Milwaukee advance to CARFU Cup finals to defend their title.

The Milwaukee Westside Harlequins Rugby Football Club and the Black & White once again renewed a rivalry this past weekend at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex in the 2011 CARFU Cup semi-final.

In a repeat match-up from last season, the day brought chilly weather and a stiff wind that kept many fans of this 36 year old rivalry at home. Those that stayed home missed a match that will go into the annals of Harlequin Lore but will be quickly forgotten by the Milwaukee Rugby Club.

The match started out with both teams showing their strength. The visiting Black & White relying on their back line play while the Harlequins going to their foundation, the scrum.

Conditions led to a game that forced both teams to keep the ball in close. With the wind and occasional rain the ball was slippery and passes needed to be shorter and more accurate.

After the first scrum it was apparent that the Harlequins were going to control the set pieces both on offense and defense. This took away much of the visitors advantage as getting clean ball to the back line would have provided a much-needed advantage.

The first ten minutes saw crisp running lines by the Black & White resulting in a few breaks through the Harlequin back line defense. Those holes were defended by great back row cover play from the Harlequins.

Possession changed often, expected given the weather, but the visitors continued to leave defensive overloads and eventually the Harlequins put down a try in the corner.

Milwaukee countered and had a great opportunity to score in the first half, but were left wanting at the end. The momentum then fullly shifted to the home side.

Three Harlequin penalties inside the opposition 22 metre-line almost drew a yellow card for the hosts, but the Harlequin defense stood firm and was able to force Milwaukee into a penalty of their own.

As scores kept coming from the Harlequins, the Black & White kept up the intensity. The scoreboard however did not reflect the effort by the visitors. The Milwaukee Harlequins finished the match with 41 points while keeping the Back & White off the board – a rare offensive shut-out of a quality side.

The victory completes the Spring sweep of the top rugby clubs in the area and sends the Harlequins to the CARFU Cup finals in Chicago on Saturday. They face another regional rivalry against the Chicago Lions RFC who host the finals May 21st.

The match promises to be exciting with the Lions looking to avenge last years injury-time try by the Harlequins to win the 2010 championship.

Vic Drover
Vic Drover

Vic has a long history in and around the sport of rugby both in Canada and the US. He has played for and started numerous clubs (Vandal's RFC, Strathcona Druids, Suffolk Bull Moose, West Side Harlequins, Milwaukee Barbarians, Hamilton Girls Rugby), and served many roles over the years at all administrative levels. Vic joined the Harlequins in 2007 and remained an active club member through the transition to the Barbarians. These days, he spends his rugby time playing tag rugby and touring with the Old Boys, keeping the club website updated, helping organize the Lakefront 7s, and fundraising.

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