Written by Alex Goff
Friday, 18 April 2014 17:23
All to Play For in PRP Week 12
Top Club Leagues
Most of the teams in the Pacific Rugby Premiership have three games remaining on their schedule.
But it's significant that two of the teams that still have championship hopes have an extra game to play. That game, Belmont Shore v OMBAC on May 10, could well have a bearing on who plays in the title game in Glendale a week later.
This coming weekend, the top two teams, Glendale and SFGG, have opportunities to take that final game out of the equation.
Glendale visits OMBAC in San Diego. All the Raptors need to get a single standings point to clinch a spot in the final - a close loss or four tries will do. OMBAC, meanwhile is one of those teams with an extra game to play, but really needs to win to keep the pressure on.
The best path for OMBAC to make the championship game is to win their remaining games, and they also need SFGG to lose twice.
OMBAC should have their flyhalf, Zach Pangelinan, back this week, and Glendale is on the road for the first time for the first time since February 22, a 31-26 loss to SFGG.
Belmont Shore is idle this weekend, and finishes the season with games against SFGG, Olympic Club, and OMBAC. as such they have their fate more securely in their hands than do OMBAC. Shore needs to win all three of their games, and hope SFGG loses to Olympic Club (unlikely, but you never know) or Glendale (more likely).
Denver, after some excellent effort, has fallen just short and at 4-5-1 the Barbarians are now just looking to get over .500. They host Santa Monica, a team that is 1-9 but has lost five of those games by a try or less. Santa Monica's bonus point tally (including five for four tries in a game) shows how competitive the PRP has been.
Olympic Club faces SFGG, with Golden Gate favored. However, Olympic Club has been right there for most of their games. They haven't earned the close-loss bonus points because right at the end of most games they've given up that last try to push them away too far.
But Olympic Club is full capable of beating SFGG. However, if SFGG wins this game, they will be in excellent position, at 8-2, to clinch a place in the final.
They won't clinch it mathematically, but they will be close.
PRP Games this weekend
Glendale at OMBAC
Santa Monica at Denver
Olympic Club at SFGG
Written by RUGBYMag Staff
Friday, 18 April 2014 13:48
U20 Men Set for 3rd-4th Game at JWRT
National Teams -
HONG KONG, China – The USA U20s Men will finish their IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2014 campaign Saturday, April 19, against Uruguay in the under-20 tournament’s Third-Place Match at Hong Kong Football Club Ground.
The MJAAs missed out on the Final by one standings point after the 28-22 loss to Tonga Tuesday. Level on 10 points atop Pool A, Tonga advanced to Saturday’s Final against Japan by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Until the match against Tonga, Billy Millard’s team was unbeaten with wins against Hong Kong and Georgia in Hong Kong. Uruguay, with wins against Japan and Namibia and a draw against Canada, is the only team in the tournament without a loss.
Starting flyhalf Ben Cima will look to get some distance between himself and Georgia’s Revaz Jinchvelashvili at the top of the points-scored standings. Cima and Jinchvelashvili lead the tournament with 37 points, while Namibia’s Chris Arries is third with 36 points scored. The All-American and Georgian also lead the tournament with nine penalties each.
The MJAAs will not have the opportunity to advance to next year’s IRB Junior World Championship, a tournament from which the team was relegated last season, with a third-place finish. Kickoff for the Third-Place Match is set for 5:00 A.M. ET.
USA U20s to face Uruguay
1. Titi Lamositele
2. Codi Jones
3. Benjamin Tarr
4. Max Robertson
5. Oliver Drew (C)
6. Christian Weissing
7. Ben Pinkelman
8. Peter Malcolm
9. Erik Thompson
10. Ben Cima
11. Seth Halliman
12. Gabe Farley
13. Nemia Qoro
14. Scott Dean
15. Niall Barry
16. Marshall Godfrey
17. Val Lee-Lo
18. Zach Bonte
19. Vili Toluta'u
20. Mike Reid
21. David Todd
22. Connor Wallace-Sims
1. Facundo Gattas
2. Claudio Pena
3. Luis Leites
4. Gonzalo Soto
5. Ignacio Dotti
6. Emiliano Correa
7. Phil Johnson
8. Tomas Grundwalt
9. Baltasar Brum
10. Manuel Blengio
11. Andres Banchieri
12. Rodrigo Bocking
13. Pedro Deal
14. Santiago Carrasco
15. Matias Pla (C)
16. German Kessler
17. Rafael Mones
18. Diego Larrauri
19. Diego Arbelo
20. Manuel Castro
21. Diego Ardao
22. Facundo Klappenbach
Written by Brian Hightower
Friday, 18 April 2014 16:12
Melrose Chronicles - The Final Chapter
The author has shaken his jetlag and remnants of a Scotch tasting session with a former British & Irish Lion to pen his final piece.
