'24 Rankings v2.0

Written By Ad-minion 002

Big head to head first time match ups and a few rematches help the picture come into focus.

Setting the Stage

The Gonzaga tourney brought together MANY of the top EC teams that we had listed in the top 20 in Q1 and after some fantastic rugby and some outright battles, we have an undisputed number 1. In addition, we have some important clarity about the next 11.

A few were bumped out of the top 10 to make room for others who played their way in. To test our framework we also polled the EGRL Coaches in April. Their weighted votes have been added at the bottom.

Keep reading to see where the dust settled.

Rankings - Q1 2024

1 - Aspetuck Valley, CT (up 1/2, previously tied 1)

After our early season ranking had them tied for the number 1 with Charlotte, Aspetuck Valley has continued to back up their claim to the top spot putting up big points against most opponent clubs and doing what it takes against the very top competitors to walk away victorious.  After securing a hard fought road-win against a Morris side which is starting to gain some traction (more on that below), they walked into a very competitive Gonzaga tourney undefeated and out two days later with 4 more wins and some hardware. Wins over Belmont and Raleigh Cobras in pool play, a second (more convincing) win over Cobras in the semifinal and then a close 12-7 win over Charlotte in the rematch of last year's final (a program first we think) to inch forward and take the top spot in our ranking. Kudos to them, they are playing very well. 

2 - Charlotte Cardinals, NC (down 1/2, previously tied 1)

Charlotte continues to prove that it belongs at/near the top of the list. Although they had some early season losses in local play, we kept them near the top of the list because they have consistently shown the grit of a champion in the big games. At Gonzaga the margins were close in some cases (7 point W over Knightmares of PA) but until the final, always in their favor. It's possible that their hard fought W over Morris in the semi-final which required them to defend a very small lead for much of the game was tiring work but it was a shining example of why we have this team as high as we do. With backs against the try-line they didn't break and instead collected multiple turnovers in key situations and ultimately made the 5-0 score line enough. Although the close margin didn't go their way in the final, dropping them down a 1/2 step in the rankings, we think it showed exactly how competitive the top teams are.

3 - Morris, NJ (up 3, previously 6)

Morris has made some impressive strides in the last month knocking off the previous number 4 (Downingtown) and number 3 (Clayton/RHH) in a two week span. Defensively they are starting to gel and are looking increasingly stingy, holding 5 of their last 7 opponents to only 1 try. While probably not the outcome they wanted in either of their two losses in the last month, keeping it very close with Charlotte (lost 5-0, with many opportunities) at Gonzaga and being within 3 points of undefeated Aspetuck before a final minute try+conversion sealed the loss 22-12, the story behind the story may have more to do with a lineup that is inching closer to full health and player availability. With as many as 11 seniors on the roster, very few have been available to play every game. While at least 1 will unfortunately miss the season, 3 high impact players are nearly complete in their return-to-play protocols and this team is closer to firing on all cylinders than they've been in a while. 

4 - Clayton/RRH, NC (down 1, previously 3)

The Clayton/RRH combined squad continues to be very dangerous. They are fast in attack and have multiple scoring threats. While we think the loss to Morris showed they are mortal, we haven't seen anything that suggests they don't belong in the top 5. If they have a full and healthy lineup by 4/27 we are expecting an outright battle with Charlotte for the top spot in the EGRL Southern Division. That game will also sort out some of the seeding for the NC State Championships (first 2 weekends in May). 

5 - Knightmares, PA (non-EGRL, new to the top 10)

We weren't quite sure where Knightmares belonged last month. They've got a solid core group of players with a couple of real standouts and are the reigning PA State Champs but through last month were mostly unproven in 2024 with only 1 significant game on record, a loss to Morris. Since then they've beaten both EGRL teams from PA (Downingtown in a close game and Doylestown more handily) and picked up a win against a reinforced Vienna team (who had several guest players) at the Gonzaga tourney. Interestingly, they played Charlotte very closely before conceding the 19-12 loss which makes us think when they have their full lineup they can be competitive with most of what the region has to offer. Their final game was a loss against Clayton/RHH which officially was conceded as a forfeit due a depleted lineup but with some guests in support, were able to get the game in. 

6 - Downingtown, PA (down 2, previously 4)

Downingtown is better than their record shows. With a schedule which included games against 4 of the top 5 teams so far this season they continue to have one of the strongest schedules on the list to date. Their win against West Carroll at Rugby Showcase South keeps them from slipping further despite two losses since that time but we think they are poised to get some momentum and confidence during the next stretch, bolstered by a breakout win (46-0) over Conestoga, PA this past weekend.  Depending on the next few weeks, they could be very dangerous rolling into Rugby Showcase East. Mathematically, they are still in contention for a wild card spot and a run at the trophy. It's unwise to count them out.

