BOULDER, Colo. – The third week of Rugby East brings two teams that have yet to see any conference action this season – No. 6 Kutztown and newcomer West Virginia. It will also include a battle of top 10 teams, No. 5 Army and No. 9 Wheeling Jesuit. The high caliber Rugby East will continue with four games on Sept. 26.
No. 5 Army vs. No. 9 Wheeling Jesuit
Wheeling Jesuit is coming off of a tough loss to Penn State last weekend, losing, 38-33, at home. The Cardinals will try to rebound against an Army team that has yet to give up a try this season.
The Black Knights side is being led by seniors Peter Basnight, and John Sproul, who have each scored a try in their first two games. Junior center Andrew Fargo has dominated the pitch for Army as well, scoring two tries in each game so far. Army is physical, fast, and have a stout defense, something that will provide Wheeling Jesuit with its toughest challenge yet.
Buffalo vs. No. 6 Kutztown
Buffalo has had a terrible start to the season, and heads into one of its toughest matches without scoring a point. The Bulls came off of their winless season with a little bit of hope coming from Nigeria national team hopeful Ike Onwukanjo and transfer Sankara Daly, but their efforts thus far have been unsuccessful.
This match will be Kutztown’s first Rugby East game of the year, as it starts the search to regain dominance in the East. The Bears have played two non-conference matches so far this season, beating Stony Brook, 56-17, and Delaware, 77-21. All-Americans Wes Hartmann, Robert Stortz, and Alex Faison-Donohoe will be a force in the East, and should easily take care of a struggling Buffalo side.
St. Bonaventure vs. Iona
Though St. Bonaventure has yet to win a match, it has shown it can play good rugby after its first half with Penn State. The Bonnies had a bad match against a very good Army side, but the Black Knights look like the team to beat thus far this season. St. Bonaventure will have a more favorable matchup against Iona, but will still be immensely tested.
Iona is a very physical team, and was able to show it against Wheeling Jesuit in its first game. The Gaels played close with the No. 9 team, but weren’t able to capitalize on enough opportunities. They played a bad match against Buffalo, but were able to come out with the win. This game, though not between top teams in the East, will be a good matchup to follow.
West Virginia vs. No. 8 Penn State
Rugby East welcomes West Virginia to the conference this week as the team plays its first match as a D1A Rugby program. Last year’s D1AA Keystone Conference champions lost nine starters in the offseason, making their transition into Rugby East even more difficult.
The Mountaineers played a very good Notre Dame College side last weekend, losing, 54-15. Past newcomers to the conference have had a rough time in their first season, and it will be up to West Virginia to change that trend.
On the other hand, Penn State has been one of the top teams in the Rugby East for years. The Nittany Lions took down a physical Wheeling Jesuit side last weekend, winning the game behind the strong leg of Jimmy Ronan. Penn State will be looking to take its third conference game of the season this weekend against West Virginia.