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Rocky Gorge team picture. Evan Lappen Photo

In search of dry fields and 80 minutes of quality rugby, American Rugby Premiership side Boston will travel south to the Germantown SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. this weekend to take on the defending DII National Champion, Rocky Gorge. Boston, who is 1-2-1 in the American Rugby Premiership, will play two games against Rocky Gorge on Saturday. The ARP versus DII match is scheduled to kickoff at 12:30 p.m., and the B-Side match will start at 2:00 p.m.

After being pounded with about 110 inches of snow this winter, finding dry fields to play a full game has been a nightmare for Boston. Confined to indoor facilities, the ARP side’s first taste of actual rugby outside was last weekend in the snow at the Four Leaf 15s Tournament in New York. Boston played well, but it still needs to shake off the winter rust in a full 80-minute game. The spring ARP schedule doesn’t start until April 11th and Boston is yearning for competition.

When Rocky Gorge came calling last year for a friendly match, Boston was glad to accept. Former Gorge captain Matt Burns having played for Boston recently, the premiership club had some familiarity with the group from Maryland. Comprised of standouts and talent from local colleges such as Salisbury, Towson and UMBC, Rocky Gorge has won two of the last three DII National Championships and holds an 8-0 record this season. The regular season for Gorge wrapped up last weekend with a 60-26 win over Richmond, and the club is looking to prepare for the first round of the MAC playoffs on April 18th.

For Boston, the purpose of the game is to get some quality rugby in. “We have our first ARP match April 11th vs Old Blue,” Boston head coach Mike Diamantopoulos said. “For us, it’s really about getting outside, getting a run in against what looks like a pretty competent team... [The fall season in the ARP for Boston] wasn’t what we were looking for at all. It’s really about trying to bounce back this spring. Get some momentum and win a couple of games.”

Gorge wants to use this game to see where its stands with tough games coming up in the playoffs. “We haven't lost in a long time, some games have been challenging and a lot haven't,” Gorge player/coach Nick DiMichele said. “There's no better way to test yourself then to play a game your not supposed to win.”

The Rocky Gorge President Tracy Hall echoed that sentiment. “It’s very rare in life where you can walk up to a measuring stick and see how tall you are or how much you have grown. This is one of those opportunities to see how much Rocky Gorge has developed as a club. This is not just for the Rocky Gorge players, but for the Rocky Gorge club as a whole. If we end up doing well, then great, but if we don’t, we know what we have to learn from. These opportunities don’t come along every day and we truly appreciate this.”

In the inaugural year of the ARP, Diamantopoulos said that it is the search for quality competition that drives the league. “It’s teams that want to play at a higher level trying to get games against each other. The hope is it expands. Old Blue went down to play New Orleans this past weekend and they’ve talked about [joining the ARP] in the past, but really weren’t ready to make the commitment. I think we are really starving for a team in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s a step in the right direction. [The ARP is] more competitive overall [than DI] and at least you are getting a competitive game every week. It’s nothing against DI, but I don’t think you can say that in DI.

“The game [against Gorge] serves a couple of purposes: recruiting for the league and getting a good game in.... I know [Rocky Gorge] is Division II, but they have won some DII championships and they are a pretty ambitious club. [We want to] see what level they are at and if they might be a fit for next year.”

“Boston is going to give us a test,” Rocky Gorge head coach Will Brewington said. “I fully expect them to have a good forward pack to challenge ours and dangerous backs. I expect a well-rounded team. We’ve been the bully and I’m looking for someone to hit back and see how we respond.” DiMichele added, “I played Boston several times while playing for Life and they are a hard team.  We will definitely be challenged in the set piece and the breakdowns will be physical.  These are some things we haven't had in awhile and I'm confident Boston will show us that.”