2023 is finally upon us, and that means it’s time for the Club rugby season to get underway. A few games have already been played, and that will provide us with a good base to start this preview, but the majority are yet to be decided. In this article series we’ll dive into each division, how each team finished last year, and how they look for this year. Enjoy!
Men's Division 3
The largest division in the RRRC, Men’s Division 3 is home to 21 teams competing in four different subdivisions. 15 different single-sided clubs compete in 3 pools of 5 teams each, organized by region – North, Central, and South. The 6 other teams come from multi-sided clubs, and participate in the D1c pool. Almost all clubs are returning, with the addition of Little Rock to the D3 North and the HURT Henchmen to the D1c.
Bay Area had one of the greatest runs of their history last season, going 5-1 in league play before eventually falling to the Austin Blacks in the RRRC D3 semi final. They impressed with an away win over Shreveport in the quarters, and look to carry that momentum into the new season. They started the season early with a win over Kingwood, and then edged Galveston by only three points giving them a 2-0 start. They begin a string of four home matches in a row on January 14th when they host Shreveport, an exciting rematch of last years’ quarter final.
Galveston finished 2-4 last year, only chalking up wins over Corpus Christi. They have absolutely smashed into the 22-23 season with a close loss to Bay Area, and more impressively a triple digit win over the Kingwood Crusaders in December. With a 1-1 record, they are surely on their way to improving their standing from last year, and possibly even making it to the playoff rounds. Galveston start off 2023 with a trip to the Houston Arrows on January 14th.
The Houston Arrows are back as the big dogs in the fight. They topped their subdivision last year and stormed their way through playoffs to meet the two-time National Champions in the RRRC Championship match. Though they couldn’t take it all the way, that run from the Arrows was one of the greatest underdog stories we’ve ever heard. I’m personally still waiting for the Disney movie to come out. Houston are starting off this season the same way they left the last, by putting up massive numbers on their opponents. They have a 158 point differential after two matches, the highest in the RRRC in all divisions. It sure feels like the Houston Arrows are back to finish what they started, and this time, they’re going all the way. We’ll see what happens next when they host Galveston on January 14th.
The Kingwood Crusaders are back after taking a year hiatus to recover from COVID. We welcome Kingwood back excitedly, as they nicely fill out the Houston-area conference, and who doesn’t love some intercity rivalry? Kingwood have already played four league matches, half of their regular season, and the most of any club in the TRU. Though they started 0-4, they are sure to see an advantage from the experience they gained earlier in 2022. The Crusaders are off until January 28th when they travel to Bay Area to start their 2023 campaign.
The final team joining us in the D3 Central are the men from Shreveport. As we noted in Kingwood’s blurb above, the D3 Central is largely a Houston-based conference, but Shreveport is here to change the name of the game. Finishing at the top of the D3 North pool last year with a 5-1 record, Shreveport adds a bit of excitement and intensity to this Southern conference. Shreveport already recorded a big win over Kingwood and a tough loss to the Arrows in December. They travel to Bay Area on January 14th then finally host up at home in Louisiana on January 28th.
Alamo City are back amidst the drama they incurred at the end of last season, forfeiting to the Blacks in D3 quarter finals. They finished 3-3 in regular season play, second in their pool, which qualified them to play the top seed. Although ineligible for playoffs this year, Alamo City have a lot to prove, and building a strong base this year will be sure to ramp up the spirits within the club. They have soared out to a 3-0 lead, defeating McAllen, ORC, and Corpus Christi before ringing in the New Year. They host Fort Hood on January 21st, a true clash of titans in the D3 Central.
The Corpus Christi Crabs are back with familiar foes this year after competing in the South region last season. They had a tough season, finishing 0-6, but began to grow their club with the recruitment of off-season college players. This, added with the return to playing in the Central region, brings hope to the Crabs in 2023. They’ve started the season 0-2, but losing by an average of a try a match is pretty impressive. Those bonus points could very well be the difference at the end of the season. Corpus hosts ORC on January 14th down by the shore.
Fort Hood Old Skool return as the defending champs of the D3 Central, where they had a stunning 6-0 season last year. They played phenomenal quarter and semi finals in the hunt for the RRRC crown, but fell short by mere points. We hope to see them shine just as brightly as they did in 2022, and take it all the way to victory. Fort Hood looks to continue their undefeated streak as they host McAllen on January 14th.
Other Rugby Club is back for their third season in the RRRC, and now at their new home pitch in Round Rock, TX. The Outsiders also finished 3-3 in regular season play last year, and just failed to qualify for regional championship play. They have their eyes fixed on the prize, and 2023 could be their year. ORC played a highly contested match against current pool leader Alamo City, and got a bonus point in the loss. They have 7 more chances to climb to the top of the pool, and the first one is January 14th at Corpus Christi.
Rounding out the D3 Central are the storied McAllen Knights, holding it down as the southernmost rugby club in Texas. The drive is perilous, the match is intense, but the post-match is always superb, thanks to the excellent camaraderie shown by the Knights. McAllen went 0-6 last year, but are looking toward a string of home matches in late January/early February to draw from hometown support and finally notch that W. They have one more away match on January 14th at Fort Hood, before their first home game on January 21st against the Corpus Christi Crabs.
One of three clubs coming back to the D3 North this year is Alliance RFC. Alliance finished last year 3-3, the same record as last years’ OKC Tribe, but with less table points, thus their season ended in league play. Alliance has yet to kick off their 2023 season, having only played a friendly match in November of 2022. We eagerly await to see what this years’ Alliance squad has in store for us, as they open on January 14th by hosting Little Rock.
Denton is also returning for their second year in D3 after their inaugural successful run in the D4 competition. Though D3 has been a challenging transition for Denton, they continue to grow and meet the off-field expectations of a solid D3 club program. We hope that 2023 will be a positive year for them as they travel to the OKC Tribe on January 14th.
