BOULDER, Colo. – In a top 15 matchup, No. 14 Colorado State will head to Tucson to take on No. 9 Arizona Saturday, Feb. 5. The early-season showdown is important for both schools that have their sights set on the 2015 D1A Rugby Playoffs.
For Arizona, January saw Jekyll-and Hyde-like performances in its two matches. The Wildcats opened 2015 with a stellar 55-5 victory over Santa Clara, but followed up that showing by dropping an egg against a terrific Cal team – 76-0 in favor of the Bears.
Saturday’s contest will be the first of two consecutive challenges from the West Conference for Arizona. Next week, Head Coach Sean Duffy’s team heads to Las Vegas to fend off Wyoming as part of the Las Vegas Invitational.
The Rams from Fort Collins will not stack up the way Cal does, but are sure to provide heavier resistance than the Broncos were able to offer a few weeks back. Aside from a 60-minute friendly against nearby School of Mines, this will be Colorado State’s first match of 2015 following a successful fall. The Rams went 3-1 over the first portion of its West Conference schedule, with its lone defeat coming against No. 6 Air Force. While the 3-1 record was a nice start, the team was able to climb D1A’s rankings based on the convincing fashion of its league wins – blowouts over Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming by an average of 36 points.
Still, Colorado State is lacking a marquee win to its name, and a defeat of Arizona would go a long way to securing its playoff spot for the spring. If the Wildcats can defend their home turf at William David Sitton Field, then the Rams might be feeling a bit of pressure to upset Air Force when the two Rocky Mountain sides meet for a second time this season March 7.
One position to keep an eye on this Saturday will be openside flanker. AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Ben Pinkelman will be wearing No. 7 and captaining Colorado State, while vice-captain Matt Tomasetti will be his opposite and bring a similar skill set to the table as Pinkelman. The last time Pinkelman was on the pitch he was representing USA as a member of the Eagles Select XV at the American Rugby Championship in October.