Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy, Editor, Rugby America
This Friday, Colorado State and the University of Colorado (0-1) face off in what is becoming one of the rising rivalries in college rugby. Colorado State has won the last two matches over rivals Colorado and look to continue that trend in their first Collegiate Premier Division match.
The teams last met in the Fall with Colorado State coming out victorious in a heated 32-29 decision.
The Buffaloes have already had their first taste of conference play as they opened up the season last weekend in Arizona where they were defeated by Arizona State. The Rams are making their conference debut and the occassion will be marked by a match against their old foes.
Both teams come into the game after less than stellar pre-season buildups. The Buffaloes are nursing injuries to key players Reggie Bryant, Jeff Tarshis, and Chris Martin. The squad hung in tight against Arizona State for most of the game last weekend before losing grip down the stretch.
The Buffaloes are now focused on Colorado State and getting their first conference victory.
“We play them enough that we know what they have. We know how they play. They’re always big, always athletic and play a go-forward style,” said Colorado coach, Jim Snyder.
“Our players love the tradition, the physicality, and want to reclaim the in-state bragging rights.”
The Rams won’t be so inclined to give up their bragging rights over their in-state rivals. The squad had an excellent Fall but has yet to find their form this season. A rivalry match against Colorado may be just what the doctor ordered for Colorado State. The intensity of the rivaly should bring out the best in both teams and might help the Rams find their form.
“We’ve been building up to the CPD all year. Now it’s all about raising up to the next level,” said Rams head coach, Blake Stevens.
“We’ve played the University Northern Colorado and Wyoming and lost both those games. So it’s not the best preseason record, but we’re trying to find that form we had in the fall.”
The game, set to be played Friday night at Glendale’s Infinity Park also has the distinction of showing off plenty of homegrown talent that has been coming through the growing network of high school programs in the State of Colorado.
Colorado State’s lineup of former Colorado High School players includes Steven Karas (Chapparel), Rian Fugier (Regis Jesuit), Sam Warren (Cherry Creek), Brock Hogan (Colorado Springs), Marshall Brandt (Colorado Springs), Chet Tokarsky (Chapparel), Chris Kenson (Northside), Matt Johns (Boulder), Mikey Garrity (Regis Jesuit), Kyle Lunsford (SWARM), and Marques Vieira (Regis Jesuit).
Colorado’s in-state talent is nearly as impressive with Alex Nittoli (Ranch), Justin Silva (Douglas County), Lance King (East), Michael Sangaline (Chapparel), Sean Kilifoyle (East), Zach Savage (Boulder), and Trevor Brennan (Cherry Creek).
“The high school pipeline is very important to both schools,” added Stevens.
“For us it is an absolute must. Rugby Colorado has many fine programs and teams that provide us dedicated rugby athletes. We want to advertise that and thank those programs for developing these good players so that we can raise our level of play. It’s also important for current high school players to see that college rugby is a legitimate sporting option played competitively in great event like our rivalry match played in Glendale at Infinity Park.”
The fact that Colorado and Colorado State aren’t currently powerhouses in the Western Conference shouldn’t take away from the fact that both schools are building well run programs using talent that is coming up through the youth and high school levels. As long as the pathway continues to grow and feed athletes into both programs, this rivalry should only get better and better.
“Our players love playing in rivalry games, and this one is the big one. It’s going to be one heck of a ball game,” said the Buffaloes’ Snyder.
“I don’t have to do a whole lot to get [the team] fired up. It’s CU versus CSU and our guys know what that means. We are blessed to have such a strong rival in CU. It helps push us and makes CSU a better program. The series is always back and forth and makes it very exciting,” Stevens finished.
“It is also great because of the big rivalry it allow us to showcase the match at a premier venue in front of a large crowd and that helps push the Rugby to an even higher level.”
Tickets can be purchased at http://glendalerugby.com/tickets-and-travel use code Rams or Buffs to fund the team you support. Tickets are $6.
The game will also be broadcast on USA Rugby’s UStream channel (http://www.ustream.tv/usarugby).