Eight league games are on the slate in Men’s DI club rugby this weekend, as all took a week off during the USA 7s.
For some, this is a crucial weekend as they need to rescue shaky starts and get themselves back into playoff contention.
In Texas, the big game is the big game, as the Dallas Harlequins visit the 4-0 Austin Blacks. The Harlequins are now at 3-1 and in 3rd place after beating HARC 39-32 two weeks ago, thanks to three tries from Eric Esterhuizen.
Meanwhile the Austin Huns are 3-1 and in 2nd place, and they visit the 4th-place (2-2) Dallas Reds. For all four teams there’s much to accomplish this weekend. The Blacks can put their stamp on the league season right now with an emphatic victory. The Harlequins can leap into 1st if things go well for them. The Huns, too, have their eye on the top spot, while the Reds start their run for a home playoff spot now.
“It’s a great weekend for Texas rugby,” enthused Austin Blacks Head Coach Lachlan Ferguson. “We know it will be tough for us. The Harlequins are well-coached and play a really great style of rugby. We’ve gone in a couple of years from hunting and chasing teams to being the team clubs raise their game against. We’ve got a mark on our backs now.”
Ferguson said he spent the early part of the season settling on what will be the playoff squad. He is narrowing down his choices now.
“What I am looking for from is my guys is to start to put together the pieces and elevate their performance,” he said. “I want to see them really hungry as it’s possible to get complacent in this league. It should be a fantastic game of rugby to watch.”
Houston takes on Fort Worth, and that game shouldn’t be ignored, either, as HARC could improve to 2-3 which, if the Reds lose, will likely put them in the top four.
With league-leaders Belmont Shore (5-0) idle, it’s a weekend where the rest battle for top-remora spot to the Belmont Shore tiger shark. Santa Monica takes on OMBAC in one of three big games. If Santa Monica win, they push OMBAC into a 1-3 hole and elevate themselves to 4-1 right around the midway point of the season. OMBAC, conversely, can put their difficult start behind them with a victory to move them to 2-2.
Four other teams with losing records are looking to regain .500. Los Angeles is 2-3 and Back Bay 1-2. They clash at Back Bay and it’s a statement-making weekend for both. Then Las Vegas (0-3) hopes to regain some momentum against the 1-2 Old Aztecs. Yes these are the bottom two teams in the league, but they are not that far off, especially the Old Aztecs. It’s conceivable that Old Aztecs, with a bonus-point victory, could vault from 6th to 3rd in a day.
Well it remains a confusing league in NorCal, but the clarity is this, if Olympic Club is serious about overcoming their early forfeits and playing in the playoffs, they need to push the heavily-favored SFGG. A bonus point, or two bonus points, would do them wonders; a win even more. But just not getting blown out could garner O-Club an advantage as SFGG has been a steamroller so far.
In the second matchup, the 2-2 East Palo Alto Bulldogs play the 0-1 Bay Barbarians. Neither is out of it, and both want to get up in the top four. If the Bulldogs win, they will be in excellent position to get into the playoffs.
DI Club games this weekend:
Las Vegas Blackjacks at Old Aztecs
Santa Monica at OMBAC
Los Angeles at Back Bay
SFGG at Olympic Club
EPA Bulldogs at Bay Barbarians
Dallas Harlequins at Austin Blacks
Austin Huns at Dallas Reds
HARC at Fort Worth