Monday, February 17, 2020

MLR, PRP Wraps

Major League Rugby - Round 2 - On the Weekend, By the Numbers

Three clubs undefeated after the second weekend of action. East newbie ATL and True North’s finest, Arrows, join the West’s Legion as the only clubs with unblemished records following rugby on the weekend. All clubs in the Eastern Conference with at minimum one joy, while three in the Western Conference, including reigning champs Seattle, unwon. Five home wins, though four of those happened in the City of Variable Fortunes, Las Vegas*.
All clubs in the East within a weekend’s win of one another and San Diego are a bonus-point victory ahead in the West.
All rookie franchises have at least one win.
Pay attention to the Warriors of the Western Slope for they are dauntless. In the young season, they’ve dropped a close contest to Eastern headboy, Rugby ATL on the road, then took down high-flying FreeJacks in their last effort. Utah is well-coached and its staff is well-appointed. The men on the field work as a unit to their mutually beneficial end in an expression of clear vision. Just sayin’...
Home Happy: DC Old Glory, Rugby United New York*, San Diego Legion*, Toronto Arrows*, Utah Warriors*
Road Warriors: Rugby ATL
By the Numbers:
5             trys for everybody, and 4-from-5 of those made seven, but differential counted early on with a pair of sticksplitters by Utah standoff, Kiwi born-German International-who played for Guinness Pro14 Glasgow, Hagen Schulte, and 39 - 33 the Warriors happiness at Sam Boyd in Vegas over FreeJacks;
5             for Mathieu Bastareaud to open the RUNY account and 15 for United 10, Cathal Marsh, on a grounding and 5 conversions in the 49 - 31 rout of Austin at Vegas;
17           in front at the half, 22-5, enough cushion to provide victory at the end of the day for Toronto Arrows over Houston SabreCats at the Sam Boyd in Vegas, 27 - 22;
17           , too, for DC Old Glory 10, New Zealander Jason Robertson, on a 2-1-2 triple and the MLR first timers notched their inaugural win at Catholic University, 28 - 22, over traveling current champs, Seattle;
5             for veteran campaigner, Ma’a Nonu, in the 29th to aid his Legion’s happy over  Raptors and San Diego went on to ground Colorado, 49 - 22, at the Boy-oi-oyd;
4             sticksplitters in the second stanza for South Africa playmaker, Kurt Coleman, sufficient to return ATL from 2 behind at the break, 5-7, for 22 - 10 victory and the Scott Lawrence-led franchise is undefeated yet in their inaugural season after the win over NOLA Gold.

UpComing the Mountains on the RugbyDay:
Colorado Raptors (0) v (5) NOLA Gold down the Kettle at Infinity, 4pm MST
Austin Gilgronis (1) v (5) Utah Warriors at Bold Stadium, 6pm MST

Pacific Rugby Premiership

Glendale Merlins, the region’s Division 1 side, dropped their second road match in succession to OMBAC in Vegas, 33 - 36, after taking an eight-point advantage into the sheds at break. The match will count as a home game for the Merls even though OMBAC’s home ground is about $452, 961.50 closer to Las Vegas than Glendale. Next up for the Merlins: on the trot at Belmont Shore next RugbyDay, February 22, 2pm MST.


Shore rocked reigning champs, Life West, 73 - 24, for their measure on the weekend.
(psst... hey you)
PLAY the RUGBY
Soon Come



Saturday, February 15, 2020

Major League Rugby - Round 2


MLR - Round 2
Next steps for the Mountain Clubs have each squaring off against undefeated XVs: Utah Warriors host New England FreeJacks in Las Vegas; New England knocked Matti Basteraud’s boys about for their inaugural joy; match kicks at 12:30pm MST (live on Eleven Sports, FTF, NESN); while Colorado Raptors are on the trot in the City of Fortunes, 4pm MST, Sunday (on ESPN+) in a teller against San Diego Legion, who denied reigning champs, Seattle, the happy ending last weekend.
Warriors will have to contain the New England midfield, especially Whakatane (NZ) hard-nosed magician, Beau Waaka, while Raptors must stifle an explosive Legion offense that put all its points onboard in the 20s either side of the break last time out.
Today
Utah Warriors (0) v (5) New England FreeJacks at Sam Boyd, Las Vegas, 12:30pm MST;
Rugby United New York (0) v (0) Austin Elite at Sam Boyd, Las Vegas, 4:30pm MST;

