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Potomac Athletic Club, Maryland Exiles, Norfolk, and Schuylkill River all won to begin the Mid-Atlantic season.

It will be a long competition, even though the league has dropped from ten teams to eight, as now everyone plays each other twice.

The season has often spilled into spring, but not as much as it will now, meaning everyone should feel they are in with a shot well into the fall.

In addition, winning on the road is a big deal, especially for the bigger trips. Norfolk went all the way to Pittsburgh this weekend and emerged 22-12 victors.

So while the Blues didn't get a bonus point, they secured four points on one of their most difficult road trips of the season.

Schuylkill River handled Baltimore-Chesapeake 35-20.

The road was a tough place for the Maryland Exiles, too, as they traveled to Raleigh with only 17 players, one of whom was completely new to rugby.

"We've had a lot of changes," said Maryland's Mike Bonistalli. "Guys moving away or having to work. It's still early in the season."

The teams battled back and forth. They were tied 5-5 early in the first half, and 12-12 at halftime. The Exiles made one substitution in the forwards and kept battling. With the score tied 20-20, scrumhalf/wing Jan Cleland scored the game-winner that, with the conversion, made it 27-20.

Aki Raymond, Sean Gormley and Matt Quigley also scored tries for Maryland.

The Exiles then pitched up with the same players to win the B-side game.

"Going down with 17 guys and getting a win on the road was a big confidence boost for us," said Bonistalli. "It's a good starting point for us, a mental boost, to show we can travel light and get the job done."

It was a similar story for the Norfolk Blues. They had to travel eight hours to Pittsburgh with a less-than-full-size squad, and came away 22-12 winners.

"We wanted a bonus point and didn't get that, but the next thing is to make sure they don't get any," said Norfolk Head Coach Chris Porter. "This id definitely the hardest travel day for us, and while we started off OK we were a bit sluggish in the second half and let them back in the game a little bit. But once we got a second wind, we were able to put them under pressure, make them go through the phases, and force them to work for any territory."

Echoing Bonistalli, Porter said that winning on the road with only 19 players was a morale boost.

Fred Wintermantel scored two tries for the Blues and Ben Walence added another, while Johnny Cameron contributed seven points with kicks for the Blues.

Meanwhile PAC, which won the league last season, won fairly comfortably 28-16 over NOVA.

Hannibal Vaivao scored two tries for PAC and Robert Newcomb and Ben Wiedemer added one each, while Greg Suellentrop was a perfect 4-4 in conversions.

And also comfortable winners were Schuylkill River, which would expect a bit of burnout from the long 7s season, but ended up missing only a couple of players.

With two tries from James Rosato, and one each from Mike Ruggieri, JC Von Holtz and Matt Angelucci, the Exiles came through 35-20.

"It looked exactly like the first game of the season," said Coach Bill Jalbert. "But the defensive structure was generally there and the guys mostly got the attack pattern down, and we won so I was pretty pleased."

Look for Schuylkill to add some more players into the mix - Greg Ambrogi just started 15s training and Pat Boyle is shaking off an injury - in the coming weeks.

"The good news is guys didn't retain any 7s habits when playing 15s," said Jalbert. "We have a lot to improve on, but it was a good start."