Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
This coming weekend isn’t just about collegiate playoffs, the USA Rugby Super League semifinals are also set to be played and there are two excellent matchups on tap.
Opting for a pared down post-season this year, the Super League only advanced the top two teams from each conference. To save on travel expenses, the cross-over playoffs have also been eliminated from the proceedings. The latter change was one for the best for multiple reasons.
The semifinal matchups include Life hosting rivals Boston in the Blue Conference and San Francisco Golden Gate hosts Old Puget Sound Beach in the Red Conference.
A perennial contender in the Super League, SFGG have been on a mission this season and have rolled through their opposition. Unbeaten in regular season play and boasting the top offense and defense in the league, SFGG is heavy favorites to return to the championship.
Were it not for NYAC last year, SFGG might be going for a third championship in a row. SFGG has talent to space with Mile Pulu back to full fitness; Volney Rouse is directing traffic from flyhalf, and Samuela Manoa leading the forwards.
The challenge will be eagerly awaited by OPSB who needs to improve on their last meeting against SFGG in which they lost 34-14. OPSB also comes into the playoffs with a loss in their final regular season game, which left a bad taste in their mouth after a very good regular season.
OPSB’s Filimoni Botitu and Bobby Fitzpatrick are both capable of sticking from deep and can score tries from anywhere. The reigning Club 7’s National Champs need to use their speed to pressure SFGG into mistakes.
Down South in Atlanta, Life University takes on Boston for the third time this year.
Can the third time be the charm for Boston? If so, it isn’t going to be easy. Life has won both of their prior meetings this season… 30-18 in Week 2 and 36-27 last week. Life hasn’t been as dominating as SFGG this season, but their 6-0 record cannot be ignored.
The ever-improving Boston makes their second consecutive appearance in the RSL semi-finals. Boston needs to put the two prior losses to Life behind them and focus on limiting mistakes. Boston had Life on the ropes in their last meeting before letting them off the hook.
If the trend continues for Boston, this could be one of the best games played at any level this weekend.