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The Red River DII competition is split into three divisions – North, South and DI-B. The winner of each of the three divisions advances to the GU’s semifinals, and the top second-place team gets in as a wildcard. Saturday, the undefeated first-place teams from the North and South do battle in what could be a playoff preview.
Little Rock is 3-0 in the North Division with sound wins over Shreveport, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The Stormers have won every game by at least 21 points. HURT (Houston United Rugby Team) is 5-0 in the South Division, with similarly impressive score lines.
While HURT and Little Rock will likely go on to win their divisions regardless of Saturday’s outcome, both clubs are relishing the chance to play a new team, they’ve never met before, and get some good competition.
"My team is amped up for sure. They're looking forward to a challenge, and they believe that HURT's going to give it to them," said Little Rock coach Donna Thomas. "I believe that HURT's going to give it to us, but I'm going down with full confidence in my team that they'll get the job done."
Little Rock, along with Tulsa, is new to the Texas competition this year, and HURT coach Dan Green says they're a welcome addition.
"I couldn’t be more happy that Little Rock, Tulsa and Shreveport are in our league. They're long trips when you have to go there, but the quality of rugby is definitely worth the trip. It just makes the quality of our division stronger as a whole," he said.
"They’re a strong side. They have a very good forward pack, particularly their loose forwards, and they have very strong centers as well, so we’ll have to be on our game to combat that," Green said of Little Rock.
"They’re big and they run really hard, so it’s kind of what we do as well," added Thomas. "I think it’s going to be a pretty good matchup."