Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy, Editor, Rugby America
The weekend is nearly upon us and what does that mean?
You guessed it… more college rugby to enjoy. There’s no time to waste, so here is a look at some of the college rugby action on tap for this coming weekend.
Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference
University of Washington (1-6) at Oregon State (6-0) – Washington was finally able to claw itself into the win column with a victory over Simon Fraser, but now have to turn around and travel to face NCRC leader Oregon State. The Beavers need to keep their perfect record intact for their battle with British Columbia next week for what could be the conference title game.
Western Washington (3-3) at University of Oregon (1-5) – The Vikings rebounded well from a stinging loss to UBC with a victory over Eastern Washington last weekend. Oregon wasn’t able to muster too much of a fight against Washington State. With the win Western Washington can put a little distance between themselves and Eastern Washington for the fourth spot in the conference standings.
University of British Columbia (6-0) at Washington State (5-1) – UBC will be travelling to the Palouse with a motley crew as most students are taking finals, but one can never take UBC lightly as UBC has averaged over 60 points per game with less than 8 allowed. Washington State are ready to test UBC like they haven’t been tested this season.
Simon Fraser (1-5) at Eastern Washington (3-3) – The Eagles hosts the Clan in Cheney hoping to reverse course having struggled the last few weeks. Eastern Washington has been hit hard with injuries meanwhile Simon Fraser has only one win on the season and failed to travel two weeks ago to play Washington State. Will the Clan be able to piece together a squad for the long haul to Eastern Washington?
Atlantic Coast Rugby League
Duke (0-5) at University of Maryland (4-1) – Citing multiple issues that wold have kept them from fielding a full lineup, the Blue Devils have forfeited their game against Maryland this weekend. The victory for the Terps sets up a North Carolina/Maryland battle for the inaugural ACRL Championship. This season has been difficult for Duke as they jumped to Division I from Division III and into a very formidable conference. The experience was valuable for the Blue Devils and signs of improvement were tangible.
Wake Forest (1-4) at University of Virginia (4-1) – Another team that has struggled to put together wins, Wake Forest also has much to look forward to with a young lineup that has challenged throughout the season. The Demon Deacons are on the road to face Virginia, who narrowly missed out on the conference title game. The Cavaliers are looking to finish off their season with a strong win at home.
North Carolina State (2-3) at Virginia Tech (2-3) – Two teams with identical records face off with more at stake than one might expect. Aside from the pride both programs carry, the winner finishes the season with a .500 record and in the middle of the ACRL standings.
University of Georgia (2-4-1) at Kennesaw State (1-5) – The Bulldogs face Kennesaw State in their final game of the season. Georgia has played better in the second half of the season and should finish the season on a high note as they prepare to join the new Southeastern Rugby Conference in 2012.
Florida State (3-2-2) at South Carolina (3-3-1) – After losing to rivals Florida last weekend and being put out of playoff contention, the Seminoles face a tough trip to South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had an up and down season and have the opportunity to finish it with a big win over one of the top teams in the conference.
Rugby East Conference
Army (4-0) at Ohio State (0-4) – Army rolls into Columbus atop the Rugby East standings and with the top offense in the conference. Army is averaging just over 40 points per game and look poised to move onto the playoffs. Despite their winless record, the Buckeyes have played very well of late and the team appears to get a little bit better each game. Army is a heavy favorite, but Ohio State will make them earn it.
Delaware (2-2) at Kutztown (1-3) – Barring a meltdown by the conference leaders, both Delaware and Kutztown are out of the playoff race. This doesn’t take anything away from what should be a very good game between these Mid-Atlantic rivals.
Navy (4-0) at Dartmouth (2-2) – Navy will be tested on Saturday as they travel to face Dartmouth. Navy boasts the stingiest defense in Rugby East and they will face an experienced Dartmouth side that could complicate the playoff race by knocking off undefeated Navy.
Rutgers (0-4) at Penn State (3-1) – Penn State is still in the hunt for a playoff spot and they will pay close heed to Rutgers performance last weekend against Dartmouth. Rutgers came from behind to nearly upset the Ivy League Champs. Home field advantage is an important factor for the Nittany Lions, expect them to use it.
LSU (1-3) at Tennessee (2-2) – A light Mid-South schedule this weekend is highlighted by a matchup between two SEC rivals. LSU has struggled this season, but got on track last weekend with a decisive victory over Oklahoma. Tennessee is looking to run the rest of the Mid-South table after losses to Life and Arkansas State.
Notre Dame (1-2) at Arkansas State (4-0) – The Fighting Irish face the daunting task of taking on the Red Wolves. Arkansas State is averaging nearly 50 points per game while only giving up 13 points per game.
Air Force (3-1) at Utah (3-1) – In one of the best games on the CPD slate this weekend, Air Force and Utah face off in what might be the game that decides the #2 seed coming out of the Western Conference. This should be a very good game.
Colorado (1-4) at Wyoming (0-4) – Colorado hits the road to Wyoming to take on the Cowboys who have struggled like no other team in the conference. Wyoming has scored a paltry 18 points this season while giving up over 64 points per game. The Buffaloes have a golden opportunity to build a little confidence.
Colorado State (0-4) at Arizona (1-3) – Another struggling squad, Colorado State, faces the tough task of heading to Arizona to take on the Wildcats. Despite their record, Arizona has not played poorly and have a chance to finish strong in their first CPD season.
Cal Poly (1-3) at UC Davis (0-5) – It has been a tough season for UC Davis, but it is coming to a close. Cal Poly comes calling this weekend. Cal Poly is another team looking to finish their season on a high note by rolling off wins in their remaining games.
Claremont (0-4) at San Diego State (3-2) – After getting off to a tough start, the Aztecs have bounced back quite well. They will continue their surge this weekend by hosting Claremont who is still looking for their first win of the season.
St. Mary’s (4-1) at Central Washington (3-1) – If USA Rugby was still naming their Barnburner of the Week, this would be it. This is THE game that will decide who will be the #2 seed coming out of the Pacific Conference. Both teams are very well coached and play exciting brand of rugby. Home field advantage could come into play for Central Washington. They’ll need it if they’re going to knock off the Gaels.
Division II Nationals
This weekend kicks off the Division II Men & Women’s Nationals with the Top 16 teams from Division II playing off to determine who advances to the Final 4. Tournament sites include the University of California-San Diego and the Austin Tindall Regional Park in Kissimmee, Florida. Each site hosts a men’s and women’s bracket.