Game Day at the 7s
At 2:40pm last Saturday, I sat with recent retiree Paul Emerick in the cramped antique press box at Melrose R.F.C. We tried not to be obtrusive, but had already made quick work of the complimentary tea and biscuits and were now elbowing a metrosexual media specialist from Glasgow who was in a huff because we’d asked him to rearrange his laptop and notebooks to make room for us. So much for subtle. Anyway, from our vantage point we had an eagle’s eye view as Tiger Rugby ran onto the park for their first match, a do or die battle against Heriots from Edinburgh.
The grounds were full, as fans from all corners of Scotland and beyond had packed themselves onto the pitchside berms until their toes approached the dead ball lines. The weather in the morning began as what the Borderers referred to as a “wet rain,” but now yielded what promised to be a nearly moisture-free afternoon.
Early in the contest, as Zach Pangelinan lined up the conversion for his own try to take the Tigers out to a 7-0 lead, I caught a glance at Emerick nervously placing a couple of fingers on his pulse point. The explosion of endorphins that releases from the hypothalamus and into the neural network on a rugby Saturday is the drug that had kept the iconic “Cactus” on the field into his mid-thirties. And now he was measuring to see if an adrenaline rush still accompanied the kickoff whistle even as a spectator. “Yep, it’s still there!” he exclaimed. I assured him that for at least fifteen more years, it would continue.
In a blink, the buzz that had come to us just moments before as we stood above the grandstand would be replaced by bewilderment. Our liaison officer, Eion, had made not-so-subtle references throughout the week about the possibility that Tiger, if not focused, could find themselves gone after a few minutes...”Naw yee lessen!!, he exhorted. Dint be daft!! (We never really understood most of what he was saying.) Turns out the dude with the brogue was right, Tiger was done, 29-28. As in, pack your bags, laddies. Done.
The disappointment that we experienced looking down on the field paled in comparison to the profound hollowness of the ten who were on it. Perhaps they’d looked beyond Heriots. Maybe a good result in their scrimmage with Melrose had left them overconfident. Sometimes a team just has a bad showing. Whatever the reason, they had gone trans-Atlantic for just one game of 7s. It was like getting kicked in the man parts.
As foreshadowed, the story of this lone match was defense. Heriots, like their native Clydesdale horses, were bruising up front and plowed straight ahead. The Tigers were dangerous with the ball, but failed to match the physicality of the big Scotsmen, thus ending their original quest to play long into the evening. I’ll leave the analytics to the coaches, Walker and Holmes, who at some point will need a few cold ones to wash back the sour bile of the result before diving into game film.
A Few Rays of Sunshine
1. A character builder...
It would be a mistake to measure the success of the Melrose tour merely by the Tigers’ loss. Part of Walker’s return on investment is a long term strategy. In fact, the real value of this tour may not actually be known for months, even years, and it will manifest idiosyncratically for each player. For some, there will be a rekindled fire in the belly that elicits pre-dawn wake-ups, vomit inducing training sessions, and a steely resolve to compete at the highest level. They will tour with Tiger again, and some will challenge for spots on the national team. But that is only one side of the spectrum, and only a few of the ten will be so motivated. In truth, others will be happy to have simply made the historic trip. Their path will eventually include more frequent trips to the McDonald’s drive-thru and the occasional Thursday night Guinness, and eventually they will be propped up at a pub spinning yarns about their touring days. This is not a censure of the less motivated group, it’s just evolution. Tiger Rugby will keep its lens focused solely on the former (though coaching positions may be available for the latter).
2. Tip of the iceburg (Is it iceburgh in Scotland?)...
Finally, nobody has agonized over this team’s unmet expectations more than Tiger Director James Walker, but dude has some serious stones. He knew in bringing over the Tiger side that one of the potential outcomes could be a loss in the opener. Audentes fortuna iuuat , as those pithy Romans used to say, “Fortune favors the bold.” At the end of the day, this is just a stepping stone for Walker and Tiger Rugby. Count on hearing about more fixtures down the road that will give some American up-and-comers the opportunity to grow their game. After all, what players need are consistent high level matches, which aren’t always aplenty stateside. In fact, Tiger already has a full international touring schedule through the rest of the year, and are making connections with some of the bigger dogs on rugby’s porch. Tiger is filling a niche in the domestic 7s market. And while it seems that USA Rugby is still trying to figure out how many eggs they should have in the same basket, Walker and his sous chef, Paul Holmes, are making omelets.