Tomorrow, Sunday, 2.16.20
Toronto Arrows (5) v (4) Houston SabreCats at Sam Boyd, 12:30pm MST;
DC Old Glory (0) v (0) Seattle SeaWolves at Cardinal Stadium, CU, 1pm MST;
San Diego Legion (5) v (0) Colorado Raptors at Sam Boyd, 4pm MST;
NOLA Gold (5) v (5) Rugby ATL at the Shrine on Airline, 4pm MST






PRP: OMBAC v Glendale Merlins

Pacific Rugby Premiership - Round 2


Merlins head coach Mose Timoteo has changed up one-third of his starting XV for the second round matchup with OMBAC. The fixture kicks off at 2pm MST today in Las Vegas, Nevada. The changes rung: two in the tight five, one on the side and a brace in the backthree backs. Merlins look to even up their record after their opening round defeat to Life West last weekend, while OMBAC look to go 2-and-0 in the league.

Go You Merlins!




Friday, February 14, 2020

Merlins Round 2


2020 Glendale Merlins and the Pacific Rugby Premiership: Round 2

The men’s division 1 Merlins, our region's only top flight USARugby XV, transit to Las Vegas on the weekend for a derby with OMBAC (Old Mission Bay Athletic Club). The Colorado Raptors taxi squad is 0-1-0 after last weekend’s 9-point defeat to reigning champs, Life West, and looks to level up in the City of (ideally good) Fortunes with an 8pm kickoff tomorrow.

The Merls will feature a number of local products on their rostered flight; four fast-flying  Rugby Colorado (RC) high school Grizzlies: Paddy Donovan, Seth Halliman, Jacob Russell and Liam Wynne join CSU Rams and Denver Barbarians alum, Carmine Hernandez, in the pumped-up, 23-man roster. In addition: ex-RC Chaparral and Boulder Rugby standout, Stephen Karas; and 19 years old Palmer High School tighthead, Moses Saole will make the transit to Vegas for the fixture on the upcomer.

Merlins finish February on the trot versus Belmont Shore and then Seattle Saracens, who compete in British Columbia Rugby Union - http://www.bcrugby.com/,  in the next two weekends before a blockbuster home opener first RugbyDay in March against Sarries on the StoveTop at Infinity. I’m goin, you goin?











Monday, February 10, 2020

MLR: OtW, BtN


Major League Rugby - On the Weekend, By the Numbers
Both mountain clubs went down on the trot, not-getting losing bonus points for their efforts, while two-from-three newcomers got their initial “W”s in the league.
0             losing bonus points awarded in all matches and all victors with 4 trys or better;

10           for Houston SabreCats 10, Sam Windsor, on a 1-1-1 triple, the penalty struck in the 78th minute to deny Colorado Raptors a losing bonus point and ‘Cats roared, 20 - 12, in Space City on the RugbyDay;
3              groundings for USA Eagles basher, Cam Dolan, and NOLA Gold leveled newbie Old Glory DC in the Big Easy, and the Beastsie’s Boys dropped their inaugural to the Gold, 46 - 13;
11           behind approaching the hour mark for Rugby ATL, 8-19, not one worry for the Georgia XV as a threesome of trys, 2 converted and a three-point sticksplitter made for a deliriously happy ending for Coach Scott Lawrence’s MLR debut on a 28 - 19 record past Utah Warriors;
2              touch downs for FreeJacks threequarters, Beau Waaka, and New England are perfect in MLR competition after a 34 - 14 victory over Rugby United New York in Boston;
2              trys, too, for San Diego Legion South African number 2, Dean Muir, and homeboys exacted a measure of vengeance on the reigning champs with the 33 - 24 result over Seattle SeaWolves;
5              try Toronto Arrows bested Austin Elite in Texas, 38 - 10, to claim their current second placement in the Eastern Division due their points differential;

