Match of the week: Baylor vs. Oklahoma
BOULDER, Colo. – In this Saturday’s Division 1A Match of the Week, Baylor pays Oklahoma a visit in Norman.
The match will be each team’s first Allied Rugby Conference game of the season following the cancelations of two ARC matches due to weather last weekend.
Oklahoma is hoping its successful sevens fall campaign, in which it won each of the three ARC 7s tournaments, translates to continued success this spring. The Sooners, lead by Head Coach Jason Horowitz, are not investing much thought into their string of victories in the fall and expect to face a tough test from Baylor and the rest of the conference.
“They have a solid coaching staff, and a bunch of a good athletes,” said Horowitz. “Just like all of the teams we play in our conference, Baylor is an improving team as they proved in the fall during the sevens season.”
Baylor is a young team, but the consensus in the ARC is Head Coach Nick Lane has the program on the fast track to becoming one of the better college rugby teams in the region.
With a minimal number of players on his roster with D1A rugby experience, Lane expects his boys to compete using proper technique and fitness. Still, he knows Oklahoma will present challenges Saturday.
“I expect them to have a very good forward pack, in particular with their backrow,” said Lane. “I expect them to be the usual Oklahoma – aggressive and relentless.”
For Baylor, competing at a high level against a tough Oklahoma team for 80 minutes may just be enough to push the young Bears towards a successful 2014 season.
Whether it is unspoken or not amongst the Sooners themselves, Oklahoma is the favorite to win the ARC. The label applies additional emphasis to come out of the gates fast in Norman.
“No matter what game you look at they are all important to win, especially the season opening at home,” said Horowitz. “You never want to be chasing a run at a championship from behind, you always want to start out on the right foot.”