By Donnie Harbert | 4.20.17
The Cleveland Crusaders had high aspirations coming into this, their second season in existence, after achieving some notable success in last year’s campaign. As rugby goes, some names and faces have come and gone, and a few from the past have returned to reconnect and hopefully enjoy a few more seasons in the sun. The 2016-17 season has not been all roses, but we have corrected course and are on a path to go deep into the playoffs.
Coming out of the Midwest Division II fall league schedule with a 4-1-1 record, with both the draw and the loss to last year’s National Runner-Up Detroit Tradesmen, there was optimism for a productive winter training schedule. However, the results from our non-league challenges in the early Spring clearly indicated that our indoor work fell far short of preparing us to meet our team expectations. A decision had to be made in our physical approach, our mental approach, and our overall commitment to success.
Having two weeks to prepare for a friendly against Buffalo Blue Bison, perennial contenders for the top of the Empire division (New York), we redirected our approach to fill some gaps, get healthy, and put our minds back in winning form. The 77-5 victory in that Buffalo match, as well as our road performances against the Minneapolis Metropolis and the Chicago Blaze (both additional league fixtures), have shown that the Crusaders are back on track and hungry for more victories. Defeating Metropolis 66-5 on Saturday and then the Blaze 57-5 on Sunday (at the Blaze’s home fields in Chicago), the Cleveland Crusaders have secured home field for the first round of the Midwest Playoffs (National round of 64) in only their second season of existence. That match will take place on Saturday April 22 against the Indianapolis Impalas.
There is still a long road ahead, improvements must be made, and we must raise our standards above those of our opponents. What we want is right before us, ready to be taken, but unlike before, the Cleveland Crusaders are finally ready to rise up and take it.