Date(s) - 03/06/2018
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
The Denver Barbarians take on the Detroit Tradesmen to decide the 2018 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club National Championship.
Two of the most dominant teams in the country square off in the Men’s Division II national championship match. The Detroit Tradesmen, a team bound for Division I next year, will try to finish their final season in Division II off in style by winning the championship over, the Denver Barbarians.
The Men’s Division II Championship Match will be played at 2pm MDT on June 3rd at Infinity Park and will be available to watch via FloRugby.
Both teams have been tearing through their opposition this year. For the Tradesmen, their domination comes from a “Division I mentality”, their head coach Jed Elley explaining, “When I started with the club 6 years ago we were a good Division I club, making it into early round playoffs. We dropped down to Division II for various reasons but mainly to rebuild. We kept the mentality that we are the premier team in the Midwest (and a Division I club).” This mentality has resulted in the Tradesmen going 8-0 in league play, and their only loss this year coming to the Chicago Lions, who made it into the quarterfinals for Division I.
For the Barbarians, it’s not so much about a mentality, it’s more about a commitment to their style of play. According to the president of the Barbarians, Logan Collins, this year their focus has been on defense and an insatiable hunger to outperform their opposition. They believe that if they stay patient, over the course of eighty minutes their opportunities will come. “We’ve been focusing on our defense although we haven’t yet put together the complete 80-minute performance.” Collins began to explain, “We know we’ll find our breaks in the game to put points on the board but a good showing on defense has put us in the position to win so far.”
This Sunday’s game, could act as a story of redemption for Detroit, as they are keen to make up for their national championship loss in 2016. It has been a source of fuel for Detroit, and one that has carried them throughout the last few seasons. This weekend, they’ll have their shot once again at claiming the title. Elley elaborated on what the loss meant to his team, and how they’ve rebounded since, “that was a huge disappointment…The club learned a lot form that experience and we have worked hard to give ourselves another shot. Lessons learned: the game is 80 minutes long and we need to play all 80 of them.”
Timing can be everything, in a game and in a season, according to Collins, the Barbarians look to be hitting their stride at the right time. While it may not look like it to the untrained eye, the Barbarians did not have the start to the season they had been hoping for and incurred some bumps along the way. They didn’t drop any games, but they knew that if they were wanting to challenge for the national championship they’d have to improve. Collins mentioning that, “The season has been a great opportunity for us to mature as a team and develop an appreciation for what we can accomplish when we’re on the same page. We wouldn’t win this game 6 months ago- likely wouldn’t win it 1 month ago. But we’re ready now.”
Expect tries to be scored often this weekend as both teams are expecting a free-flowing game of rugby. Collins noting that the tradesmen are, “A well drilled team that can be dangerous with ball in hand.” While Elley, is expecting the Barbarians to be “Fit, Fast and Furious. They are a good team who like to play quickly and get all 15 players in the mix.” The teams seem to have got each other’s descriptions spot on as Detroit describes themselves as, “a blend of champagne and donkey. We are a proud bunch who like to play hard and express. We try to keep the defense honest by mixing up our attack and as always ruthless on defense.” Meanwhile the Barbarians are a team that pride themselves on their attacking ability and know that they have the ability to strike at any time and from anywhere on the field.
There is no separating these two teams on paper and their coaches seem to almost be on the same wave length as they both in almost identical fashion indicated that the keys to success this weekend will be playing the full 80 minutes.