by Jason Graves
Geographically the Midwest Competitive Region (CR) is among the largest spanning 11 States and is made up entirely of Local Area Unions, nine in fact; Michigan, Minnesota (Minnesota and North Dakota), Iowa, Wisconsin, Chicago Area, Illinois, Ohio (Ohio and Kentucky), Indiana, and Allegheny (West Virginia and western Pennsylvania) LAU’s. The Midwest CR is one of the three CR’s with four divisions (DI-DIV) and is comprised of 102 clubs in all.
When the Professional Rugby Organization placed the Ohio Aviators in Obetz, Ohio it should not have been a surprise to anyone as the Midwest is a booming rugby hot bed for club, college, and high school. It is arguable, based on the numbers above, that the Midwest is more populated with ruggers and rugby fans than any other Competitive Region.
The Midwest CR’s DI competition is made up of some of the best known clubs in rugby and makes up the second half (Red River CR is the other) of the USA Rugby sanctioned Elite competition known as the Gold Cup. The Chicago Lions, Chicago Griffins, Columbus Rugby, Metropolis Rugby, Cincinnati Wolfhounds, Kansas City Blues, Palmer College Dragons, and Milwaukee Barbarians are all highly accomplished DI clubs; two of these clubs, the Lions and Blues, will be among the inaugural nine Major League Rugby clubs. Surprisingly none of the clubs have a squad at all four levels, only Metropolis has as many as three (DI-II/IV).
Midwest DII is divided into three separate leagues. The Midwest Men’s D2 Central with Lincoln Park Rugby, Indianapolis Impalas, Chicago Blaze, South Side Irish, and the Fox Valley Maoris. In Midwest Men’s D2 East the Detroit Tradesmen, Cleveland Crusaders, Pittsburgh Rugby, and Grand Rapids Gazelles compete. Lastly in Midwest Men’s D2 West there are Wisconsin Rugby, Green Bay Celtics, Eastside Banshees, Metropolis Rugby D2, and the St. Paul Jazz Pigs.
Moving on to Midwest CR DIII where there are 47 teams broken out into eight leagues one of which is further divided into two divisions.
Beginning with Chicago-Wisconsin: North the league consists of Oconomowoc Rugby, Milwaukee Barbarians D3, Milwaukee Black & Blue, Fond du Lac Wolfpac, and Milwaukee Rugby.
Chicago-Wisconsin: South has the Chicago Riot, Illiana Misfits, Lake County Gladiators, Lincoln Park Rugby D3, and the Northwest Indiana Exiles.
In Chicago-Wisconsin: West you’ll find Wisconsin Rugby D3, Northwest Woodsmen, Rockford Ravens, Chicago Westside Condors, and the Chicago Griffins D3.
In the East league there is the Pittsburgh Highlanders, Cleveland Crusaders D3, Cleveland Rovers, Pittsburgh Rugby D3, Akron Rugby, South Pittsburgh Hooligans, and the Greensburg Maulers.
The Indiana league has Fort Wayne Rugby, Columbus Rhinos, Michiana Moose, Westside Outcasts, and White River Rugby.
The Iowa league consists of Bremer County Bucks, Clinton Muddy River, Des Moines Rugby, and the Iowa City Ducks.
In the South league there’s the Columbus Castaways, Cincinnati Kelts, Louisville Rugby, Dayton Flying Pigs, Cincinnati Wolfhounds D3, Lexington Blackstones, and Queen City Rugby.
The Michigan league is the one divided into two divisions; beginning with Midwest Men’s D3 Michigan East you’ll find the Toledo Celtics, Detroit Rugby, Detroit Tradesmen D3, and Michigan Rugby.
The Midwest Men’s D3 Michigan West has the Tri-City Barbarians, Kalamazoo Dogs, Traverse Bay Blues, and the Flint Rogues.
It doesn’t end with DIII as Midwest DIV has an extensive array of clubs as well; 34 clubs spread out over seven States in six leagues.
Starting with the Buckeye league which consists of the Canton Maddogs, Dayton Flying Pigs D4, Columbus Rugby D4, Youngstown Steel Valley, and Columbus Coyotes.
The Chicago league is home to the Chicago Ducks, Chicago Dragons, Chicago Riot D4, County Will Shamrocks, and Chicago Wolves.
In the Illinois you’ll find the Peoria Pigs, Springfield Celts, Bloomington Crash, and the Champaign County Flatlanders.
The Iowa league has Iowa Falls Rugby, Northeast Iowa Barbarians, Bremer County Bucks D4, River City Rugby, and the Cedar Rapids Headhunters.
In the Michigan league are the East Side Anchormen, Findlay Scars, Jackson Fenians, Capital Area Crisis, Battle Creek Griffons, Toledo Celtics D4, Downriver Sharks, Fort Wayne Rugby D4, and the Grand Rapids Gazelles D4.
Last but not least is the Minnesota league, home to the Eastside Banshees D4, St. Cloud Bottom Feeders, Rochester Rogues, St. Paul Jazz Pigs D4, Faribault Bokspring, and Metropolis Rugby D4.