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Friday, February 17, 2023

Super Rugby Americas - 2023 BOLD Predictions


This isn't a new league, but it has been rebranded in 2023 as Super Rugby Americas (we'll call it ... SRA? ...). The Americas competition will feature 7 teams from 6 countries with Argentina carrying two teams. This makes sense considering their rugby dominance in South America throughout their history.  If Argentina had a sole team, it's possible they would have their way with the league. No competition is fun when one team is dominating the field.

Let's dive into the squads and bold predictions ...

Los Dogos XV

Name / Brand: The Dogo Argentina breed was bred by the 1920s Antonio Nores Martinez, a young student of Córdoba in central Argentina. The logo is fierce... just like this type of dog. They are big game hunting dogs, but also are trained for search and rescue, police assistance, service dogs, and guidance for the blind.

Stadium: Tala Rugby Club - This 6k capacity stadium will likely be wall to wall with home town supporters from the rugby rich region. Tala has won 23 titles in the Cordoba club comp and will likely have fans who will be barking like the Baja Boys.

Squad: Per Americas Rugby News, the roster is primarily built of young representative Argentinian players. The majority of the squad is born during this millennium (2000 and onward), putting most of the team around age 25 or younger.

Bold Prediction: Los Dogos represent Cordoba and win the league. They go toe to toe with their Buenos Aires based rivals Las Pampas throughout the season. They'll find a way to gut it out and win playoff games when it counts to become Super Rugby Americas Champions. Sometimes bad hombres just got that Dogo in 'em.

Las Pampas XV

Name / Brand: "Las Pampas" refer to the great southern plains of Argentina, Uruguay and a small section of southern Brazil. This large swath of land is rich with ranching culture where cattle farming is life. The logo (above) is crisp, featuring a mean looking Bronco with some unique coloring and patterns. 

Stadium: Club Atlético de San Isidro, Buenos Aires. better known as CASI. Deep rugby history, 5k capacity.

Squad: Some serious Argentinian talent including the lengthy name Joaquín de la Vega Mendía. He'll run the show at 10, and you can expect nothing but Argentinians battling in out each week to make the team sheet.

Bold Prediction: Las Pampas stay on top of the table throughout the year. The Argentinean talent is too good for anything lower than a finals appearance. Expect the Dogos vs. Pampas games to be hotly contested all year. 

American Raptors

Name / Brand: The Raptors brand has undergone many transformations (Glendale Raptors, Colorado Raptors, Colorado XOs, and now the American Raptors). The newest iteration features navy blue, crimson and gold, with a Raptors whose beak is so sharp it can cut glass.

Stadium: Infinity Park. 5k plus capacity. Official "Unofficial" Home of the USA Eagles, but the Raptors will hope to pack the park during their 6 games homestand from late March to early May.

Squad: With the core group being Americans (and crossover rugby players), the other half of the squad is made up of South American talent. Diego Magno, Diego Fortuny and other Sur Americanos will provide a nice balance.

Bold Prediction: Raptors front up and make the playoffs. Wins against the two Argentinian teams won't come easy, but they'll win enough games on their first road trip to put them in a spot to climb the table during their 6 game home stand.


Name / Brand: Technically this is the brand of the Athletic Club Peñarol who has a bunch of different sports under their umbrella ... but when it comes to rugby brands, sometimes simple plays.

Stadium: Estadio Charrúa holds 14k fans when full. Artificial turf seems strange for South America, but makes it easier to manage heavy rains

Squad: Uruguayans up and down the roster. They'll look to duke it out amongst themselves for upcoming selections in the 2023 RWC.

Bold Prediction: The Uruguayans make the final 4, but fall short in a semi-final. They will win some big games throughout the year and have the national team flying high when September comes around and the stage is set in France.


Name / Brand: the Selk'nam, also known as the Onawo or Ona people, are an indigenous people in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina and Chile, including the Tierra del Fuego islands. They were one of the last native groups in South America to be encountered by migrant Europeans in the late 19th century. Red, White and Black are the primary colors for a funky looking logo.

Stadium: Estadio Municipal La Pintana holds 5k fans. The other teams in the league will be familiar with the pitch as it hosted ARC matches in 2016 and 2018. Grass, not turf.

Squad: This is a Chilean team through and through. Similar to Peñarol, they will all be vying for positions in the 2023 RWC. 

Bold Prediction: Selknam hangs tough all year, but just misses the playoffs. Their season opener against the American Raptors will tell us a lot, but for now, we have them finishing 5th overall. 


Name / Brand: A bunch of abstract triangles or a snake coiled up and ready to strike? We've seen differing color schemes, but the Purple is interesting to say the least.

Stadium: Nicolas Alayon Stadium

Squad: Brazilians mixed with Argentinians and a couple of Colombians. 

Bold Prediction: Cobras will win some games, but there will be more losses than wins throughout the year. They'll finish 6th, but will walk away with feeling that they belong in this league and can be more competitive in future years.

Yacare XV

Name / Brand: The Yacare Caiman is a South American species of the crocodilian family. They eat fish, snails and sometimes small capybaras ... and they're also eaten by herons storks. They're essentially smaller crocs.

Stadium: Estadio Heroes de Curupayty, Asuncion Paraguay. Capacity 3k.

Squad: Built of primarily Paraguayans, with Argentinian players sprinkled in to fill out the squad. There isn't a whole lot of test rugby talent, but the core of last years (4th place finish) team is back.

