The Montauk Rugby Club, which went undefeated in league play last fall, is looking to repeat, although, according to Rich Brierley, the format has been changed so as to include upstate sides in the mix.
“There will be four three-team divisions in the Empire Union,” Brierley said during a conversation this week. “We’ll play each side in our division twice and then one crossover game. Ours is with Syracuse, but they’ll have to come to us.”
When it comes to the playoffs, “the top four in the league will qualify, with the top two getting byes. Theoretically, long away games may affect outcomes, depending on the seedings, but we’ll worry about that when and if we come to it. Meanwhile, our aim is to win all of our games.”
Brierley said he thought the Sharks are as strong as they were in 2011, with many of their young players continuing to be available — his son Matt, his nephew Erik, Mike Bunce, and Conor Miller among them. Gordon Trotter, the team’s New Zealand-born inside center, “will be back to lead the charge,” said Brierley.
In addition, he said, “Teddy Grabowski is coaching a development team, which gives guys who may have been sitting on the fence when it comes to learning a new sport a chance to ease into it, to see whether they want to make their way up or not. . . . Oh yeah, they’ll be playing games, after the first side plays.”
Montauk opens the season with Rockaway at East Hampton’s Herrick Park at 1 p.m. Saturday. Montclair is to play here Sept. 15, also at 1. The Sharks are to play at Bayonne, N.J., on Sept. 22. Lansdowne, a New York City side, is to play here Sept. 29. Montauk is to play at Rockaway on Oct. 6. Syracuse is to play here on Oct. 13, and Bayonne is to play here on Oct. 20.