July 29, 2016
Ohio Aviators Play Denver Stampede For PRO Rugby Championship
Photo: PRO Rugby
This Sunday, July 31 the Ohio Aviators host the Denver Stampede for the PRO Rugby Championship at 3pm ET at Obetz, Ohio. The match will be streamed and tickets are available at prorugby.org.
Last week the Denver Stampede traveled to San Francisco to play the San Francisco Rush and came away with a 31-24 win, vaulting them into first place in the League. They come into the match with a 10-1 record and 46 points. The Ohio Aviators are in second place with a 8-3 record and 42 points. The Aviators will need a bonus point win to claim the title, while denying Denver any bonus points.
The teams have played two times previously in Denver and split both matches. In week one they played in the first match of the inaugural PRO Rugby season.
With the start of the League, teams were involved with community efforts to generate support for League teams. The Friday prior to the launch of the season, the team held a meet and greet at a pub in Denver, as well as a restaurant the next day.
I enjoyed meeting with the players on that Friday night and after the match when both sides enjoyed a rugby tradition of socializing after matches.
It snowed that weekend and there was anxiety about will Ohio be able to travel to Denver. Two Pacific Rugby Premiership matches scheduled for that Saturday were cancelled due to flight cancellations. Part of the anxiety was resolved when Ohio players were able to get the last flight Saturday morning before flights were cancelled the for the rest of the day. Then Infinity Park did an exceptional job of clearing the pitch in time for the match.
The match did take place and over 2000 fans were there in support. As it turned out, it was the only match this season to go into overtime with the Stampede winning 16-13. Will Magie kicked a penalty kick from touch to give Denver the win and Ohio left that match knowing that they left four tries on the pitch through their errors.
In the tenth week of the season, both teams met again in Denver at the University of Denver campus. The match was during the International test window, so both teams were missing some key players. It was also a very hot day, with temperatures in the high 90s. That day, Ohio handed Denver their only loss of the season, winning 48-27.
The Ohio Aviators enter week sixteen after having had two bye weeks. The Aviator’s last match was on July 9th in Sacramento where they won 41-31. Meanwhile, Denver played against San Diego on July 10th winning 59-23. They then defeated Sacramento 59-13 and San Francisco last week 31-24 to set up one last match for the championship.
Both teams have been the two best teams in the League this season. All Ohio’s losses have come on the road, however at home they are undefeated at the Fortress. In only one of the five home matches did the Aviators score less than 50 points and that was on July 3rd against San Diego where they won 44-21.
The Ohio Aviators are the leading offensive team in the League and have scored 444 points and have 65 tries. The team has the top two try scorers in Aaron ‘Spike’ Davis (14) and Sebastián Kalm (9) and two others, Filippo Ferrarini (6) in fourth and Dominic Waldoulk (5) in seventh.
The Denver Stampede also have been showing their offensive prowess and have the third leading try scorer in Zach Fenoglio (7), while Pedrie Wannenburg (6) is tied for fourth.
The kicking game has been a strength for all the League teams. Will Magie is the third leading scorer with 108 points, trailing only Kurt Morath (120) and Volney Rouse (119). Shaun Davies has scored 76 points for the Aviators, but Robbie Shaw has often kicked late in matches.
The Ohio Aviators have made two changes in their starting XV from three weeks ago. Ryan McTiernan returns at Lock and Filippo Ferrarini at Flanker.
The Denver Stampede have made three changes in their starting XV, as well as one postion change. Last week Ben Tarr hurt his shoulder, so Luke White moves from Lock to loosehead prop with Casey Rock at Lock. Both Dustin Croy at wing and Max De Achaval return from minor injuries. Ata Malifa is away for personal reasons – congratulations!
I expect an entertaining match between two excellent teams. Whoever emerges with the win will deserve the title, but there will be respect for each other regardless.
There was other news concerning the Denver Stampede today from PRO Rugby. Chris Baumann has been signed with the Wellington Lions in New Zealand.
DJCoil Rugby traveled to Denver and Ohio this season.
In April, I had the opportunity to get to know many of the Denver players and met many of the Ohio players when I covered their match.
On the weekend of June 25-26, I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to cover the Aviators match against the San Francisco Rush. I had a chance to interview coaches and players about life in professional rugby in the United States. I also was included in other team activities.
Several hours prior to the match Sunday, the team met at Fádo Irish Pub where the Aviators had their team meal prior to the match. After the match, they had a dinner sponsored by City Barbeque for both teams. When that was over, I had a chance to socialize with the coaches from both teams.
This week the Aviators will follow the same routine. They will gather at Fádo Irish Pub for a pre-match meal and then after the match, both teams will gather to socialize after the season ending PRO Rugby match to enjoy a meal from City Barbeque, another team sponsor.
Ohio Aviators: 1 Jamie Mackintosh 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Demecus Beach 4 Kyle Baillie 5 Pierce Dargan 6 Chad Joseph 7 Sebastián Kalm 8 Riekert Hattingh 9 Shaun Davies 10 Taylor Howden 11 Alex Elkins 12 Dominic Waldouck 13 Roland Suniula 14 Aaron “Spike” Davis 15 Zac Mizell 16 Peter Malcolm 17 Dominic Pezzutti 18 Angus MacLellan 19 Zachary Stryffeler 20 Ahmad Harajly 21 Robbie Shaw 22 Allan Hanson 23 Derrick Van Klein Coaches: Head Coach-Paule Barford Assistant Coaches: Paul Holmes, Eamonn Hogan Manager: Tom Rooney
Denver Stampede: 1 Luke White 2 Zach Fenoglio 3 Chris Baumann 4 Logan Collins 5 Casey Rock 6 Hanco Germishuys 7 Peter Dahl 8 Pedrei Wannenburg (C) 9 Mose Timateo 10 Will Magie 11 Dustin Croy 12 Timana Tahu 13 Chad London 14 Mike Garrity 15 Max De Achaval 16 Nick Wallace 17 Jake Turnbull 18 Soane Leger 19 Christian Wiessing 20 Zac Pauga 21 Bobby Impson 22 Kyle Hitt 23 Martin Knoetze Coaches: Head Coach – Sean O’Leary, Assistant Coaches: Peter Borlase, David Williams Manager: Kieran Browner
DJCoil Rugby Recaps of Previous Match + Denver vs Ohio Matches, & Professional Rugby in the USA
Team Photos: Ohio Aviators & Denver Stampede by Katie Dahl