Saint Mary’s vs. BYU highlight non-conference matches
BOULDER, Colo. – Coaches throughout the Division 1A league believe scheduling matches outside of their respective conferences is an important way to increase skill level and ensure their club is playing the best possible rugby late into the season.
This weekend, several teams will be tested in non-conference matches. Here is a look at the teams gaining valuable experience against quality competition outside of their conference:
Arkansas State vs. Texas A&M:
This match-up has become a yearly tradition for the two clubs. Arkansas State, coming off of its second consecutive USA Rugby College 7s National Championship, will be one of the most dangerous teams in the country. The Red Wolves will surely use this weekend’s match against A&M to work out some kinks before beginning their conference schedule in the massively competitive Mid-South Conference.
Texas A&M’s team might not stack up athletically withfirst XVs it has produced in the past. Still, the Aggies are showing heart by not backing down from their traditional match against Arkansas State. A&M Head Coach Brett Mills believes the road trips his team is taking to Jonesboro, Ark., will be a good team-building experience. Win, lose or draw, A&M will be better prepared for its Allied Rugby Conference schedule after 80 minutes on the pitch with Arkansas State.
Saint Mary’s College vs. BYU
Saint Mary’s is an elite rugby program, and its 2014 schedule reflects that. In addition to the Bay Area rivalry match against Cal, Saint Mary’s has added a home-and-away against BYU this season. The Gaels have been dominant thus far in 2014, and it remains to be seen if anyone from the California Conference will be able to give them a true test. BYU, on the other hand, will be giving Saint Mary’s all it can handle in its trip to Moraga, Calif. A split in the series would not be surprising, especially if the Gaels can hold serve this weekend playing on their own campus.
Air Force vs. University of Arizona
The Zoomies are especially happy to have this friendly against Arizona after being forced to cancel their trip to Utah to participate in the Red Rocks 15s Tournament. Air Force lost out on valuable on-field time by missing the tournament in Utah, though it is one of the few teams that can always be counted on to be match-fit. Arizona is in the midst of a rebuilding season as new head coach Sean Duffy has only been on campus for one month. Either way, a trip to the desert will be a boost for the Zoomies before they begin play in the West Conference.
Cal Poly vs. Arizona state
After a tough loss at the hands of UCLA, Cal Poly continues its non-conference gauntlet this weekend with a visit to Arizona State. Poly Head Coach Dave Burnett has confidence in his team’s depth, and it shows in their schedule. After its match against the Sun Devils, Cal Poly still has Cal, Dartmouth and BYU remaining on the non-conference schedule. By arranging a non-conference calendar of this magnitude, it seems Cal Poly is building a brand of rugby for the future while also preparing for yet another playoff run in 2014.