Saturday, October 10, 2015

Keeping Up with Ohio Rugby: Division III

We are well into October and the rugby season is well upon us. The senior level teams are into the meat of their respective season, and some are near the top of their brackets while others are not. Let's take a look at which teams are topping their respective tables and which need a little more work.

Division III:
This division is lousy with Ohio clubs competing. From the East and Michigan divisions all the way down to the South, the bulk of the men's senior teams from the Buckeye State occupy space in the third division.

The Ohio representatives in the East Division are the Cleveland Rovers and Akron Rugby, and both are keeping each other towards the bottom of the table. The teams low positions on the table are not necessarily representative of the teams' overall skills and performances.

Currently, the Rovers are tied in third place, with ten overall points, two wins and a single loss. Considering that the a large contingency of the Rovers joined the city's new club, the results thus far are impressive. What is even more impressive is that the Rovers' first win was by over 30 points, followed by a 72-19 win in Pittsburgh. The Rovers' sole loss was against the league's leader, Erie. If the Rovers can get past South Pittsburgh, the team currently in second place, there's no reason the Rovers can't make a big run at the top.

Akron has had a rough go of things so far this season and have yet to nab a win in three attempts. The bad news is that Akron got shut out in a big way in the first match of the season. The good news is that the team has shown consistent improvement on offense. Defense might be a different story. In the second match of the season, Akron held Erie to 14 points and came within two points of beating them. After that, Akron increased their impact on the scoreboard to 13 but let in 43 points. With a number of matches left in the season, there is no reason Akron can't right the ship and improve their position in the league.

The Toledo Celtics are currently on top of the Michigan Division with a spotless five-win record and 25 overall league points. The next closest team has ten. Looking at the Celtics' record, it seems as though the team has been abusing the rest of the competition. The lowest score that the Celtics put up thus far was 29 points, when they hosted the Tri-City Barbarians. The Celtics can't afford to get cocky or complacent, though. The Barbarians came within 15 of beating them and held off their offense, not to mention that the Division III contingent of the Detroit Tradesmen is a definite threat. In the first match of the season the Celtics put up their third highest score so far against the Detroit team, but the Tradesmen also came the closest to taking a win, losing by less than an unconverted try. Consistency will be key for the Celtics if they intend to remain undefeated and at the top of the division.

In the South Division the teams are spread out along the league table. The Columbus Castaways are in first place, with the Cincinnati Kelts at a close second. The other Cincinnati clubs, Queen City and the Division III Wolfhounds, are bringing up the rear and have found themselves towards the bottom of the table at this juncture.

Early on in the season, the Castaways had some closer results, winning the first two matches by 17 an 12 points, respectively. The most recent victory was a 31-point result in their favor against the Wolfhounds. With the momentum they have built so far, and considering who they play the next few weeks, the Castaways have a good chance of remaining undefeated and staying on top of the division.

Like the Castaways, the Cincinnati Kelts have had some luck in the early proceedings of the season. Unfortunately for them, they fell in their most recent match to Queen City in a one-point result. In all likelihood this was a fluke because prior to that the Kelts had beaten Lexington and Cincinnati by wide margins. Granted, those two teams are on the lower part of the divisional table but two big wins show that the Kelts can do some damage on offense while staying solid on defense. The Kelts will have two big tests in the next couple of weeks when they face Louisville and the Castaways, respectively. If those matches go the way of the Kelts, there could be some movement in the standings.

Queen City is in fourth place in the division, while the Wolfhounds sit in last place. Queen City has split their fixtures, taking two wins and suffering a set of losses. The Wolfhounds have yet to notch a victory. The up side for Queen City is that they have never been well and truly out of any of the results so far. Of the two losses on their record, the biggest margin was 12 points. On the other hand,  when they have won the biggest gap was 14 points so increasing the gap between themselves and their competition is the key to Queen City continuing success in the future.

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