The Super League's 2010 campaign figured to be turbulent, yet off-field matters have remained front and center late in the season.
2006 champion OMBAC postponed this weekend's away game against the Chicago Griffins for personnel reasons, a rarity, if not unprecedented, for the 14-team circuit. Last week, the league rescheduled its championship, again.
As with last fall's unexpected withdrawal of past champion Belmont Shore and then Santa Monica -- the season's first blow -- such events don't make it certain the self-administered competition will collapse. So long as the teams are willing to foot the bill, the RSL is 'in business'.
It's safer to say the Super League is a delicately balanced operation that can't take much for granted, makes some good and some bad decisions, and perpetually faces unintended consequences. The silver lining is the league by and large controls its course, to a far greater degree than most of American rugby.
Moving the final to San Francisco Golden Gate's Rocca Field, for example, is a cost-saving measure for a league that evenly shares expenditure. But the shift from Denver could also create home-field advantage for unbeaten SFGG, should it qualify for the final.
Why change at all? Having agreed USARFU's request to stage its final the first weekend in June, the league then acceded to Boulder's wish that it bring the game forward to Memorial Day weekend, in order to accommodate the start of a national team assembly.
Once it did so, the rationale for staging the title game in Denver fell apart, according to people familiar with the decision. No good deed goes unpunished.
OMBAC is already out of the playoff hunt, as are the Dallas Harlequins and the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, but Saturday's penultimate round looms important to the heavyweights vying for homefield advantage. An SFGG win over surprising 3-1 Old Puget Sound Beach would all but sew up three playoff games at Treasure Island, should the the defending champs advance that far.
Only the Denver Barbarians, who like SFGG have already qualified from the western conference, can overhaul Paul Keeler's troops for first place. The 4-1 Barbos, who fell to Golden Gate in week 2, travel to Seattle next weekend in a game that may determine the west's second home seeding.
In the east, Life and the New York AC, both unbeaten, are similarly guaranteed to be playing on May 15, both likely at home. They meet next week in New York.
Old Blue (2-2), which plays Life this Saturday in Atlanta, could catch Life if Old Blue logs two bonus-point wins and Life fails to register any more points. More probably, 3-2 Boston, which is inactive this weekend, will claim one of the remaining slots and next weekend's Old Blue-Charlotte (1-3) contest in New York
will might settle the other.