6 - West Carroll, MD (down 1, previously 5)

West Carroll drops a spot this month ultimately to make room for Knightmares who with a "common opponent" win against Downingtown (26-12 victors over WC at Guilford) nudges them out for the 5th spot. After notching wins against Corning (EGRL Central Div), Vienna (EGRL Southern Div) and most recently Cumberland (PA) each with impressive point differential, they've put themselves in contention to lock down the Central division of the EGRL, although Doylestown may have some thoughts on the matter. To be clear, we think West Carroll is a serious contender for an EGRL championship this year if they can stay healthy. In the last month they've put up big numbers and not giving away much but are still looking for their first "W" against a ranked opponent, which keeps them out of the top 5...for now. 

8 - Hough Huskies, NC (non-EGRL, no change)

Since the last rankings Hough ran into a hot Clayton side and lost 55-15 but were able to get a win over Wando (EGRL South) 33-5. While we think they belong in the top 10 for the effort, they are the one team we wish we could see more of. The first two weekends in May will tell us more as they should be in the top 4 in the hunt for a North Carolina state title which means they will likely cross paths with either Charlotte or Clayton one more time.

8 - Raleigh Cobras (EGRL Emerging, new to the top 10)

For Raleigh, similar to Knightmares, it felt "too early to call" last month. Very early in the year (Feb.) they played Clayton to a draw and even beat Charlotte which is worthy of respect, but then at Ruggerfest NC Charlotte came back and beat them and at Guilford they got a win against Doylestown but lost to a mending Morris side. It was hard to tell where they really stood. Make no mistake however, this team has some talented players and a coaching staff that is committed to development. They proved that they deserved a top 10 ranking by making it to the winner's bracket (semi-finals) at a very competitive Gonzaga Tourney, ultimately claiming 4th after putting 44 on Belmont of Massachusetts to secure the wildcard. Although running into Aspetuck twice and Morris once was something of an uphill slog, they battled. They could easily climb the ranks if they have a big May in local league play. We look forward to seeing how they do.

10 - Doylestown, PA (down 1, previously 9)

Unfortunately for Doylestown, since the last ranking report they've had some injuries. While this is never a good thing, in their case the impact was on 2 of their leaders making the sting even worse and the impact on the field even more profound. We suspect this had a big part to play in a couple losses in PA State League play which we are sure was something of a bitter pill, but they didn't let that stop them in getting a bonus-point win against EGRL Central Division rival, Corning, this weekend to keep them in contention for an automatic playoff berth. While this means they'll have to get by a North Bay team that is formidable when healthy and a West Carroll team who has eyes on the EGRL trophy, we've said it before and will say it again here - wise teams don't EVER count the dragons out, so we won't either. We think they're going to have to scrap for everything they get until they're healthy, but we also think that's exactly what they'll do.

11 - North Bay, MD (down 1, previously 10)

After wins against 2 EGRL opponents (Corning and Vienna) it looked like North Bay was hitting its stride. Unfortunately (and not unlike Doylestown) they ran into some trouble with injuries that have created some headwinds, resulting in hard-fought efforts but something of a mismatch against Clayton/RHH and Morris during pool play at the Gonzaga tourney this past weekend.  They finished the weekend off with another win against Vienna (for the second time in as many weeks) with less scoring than their first meeting but a wider margin.

12 - Belmont, MA (down 5, previously 7)

Belmont traveled to the Gonzaga tourney and although had solid fundamentals and a few very notable players, were a little overmatched against Aspetuck in game one and Raleigh Cobras in game two. They found their groove against a barbarians squad in the final game and made back most of the points they had previously given up which is a gritty way to end the weekend. While we think this represents high potential, for us the story worth noting was in the first 10 minutes against Aspetuck where they kept things scoreless. They are better than the pool play point differential suggests. We'd like to see this team continue to travel and seek out better competition and welcome the chance to connect them to EGRL teams.


Vote Getters 13-20*

Corning (NY), Orchard Park (NY), Play Rugby USA (NY),  Vienna (VA), Wando, (SC), ATL Valkyries (GA), New Hampshire All Stars, Moon Area (PA)

*Not in Ranked Order - More Game Results needed

Teams on the Watch list 

Lady Rebels (GA), Charlotte Tigress (NC)