Glendale Merlins, the region’s Division 1 side, dropped their road match to Life West at California Maritime Academy, 26 - 34 on the RugbyDay. The Merls were without a number of transfers whose  switch hadn’t been approved by USA Rugby in time for them to be rostered for the match at Life. This transaction should be a mere toggle, or at worst a copy-and-paste effort that a well-trained chimp could manage; however it would seem beyond the scope of our national union’s capabilities just now... leading question being: Who’s monkeying who around, nuh?
PLAY the RUGBY




Saturday, February 8, 2020

Merlins open 2020 at Life West today

Colorado Raptors feeder XV, Glendale Merlins, travel to the Bay Area to commence their 2020 campaign for a derby with Life West Gladiators, number one in the Pacific Rugby Premiership last season.
Merlins, who finished third on the chart in 2019, feature veterans James DelBozque at number 2 and former Middle Tennessee State University Mooseman, Devin Vaughter, in the engine room. The action kicks at 4pm MST (3pm on the coast) at California Maritime Academy.

Soon Come the Rakavi!





Thursday, February 6, 2020

Major League kicks 3rd Season on the Upcomer












2020 Major League Rugby - Mountain Clubs: Colorado, Utah
MLR kicks on the upcomer with both XVs from the Rocky Mountain Region on the trot; Colorado Raptors, who placed sixth in the nine-team league last season are in Houston versus SabreCats, who were seventh-placed finishers last season, on Saturday while Utah Warriors, who charted eighth last year, travel to Atlanta for a test against newly-minted franchise, Rugby ATL.
Raptors placed first in the league’s inaugural season only to lose in the title game in 2018 to the MLR’s sole champion thus far, Seattle SeaWolves. Raptors added international stars, Digby Ioane and Rene Ranger, to the roster though those fellows may serve as 60-minute men rather than starters. South African-born standoff, Robbie Petzer, can keep the scoreboard turning over, but the aerial predators must implement a better containment strategy as they were cumulatively outscored last year, losing a pair of matches by less than five points and drawing once; wins in those games would have earned them a post-season berth. The onus will be on the backrowmen and midfielders to apply stoppage in order for the “second responders” to arrive at that breakdown and provide turnover ball for a capable backline featuring former Colorado Springs high school Grizzlies standout, Seth Halliman. If the Raptors defense provides pill, the potent Raptors offense that boasts 2019’s top scoring flyer John Ryberg on the wing-threequarters, will perform. Expect a middle of the chart outcome for Colorado this year, lest the close losses are claimed as victories, then extra-time is a definite possibility.
Colorado and Houston split their home-away competition in 2019 with Raptors losing by 15 in Texas. Birds’ll look to switch that record up on the weekend, but ‘Cats are hungry: should be a blinder!
Utah for their measure, fronts a slew of hometown talent with perennial nation high school champion contenders, United and Highland RFCs, rostering six players: the Whippy brothers, Josh and Jared, who play in the midfield and back-three backs, engine Matt Jensen and backrowman Arawa Elkington; while Men’s Division 2 powerhouse, Park City Haggis, post a pair in 8man John Cullen, and Zimbabwean native Joe Nicholls at the pivot; and Utah’s Kau Toa Youth RFC supplying 19-years old fast-mover, Nolan Tuamoheloa. Like the Raptors, Utah need to shore up a defense that allowed a 136-points differential last season. In addition, Warriors can count on USA Eagles and former Kansas City Blues wing Gannon Moore to ratchet up the tempo with flash and fire.
With ATL in their first season of competition, no record exists. And while the outcome of Sunday’s derby in Georgia may not determine the season, victory for the travelers will go a long way in imparting a confidence and competence that is sure to augur positively for Utah.

On the Weekend
Colorado Raptors v Houston SabreCats at Aveva Stadium, 10am MST on Saturday: LIVE watch in the TRY Club at the Stadium; doors open at 9:45am
Utah Warriors v Rugby ATL at Life University, 1pm MST on Sunday: to view the action live - link up!




Sunday, January 19, 2020

EPCR Pools completed: Champions and Challenge Cups Round Robins be done



The European Professional Club Rugby Tournaments, Champions and Challenge Cups, close pool play today with Challenge Cup extra-timers already determined and Champions fixing to sort this morning. That's happened.
In the dual playoffs frames are: 6 clubs from T14, 5 each from Gallagher Premiership and Guinness Pro14.

