BOULDER, Colo. – Big Ten Rugby is heating up this week, an exciting change of pace after some hard-to-watch poundings some teams took in the first two weeks. One team that came into the season with all eyes on it, No. 10 Indiana, has proven why it is one of the premier rugby programs in the conference. Only a week removed from posting 92 points on Purdue, the Hoosiers will have to travel to Ann Arbor for what may be the toughest challenge they face this year: a hungry, No. 17 Michigan side.
Michigan has corrected its ship after a defeat to Humber College in the first match of the season, taking the second match against Notre Dame, 70-31. The Wolverines played Michigan State to start Big Ten play, a match in which Michigan State played some great rugby. After going up, 14-10, in the first half, the Spartans couldn’t hold back the Michigan attack and ended up losing the match, 22-14.
“We learned that Michigan State was much more improved,” said Michigan Head Coach Brandon Sparks. “As for Michigan, we have to, across the board, one through 15, step up and be leaders and take responsibilities for our own jobs.”
The match this weekend against Indiana will be a perfect place to show what the Michigan leaders can do. One player that will have a big task in front of him is inside center Cole Van Harn, as he will have to cover senior inside center Bryce Campbell throughout the match.
Indiana boasts one of the best back lines in D1A Rugby, which includes Campbell, wing Jake Hidalgo, and full back Teddy Terezis. The three have combined for 12 tries in their first two matches, and will be a big factor in this game. Hidalgo scored a try, and Terezis kicked two conversions in the match against Michigan last season.
“We expect a very hard, physical game just like last year,” said Indiana Head Coach Sarasopa Enari. “It went down to the last 10 minutes and we expect it to be the same.”
The match between these two sides ended in Indiana’s favor last year, as they won, 19-17. Michigan had led for about 70 minutes before Indiana scored to give the Hoosiers the game. In 2013, these two met in the Conference Championship game, which Indiana won but had to forfeit. There are still players on these squads that were at that Championship game, and their memory of that match will only add fuel to the fire.
“You’d have to not have a pulse to not be excited for this match,” said Sparks.
The match between these two Canterbury D1A Top 20 teams will be played at Mitchell Field in Ann Arbor, Mich., at 1 p.m. ET.