BOULDER, Colo. -- After another incredible weekend of club rugby in America, the final 16 teams are set for each division of the 2013 Emirates Airline Men’s Senior Club Championships.
In Division I Round of 32 action, only one home seed was upset as the visiting Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (San Diego) ran past the Sacramento Lions in Northern California, 37-27. In other Southern California / Pacific Coast crossover action, the Santa Monica Dolphins defeated the East Palo Alto Bulldogs, 40-24; Elite Cup semi-finalists Seattle OPSB demolished 2012 DII semi-finalists, the San Diego Old Aztecs, 86-7; and defending Division I national champions Belmont Shore (Long Beach, Calif.) beat the East Palo Alto Razorbacks by a margin of 63-13.
The win for Belmont sets up a tantalizing rematch of the 2012 Emirates Airline Men’s Senior Club Division I National Championship Game in the first round of this year’s tournament. They will be taking on the Glendale Raptors (Colo.), 2013 Elite Cup participants, who ended the hopes of the Dallas Reds with a 45-17 victory. Fellow Elite Cup participants and West champions, the Denver Barbarians, also advance with a 52-19 victory over the visiting Austin Huns. In other West-Texas crossover action, the Dallas Harlequins had a strong showing in their 56-10 defeat of the Provo Steelers, and the Texas league champion Austin Blacks squeaked past the Kansas City Blues in a thriller, 24-22. In addition to the Belmont Shore vs. Glendale match, Round of 16 matches will also feature the Austin Blacks taking on Seattle OPSB in what may well be the ‘pool of death’ (Belmont Shore, Glendale, Austin, and Seattle OPSB). Across the field, the Dallas Harlequins will take on Old Mission Beach Athletic Club while the Denver Barbarians feature against the Santa Monica Dolphins. All eight teams will be participating at Spring Trail Park in Irving (Dallas), Texas, on May 18 and 19.
Tantalizing match-ups in the Virginia Beach Division I bracket include a showdown between Elite Cup participants Life University and Old Blue of New York, the historically strong Palmer College club taking on Elite Cup participants Boston RFC, Potomac Athletic (D.C.) battling New Orleans, and Metropolis (Minn.) engaging the Middlesex Barbarians (Mass).
In Division II play, the final five teams have qualified as Princeton Athletic (N.J.) defeated the Montclair Norsemen 37-15 for the Empire GU championship. They will take on South champions Atlanta Old White in the Round of 16 in Virginia Beach.
Out west, Snake River (Boise) captured the Pacific Coast Division II championship with a 29-18 victory over Santa Rosa (Calif). The men from Idaho will take on Arizona champions (and Southern California #3 seed) the Red Mountain Warthogs while Santa Rosa faces the Glendale Raptors’ DII side. The Southern California championship was given to Pasadena (Calif.), who makes a return appearance with its 27-15 win over the South Bay Rhinos (Calif). The Rhinos make their Division II national playoff debut after several strong runs in the Division III playoffs the past few years.
Division III saw six teams punch their tickets to Dallas and Virginia Beach. Old Blue of New York’s Division III side defeated the Suffolk Bull Moose (N.Y.) 32-12 in the Empire GU championship, while San Francisco Golden Gate’s Division III side captured the Pacific Coast championship with a 36-17 victory over Sierra Foothills (Calif.). Belmont Shore (Long Beach) will also be sending its Division III side, though they will be the second seed after a regular season defeat to the top-seeded (for Southern California) Oceanside Chiefs. Belmont Shore defeated the Empire Silverbacks (Calif.) 49-36 while the Oceanside Chiefs (Calif.) defeated the Beaumont Bluehawks (Calif.) 52-10. Meanwhile, down in Galveston, the Austin Blacks’ Division III side left town with a 41-13 victory over the Dallas Reds’ Division III side.
Overall, five clubs participating in the Elite Cup or Division I playoffs will see their reserve sides in the National Round of 16 for Division II or Division III. Austin, Old Blue, and Belmont Shore each have their reserve sides in Division III while their top team is in Division I, and the Glendale Raptors will have teams in both Division I and Division II. San Francisco Golden Gate, who is hosting Seattle OPSB in an Elite Cup semi-final this weekend, qualified for the Division I Round of 32 but withdrew from the Division I playoffs when they were able to arrange a match with the Tongan national team the same weekend as the Division I semi-finals and championship.