BOULDER, Colo. – A Red River doubleheader will be part of a Feb. 13 rugby extravaganza in Austin, Texas. The University of Texas has moved its match against LSU to nearby Burr Field, where Baylor and Texas A&M have agreed to rendezvous for their conference meeting.
The Longhorns are reeling from a 42-19 defeat against Texas Tech to open league play, and things won’t get easier with LSU coming to town. The Tigers enjoyed their first taste of Red River rugby when they dispatched TCU, 52-7, Jan. 30.
Although LSU is undefeated and has climbed to No. 17 in the latest Canterbury D1A Top 20 rankings, the team continues to find ways to enhance its weekly performance.
“Even though our team has been playing really well this season, there are still some things that we need to continue to improve on,” said lock Zach Stratton. “The main area that needs improvement is what we call ruck recognition. It is recognizing when support is or isn’t needed around the breakdown. It is something that we have really put a focus on recently to make us a better team.”
Several Tigers chipped in over the course of their 45-point victory over the Horned Frogs. In particular, junior eight man Todd Dupre and senior outside center Jeff Mauras were quite impressive – combining for seven tries in the rout. Those two figure to play a pivotal role for LSU on Saturday, as does Cameron Troxler – who has been a steady hand for the Tigers at fly half.
One key contributor that won’t take the pitch against Texas is Brennan Flacon. The dynamic flanker will be taking on the Canadian U20s as a member of the Men’s Junior All-Americans 25 miles down the road at Dell Diamond at the tail end of the full day of rugby in Austin.
Baylor is coming off of a loss, but an optimistic loss, nonetheless. The Bears pushed standings leader Oklahoma to the brink of a tie before giving up what would be the game-winning try minutes before full time. Texas A&M also gave the Sooners trouble before eventually going down in defeat.
“A&M is very fit and athletic,” observed Baylor Head Coach Mason Hering. “Their loose trio, especially No. 7 and former Junior All-American Braeden Hood, really does a great job at the breakdown of slowing the ball down.”
The Bears feel their loss in Norman, Okla., could have been reversed if they were more opportunistic.
“We’ll need to do a better job of turning mistakes by the Aggies into points for us,” Hering said. “We did a good job pressuring Oklahoma into mistakes, but we didn’t capitalize on that.”
Following the D1A doubleheader, local senior side and 2015 Men’s Division I National runners-up Austin Blacks will tangle with rival and ’15 Semifinalist Dallas Reds. When the trio of contests have concluded, several of the teams will make their way to Dell Diamond for the Eagles’ Americas Rugby Championship fixture against Canada.
The Feb. 13 international test match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff, and will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com. The Men’s Junior All-American World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier versus Canada will follow and can be seen on USA Rugby TV.