Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy, Editor, Rugby America
The launch of the new College Premier competition drew a fair amount of attention this weekend, but there was still plenty of rugby going on around the country and some very meaninful rugby in some parts.
One of those areas was in California… both southern and northern.
In Northern California, Sacramento State defeated previously unbeaten Stanford 17-14 to put pressure atop the Northern California standings. The two squads were deadlocked at 7-7 going into the half and Stanford got on the board first in the second half with a try from Junior scrumhalf Daniel Ibarra.
Trailing 14-7 late, Sacramento State scored two tries to take home the victory. The win leaves both Stanford and Sacramento State at 3-1 in the standings, but Stanford holds the edge in points as they picked up a bonus point in the close loss.
“There were some positive moments for us as a team and individually, and I think overall we played hard. However, we carried a seven point lead for much of the second half, and spent considerable time deep in their end, but couldn’t finish off opportunities to build a cushion and in the end that cost us the game,” saud Stanford Head Coach Matt Sherman.
“A lot of this was accountable to mental mistakes and miscues Moving forward, I think it’s not necessarily a case of us needing to play harder, but smarter while we are playing as hard as we can.”
Stanford takes on Santa Clara next weekend. Sacramento State will be hoping for an upset as that will be the only way that they can leapfrong Stanford in the standings and move onto the Division I playoffs.
In Southern California, UC Santa Barbara (5-0) use big second have to cruise past the University of San Diego 52-10. San Diego gave the Gauchos all kinds of fits at the start as the Gauchos only held a slim 12-10 at the half.
“They did a great job of pressuring us at the breakdown. They really did a great job of keeping the pressure on and taking us out of our rhythm,” stated Santa Barbara coach Kevin Battle.
“We found ourselves on the wrong side of the whistle” stated Battle. “I think the penalty count was something like 21-7. We made some adjustments at halftime, but that’s an area we must improve.”
The second half was all on way traffic as Santa Barbara punched in six unanswered tries. Battle was happy with the production from the Gaucho’s forward pack, especially with the work we got from their two freshmen 2nd rows.
“Ryan Cook was outstanding for us today, as he stole a lot of ball at the lineouts and put the game away with a try of his own late in the second half.”
We don’t give too much coverage to the Division III guys, but congrats go out to St. Edwards who defeated Midwestern State 31-6 to lock up the Texas Division III Championship.
In the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference, Oregon State (3-0) picked up an important 22-5 win over Washington State (2-1). Connor McDonnell scored two tries for the Beavers.
In other NCRC action, Western Washington (1-2) got in the win column at the expense of the University of Washington (0-4). Gavri Grossman scored two tries for Western Washington in the 38-10 win and Connor Nelson nailed 4 of 6 conversions.
Eastern Washington’s (2-1) Eric Populus led the charge with a try and three conversions in a 28-10 victory over Oregon (0-3).
The tournament field for the Division I National Championship is shaping up quickly. With only a handful of competitions left to crown champions, there should be some very big games coming up on the schedule.
Stay tuned to Rugby America as the action unfolds.