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Thursday, January 15, 2015

RRRC D1 Pick 'Em Panel - 17 January



Is it CRAZY that our Panelists only see one game in question this week? Perhaps not. It IS the beginning of the season, the cold slate. We've endeavored to pick four panelists from the areas of the Red River D1 Clubs but not directly associated with those clubs and one who is on the outside looking in:

  • Gifttime Egbelu lives in Baton Rouge, LA and is the guru of all things rugby in Cajun-country through his news website - Gifttime Rugby Network.
  • Gordon Hanlon is the president of Dallas Athletic, but has played rugby with the Quins and many years in his home country of Ireland. 
  • Buss Hopps is the Head Coach of Men's  Rugby at the Universtiy of Texas in Austin and he keeps close tabs on the rugby scene there. 
  • Ted Hardy lives in Clayton, NC and is our educated outsider. He has been following rugby all over the states and reporting on it periodically through his website - Rugby America.
  • I am Grant Cole, the editor of This Is Texas Rugby and partner with T5RDG. I have been reporting on rugby in Texas for a little over three years now and I will be filming several rugby matches in the Houston area for T5 this Spring. 
NOTE: Links below are to USAR stats pages on the Competition Management System for each club.

Austin Blacks at Dallas Harlequins

Grant - It's a rebuilding year for the Harlequins with no real work-up in the Fall and a brand new coach. The Blacks are a scoring machine and know they need to make every win a big one. This will be a footrace and the Blacks have the speed. Blacks by a lot more than most expect.

Gifttime - Harlequins are fielding the weakest side in the the Red River Conference. This ultimately has all the elements of a blow out, as the Blacks are looking for a break out year. Dominating performances this past weekend by the Blacks, show evidence that this going to be a team that will only be challenged by the top of the division teams (NOLA and Reds)

Gordon - Blacks by a lot.

Buss - Blacks are strong and out to let everybody know that this week.

Griffins Rugby at Houston Athletic

Grant - This should be a high-scoring affair by each side. Both teams are serious about winning, but the Griffins have had more time playing together in the Fall than Houston. Griffins will have to play very smart rugby to win. Houston positions former All-Americans at 7, 8 & 10, a slick & speedy fellow at SH, and 500lbs of what I affectionately call "The Meathead Midfield" to throw at the Griffins. Both teams will score a LOT of tries and Houston has a proven kicker. Again, high-scoring affair, but Griffins by 3.

Gifttime - Houston has fielded a good program year after year. This is a team that was one of the few to beat New Orleans last year. Griffin's are still yet to show what they have, but they appear to be building a program for the future. I don't believe them to be a majorly competitive team at this point in the year though. HARC will take this win.

Gordon - The addition, from under the noses of the Reds, of Ben Nelson has added some quality at the lock position for the Griffins, coupled with the transition of new coaching system at HARC sees the Griffins win a close one.

Buss - HARC's new approach takes quicker than the Griffin's.

Austin Huns at New Orleans

Grant - The players on these two teams know each other well. If the Huns had played the Quins and won this past weekend, I would judge this to be closer than a two try match, But NOLA is still strong, so New Orleans by 14.

Gifttime - New Orleans is coming off their best year in club history. Ended second in the nation, losing to Life University. Ended with the Red River Conference title last year. They are returning majority of their starters, Though they are looking like they will have some depth issues in the front rows, they still care a Back line that are made up of Club All-Stars. New Orleans will start the year strong on their homefield. Austin Huns will put up a tough early in the match, but I fully expect New Orleans to run away with this.

Gordon - NOLA's cohesiveness and home field advantage to see them past Huns.

Buss - The Huns will have their day this year but importing talent comes at a price. NOLA to win.

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