Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rovers to Meet Gazelles in DIII Playoffs

To say there have been changes on the rugby scene in Cleveland in the past year would be an understatement. The Cleveland Crusaders emerged after a move initially advertised as a merger, a move that many thought many thought would effectively end the Cleveland Rovers. Well, now that the regular season is over and playoffs have begun, it is obvious that the Rovers have made the best of the move and put their league on notice.

Going into the 2015 fall season, many would have thought the Cleveland Rovers’ plan would be to survive and have a “rebuilding year,” a standard for many of the professional team in the season. Clearly, the Rovers had other plans, taking eight wins away from the ten-match regular season and getting lopsided scores like 72-19 and 67-24 in the process. Though the Rovers did suffer two losses during the regular season, the widest margin between the scores was nine points. Perhaps the more impressive feat is that the Rovers split matches with last year’s league leaders, the Pittsburgh Highlanders. The first meeting between the two teams was a 41-10 result in favor of the Rovers, while the second was a narrow seven-point loss.

The Rovers have advanced to the DIII playoffs, where the team will play the Grand Rapids Gazelles on April 30 in an effort to advance closer to a Midwest Championship. On paper, the Gazelles appear to be the favorites to win the competition. The Gazelles have played more matches than the Rovers and have been perfect all throughout the regular season. The Gazelles have, seemingly, imposed their offensive will on opponents without much issue. Three one-hundred-point results speak to that for certain.

Will the Rovers’ hunger see them past the Gazelles’ excellence in execution? Time will tell when the two teams take the field in Grand Rapids, Michigan at 12:00pm. To keep up with the Rovers, check out their Twitter and Instagram feeds.

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