Sunday, February 14, 2021

State of the Rugby Union 2-11-21

Welcome back to Rugby PickEm! After a month off (to let things breath), we check back into a year of rugby that's sure to be constantly changing as the MLR games proceed in a month's time.  

Uncle Johnny, Tommy No Piks, Bt & Reiko in the house (casa de Collins) for a "State of the Rugby Union" ...

It takes a village ...

- MLR Teams report. Overseas players may struggle with pandemic travel restrictions, but that may create an early season opportunity for local domestic players (ideally young and uncapped at professional level).

- Dallas dispersal draft is under way. Some players have landed, others have yet to be announced. It's really good to see the league work hard to find the players who had been promised contracts in Dallas an opportunity somewhere else (ideally local to their upbringing, family, etc...). 

*Update* Since recording, #9th overall pick, AIC stud, Club 7s 2019 National Champ with WAC) Tommy Hunkin-Clark has signed with the Seattle Seawolves (2X usmlr Champs and home of the SeaWall). I've seen him dominate grown men at a young age (2019 Club National 7's in KC), and have complete confidence he'll end up in the Eagle pool at some stage during his rugby career. Washington talent staying local! Best of luck to Tommy and the Seawolves in the upcoming season. The 2018 Final MVP Vili Toluta'u announced he's moving on from Seattle after 3 years, so there will be fresh opportunities in the loosies. 

- USA Rugby announces there will be no official organized club national tournament for the 2021 spring season. This is no surprise as different regions around the country are currently operating under different rules and regulations in regard to the pandemic. They are shaping up to come back with summer 7s. Can some players in the MLR make a seamless transition from the end of the MLR season straight into club 7s in their local cities ...? (One can only hope, but some players will be burned out after a long grind. The month of July will prove to be exciting with MLR entering playoffs and club 7s returning.)



Sunday, January 3, 2021

Rugby PickEm 2020 - The Year That Was

You guessed it .... we made a 2020 Rugby PickEm mash up. Bt runs back the best moments in a year that was undoubtedly one of the more challenging, and gloomy years that we can remember. 

We started with a season preview where Kim Jordan graced the studio and the crew ran through each MLR teams' hashtags, mascots and other ridiculous pre-season banter items. Kim's presence that night was sublime, and the crew thoroughly enjoyed what would be one of the few recording sessions before the pandemic took hold here in the US and lockdowns began. 

Next we included the last couple of live voicemail shows with Bt and Tommy NoPiks. Listening back to the final week 5 MLR PickEm almost drew some nostalgic tears, knowing the season would be called off later that week.

There are times when we record an interview and hang on to it for awhile. This was the case with Ben Pinkelman, Ke'Von Williams and Logan Collins debating "what are the best cross-over sports for rugby"? Ke'Von is never short on confidence, and he's convinced that Decathletes are the proper fit for rugby cross-overs.

As the games dried up across the globe, we got creative with our content as FloridaMan Dev and Tommy NoPiks led an intriguing discussion on the best rugby movies. 5/5 Rucks!

With the first annual Major League Rugby draft approaching, we decided to call our old friend Cole Zarcone who was coming off an amazing Senior season at Eastern Washington after spending the 2019 summer playing 7's with the Denver Barbarians. We knew he'd get drafted and sure enough, the San Diego Legion and Zack Test scooped him up with the final pick of the draft.

As New Zealand prepared to relaunch their 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa season, Mickey Bateman dropped in the studio to spread his kiwi knowledge for the Rugby PickEm faithful. 

Months down the line, the MLR released their 2021 schedule and Bt, Uncle Johnny & Tommy NoPiks did their "Way Too Early" 2021 playoff PickEm.

Harpo drops by in Denver on his way to Missoula, and Logan Collins wraps up the show with "The User's Guide to Helping Your Rugby Community".

What a strange year it was. PICKEM!

Monday, December 28, 2020

We Made A Highlight Reel - Logan Collins - Project Headband

Once the 2020 season was cancelled, Tommy No Piks and Bt began the meticulous endeavor of creating a highlight reel for Rugby PickEm star Logan Collins. Spending hours pouring through old footage including:

PRO Rugby and the Denver Stampede

- Grainy (and shaky) CSU Ram highlights (which Logan himself produced, so technically he'll begrudgingly get a Co-Producer credit on his highlight reel)

- Denver Barbarians 15s and 7s games

- Logan's days with the Serevi Selects (including the game winning tackle of Garrett Bender on the try line to win the 2017 Las Vegas Open)

Although the entire exercise was tedious and painstaking, it was clear that Logan Collins can do it all, and the end result was magnificent. Logan is a meat and potatoes type of player, meaning he does the fundamentals so well, that it was often challenging finding plays that could be deemed "highlights". However, his 12 year career provided enough little gems for us to put together a 4 minute video. As a player, he exemplifies the attributes we deem necessary to any hard working openside flanker. Consistent, deliberate, straightforward and most importantly gritty.

When the time came to show Logan what had been created, we caught his reaction (audio) to seeing his personal portfolio of highlights throughout the year. No tears were shed (thank god), but he was appreciative and brainstormed some potential players who would be on Rugby PickEm's radar for the next highlight cut in 2021.

Special thanks to Tommy NoPiks who put the video cut together (a cut as sharp as a mountain's ridge line - Mikey Garrity). So without further ado ... here's the cut.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Dreaming of the Rugby

As the night ran long on the historical Rugby PickEm Awards (better known colloquially as the RPA's), the lads sat around the mic (some didn't even realize it was on), and began reminiscing and dream about a time when the entire USA rugby landscape wasn't shut down due to a Pandemic. 

Little known fact, but Uncle Johnny used to LIVE at his old club the Cincinnati Wolfhounds Rugby Clubhouse (for 5 years). If you know Uncle Johnny, this makes sense as he is one of the most enthusiastic club rugby lovers there is out there. We touched on what it feels like to wake up on gameday, and all the "little moments in between" that truly help grow the bond between teammates. 

Tommy No Piks gives us some insight into his recent dreams (it has a lot to do with fast food characters), and we look to the future as the year 2020 closes out. This one went a bit off the rails towards the end, but didn't just about everything this year? Enjoy!