Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Sorry for the delay on posting the second half of my professional rugby league in the USA exodus. I forgot I was playing out of town this weekend, so I wasn’t around to post it. I have some finishing touches to put on it and then I’ll post it tomorrow morning.
Now, onto the RSL roundup.
The crystal ball is finally becoming clearer. What has been a hotly contested and muddled playoff picture in the 2008 USA Rugby Super League has finally begun to work itself out. Six of the eight playoff slots are now filled, but a whopping five clubs still remain in the picture for the remaining two slots. All of which could end the season with 21 points and then we get to go into all of that great tie-breaker stuff to figure out who gets to go to the playoffs.
For a change this week, I’m going to start with the Blue Conference. The big surprise this weekend was the 20-20 tie in the Boston/PAC match. Boston now has to wait another week and will need some help from the Griffins to win the Blue Conference. Clearly disappointed by the tie, Boston will need to rebound fast to be ready for the first round of the RSL playoffs. The big winner this weekend was Charlotte. Not only did they dispatch St. Louis by a score of 38-16, the tie in the Boston/PAC match left the window open for Charlotte to end the season in first place in the Blue Conference. If Charlotte can pick up a bonus point victory over the Griffins next weekend, they will leapfrog Boston and take the Blue Conference title. The Griffins suffered a devastating 22-15 loss at Old Blue on Saturday. The Griffins needed the win to stay in playoff contention. If they can get a bonus point victory over Charlotte next weekend, they have an outside shot at getting into the playoffs, but they need some help. For Old Blue, the win will hopefully give them a shot in the arm as their season closes out. It was a disappointing year for Old Blue as they were in some transition, but they were still able to leave their mark on the season with the big win this weekend.
Things are crazy as ever in the White Conference. Three clubs are still in the running for 2nd place in the conference. NYAC took care of business again this weekend with a tight 8-5 win over the Chicago Lions. With the win, NYAC has claimed the #1 seed going into the RSL playoffs and home field advantage. The win also put the Lion’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Lions will need a bonus point win over Washington to put them in a tie with St. Louis at 21 points. The Lions defeated the Bombers in their match this season, so the head-to-head goes to the Lions. The big wild card is the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. I left them for dead after their Week 7 loss to the Lions, but I was wrong. There is some confusion over their match this weekend. E Rugby News is reporting that Washington forfeited their match against the Wolfhounds this weekend, but the RSL website is reporting that the match is being rescheduled. Washington is also due to play the Chicago Lions this coming weekend, so something has to give. If anyone out there knows the real deal, post something. I am assuming that the match is being rescheduled, but that would mean some sort of tripleheader with four clubs in one location. Seeing as Washington struggles to compete in one match a weekend, I don’t see how they can play two. If the match is indeed rescheduled, this means that the Wolfhounds will have to play two matches this coming weekend as they already had a makeup match against St. Louis on tap. With two bonus point victories, the Wolfhounds could jump over both Dallas and the Lions and finish in 2nd place in the White Conference with 22 points. With Washington as one of their opponents, they could do it. They’ll need to worry about getting the bonus points against St. Louis and then take care of business against a weak Washington club. Dallas took care of Philly-Whitemarsh this weekend, but it wasn’t as easy as one might have thought. Philly-Whitemarsh made Dallas earn their 31-5 win and Dallas just barely got the bonus point. Dallas sits in 2nd place right now with 21 points, but they are going to need help to stay there.
In the big match of the weekend, Belmont Shore defeated OMBAC 28-17 to seal up the Red Conference title. OMBAC will be kicking themselves, because if they could have secured a bonus point they would have been in the playoffs as the last wild card. After Belmont took a 25-3 lead shortly after halftime, OMBAC came charging back. Belmont held on and denied OMBAC the bonus point. As it sits now, they’ll be one of the clubs involved in the tie breaker rules to decide who get the last wild card playoff slot. The remaining two Red Conference clashes were both huge blowouts. Denver just missed topping the century mark for the second time this season in their 96-21 win over Old Puget. The victory gave Denver 2nd place in the Red Conference and a playoff birth. San Francisco Golden Gate handed Santa Monica a 70-10 defeat, stayed the hottest club in the RSL, and clinched a playoff birth of their own. With six consecutive wins, SFGG will be a club to watch out for come playoff time.
Alright, so let’s try to sort out the rest of the playoff scenarios.
We’ll start with the White Conference where 2nd place is still up for grabs. Dallas is currently in 2nd place with 21 points. The Lions should almost certainly get a bonus point win over Washington which will take them to 21 points. They have the tie breaker on Dallas. The big wild card in this whole group is the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. We’ll have to see how things shake out with the rescheduled or forfeited match with Washington, but they are in the driver’s seat. They’ll need a bonus point win over St. Louis, but they could get to 22 points and sneak into 2nd place and get the playoff slot. If all three clubs end up tied with 21 points, the Lions will take 2nd place.
The final wild card slot in much more muddled. OMBAC, Chicago Lions, Dallas, Chicago Griffins, and Boston Irish Wolfhounds could all end up with 21 points. In that case, the Lions will get 2nd place in the White Conference. So, that leaves four clubs left. I’ll have to brush up on my tie breakers rules to see who gets in and who is out.
I was denied a six win week on my predictions when the Wolfhounds/Washington match was cancelled. I finished the week 5-3 and now stand at 21-11.