Champions Cup Playoffs



Leinster v Saracens at the RDS: last year's final!

Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints at Sandy Park: # 1 versus #2 in the English League;

Toulouse v Ulster at the Ernest Wallon: tough ask of visitors;

Clermont v Racing 92 at the Michelin: current #7 v #5 at T14 table 







Challenge Cup






Meanwhile, Challenge Cup pool play is shuttered and first weekend in April:

Toulon v Scarlets 

Bordeaux Bègles v Dragons

Bristol Bears v Edinburgh

Leicester Tigers v Castres Olympique

- Daktari's Cypher -

Yesterday's puzzle: “RNDEWEHJ SA LWDRY PBSCHYWYWBI UQSH WI BEHD Q AHQD. YGQIXR YB YGH QSQMWIU RNCCBDYHDR YGQY PQSH BNY, QIJ SA QSQMWIU YHQSSQYHR OGB DHSWIJ SH OGA W FBEH YGWR UQSH RB SNPG." - XBTHFPB RYHHFHDR LFAGQFL, JQI PQDYHD, QLYHD LWDRY SQYPG TQPX LBFFBOWIU IHPX RNDUHDA

And here is your hint:
T = B

and its solution, from a gentleman of whom you may have heard:

“Survived my first competition game in over a year. Thanks to the amazing supporters that came out, and my amazing teammates who remind me why I love this game so much." - Kobelco Steelers flyhalf, Dan Carter, after first match back following neck surgery last spring.








Saturday, January 18, 2020

EPCR Challenge Cup: Extra Time Frame nearly full in Challenge Tournament

Challenge Cup
plus Daktari's Cypher



After yesterday's brace of matches in Group 1, won by Catres on the trot at Worcester, which knocked Warriors from the frame and Dragons victory over Enisei STM, taken by the Fire-breathing Worms on Rodney Parade, there is only
a single playoffs slot left to be filled. 

Edinburgh is on 16 table points and at Murrayfield against Agen today. The Scots are likely to count a nickel here and that will be that... Edinburgh  nails the sixth berth. Should Edinburgh fail or falter and get less than five, that opens it up for Pau on 15 tps, who're on host duty of lossless Leicester at Stade du Hameau and need five... tough ask.. Both the aforementioned clubs mistepping opens the door for Scarlets (14 tps), on the trot at Madejski and London Irish.

Last Round... ding-ding!

Daktari’s Cypher
1.18.2020

“RNDEWEHJ SA LWDRY PBSCHYWYWBI UQSH WI BEHD Q AHQD. YGQIXR YB YGH QSQMWIU RNCCBDYHDR YGQY PQSH BNY, QIJ SA QSQMWIU YHQSSQYHR OGB DHSWIJ SH OGA W FBEH YGWR UQSH RB SNPG." - XBTHFPB RYHHFHDR LFAGQFL, JQI PQDYHD, QLYHD LWDRY SQYPG TQPX LBFFBOWIU IHPX RNDUHDA
And here is your hint:
T = B 

Answer Tomorrow





Friday, January 17, 2020

European Rugby - Last Rites for 28 Clubs


Champions and Challenge Cups


EPCR Pool Play - Round 6 Preview

The European Professional Club Rugby tournament group stages conclude Friday through Sunday with 16 clubs advancing into the knockout frame first weekend in April between the brace of Cups, Champions and Challenge. And that means 28 will have naught to do that first weekend in April as there’s sure to be no happy ending for those XVs this year on The Continent. Six teams from each tournament qualify for extra time with numbers one and two at their respective tables earning a bye first round.
In Champions Cup heading into the weekend, only Group 3 is contendible yet as Clermont and Ulster are three table points apart with Clermont ahead, so a win by the French club takes the pool; Auvergne are on the trot at Twickers v Quins so no foregone conclusion there as Ulster host a thus far listless Bath (0-5-0) at Ravenhill.
Of Groups already won: Leinster (24 table points), Exeter, Racing and Toulouse (all on 22 tps), are in the market for a rest first round of playoffs. Clermont, too theoretically, but that would require near wholesale loss by the aforementioned group winners for that to happen.   
One pair of numbers 2s from the groups will advance with Clermont/Ulster most likely going and Sarries or Gloucester or Saints, currently all on 14 pts, providing the final knockouteer. Glasgow Warriors, on 12 points now, got a shot at the knocks, but that’ll be Chicken Little Days should that unlikely event occur.
Nine clubs after six post-season slots and the devil take those in the rear.

