We’ve endeavored to pick four panelists from the areas of the Red River D1 Clubs but not directly associated with those clubs and one who is on the outside looking in:

Grant Cole – The editor of Texas’ best Rugby coverage site, This is Texas Rugby and a partner atT5RDG. He has been reporting on Texas Rugby for over three years and will be filming several matches in the Houston area for T5RDG this spring

Gordon Hanlon – the president of Dallas Athletic Rugby Club. He has played for the Quins, as well as many years in his home country of Ireland

Buss Hopps – The head coach of Men’s Rugby at the University of Texas in Austin. He keeps close tabs on the Rugby scene there.

Ted Hardy – Resides in Clayton, NC and is our educated outsider. He has been following rugby all over the states and reporting on it periodically through his website, Rugby America.

Gift “GiftTime” Egbelu – The Editor-in-Chief and founder of Gift-Time Rugby Network. While he works primarily out of Louisiana, he covers Rugby across the region. In addition, he likes to slip in his own brand of Rugby entertainment when allowed.

Each week, This is Texas Rugby and Gift-Time Rugby Network will post game predictions for the Red River Conference Division 1.

NOTE: Links below are to USAR stats pages on the Competition Management System for each club.

Two weeks into the season does not produce clear leaders, but the Blacks are out in front with two wins and 9 series points. The Reds will be hoping that the Blacks travel poorly and New Orleans plays strong at home. Dallas cannot let their guard down or travel light this weekend. Houston desperately needs a win and will not go gently into that goodSaturday night. While the Quins at the Griffins may seem like an uninteresting battle for the middle ground, the Quins need the win to prove last week was no fluke and the Griffins need a BIG win with a bonus point to ensure they are in the hunt at the end of the season.

Dallas Harlequins at Griffins Rugby

Grant – The Quins may have toyed with a weakened HARC last week, but I do not think they will have their way with their cross-town rivals, Griffins Rugby. Both teams have one loss because they spent 20-30 minutes off their game plan. The side that maintains possession and poise at the breakdown wins this one – there is contest-area hawk on patrol in this match. I look for the Griffins to be the more patient of the two teams with a win by five points.

Gifttime – Harlequins came off a massive win over HARC last week. A true shocker to me. Griffins, on the flip side, coming off a hard-fought loss against New Orleans. I’m looking for Griffins to take the win on this.

Gordon – Very difficult to choose a winner. Quins showed improvement against a HARC side who traveled poorly and were clearly demoralized. Griffins, like last year, are generally involved in close games and have been in two in two weeks. Quins to win by being the fitter side.

Buss – Harlequins. Belief is a dangerous thing.

Ted – Both sides come into the weekend with identical 1-1 records and the desire to set themselves apart from the lower half of the table. Unfortunately, only one will get their wish. Both sides have been solid early on this season. Have to give an advantage to the home team. Pick: Griffins

Dallas Reds at Houston Athletic

Grant – Houston is reeling from Saturday’s sting of a match. Reds are solid and confident. HARC will need to slow down the game and win the contact point to have a chance in this match. Reds will not allow it and have the ability to adjust their game plan accordingly. HARC needs more discipline at the breakdown and contact points. A YC there cost them a close match two weeks ago. Reds by two tries.

Gifttime – Dallas Reds are coming off a big win over New Orleans, making a massive statement in the Red River Rugby Conference. They travel to Houston to take on a HARC team coming off a major loss to the Harlequins. Even though HARC will have their (almost) full squad and home field advantage this week, I expect Dallas Reds to run away with this win.

Gordon – Like NOLA, HARC is a lot stronger at home than away. The Reds have invested too much into this side this year though. Jordan Macey arrived this week and he can be a difference maker in the backline if he plays. Reds to win comfortably.

Buss – Reds going away. Bad time to need sorting for HARC.

Ted – The Reds are off to the start that they wanted. Their resounding victory over NOLA last weekend was a message to the rest of the RRRC. HARC’s start has been the exact opposite. They should be back to full power at home, but it won’t be enough to stop the Reds. Pick: Reds

Austin Blacks at New Orleans

Grant – The Austin Blacks are proven winners so far this year, but this week will reveal truth. The win over the Huns was closer than the ten point spread suggested, the win over the Quins should have been bigger than it was. New Orleans lost on Saturday, but showed the ability to identify the problem and fix it in a day. That is the experience gathered the hard way in multiple years of playoff trips. New Orleans will pressure the hinge enough to create two more tries than the Blacks. Expect 8-9 tries between these two teams in this match – the referee will need some ‘go-fasters’!

Gifttime – Austin Blacks continued their win streak over the Austin Huns, while New Orleans had a split weekend, last week. New Orleans has the home-field advantage where they are strong. I look for New Orleans to take the win on this one. This is will be a close one for sure though.

Gordon – NOLA at home is a much stronger side than on the road. The Blacks have shown improvement and are a decent side. I think this comes down to experience and NOLA wins.

Buss – Blacks are 2-0 but not a good 2-0. Nola are 2-1 but not a good 2-1. To be the champ you gotta beat the champ. The winner of this one will challenge for the title. The loser will suffer a massive blow to their confidence with both sides teetering on a knife edge. Biggest game of the year so far. Blacks win!

Ted – The Blacks are off to a 2-0 start, but haven’t blown the doors off either of their opponents. This weekend is a chance for them to set their mark on the early season. Some may look at NOLA’s split last weekend as a sign they’re vulnerable. Not likely. They are still one of the best in the RRRC and in Division 1. Pick: NOLA

Jan 31 Panel

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