Following November fixtures in Kansas City, Mo., that saw the Blacks triumph in each of their outings while the Reds settled for a split, the Midwest sides are looking to move up in the Gold Cup Standings following the doubleheaders this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.
Knocking off the best the Red River Conference has to offer will not be an easy task, though. Austin and Dallas find themselves in the middle of their competitive seasons and playing at a high level. As for the Blues and Metropolis, neither team has had a competitive match since duking it out against the Texas teams back in November.
Losses to the Blacks and Reds in October were only by a combined nine points for Metropolis, so there is no lack in self-belief. Mid-season form or not, the Minneapolis-based program wants a more comprehensive outing in Texas.
“It was disappointing to lose both games, but, in saying that, it was more the fact we didn’t play well for the full 80 minutes,” Osborne said. “Both games were close, and we had times of very average play. Both Dallas and Austin are very good teams, and showed us some things we needed to fix up. So, our main focus - win, lose, or draw - is to play the way we want for the full 80 minutes.”
The Gold Cup’s Midwest representatives may not have the amount of outdoor training they would have preferred up to this point in the season, but several of Metropolis’ steppers earned quality minutes in sevens this past weekend playing for the Spearhead Rugby Academy that reached the Plate Final of the Las Vegas Invitational’s Men’s Aces division. Likewise, a few members of the Blues got a runaround for the Denver All-Stars in the very same LVI bracket.
The experience in Vegas for the Midwest standouts cannot hurt, but it does not nearly replicate the Gold Cup’s most recent contest – a Feb. 13 classic in Austin that resulted in a 34-30 win for the Blacks over Dallas.
“It was an outstanding game that unfortunately didn’t end up going our way,” Dallas coach Filip Keuppens said. “We feel that we let it get away from us due to a few unforced errors, but I’m sure that Austin would tell you that they could have done better, as well.”
The four-point win at home for the Blacks leaves them atop the Gold Cup standings at 3-0, and in the driver’s seat of a hotly-contested Red River Conference. In the Midwest, Metropolis currently sits atop the Midwest Conference standings, but the Chicago Lions, who defeated Metropolis back in October, or hot in pursuit of the Minneapolis contender.
Regardless of this weekend’s results against Texas’ premier club sides, Metropolis will be better prepared for the spring portion of its Midwest schedule, which reboots April 2 against the Milwaukee Barbarians.
“It gives us two very hard games leading into the second half of our season,” Osborne noted. “Last year we traveled to New York Athletic Club, and that was great to get that difficult run-out early in the season. This year, getting two of these kinds of games can only help us.”
The Dallas Reds will act as hosts for each of the four Gold Cup matches this weekend, which will be played at Boswell High School Stadium in Fort Worth. Additionally, the quartet of elite club fixtures will air live on USA Rugby TV.