Another year, another rugby season in sunny Florida. It was 80 degrees with 85% humidity here this morning, miserable. Not exactly the kind of December weather that gets one in the mood for the holiday season, or the rugby season. But, it's been a while since we've had some proper competitive 15s action in the Sunshine State, so any meaningful rugby is a good thing.
Posted on 12/1/2016 7:18:52 PM
The only big change heading into the men's D2/D3 campaign is the Okapi Wanderers jumping from Orange Cup champions all the way up to D2. A bold move for sure, but will it backfire if they get hammered on a weekly basis? They do have some strong players, including South fly half Lucas Baistrocchi, but will their depth be enough to last an entire season of playing teams who have been through this D2 slog before? Only time will tell. Let's get to the games.
Naples (0-0) vs. Orlando (0-0) - Naples finished runners-up to Miami Tridents last season, and will be wanting to erase the 28-0 loss in that championship game by getting off to a strong start at home. Orlando, after winning the state championship in 2014-15, missed out on the postseason last year after losing four of their first five games, including a 32-13 decision in this fixture. The Hammerheads have had mixed fortunes in the preseason, beating Naples and Miami, but losing on the road to D3 Gainesville. Orlando, meanwhile, won all three of their friendly contests, knocking off Sarasota, Tallahassee and the Pelicans. Always hard to get these early games right, but I think Naples does enough to barely hold off the visitors in this one.
Naples 25, Orlando 22
Fort Lauderdale (0-1) vs. Tampa Krewe (0-0) - The Knights didn't start their season in winning fashion a couple of weeks ago when they dropped their opener at Miami, but FTL have made the playoffs three straight years and are not ever easy to beat at their home ground on the tight Mills Pond pitches. Krewe haven't made the playoffs since the 2013-14 season, going 2-8 in each of the last two years. We all know D2 Florida rugby is a very cyclical thing, so are Tampa finally ready to get back to their glory days of their back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011? Preseason results have been encouraging, as they knocked off Sarasota, Pelicans and Gainesville. Thing is, the Krewe have not been a great traveling side of late, having only won road game in the last three seasons (Feb 2014), although this game might come early enough in the schedule to overcome that fact. FTL can be great when they're on, but as we saw last week vs. Miami, they are beatable. I'm not quite confident in the Krewe men to pick them to win a road game like this just yet, but they wouldn't surprise me if they did.
Fort Lauderdale 30, Krewe 27
Boca Raton (0-0) vs. Okapi Wanderers - When Boca missed the playoffs last year after a very sluggish start, it was the first time in a while they hadn't finished in the top two in their division. Yes, they haven't won a state title in what seems like forever, but they're always usually in the mix. Okapi, meanwhile, won the Orange Cup over the Buccaneers in Wellington last April, and have taken the big leap right past D3 and into D2. Boca appear to not have learned much from their 1-4 start to last season, as their only win in preseason came over Tridents B. They lost to D3 Palm Beach and to Miami, scoring just a total of 22 points in the two games. That doesn't bode well, but Okapi also went winless in their practice games, so they haven't exactly been lighting it up, either. I think the Bucs do enough to scrape by in this one, but only just.
Boca Raton 19, Okapi 13
Last Week: 1-0
This Season: 1-0
All Time: 203-63-1 (76.0%)