Written by RUGBYMag Staff
Friday, 18 April 2014 11:16
Varsity Cup Super-Regionals This Weekend
Two venues will host two quarterfinal Varsity Cup matchups this weekend, with the US Naval Academy welcoming Texas (Navy's opponent Saturday) and also BYU and Dartmouth. Out west, UCLA will host #2-seed Cal and the game between Central Washington and Utah.
With four exciting games on tap this weekend be sure to attend one of the two venues or catch a live stream of the events.
Navy is excited to be hosting its second Varsity Cup Super Regional. Senior Associate Athletic Director Robert Dunn has put together a successful event in the past and plans to replicate the success.
"We consider rugby to be a very important sport at the Naval Academy and try to give it as much attention as any other sport on campus," Dunn said.
The games will take place at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the home of the football team. Last year there was a large crowd - over 1,000 - and Dunn said he is expecting similar numbers this year.
"This is not just about supporting Navy rugby but supporting the local rugby community,” he said.
Navysports.com will stream the games live and the the games will also be aired on the Patriot League Network.
East Super Regional
BYU V Dartmouth
Coming off a 59-24 victory over Clemson, Dartmouth travels to Annapolis to take on the defending Varsity Cup champions BYU.
Madison Hughes spearheads an exciting Dartmouth backline that contributed half a dozen tries last week.
As potent as Dartmouth's offense can be, the question mark this week will be how well their defensive line can hold up against a set of very talented BYU backs.
With the bulk of Clemson’s offense coming through its forwards, its backline failed to garner any continuity and rarely tested the Dartmouth defense.
Led by New Zealand-born flyhalf Johnny Linehan, BYU features a solid kicking game and possesses the ability to move the ball wide. Linehan won the 2013 Varsity Cup for BYU with a drop goal as time expired in last year's final.
The BYU pack is not to be outdone. Bolstered by USA flanker and captain Kyle Sumsion, whose combination of power and game awareness makes him one of the best players in the game, the Cougars are hard to match up front.
BYU last met Dartmouth in the 2009 DIA playoffs. They defeated the Big Green 26-5 on the way to their first national title.
Having not played Dartmouth in years, BYU Coach David Smyth is unsure what to expect. He stated to BYU reporters that "we haven’t played Dartmouth in few years so we're a little unfamiliar with how we’ll match up against them. Our boys will need to work hard to get ready for the challenges a team like Dartmouth brings."
BYU's size should play to their advantage in this contest. Dartmouth features a small, athletic pack. Look for the powerful BYU forwards to disrupt the Dartmouth set piece. If Dartmouth fails to provide a platform for its backs, it could be a long day for the men in Green.
The winner of this game will play the winner of Navy v Texas.
Navy v Texas
Navy will host a Texas squad that has done a tremendous amount of traveling in the past two weeks. After visiting South Bend last week, the Longhorns will travel to Annapolis for a date with the Midshipmen.
Coach Mike Flanagan said it is not easy to travel long distances and be ready to play a physical game of rugby, so hosting the game helps.
"Playing at home is a big advantage for us. We have been on the traveling end and it is a difficult thing to do," said the Navy coach.
While Navy waits for Texas, they are focused on playing their own game.
"We believe we can attack and defend with anyone," Flanagan added. "We are focused on playing our own game and seeing where the chips fall."
Although the Midshipmen are focused inward, they are aware that Texas plays a high standard of rugby and will need to match the intensity.
Navy is usually led by the 9-10 combination of Rickey Neel-Feller and Jack McAuliffe. However, Neel-Feller has been battling a micro fracture in his thumb and will miss his third consecutive week of action. Should Navy advance, Flanagan is confident Neel-Feller will be able to participate in the semifinals.
Complementing McAuliffe on the back line is the center combination of Ian Sugg and Sam Gideon. Anchoring a strong pack are locks Dave Dolinar and Jon Thornton, as well as flanker Spencer Wilson.
Earlier this season Navy easily defeated Dartmouth 77-5. Texas is aware of Navy's ability and understands that challenge that awaits them. Coach Chris Hopps praised Navy.
"We know we will be up against it when we travel to Navy. They are a quality side and we will need to continue to up the intensity in order to compete."
Texas will need another strong game from flyhalf Carson Youman. It will need to continue to link after line-breaks in order to put up enough points to win this game.
Look for this one to be a very fast paced contest with fitness playing a large part in the outcome.
