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The 2015 DII Men’s Club National Playoffs are shaping up to be an impressive array of talent that will end in Glendale, Colo. on June 13th. There are many of the same faces, as well as new upstarts looking to take a shot at the crown. In total, 21 of the 36 clubs that earned their spot to last year will represent their league this year. Although the bracket has not been fully completed, the conceivable matchups are intriguing. Most of the conference playoffs take place in two weeks to see who advances to the East and West Regionals in Charlotte, N.C. and San Francisco, Calif. on May 30th and 31st.
The defending champ, Rocky Gorge, have already earned a spot in the round of eight and is the early favorite to repeat. With a 34-22 comeback victory over Wilmington in the Mid-Atlantic Conference Final, Gorge has five weeks to rest and heal before going to meet the Southern Conference Champions in the East Regional.
Four teams will clash for the Southern Conference title in Augusta, Ga. in two weeks. The Orlando Griffins booked their ticket to the round of 16 by beating Fort Lauderdale, 29-12, for their first Florida Rugby Union title. They will face the True South champs, Chattanooga, who blasted Nashville, 39-8. In the Carolinas, Charlotte defeated the Atlanta Old White, 24-10, in a rematch of last year’s final, but both clubs advance and will play each other again in the round of 16.
The always dangerous Wisconsin wants the rematch against Gorge, but has a lot of work to do before getting there. In the Midwest Conference Playoffs in Lemont, Ill. on May 16th and 17th, they will play the undefeated Detroit Tradesmen. These two clubs met last year in the Midwest Final where Wisconsin won 26-11. With the rematch, the best teams in the Midwest will collide for an explosive championship.
In the first upset of the playoffs, Mystic River jumped out to a three-try lead on the way to a 32-24 victory over the National semifinalist New Haven in the NERFU Final. In the Empire Championship, New York Rugby defeated Buffalo, 27-18, and will join Mystic River in the round of 16 for the Atlantic North Final in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on May 16th.
After reaching the DIII National Finals last year, the Life West Gladiators made the jump to DII and their 2015 undefeated season culminated in a 73-10 blowout over the Sacramento Capitals in the NorCal Final. After progressing to the round of eight last year, Snake River is back in the playoff picture with the 26-15 dismissal of the ORSU in the Pacific Northwest final. The Pacific North Championship between Life West and Snake River will be in Vallejo, Calif. on May 9th.
The Frontier Conference Championship will match Rocky Mountain against Mid-America on May 16th and May 17th in Wichita, Kan. In the Rocky Mountain Playoffs, the Park City Haggis secured #1 seed in the Frontier Playoffs by going 9-1 in the regular season taking the division title over Boulder, 38-23. Boulder still had a shot at the Rocky Mountain second seed but fell to Glendale, 45-20, as the Raptors return again to the round of 32. In Mid-America, the St. Louis Bombers captured the top seed and will face Glendale in the Frontier Semifinals, which is a rematch from last year when the Raptors won 51-34. Coming in second, the Kansas City Islanders will play the Park City Haggis in the other semifinal.
The last year’s national runner-up, Tempe Old Devils, are poised to make an impact after dispatching the Red Mountain Warthogs, 24-12, in the Arizona Rio Grande Championship. The next step for Tempe will be in the Pacific South Conference Finals in San Diego, Calif. on May 9th against the representative from Southern California, the Bay Back Sharks. The Sharks booked their trip with a 24-21 win over San Fernando Valley in the SoCal Final.
The seeding for the Red River Conference came down to the wire with five teams contending for four spots. The top team in each of the three divisions will enter the playoffs along with a fourth wildcard team with the most league points. In the North 1-B divisions, the Austin Blacks and the Little Rock Stormers have wrapped up two of the seeds and will play in the semifinals of the playoffs. The South Division came down to tiebreakers as Houston United and the Woodlands ended the season with the same record. With a better point differential, Houston United will advance to play the wildcard, Dallas Reds in the second semifinal. The champion of the Red River will be decided on May 16th and 17th in Dallas, Texas.