Week 16: California Conference and Red River Roll On

D1A Rugby: Week 16: California Conference and Red River Roll On
Photo Credit: Alex Ho

This weekend D1A action picks up significantly, with four games taking place across the country, including the long awaited return of #1 Life University to the pitch. Week 16 also sees the California Conference continue its crescendo, and Red River picks back up for the first time since winter break.

Round 16 kicks off with #1 Life University traveling to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. This will be the second time this season the Aggies encounter a Mid-South opponent, having previously lost to Clemson, by a slim, 18-12, margin. This game will prove an entirely different challenge for the Aggies, as Life were untouchable last year. The Running Eagles’ closest contest in 2018 was a 31-12 victory over #3 Lindenwood Lions. This will be Life’s first contest of the 2018-19 campaign, but it will be the Aggies, sixth- as they sit at 4-2 on the year. On paper, the game should be a comfortable victory for Life; but the Aggies over the past seasons has developed a reputation for hanging around with the best teams in the country and forcing them into an uncomfortable game plan. The key to this outing for the Aggies will be to exploit any rust in Life’s game, and to stick with them for the full eighty minutes. If they achieve this, they could pull off the upset.

In the California Conference, #4 Saint Mary’s looks to continue their impressive start to 2019 with a dominant showing against #20 Grand Canyon. GCU started the year ranked in 12th, but due to strong performances in the Fall, from teams on the east coast, they have slipped down to 20th. The Lopes will undoubtedly be frustrated by their current spot in the rankings, and Saturday provides the perfect opportunity for them to land a statement win. It will be their first game in D1A as a member of a conference, after spending 2017-18 as an independent. The stability provided by being in a conference will help the Lopes as they continue in their attempts to ascend back up the ladder. However, this can be a double edged sword and losses can quickly hurt a team as much as wins help them. The Lopes will need to take full advantage of opportunities such as these to impress against some of the best in the country.

Another California Conference team in action this weekend will be Cal Poly when they play host to #14 Central Washington. While this will be Cal Poly’s first game of the season, CWU will be entering their third contest of the season. It has been a mixed bag for the wild cats thus far, as they have won emphatically, against UC Davis, but also lost emphatically to Saint Mary’s. Their opponents this weekend, Cal Poly, were late bloomers last year- coming in hot to close out the season and threaten to sneak into the playoffs. Cal Poly, will be looking to capture that same spark this season and convert on their attempts of making it into the postseason.

The final game of the weekend will see two Red River teams eager to have a better 2019, than they did 2018, square off. LSU will host the University of North Texas. Both teams enter the game with only one win on the season. The die has not been cast for either team and their season; but whoever loses this game, seemingly will have found their season at its end.