Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
The slow week is about to kick into high gear as the College Premier Division embarks on the first round of playoffs in their inaugural season. The top two teams from each of the four conferences that comprise the CPD will do battle this weekend with their seasons on the line.
Unless you were the Rugby East Conference, the regular season in the CPD lacked much drama. That tone should change this weekend as there are four prime matchups on tap.
Saturday May 7th, 2011
Life University at Cal – The newcomer up against the perennial favorite. Life has the odds stacked against them as they face a cross-country trek to take on a Cal team that might be one of the best they’ve had in recent years. That is saying alot considering the talent that comes through the program. Cal was barely tested this season, so the theme to follow will be how well Life stacks up. An upset will require a monumental effort from the Running Eagles and their backrow duo of Cam Dolan and Garrett Lambert. Blaine Scully led the powerful and balanced Cal attack with eight tries this season.
Navy at BYU – BYU faces a similar task that Life faces. Taking on a team that has been preparing for this moment all season long. Navy certainly has the capability to test BYU, but will it be enough to take down the Cougars? BYU has rough rough-shot over every team they have faced this season. It will be interesting to see how they react if the game stays close through the first half. Navy hopes to get production out of Seamus Siefring, who led the team with six tries this season. BYU has three players in the Top 10 in tries this season, including the CPD’s Leading try scorer Ryan Roundy (19). Shaun Davies, who scored 151 points this season, was the beneficiary of the highest producing offense in the CPD.
St. Mary’s at Arkansas State – If you’re a fan of running rugby, you’re going to enjoy this game. Two teams that play a great style of rugby facing off in a must-win game. What more could you ask for? Arkansas State has the home field advantage and need to make life difficult from the onset of the game for the traveling Gaels. This could be one of the closer games played in the quarterfinals. Arkansas State’s Pat Sullivan was a force this season. The flyhalf scored 106 points this season (4th in the CPD). Michael Haley scored nine tries to lead the Gaels this season.
Sunday May 8th, 2011
Utah at Army – A Mother’s Day Special between Army and Utah. Utah was far from dominant this season while Army played through a series of playoff-like games. Army boasts the CPD’s second leading try scorer in Uiki Leatiqaqa who dropped 15 tries on oppenents this season. Utah counters with the elusive Don Pati who led the Utes attack all season. This should be another tight matchup. While both teams have productive backlines, this game may be won in the trenches.