The winner will take on either BYU or Dartmouth
West Super Regional
Cal V UCLA
In the most intriguing matchup of the weekend, last year’s runner up the University of California travels to UCLA to take on the Bruins for the third time this season. Coming off a solid victory, UCLA looks to maintain its momentum against a traditionally strong Cal side.
Despite handily beating Oklahoma, UCLA is well aware that Cal is a much stauncher opponent. Nevertheless, they are looking forward to the challenge.
"We are excited to play Cal," said UCLA Head Coach Scott Stewart. "They always give us a test to where we are as a program having been so great for so long."
Currently ranked 4th and 5th respectively, Cal and UCLA have already met twice this season.
Cal defeated UCLA in the Dennis Storer Classic final 18-3 and later in the season in PAC action 32-10. Cal overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to beat the Bruins in the second contest.
Having met twice this season, the two sides are very familiar with one other.
"We know that they are going to bring it," Stewart added. "We must build the intensity through the week so we are firing on all cylinders come game time. We must make sure we are in good position and hang onto possession. A team like Cal smells blood so we must limit our mistakes."
Cal is currently 16-2 after suffering two consecutive losses, the first of which came against the Canadian school British Colombia. Cal’s only other blemish came against the favorite to win the DIA title and number one ranked St. Mary's.
Current USA Eagle Seamus Kelly leads Cal's powerful squad. The 2013 CRC MVP anchors a potent Cal backline. A strong tackler and a powerful runner, Kelly brings experience to a deep Cal roster.
Fellow backs Jake Anderson, Harry Adolphus and Russell Webb are all viable attacking options that have caused headaches for opponents all season.
Cal has no shortage of injuries, losing winger Josh Tucker and hooker Michael Bush to season ending ailments. However, due to the team’s depth, Cal is confident in its ability to get its 3rd win over a strong UCLA side.
"No doubt we are patching our team together, but we feel strangely calm," said Head Coach Jack Clark. "We can still field a strong team and we’re capable of defeating the Bruins. We need to play hard and mostly well, but we can win."
Despite the injuries and a formidable opponent Clark is confident in the Golden Bears.
Coach Clark said his belief in the Bears’ ability to beat the Bruins in the Super Regional "takes nothing away from UCLA. They have proven they are a top team, solid in every area of play. They are well coached and have excellent team leadership. They’ve earned our respect."
With victories over Utah, UCLA and Dartmouth, Cal has beaten three of the remaining Varsity Cup participants this year.
The winner of this contest will play the survivor of Central Washington and Utah.
Central Washington V Utah
After eliminating Air Force last weekend, Utah will play Central Washington. The Wildcats handily defeated Oregon for the NCRC conference title and sit at a perfect 13-0.
Central Washington recently announced the program is going Varsity. Head Coach Tony Pacheco is excited by the decision.
"After years of success, the program is finally getting the additional support they deserve. The additional resources will help in the development of our players."
The Wildcats have been putting up points in bunches this season having scored over 90 points several times. Captain and All-American Tanner Barnes leads Central Washington. Playing the outside center position, he is smart, strong and a great defender.
Also Driving Central Washington’s engine is All-American prop Clint Lentus.
"He brings a lot of physicality to the game, is a solid scrummager, and leads our pack around the field," Pacheco added.
Lentus will be extremely important this week as Utah is very strong on the set piece. The Wildcats preparation has focused on winning the set piece battle and being ready for Utah’s fast speed of play.
Pacheco indicated “Utah puts a lot of pressure on set pieces. They also have plenty of weapons and love to play fast. We must maintain our defensive shape because Utah is known for its ability to offload the ball or throw a miss pass that exposes a defense.”
Central Washington is excited about its prospects in the Varsity Cup. Their experience in last years Varsity Cup has prepared them to make some noise this year.
"We know what it is going to take now to get to the final. We needed to be fitter, be stronger and put 80 minutes together for three straight games. Last week was our best 80 minutes of rugby all season and I am excited to participate in the Varsity Cup."
The Wildcats opponent may, however, be their toughest opponent of the season. Utah is battle tested this year having played Cal, BYU and UCLA. All three games were fairly tight contests implying Central Washington will have a very tough encounter.
Utah has made it through the season despite being very young and not particularly deep. The program is back on campus after a suspension and the graduation of several top players. Tonata Lauiti has been key to the squad with his experience and explosiveness, and Phil Vickery helps anchor things up front. But somehow, event with injuries and a young, inexperienced team, they have put in strong performances against Cal, UCLA, and BYU.
The winner of this game will play either UCLA or Cal.