Saturday, April 30, 2016

No Clear League Leaders in Rookie Rugby Cleveland

After a slow start to the season that saw matches being cancelled over weather concerns, the Rookie Rugby Cleveland matches kicked off a few weeks ago. Now that players have had a few matches, some leaders have jumped out to the front of the pack early. Though some teams have risen to the top, there are no run-away leaders yet and everything is up for grabs.

The Third and Fourth Grade league has Westpark taking up two of the top three spots on the table, with Parma separating the two sides in second place. Westpark A and Parma have the same number of wins, and both have accumulated a single bonus point. What has Westpark edging out Parma is a mark in the Tie column. Both teams have played five matches, but where Parma dropped a match Westpark drew level with an opponent. By virtue of that record, Westpark is two points ahead of Parma and is in the first place spot. Perhaps the team to watch is Rocky River. Only four spots outside of the top spot, this team could easily threaten to topple the top three. The reason this team seems to have so much upside and potential is because, though the team’s record so far has more losses than wins (2-3), this team has the most bonus points out of any other in the league. In theory, if Rocky River can turn these wins around and keep accumulating bonus points, there’s no reason the players can’t shoot to the top of the heap.

In the Fifth and Sixth Grade leagues, the Westpark army is all over the top spots. With four teams split between the A and B divisions, both are in the top three spots of each respective league. Westpark A and B are first and second in the first division, while its D and C teams are in the second and third spots in the B division. Westpark A and B have accumulated 30 and 20 league points, respectively, so far and only seem to be competing with one another for top honors. Both teams boast perfect records and more bonus points than the rest of the teams in the league, which have allowed the teams to put a gap between themselves and the rest of the field. Westlake, with a 4-2 record and three bonus points, is barely in third place and is the only team that can immediately threaten the Westpark army. Westlake is one point shy of Westpark’s B side, so if fortunes switch slightly in the coming weeks there could be a change in the top three. Last year’s new kids on the block, Arrupe, is on top of the B division. Experience from last year’s league has enabled Arrupe to amass three wins early on in competition. The team’s record also has one tie and a loss, but a pair of bonus points has locked up the top spot. If Arrupe wants to stay no, one, the players will have to keep performing at a high level, because Westpark’s D side is only two points adrift; and with one more win and two more bonus points, it’s not unfeasible to think positions could change.

By the Numbers: The Westpark army has nine players on the B division's Player Points Leaders list, and seven on the A division's list.

Match density has proven to be the deciding factor in the Seventh and Eighth Grade league for the girls. After the cancellation of the initial weeks of matches, some teams had make-ups scheduled.
Highland and Westside are tied for first place in the girls’ division, with 20 overall points. The fact is that Westside has played more matches than Highland, and in those matches there have been some unpleasant results. Highland has played half as many matches as Westside and secured three wins and a draw, as compared to Westside’s 2-3-3 record. It seems as though the lack of matches for Highland has allowed them to sit on such a strong record, and that has allowed the team to remain in the top spot. Once Highland accumulates more matches, the numbers could shift more in Westside’s favor should Highland be unable to keep winning ways going.

By the Numbers: Westside has six players represented on the Player Points Leaders list, with one in the top four.

Westpark and Highland are two of the top teams in the Seventh and Eighth Grade league for boys. Westpark is on top of the A division, while Highland’s B side is barely on top of the B division. In the A division, Westpark has a record of 5-2 with three bonus points. This has given the crowning jewel of the Westpark army 23 overall points and a three-point lead over the second-place team, Highland. The situation here is similar to that of the girls’ division. Westpark has played seven matches, Highland has played six and Fairlake, the team that sits in third place with 19 points, has only played four. What really separates these top three teams is opportunity, because it sure isn’t points. Four points separate third place from first, a gap that could easily be surmounted with one good weekend. If the numbers are any indication, Highland might be able to leapfrog Westpark and take the top spot. This is because, though Highland has losses, the team has more bonus points than Westpark. Picking up those extra points could mean the difference between landing inside or outside the top three in a league this tight. Highland’s second side is on top of the B division of the boys’ tackle league, followed closely by upstart Glenville. The two teams are nearly identical. Both have four wins. Both have four bonus points. Both have 20 overall points. The only difference is that Glenville lost one match in the first week of the league. These two teams should be jockeying back and forth for the top spot all season, judging by how the table looks at this moment. The next closest team to the top two his five points adrift.

By the Numbers:  Highland, Hudson and Fairlake have the top three scorers, respectively, in the Players Points List for the A division. Glenville has six players on the B division's list.

The teams return to action on May 8, and the contest for the top spots in the respective leagues continues. Check the Rugby Ohio Web site for further updates and information.

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