The Atlantic Rugby Premiership may be a small club competition, but for the Eastern men's clubs it's an important one — the sad news is that the best squad among them is from Colorado.
While the Glendale Merlins and Life University Running Eagles aren't actually counted in the official standings, they should be. If they were, the Merlins would be in first place.
The Colorado squad capped off a 4-0 fall run with a 22-15 victory over Life this past Saturday in Atlanta, after blowing out previously unbeaten Old Blue 76-35 a week before.
Glendale captain Zach Fenoglio has been an ever-present havoc-raiser at hooker, and he continues to heap praise on wily veteran Peter Dahl, a former Eagles loose forward.
"[Dahl's] leadership and knowledge of the game is invaluable, and he truly leads by his actions," Fenoglion said. "It’s an honor to get to play with that guy.”
Merlins head coach Dave Williams had a lukewarm reaction to the Life game, lamenting his team's mistakes, impatience, and penalties as uncharacteristic flaws.
“Three yellow cards showed a lack of discipline," the coach said.
But 4-0 shows something positive, too. Technically, Old Blue is in first in the ARP because Glendale and Life aren't "officially-officially" part of the competition. (This is when you interject: "It's complicated.")
Old Blue secured that position with a 52-25 defeat of Mystic River, with tries from Tony Purpura, Kyle Granby, Keenan Jacobs, Michael St. Claire, and Nate Augspurger (twice).
It was a chippy match as you'd expect from any New York-Boston rivalry, and Mystic won't be happy with the lack of discipline. Both teams took two yellow cards, but Sean Burgess followed up his yellow with a red. Mystic ended up down a man for about half the game.
With the Pacific Rugby Premiership ready to come back for the winter and spring of 2018, and Major League Rugby ready to take on the pro mantel in the spring and summer, top amateur clubs are now perhaps getting a glimpse of the long-hoped-for consistent competitive season.
It's no surprise, really, that Glendale, which will put its Raptors squad into MLR, is playing with its Merlins team (the bulk of which will switch from wands to talons next year). But Old Blue's rise, bypassing NYAC, has been a bit more under the radar.
*=technically not ARP members
2017 Fall games:
|Sept. 9||Old Blue of New York||74-35||New York Athletic|
|Sept. 16||New York Athletic||33-15||Mystic River Rugby|
|Sept. 23||Mystic River Rugby||7-64||Glendale Merlins|
|Sept. 30||Mystic River Rugby||28-97||Old Blue of New York|
|Sept. 30||New York Athletic||10-64||Glendale Merlins|
|Oct. 7||New York Athletic||31-36||Life Running Eagles|
|Oct. 7||Old Blue of New York||35-76||Glendale Merlins|
|Oct. 14||Life Running Eagles||15-22||Glendale Merlins|
|Oct. 14||Old Blue of New York||52-25||Mystic River Rugby|
|Oct. 21||Mystic River Rugby||at||Life Running Eagles|
|Oct. 28||Mystic River Rugby||at||New York Athletic|
|Oct. 28||Life Running Eagles||at||Old Blue of New York|
|Nov. 4||New York Athletic||at||Old Blue of New York|