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Friday, November 13, 2015

Preview: Top Midwest, Red River Teams Set For Gold Cup

This weekend sees the birth of the Rugby Gold Cup, a competition pitting the top two teams in the Midwest against the top two teams in the Red River. For the inaugural competition that means Metropolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and the Austin Blacks--a very strong line-up with a number of star players. One of the major reasons for the competition is to give teams and players from the region more high level matches.

"The initial conversations leading to the formation of the GC were driven by the “flyover” status that affects the MRP and RR," said Derek Mannell, president of the Kansas City Blues.  "Too many times in recent years some of the best players have been encouraged to head for the coasts to get Eagle looks and play at a “higher level.”  We want to create a platform that will offer the “higher level” comp and keep our best players on their respective clubs , while also encouraging graduating collegiate players and elite level athlete recruits to stay in the region and help our leagues flourish."

Take the jump to read more.
The four teams will play two doubleheaders this weekend before heading down to the Red River in the spring. Today's matches see Metropolis play Dallas and Kansas City play Austin. On Sunday the teams will swap with Metropolis playing Austin and the Blues playing the Reds. Rosters for today's matches are at the bottom of the article.

Metropolis enter their match against Dallas with the best record in the Midwest. They are well coached by Eagles assistant Nate Osborne and have emerging stars in Nick Barrett, Derrek Van Klein, Pate Takiveikata and Teli Vaematahau (who are all just 21 years old), Joel Yogerst, Lemoto Filikitonga, and Jojo Tikoisuva. Their youth can lead to some inconsistency at times, but overall they haven't had much trouble scoring. Their one loss in the fall came against the Chicago Lions.

The Dallas Reds finished second in the Red River last year with their only losses coming against the Austin Blacks. The Reds have al to of underrated players but they have talented players. They may fly under the radar but they picked up wins over New Orleans last year and could beat Metropolis.

The Kansas City vs. Austin match should be one of the most entertaining of the year. Both teams love to attack and both have ambitions to do great things. Austin of course made it to last year's DI final where they lost to NYAC. They've added a big name in Chris Baumann, who will start tonight. Other players that have been big for the team include Tim Howard and Matt Radzavich. However, there are only four starters from the match against NYAC that return to the line-up and they will miss Pat Sullivan and Zac Mizell.

The Blues are at home and as hosts will have an advantage. That said, you can't discount their talent. With the likes of Kevin Schwartze, Kenny Scott, and Cody Weber the team will be especially strong in the back line. Look for them to get out running. They are currently third in the Midwest with losses to Metropolis, the Chicago Lions, and the Chicago Griffins.

To get more on the Blues we spoke with team member Peter Kowalski.

TIAR: How do you think the Gold Cup will impact the club?

PK: We are very excited to be a part of the inaugural Gold Cup.  It will provide our players with opportunities to play high-level matches against some of the best teams and players in the country, outside of what is an already demanding League schedule in the MRP.  In order to continue to grow as a team and as an organization we felt it was necessary to seek-out that ‘next-level’ of competition and to challenge ourselves, and partnering with very successful programs like Austin, Dallas, and Metropolis to launch this competition is exciting.  As hosts for the weekend we are looking forward to showcasing our first-class facilities at the Sporting Kansas City Training Facility at Swope Soccer Village, and have done a lot of community outreach and event promotion in an effort to gain as much exposure as we can for the event, the teams, and the athletes.

TIAR: The Blues have been on the rise for a couple of years now. How much would winning the Gold Cup mean to the club?

PK: Winning the Gold Cup would be a tremendous accomplishment for the Club, and is certainly a goal of ours.  We’ve been hit with some injuries and adversity this fall and haven’t been able to maintain as consistently strong of an approach to our League matches week-in and week-out, and it has shown in the win/loss column in the MRP.  It has been a grind this fall, and despite missing some of our top players this weekend gives us a chance to regroup and play what we know will be 2 very tough matches against uncommon opponents, which has re-energized the players and the staff.  The expanded 28-man rosters for the weekend will give us an opportunity to promote a number of players from our D2 side and test them at a higher level, which we’re looking forward to.

TIAR: How excited is the club to show the rest of the country the type of rugby they can play?

PK: We are very much looking forward to testing ourselves against Austin and Dallas, two teams who we’ve competed against over the years in the Round of 32 who have also elevated their own level of play to new heights in recent seasons.  


Metropolis: Derrek Van Klein, Chalie Baleirara (C), Elliot Fischer, Conor McGill, Chris Marais, Matthew Langer, Teli Vaematahau, Kavika Peniata, Adam Diffley, Pate Takiveikata, Sean Kelly, Moto Filikitonga, Joel Yogerst, Broderick King, Jojo Tikoisuva; Bench: Bryan Larson, Adam Dilley, Tom Delaney, Jerome Strother, Aaron Mayhall, Benjamin Olie, Simeon Tschumper, Ryan Gilligan

Dallas: Matt Upton, Ben Teaney, Chris Hopkins, Nick Antaki, Hal Struckman, Collin Yerian, Chaddie Joseph, Dale Russ, Peter Santos, Daniel Miller, Thomas Hever, Spike Kolberg, Spencer Cameron, Zack Klump, Rashad Harbor; Bench: John Holman, Alex McCray, Carl Drake, Vince Chase, Brian Kealey, Mike Vogel, Gus Holt, Chris Kelly

Kansas City: Clay Beckman, Matthew Hoover, Matt Behnami, Ty Henry, Brodie Orth, Jim Eftink, Lloyd Saunders, Kevin Schwartze, Michael Starb, Kelly Mercer, Kenny Scott, Casey Cummings, Cody Weber, Blake Baty, Matrin van der Westhuizen; Bench: Austin Clarke, David McDonough, Scott McAvoy, Eric Munninghoff, Stephen Lomas, James Clarke, Sean Murray, Zack Pollom

Austin: Sam Rooke, Brendan Rams, Chris Baumann, Tyler Terrazone, Mark Legare, Peter Kanicki, Seth Saunders, Tim Howard, Knute O'Donnell, Hamish Roberts, David Comerford, Jamie Loska, James Cobbie, Matt Radzavich, Diego Sotelo; Bench: Leonard Yandle, Mark Brewton, Colby Townsend, John Hart, Kellen Burke, Zak Triplett, Skylar Tailey, Rickey Johnson


  1. Aren't the Chicago Lions undefeated in the Midwest? please explain

    1. It was based on last year's standings.

    2. Will they just switch it up based on who finishes each season 1st & 2nd in the Midwest and RRRC?