It’s all hot in the capital city as Austin Huns and Austin Blacks battle it out for the top of the table. With one more game under their belts, the Austin Huns still sit on top with the cross-town rivals nipping at their heels. The Blacks have played (and dominated) all four teams in the Red River D1 Conference; with smooth sweeps of Dallas Harlequins and West Houston Lions and closer fought matches between the Dallas Reds and Austin Huns, both teams picking up a crucial bonus point in their losses to the Blacks. Austin Huns have already beaten the Reds twice, more or less confirming their place in the top two come end of pool play; unless some big things shake up. After a slow start to the season, the Dallas Harlequins roared back against the Dallas Reds, picking up their own bonus point in that 43-32 loss at Lake Highlands Park. Dallas Reds are currently operating without a full-time Division 1 coach and while they haven’t lost much of their power and strength, it is clear that the league is building up around them. West Houston Lions, the newest contenders in this league, still sit at the bottom at 0-3. However don’t count these Lions out, they still have the most games to play and with four of the five teams making the playoffs in April, they still have a shot.
Men's D2 North
The only undefeated team in Division 2 North is Fort Worth, also the only club without a Division 1 side representing. Fort Worth has the forward strength and the finishers to make it through the season, however the match score lines show that this league is anything but predictable. Five of six matches between the top 4 teams have been decided by 7 points or less. Fort Worth got a relief when West Houston forfeited, and gained a valuable bonus point in that 28-0 win. This division is one to watch, as it’s all going to come down to the end.
Men's D2 South
Houston United (HURT) sits pretty comfortably in the top spot with three massive wins. A total of 131 points for HURT and only 15 against show that this side is the one to beat, if you can find a way through that stout defense. Responsible for 12 of those 15 is The Woodlands who come in second in the standings. San Antonio and HARC both only have one win under their belts and San Marcos has none. However anything can happen as this division still has the biggest chunk of their season to go. At the end of it each team will play 8 games, so with less than half of the games played, expect this season to ramp up in March. A team getting it together late, or a few key injuries might sway the entire table.
Men's D3 North
Big numbers are racking up in the Men’s Division 3 North. Grand Prairie is putting up the biggest numbers with an undefeated record and a whopping 422 points over 7 matches. After dropping their Division 2 side after the start of the season, Alliance Rugby looked to be in rough shape. However the players that hung around stayed active and jumped into the Division 3 season. Alliance seems to have a flair for the dramatics, every game they have played in – win or loss – has had more than 50 points scored between the two sides. DARC and Dallas Reds are both equal in their win-loss records, but the games all seem like isolated incidents. DARC smashed Dallas 68-10 then lost to Shreveport 42-32. There is one thing that stands out about this division – a total of 37 bonus points have been shelled out in 24 matches for more than 4 tries. The boys in the North sure like to score. Regardless of who finally takes the top in this table, they’ll be accustomed to scoring and getting scored on which will be vital entering playoffs.
Men's D3 Central
No surprise here, the reigning two-time National Champions Austin Blacks D3 are on the top of the table with a powerful record. Their closest match was against San Antonio and they pulled out of that 37-7 even after losing a player in the 24th minute due to a Red Card. Unstoppable? Maybe. The new kids on the block Other Rugby Club, based in Pflugerville, are hot on the scene their first season. They still sit at third even with a table point deduction and forfeit loss to the Austin Huns (a game which they won on the day but had to take the forfeit after playing a suspended player). The Outsiders never slowed down though, they charged on through San Antonio weeks later with only 14 men. Austin Huns sit strong at second but who can forget their one-point win over Alamo City a few weeks ago? There’s sleeping giants in this division and if anyone is going to take down the Blacks, it could happen right here at home.
Men's D3 South
HURT is one of two clubs in Texas right now to top two different divisions. Like the D2 side, the Division 3 Henchmen are undefeated in the South. Also similar to their D2 brothers, the Henchmen only have 15 points scored against them. Defense is the name of the game, and HURT knows how to play. Bay Area and The Woodlands are back and forth in the second position, both with three wins and three bonus points, but Bay Area pulls ahead thanks to the tie with Galveston back in December. Kingwood may be winless but take a look at their scores, narrow losses to Galveston and the Houston Arrows and two tries against both The Woodlands and Bay Area. It’s only a matter of time before Kingwood pulls out a win. The Arrows most recent game was against the HURT Henchmen, and they only lost by 22 points, the Henchmen’s closest match to date. Is a tide turning in the South? With half the season left, anything could happen.
Men's D4 North
Division 4 rugby in the North is split into two different subdivisions; Clubs with a higher-division team and clubs in which D4 is their only means of competition. Division 4-A is the former; Grand Prairie is the second team in Texas that tops two different divisions. Although this division does not lead past a Texas Rugby Union Championship, this bodes well for the Grand Prairie Maverick depth. Fort Worth is also looking good in Division 4, with their only loss a single-point heartbreak to Grand Prairie. These two teams are neck and neck, and I’m betting it’ll all come down to the March 28th rematch between the two sides.
Division 4-B hosts the clubs who only participate in TRU Division 4. Denton Rugby is on top, scoring 233 points after only three divisional matches. North Texas Barbarians, a new team as of this year, only have one played game, but that was a strong win. Thanks to some rescheduling, North Texas and Denton are set to play back to back weekends at the end of the season, so we may have to wait it out until then to see who pulls ahead.
Men's D4 South
The new kids are running the show down in Division 4 South. Fort Hood Old Skool Rugby out of Fort Hood – Killeen, TX are currently undefeated. They’ve played twice as many matches as HARC and San Marcos thanks to some rain-outs, but by the end of the season everything should even out. With HARC and San Marcos both fielding Division 2 sides, will Fort Hood sneak in and top the division with hopes of advancing next year? Or will experience win it out in the end?
The Division 1 women are in a new hybrid bracket with Frontier teams in order to up their competition this year. Austin and Houston both beat Denver Black Ice, and Houston lost to Glendale, but only by 7. After a few reschedules Dallas was silent until the spring, but their opening match against the sHARCs led a lot to be desired; but it’s still early – only one game played. Utah is still a bit of a wild card, they also lost a close one to Glendale but travelling to Texas is a different challenge. Games to watch: Houston vs Austin on February 22nd, Glendale vs Austin on April 18th, Glendale vs Utah rematch on March 28th.
It’s the same close race we saw last year in Women’s Division 2. Austin Valkyries and San Antonio are neck and neck. But don’t count out anyone else too quickly. Little Rock has only played one match, which they won – so technically they have an undefeated record. Bay Area beat Austin in the first match of the season, then lost to both San Antonio and Austin, but two losses doesn’t count them out of anything. DARC whooped Dallas Reds in their first meeting of the season, but the Reds led at the half against Austin Valkyries last weekend. It’s all too far to tell, but with the top four teams advancing to playoffs, it’ll be a fun one to follow through to the end.