Upcomes Round 6


                Saturday, 1.18:

                                Benetton Treviso (6) v (24) Leinster at Stadio Comunale di Monigo: wrapping up the group;

                                Lyon (7) v (14) Northampton Saints at the Matmut: travelers need the bonus-point to remain in contention for a match seven in April;

                                Harlequins (9) v (20) Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham: travelers need this to close the group in their favor;

                                Ulster (17) v (4) Bath in Kingspan at Ravenhill: homeys’ll want the win plus one for extra time come April;

                                Exeter (22) v (10) La Rochelle at Sandy Park: closing the group but Chiefs are yet in contention for a rest first weekend of playoffs so they’d like the bonus-point win here and now;

                                Sale Sharks (7) v (12) Glasgow Warriors in AJ Bell at Salford City: pretty much for Queen, country and contract;
               
                Sunday, 1.19:

                                Munster (11) v (2) Ospreys at Thomond Park: Q, c&c and homeys won’t like that;

                                Saracens (14) v (22) Racing 92 at Allianz: must win large, Corsairs! Racing chasing the respite;

                                Montpellier (8) v (5) Connacht in GGL at the Altrad: see Sharks v Warriors;

                                Toulouse (22) v (14) Gloucester at Ernest Wallon: crucial for the extended life of travelers and equally so for homeboys who’d like the rest first round;


Challenge Cup
The undercard, as it were, has four groups also won, with excitement in Group 1 as three clubs could win the pool this weekend. Castres (18 tps), Dragons (15) and Worcester (15) all have a shot at taking the group. Castres are at Worcester, so bang-bang-bang there and the winner likely moving on, unless Dragons, who host luckless Enisei STM, count a thousand points which may not be as far-fetched a thought as it might initially seem.
Bristol, who lead the tournament in table points at 24, need victory on the trot at Zebre to earn the bye while Toulon can do the same with a five-pointer against Bayonne at the Mayol... that’s a likely the way Le Toulonnais are rocking the shop with old (not really) Eben Etzebeth onboard these days.
For the remaining two slots, that contentious G1 may provide a supplemental while Edinburgh (16 tps hosting Agen so it could be a fiver); Section Paloise, on 15 tps now but they host hot-hot Leicester who’re yet seeking a rest first round of knockouts should either Bristol or Toulon falter, so that's an explosion waiting to happen.


Upcomes Round 6

                Friday, 1.17.20:

                                Dragons (15) v (0) Enisei STM at Rodney Parade: got to count as many points as possible, home side!

                                Worcester Warriors (15) v (18) Castres Olympique at Sixways: outcome could result in a Dragons ascension; a draw here might short the sheets;

                Saturday, 1.18.20:

                                Cardiff Blues (13) v (1) Cammi Calvisano at the Arms Park: should be a bunch for the home side;

                                Section Paloise (15) v (22) Leicester Tigers at Stade du Hameau: homeys need it, big;

                                Brive (4) v (6) Stade Français at the Amédée-Domenech: for Q, c&c:

                                Zebre (11) v (24) Bristol Bears at Lanfranchi: home side looking good of late, but Bears could earn the 1st playoffs round respite with victory; monkey wrench? Actually homeys gotta a shot at extra time should the four in front of them lose, and the last time Zebre were in a position to make the post-season was... never!

                                Edinburgh (16) v (0) Agen at Murrayfield: homeys gotta win big and pray for help;

                                Wasps (11) v (22) Bordeaux-Bègles at the Ricoh: visitors need all points;
                                               
                                London Irish (7) v (14) Scarlets at Madejski: visitors will want the bonus-point, which may not be sufficient to earn an extra-time berth, yet that’s what they’ll be seeking;
                                                               
                                Toulon  (23) v (7) Bayonne at the Felix Mayol: home team has an outside shot at a rest 1st playoffs weekend, but that’ll require a 5-pointer here and either Leinster or Bristol to fail.