Week 17 Preview: Spring Season in Full Swing

D1A Rugby: Week 17 Preview: Spring Season in Full Swing
Photo Credit: Alex Ho

While the Spring season has been underway for the past three weeks, this weekend will see more games than the previous three rounds combined. Teams from the California, PAC and Red River conferences are all taking the pitch.

The biggest game of the weekend will be #2 Cal playing their first D1A match of the season against UC Davis. The Golden Bears are coming into their season hot, after winning the Storer Classic, a tournament of condensed 15s games, last weekend. The Golden Bears had an impressive run last year, making it all the way to the National Championship before falling to Life. 10 of their starting 15 from 2018’s championship match return this year, and with so many players returning from such a successful run last year they will be hard to get past. UC Davis will have their hands full trying to keep this team off the scoreboard.

Another team ranked in the top 4 that will take the pitch this weekend is #4 Saint Mary’s. They’ll be playing a double header against Santa Clara and UC Santa Barbara. Saint Mary’s has been a force to be reckoned with over their first two outings in 2019 scoring 128 points and only conceding three. After enjoying an unexpected bye week (their game was cancelled due to travel issues) they will be fresh and ready to take on whatever challenges are thrown their way this weekend. It will be a challenge for Santa Clara and UC Santa Barbra to compete with the Gaels for the full eighty minutes. It might start off as a tight affair, but look for Saint Mary’s to pull away as their strength, fitness and skills begin to shine through.

Both games will be available through FloRugby.

#11 Arizona will travel to San Diego State for what could prove to be the best game of the weekend. Arizona are coming off arguably their best regular season in program history last year, and will look to continue trending upwards in 2019. The Wildcats were a constant thorn in the side of their opposition last year- but ultimately fell to Penn State in the opening round of last year’s playoffs in one of the most entertaining games of the season. On the field they will be led by Matt Rogers, the Senior out of Granite Bay, CA.- 2018 was a breakout year for the halfback and he will look to continue terrorizing defenses in 2019. For San Diego State, 2018 was a mixed bag. They started the year off with a three tough losses, but a mid-year renaissance put them right back into contention for the round of 16. However, a tough slate of games to close out the season closed out their chances of creeping into the first round. They entered 2018-19 ranked 15th in the country, but after strong Fall performances on the East Coast, the Aztecs fell out of the rankings. A win this weekend will surely see the Aztecs back in the Top 20.

Another California Conference PAC Conference crossover game will see Cal Poly travel down to Los Angeles to take on the UCLA Bruins. Cal Poly were a revelation towards the end of the season barreling into the second half of Spring pushing for a playoff spot, but it was too little too late. This year, the momentum does not appear to have carried over; as they fell in their opening match last weekend to #14 Central Washington 66-10. UCLA, was another team that showed tremendous promise throughout last year, but they were unable to get the results they needed. Their season saw two wins in a row followed by a loss followed by two draws in a row and then a loss. Look for the Bruins to learn their lessons from 2018 and pull the results out in the waning moments of the game.

In more PAC action, Utah and Arizona State will face off. Last year wasn’t Utah’s year. After coming on strong in the Fall they fell off in the Spring, only winning two games out of their final seven fixtures. More consistency will be the key to a successful year for Utah. Arizona State had a year they’d like to forget as well going 1-4 on the year, losing by an average of 46. They’ll be hoping for a reversal of fortune in 2019.

The Red River will see its two divisional leaders, Texas A&M and Arkansas kick their Spring Red River campaigns off. The Aggies will take on, bottom of the Red River South table, Texas; while Arkansas will take on Oklahoma, who is nipping at the Razorbacks’ heels in the Northern Table. A win for either team here could seal their fate for the season. Last time the Sooners and Razorbacks met it was in Fayetteville- and Arkansas escaped with a five point victory. With the Sooners playing host on the weekend, they are in a primed position to hand Arkansas their first loss of the season. It promises to be a pivotal match with each team desperate for the win. North Texas coming off an impressive win last weekend against LSU, will now take on Texas Tech. Texas Tech is searching for their first win of the year. It’s been a long season for Texas Tech, they’ll be hoping they’ve turned the corner for 2019. North Texas, similarly, will be hoping their win last week is the spark they needed to get their season back on track. The final game of the weekend will see LSU coming off a heartbreaking loss to North Texas last weekend try to hold of Baylor, who have been inconsistent through the year.