BOULDER, Colo. – The spring D1A Rugby conference schedule doesn’t truly ramp up until the latter half of February, but there are plenty of excellent nonconference matches between now and then involving D1A teams, including a healthy slate of matches Jan. 17.
This week, three California Conference teams will be in action, two Red River teams are on Saturday’s docket, and Oregon State is hosting a round robin involving five teams.
Saint Mary’s vs. Arizona State
The Gaels are coming off of a monster win in their 85-15 performance against a quality Utah side, while Arizona State was stomped by BYU, 72-8. Obviously, the Sun Devils have plenty of room for improvement and will be glad to re-insert backline studs Adam and Alex Sandstrom after missing last week’s match due to their participation at the USA Rugby National Team Recruitment Camp. However, Saint Mary’s has yet to hit its stride as well, and won’t take any team on its 2015 schedule lightly.
Try-scorers Dylan Audsley, Cooper Maloney, and Kingsley McGowan tend to steal the headlines, but front row stalwarts Michael O’Neil and Dino Waldren will be setting the platform for the Gaels’ brand of running rugby. The match can be seen live from Moraga, Calif., at SMCGaels.com and is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. PT.
Santa Clara vs. Stanford
Santa Clara hasn’t played a ton of rugby during the 2014-15 season, so the Cardinal should be a nice test to see where the Broncos are as a unit. Santa Clara and Stanford are both coming off of seasons that saw the South Bay Area squads into the D1A and D1AA Playoffs, respectively. Look for Kyle Dunne and John O’Hara to take the reins of Head Coach Paul Keeler’s young side early in its season.
UC Santa Barbara – Dennis Storer Classic
The Gauchos are once again prepping for their California Conference season by duking it out at the Dennis Storer Classic. The tournament schedule pins Santa Barbara against UC Santa Cruz, Cal, and UC Davis – all of which will be 40-minute matches. The Gauchos will wrap up the UCLA-held tournament Sunday, Jan. 18, against an opponent yet to be determined.
Baylor vs. Rice
Experience is invaluable for a young team, and that is exactly what Baylor will receive in its match against Rice. After finishing the fall portion of its conference schedule a disappointing 1-3, the Bears will look to make steady improvement this spring to better prepare them for next year’s Red River competition. Pete Hamm is a playmaker in the back row for Baylor, and has the leadership qualities to help right the Bears’ ship.
TCU vs. Dallas Reds (B-Side)
Like Baylor, TCU is a young program needing every minute of pitch time it can get its hands on. With its recent volunteer work in the community completed, the Horned Frogs turn their attention to senior club side the Dallas Reds. While TCU won’t be up against the Reds’ top side, Dallas will likely present more challenges than Head Coach TeShay Flowers’ team can handle. Last season, the Reds bullied their way to USA Rugby’s Division I National Semifinal. A team doesn’t make it to the National round of four without talented depth equating to a solid second unit.
Pac North Tournament
Oregon State and four other teams will assemble in Corvallis, Ore., for this weekend’s Pac North Tournament. University of Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Washington State join hosts Oregon State in a round robin-formatted schedule taking place over two days. Matches will be shortened to 50 minutes in length, and rolling substitutions will be allowed to maintain fresh legs throughout the weekend and give coaches an opportunity to test multiple combinations.