Bold Prediction: The Yacare will finish last in a rough and tumble competition. The Paraguayan national team has put up some decent score lines in the past few years, but wins will be hard to come by in SRA 2023.

Thanks for reading. Catch up on our latest MLR Western Conference BOLD Predictions and Eastern Conference BOLD Predictions.


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

MLR Year 6 - Eastern Conference BOLD Predictions

 Striking Gold

King Creole is ready for that postseason smoke

NOLA Gold have been a founding member and have always been on the cusp of the playoffs. They have talent in the back row, and have signed some key collegiate players to bolster the squad. King Creole and his marching band have high expectations for a team that has been oh so close for o so long.

Bold Prediction: NOLA Gold finish top 2 in the East. They will host a playoff game at the Gold Mine in late June or early July (hot, swampy and stanky hot conditions). Devin Short breaks through the national team and gets his first Eagle cap.

New Brand, Not Brand New

Which one of these brands strikes fear in an opponent?

The Rugby ATL front office caught some serious flack for the rebrand ... but on the pitch, they walk the walk. Steve Brett has his systems in place to put up points and play fast. The turf at Silverback Park favors speed and quick ball, not to mention the fact that a swampy hot conditions toward the end of the season will be a shock for their eastern conference rivals. Expect them to string together big wins down the stretch in May /  June.

Bold PredictionRugby ATL makes the playoffs ... again. They've been consistently good and have proven they can strike from the grasses with deadly force ... (I already miss the snake branding). Nothing helps a PR snafu with your fans than a winning record!

New Found Glory

Can we get the infamous band out to Segra for a halftime performance?

2022 was a tough year for OGDC. Brutal start, stronger finish. Now they are returning the majority of their squad, but with a brand new coach at the helm. Danny Tusitala has never missed a First-Team All-Hair selection in his career. Cory Daniel has been the best defender in the MLR for the last calendar year ... the front office brought in the closest thing to his clone to bolster the loose forward group. Will we see the first brother combo in the leagues history lining up at 6 & 7 in Cory and Brady Daniel? If it does happen, you can be sure that the announcers won't stop ramming that storyline down the viewers throats for the 2 hour broadcast.

Bold Prediction: OGDC breaks through and makes the playoffs in a pivotal year for the franchise. It won't be easy (like it is at Sheehy auto stores), but they will find their form and establish a New Found Glory under new coach Josh Syms

Thanks for reading. Catch up on our Western Conference BOLD Predictions and our Super Rugby Americas Preview.


MLR Year 6 - Western Conference BOLD Predictions

Western Expansion

The Hounds have been released, but how will they fare in 2023? The 2022 expansion team went 0-16 but seems to be building a strong fanbase. The 2021 expansion team smashed the league, nabbed the shield, but now are a relic of the past. Given the fact that Chicago inherited two top sides in the west via the "Expansion Draft", they'll be expected to compete for a playoff spot. 

Bold Prediction: Chicago wins the west in their first year. No one will be hungrier to win now than the players and coaches that got dumped in the GillyGate decision last year. The Hounds are a barkin' and dem dogs is hungry.

Argies Do Dallas

There's new Argentinian brass in the Jackals front office, and the only thing they give a shit about is winning games in 2023. Just like the (kiwi owned) Rugby (United) New York imported in kiwis late last year for a playoff run, Dallas will likely absorb some Argentinian test players throughout the season. It's a World Cup year, and every player who has RWC dreams is chomping at the bit to be seen by selectors. If a prominent Argentinian player isn't seeing time in a European competition, don't be surprised if he ends up doing Dallas.

Bold Prediction: Dallas wins 6 or more games. Stands up in the Western conference, and plays spoiler down the stretch in May. They won't make the playoffs, but they will be night and day from their form last year.

Sleepers in Seattle

Is it even possible to Sleep on a 2x MLR Champ?

Seattle has been consistently good since the league's inception. They've been building something fierce under head coach Allen Clarke. Hometown products like Eric Duechle and Cole Zarcone return to a strong roster of Seawolves that know how to hunt in a pack (or is it a pod?). Starfire Stadium remains a surefire place for a loud home field advantage ... (ps, we love and fully support the heckling of visiting team place kickers).

Bold Prediction: Seattle makes the western playoffs and strikes up a new rivalry with the Chicago Hounds. We'll call it ... "The Battle for the Right to Wear Forest Green". Bit of a mouthful, but that's the working title for this soon to form Western conference rivalry. As we alluded to above, it's not necessarily BOLD to predict a perennial contender to make the big dance, so we'll throw in another BOLD prediction ... Alan Clarke = coach of the year 2023.

Thanks for reading. Catch up on our Eastern Conference BOLD Predictions and our Super Rugby Americas Preview.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Special Thanks to the Fans

We hope you've been enjoying the recent episodes with Uncle Johnny, Tommy NoPiks and HARPO in person, live & in the flesh. 2022 has proven to be a crazy rugby year, but we simply wanted to thank all the fans that continue to listen to Rugby PickEm and occasionally go and click around the website (www.rugbypickem.com). 

Blood, Sweat & Tears ... all for the fans

It's been a long strange journey since April 2018, but it's been 5 years of good fun and banter. We cap the 2022 year with a thanks to the fans, and an experimental segment aptly named "Tommy's Philosophies"....

2 Rugby World Cups amongst these two ... 👀

More RP on the way in 2023 including coverage of the Men's and Women's Eagles (XVs & 7s), MLR, SLAR, Summer 7's and RWC 2023 in France!