Despite how it may seem, Spring is on its way. Once the snow and wind decide to leave Cleveland for good rugby will be in full swing again and the Green Horde will be bringing its brand of rugby to teams all around the area. So, in anticipation of the coming warmer weather, let’s take a look at the upcoming season and what the team will be up to.
The Green Horde will venture south to Savanna, GA to compete in the annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day tournament held by the southern city’s team, the Shamrocks. As in recent years, the Green Horde will venture south in a caravan with a strong core of Suburbs talent and feature players from area college sides. Hopefully, this will be a formula for success like it has been in past tournaments. If the recent tournament trips have been any indication, the main obstacles for the Green Horde will be: Samoans, hangovers and getting to the pitch on time. The last two years alone the Green Horde have only lost once down in Savanna, and that was under suspicious circumstances.
After returning from Georgia, the Green Horde tries to relive their college days – or daze – as they make the short drive to Athens, OH to take on the Ohio University rugby club. Between the OU men, the Green Horde and St. Patrick’s Day, there will be more than enough green to go around. Whether they stay in Athens or return home after the game, the Cleveland side is hoping to be the ones leaving with a victory.
Next, the ESRFC will host the Scioto Valley men from Columbus. The two sides have split in recent encounters. Two years back, when the Green Horde was on the road, Scioto Valley pulled out a hard-fought victory. Most recently, when the Columbus side ventured north, they were sent home with their tails between their legs after taking a thumping for 80 minutes. This will be the rubber match to see who takes the lead in what is sure to become a strong in-state rivalry.
Erie and John Carroll are set to take the field against the Green Horde on their home turf. John Carroll should provide quite a test for the Cleveland men’s developmental side. The main bout is Erie, who is slated to play the A side. This will be an important match-up for the Green Horde’s Spring because Erie handed the Green Horde an embarrassing and controversial defeat in their last season in DIII. Erie dominated DIII this past year, so they will be coming to Cleveland with a lot of confidence and bad intentions. If the Green Horde players have their way, Erie will be headed back across state lines with some bumps, bruises and a big loss.
On April 6 the A side travels to Wisconsin. The winner of the match advances on to the Midwest Finals on April 27 in a bid to head to Nationals and the Final Four later that Spring.
After returning from Wisconsin, one of the strongest college teams in the Midwest, Bowling Green State University, will swing by for a match to help them tune up for hosting their own Final Four in May. This is no throw-away match for either team. These two clubs have a history of taking it to each other in some knock-down-drag-out engagements. As always, it is set to be an entertaining match for those spectating from the sidelines.
After entertaining the Falcons, the Green Horde travels to Buffalo. This is not just a trip for the city’s famous chicken wings, though. There will be rugby being played, and it will be against the South Buffalo squad. There will be rugby and chicken wings, which is a plus. It will be in Buffalo, minus. As long as all cars remain operational during the trip and the the ESRFC brings home a victory it will all have been worth it.
On May 4, some of the few people remaining in the Motor City – the Detroit RFC – venture down to Cleveland for a match. Detroit rugby teams are always tough plays, because, let’s be honest, they’ve survived in Detroit. They have to be tough.
After hosting some of the survivors from the D, the Green Horde goes to another delightful city for a match. On May 11 they will head to Toledo to take on the Celtics for a Midwest rematch. It is sure to be a day full of rugby, gunshots and police sirens – not necessarily in that order. If all goes according to plan, it will be a repeat of what happened in Elkhart: Green Horde wins, Celtics lose and no chalk outlines. That weekend the formerly mentioned Falcons will be hosting their collegiate Final Four just 20 minutes south, so there will be plenty of high-class rugby action to go around.
Closing out the Spring is the Old Boys game on May 25. The team’s founders and former players, with their wheelchairs and walkers, will convene to remember the good ol’ days. Some will strap on the boots, squeeze into the shorts and play a bit. Not a bad way to send off the Spring and welcome the Summer, seeing the Old Boys do what they do best.
The Spring is set. There’s going to be a lot of long drives and hard matches, so get in the gym, get fit, get your driving music ready and prepare for the Spring. As always, there will be coverage and videos here after each match. Live tweets following each competition will be posted on Twitter. Follow @Cleveland_ESRFC for those and check Facebook for any updates, changes or revelations.
See you at the pitch. Go GREEN HORDE!