014 post-season, and for future development of the club in the years to come.  Team Manager Aaron Frederick shares this enthusiasm.  

"Many of the Lions players have their roots in Fiji and the Pacific Islands, so it means a lot to these guys to be playing for and learning from two of their childhood idols," stated Frederick.  "Having Coach Tawake and Coach Epeli helps immensely to bring a whole new standard of high-performance rugby to our team as we try to keep pace with the top clubs, and the players know that these coaches have the necessary experience and knowledge to take them to that next level."  

Tawake and Naituivau have quickly established a successful partnership as the Lions continue to evolve and move towards a higher standard of rugby in Sacramento and the Northern California region.  While there is still much to prove for the Lions, Frederick believes the team is moving in the right direction.

"Sacramento rugby has amazing programs from youth to high school, and with the local colleges improving their standard, it has become our mission to try and improve rugby at the men's club level and within the Sacramento area," added Fredrick.  "These players have jobs and families, but they love the sport and want to be apart of a great club, and having coaches like Tawake and Epeli really helps keep that motivation high.  It requires many different factors to have a consistently successful top-level men's club in the U.S., but its good to know that we can cross coaching off the to-do list, and I am more than confident that rugby will continue to improve in Sacramento with these two at the helm."


 
Written by Jackie Finlan    Tuesday, 15 April 2014 20:21    PDF Print Write e-mail
Canada Dominates USA Women in Can-Am Opener
National Teams - USA Women


Comparing lineups and pre-test buildup, one might have given Canada the edge over the USA Women's National Team this evening, but nothing could have prepared for the 51-7 shellacking that the hosts delivered. Canada was a strong opponent, but the USA’s struggle was exacerbated by too many turnovers, suspect tackling, and flat, predictable offense.

The scoring started six minutes in and didn’t cease until the 78th. Canada built fast phases down the field, stretching the defense from sideline to sideline, and capitalizing on an overload out wide. But it was No. 8 and captain Kelly Russell who set up Kayla Mack for the opening score, reigning in a pass and quickly delivering it to the lock, who stepped around the American backs.

Many of Canada’s tries evolved in similar fashion, as the forwards came from depth, crashed-and-drove through the gainline, and followed with a quick ruck. Although not perfect in execution – the USA did manage to counterruck Canada off a couple of balls - MVP scrumhalf Stephanie Bernier bettered her opposite in moving the ball away from the contact area quickly. After a few phases, Canada always seemed to have the numbers out wide, and made those opportunities count.

Fullback Julia Zussman scored the first of her three tries in the 15th minute (10-0) from a similar scenario, one that started with USA captain Shaina Turley, who lost possession after picking from the scrum.

Canada also did a great job of making turnovers count, spotting the soft spots in the defense and never hesitating to exploit them. Outside center Mandy Marchak was instrumental in those opportunities and made the USA pay in minute 37, sidestepping around Eagle wing Amanda Street, scrumhalf Jenny Lui and fullback Jacie Vonada for Canada's third try. More memorably, late in the second half, Marchak cleared a turnover from Canada’s 10 meter, as the hometown crowd groaned at the choice. But a disciplined chase saw a perfect bounce land into the hands of substitute flyhalf Julia Sugawara, who quickly dished to reserve wing Jess Dovanne for the try.

To end the first half, wing Magali Harvey finally finished off a scoring opportunity, having botched a couple of sideline situations and kickoff receipt earlier in the match. Canada turned over a USA ruck, and prop Hilary Leith broke to the short side, pinning a defender and hitting Harvey outside her. Harvey dazzled with show-stopping footwork, a sight that would be replayed early in the second half.

Although 22 points ahead, Canada showed no signs of getting comfortable with the lead. Harvey got the ball near the USA’s 30 meter with a little space, then pushed off Turley, Sadie Anderson and Vonada once again for the score, 29-0. Vonada, in her first international test, got a lot of work in the backfield, and she needs more. She was too easily subdued, and an easy push-off from Zussman allowed Canada’s sixth try five minutes in.

The subs started to filter in but there was no relief for the USA. Britt Benn pierced the line a handful of all times, and Dovanne accounted for the game’s final two tries.

Now let’s put the teams on the other side of the ball: Where the USA slipped off tackles and was slow to realign, Canada routinely met ballcarriers on and behind the gainline. Where the Canadian forwards were dynamic and organized, the USA pack often received the ball flat-footed and didn't move around the fringe with the same confidence as Canada. Where the Canadian backs attacked from depth and showed great individual athleticism, the Eagles didn’t have much possession and only got the ball wide a couple of times.

But it wasn’t all “Canada good, USA bad.” The Americans got on the board with fewer than 10 minutes remaining, when the USA forwards drove a nice lineout close to the line. The ball was knocked loose, but inside center Meya Bizer pounced and drove her way over the tryline for the USA’s only score. Anderson converted.

The point differential also bred some indiscipline from the hosts. When Canada realized it was on the winning end of the mismatch in the back three, some wildly long and incomplete passes started to litter the backline, and that halted momentum a few times. There was a questionable offload in a breakaway, Barbara Mervin’s yellow card for foul play off the ball – things that need tidying for Saturday’s rematch.

But all eyes are going to be on the USA. When was the last time the Eagles lost by such a large margin to Canada, and how does this performance affect the team’s mentality when only three-and-a-half months from the Women’s Rugby World Cup? Everything needs to be drastically better.

 


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