LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Third-ranked Saint Mary’s College is stacked in the backrow. Three AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans lineup in the No. 6, 7 and 8 jerseys and backup flanker Marcus Viscardi, who Head Coach Tim O’Brien thinks is the best reserve in college rugby, is a beast in his own right. Still, no player in the California Conference has had a better month of January than Player of the Month and Gaels openside flanker Alec Barton.
January saw Saint Mary’s play four matches and win them all – handedly. Victories over Arizona State, UC Santa Barbara, Utah and Santa Clara saw Barton score six tries while showing off his versatility by playing minutes in the second row, as well.
The Gaels coaching staff doesn’t seem to be surprised by Barton’s boisterous start to the season. Few players on the Saint Mary’s roster work harder in the offseason than the senior from San Diego.
“Alec’s productivity and inspiring play are byproducts of his physical and mental preparation for the 2016-17 season,” O’Brien commended. “Far too many ball players short-arm preparing to play college rugby. It seems many think they’ll just strap it on and give it a go come game day. If you choose that course of action versus Alec, you’ll find yourself flat on your back or grasping at air as he’s roaring past.”
Often overshadowed by fellow loose forwards and All-Americans Vili Helu and Kevin O’Connor, Barton had a breakout season last year for the Gaels that earned him a place on the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American squad that toured Australia over the summer. Based of January’s results, it appears Barton is ready to take another leap in his rugby career during his final season in Moraga, Calif.
Next up for Barton and Saint Mary’s is a trip to the United State Air Force Academy to tangle with West Conference Champions Saturday, Feb. 4.