Little Rock are new to the D3 North competition, but find themselves right at home. With two competitors over the border in Oklahoma, and two in the DFW area, Little Rock has less travel than ever before. We hope this will translate to better competition, and potentially see Little Rock in the playoff round of the D3. The Stormers are 1-1 entering the new year after a strong win over Denton, and a bonus point loss to the Oklahoma Crusaders. They travel to Alliance on January 14th and then host Oklahoma City Rugby on January 21st at home in Arkansas.
The Oklahoma Crusaders have made the jump from Division 4 to Division 3 and have proven themselves worthy with a win over Little Rock in December. They fought a tough match against crosstown rival Oklahoma City Rugby before the holiday season, losing 30-14. The Crusaders look to have what it takes to not only survive in this D3 environment, but to thrive. We will see how they travel with their first away match on February 4th, after they host one more time, welcoming Alliance on January 21st.
Finishing second in the D3 North last year, Oklahoma City Rugby (formerly OKC Tribe) find themselves undefeated entering 2023. Without Shreveport in the North, City have eagerly sought to take the top spot, but first have to defeat all standing in their way. They have already taken down the Oklahoma Crusaders once, but with seven league matches left to play, anything can happen. City Rugby host Denton on January 14th to try to extend their undefeated streak.
Dallas Rugby are off to a 2-1 start thanks to three matches played in the latter half of 2022. Dallas finished 3-5 last year with wins over the Dallas Harlequins (2) and the Austin Huns. They have already improved by beating Grand Prairie in the opening match of the season, but then fell to the Huns in December. They came back to finish the year strong with a win over the Dallas Harlequins, so perhaps they will carry that momentum into the new year. Dallas opens at the Austin Blacks on January 14th.
The Dallas Harlequins have two men’s sides, the second of which plays in D3. Also having played three matches in 2022 already, the Quins are at 2-1 giving us confidence that they will be a solid team this season. Wins over the Austin Huns and HURT show positive forward momentum from their 3-5 finish last year. The Harlequins take on Grand Prairie on January 14th at Glencoe Park.
The Austin Huns had a pretty disappointing 21-22 season, going 2-6 and having to forfeit at the end of the year. The club has made some positive changes over the off-season, and a strong sevens showing in TOLA assures us that they are here to compete in 2023. They are 1-2 after three matches, but a win over the Dallas RFC is something to hang your hat on. Austin hosts HURT on January 14th, sure to be an exciting match-up.
The Grand Prairie Mavericks were 4-4 out of pool play last year, but managed to qualify for RRRC D3 quarter finals where they traveled to Fort Hood and won 30-29. They did not progress further, due to eligibility issues. That has nothing to do with the positive growth we have seen from Grand Prairie over the last few years, and we are sure they are coming back with the same passion we saw at the end of 2021-22. The Mavericks have only played one match so far this season, saving the lion’s share for 2023. Watch them kick off the new year on January 14th at the Dallas Harlequins.
The HURT Henchmen are back in D3 for the first time since COVID and unlike their name suggests, they aren’t merely here to play a supporting role. In 2018, HURT made it to the RRRC Championships for D3, and have always been strong competitors. They had an impressive match against the Austin Blacks, losing only by 15 points – the narrowest win Austin has had in years, but then dropped a big one to the Dallas Harlequins at home. They’ll have to fight to get back into the mix, but the season is young and anything can happen. HURT travel to the Austin Huns on January 14th for their 2023 start.
We finish appropriately with the 2018 and 2019 D3 National Champions, the Austin Blacks. The Blacks went almost five years without a loss to their D3 side, until the National quarter finals last year where they dropped to the eventual National Champs, the Palm Beach Panthers. Austin has always been the team to beat, and it looks like they are starting out on the same page again this year as they soar out to a 2-0 lead with +99PD. Their next match is home against Dallas on January 14th as they strive to stay undefeated.
Men's Division 4
The Men’s D4 competition is a non-championship seeking division designed for both social and competitive play, that does not have to follow USA Rugby eligibility guidelines and requirements. This division is typically made up of new clubs starting out, clubs in isolated areas that have small player pools to choose from, and multi-sided clubs providing a place for development and/or social play. This year, it’s a mix, as Dallas Rugby and Fort Worth are both fielding a team, joined by newly admitted TRU Club Las Colinas.
Las Colinas is a new member of the TRU, and has already hit the ground running with one match played in 2022. They may have lost 54-20 to Dallas, but they’ve scored their first points of the season, and are hungry for more. Their next match is January 28th at Fort Worth, and we look forward to seeing what this new group puts together over the season.
Dallas Rugby is the only club that fields four men’s sides, one in each division. Their D4 side is a collection of new players getting game minutes, along with some (I’m not saying old) experienced players who are definitely not out there just to cause mischief. Dallas opened their season with a 54-20 win over Las Colinas, and will play again on February 4th when they host Fort Worth.
Fort Worth has their top side playing in Division 2 and their second side participating in D4. Pre-COVID, many of the northern clubs fielded D4 sides, and we are happy to see Fort Worth leading the charge to get these numbers back out on the pitch. There’s a lot of pride for the clubs on the west side of the DFW metropolitan area, and Fort Worth is the largest in numbers. Their D4 season kicks off January 28th with a double header, as the D4 host Las Colinas at home before their D2 plays.
Women's Division 3
The Women’s Division 3 plays a series of 7’s tournaments during the Spring season, usually partnered with RRRC/TRU cup games. The first tournament is scheduled for January 28th at the Grand Prairie Mavericks. We’re unsure of what teams will be in attendance but look for the likes of Denton, Alliance, Oklahoma Crusaders, DARC and McAllen, among others.