Air Force versus Colorado State highlights the West’s return

D1A Rugby: Air Force versus Colorado State highlights the West’s return
Photo Credit: Rich Bristol (left)

BOULDER, Colo. – After snowstorms derailed the first two weeks of the spring portion of West Conference play, March 7 will finally see the Eastern Rockies clubs take the pitch. The sunshine couldn’t arrive at a better time as No. 11 Colorado State seeks revenge against No. 7 Air Force Saturday.

It’s likely that both the Rams and Zoomies would have preferred to reopen conference play against a lesser opponent, but it’s not like either team hasn’t played competitive rugby in 2015. Air Force was able to break a good sweat at the Las Vegas Invitational, while Colorado State earned its best win of the season in February – a 29-21 victory over Arizona.

“Getting that big win in our first game [of 2015] has the guys feeling ready,” said Colorado State Assistant Coach Ryan Walker.

The Rams lost out on opportunities to face New Mexico and Wyoming the past two weeks, while the Zoomies are equally disappointed to have postponed a conference match and cancel a trip to Provo, Utah, to earn quality minutes against BYU. Still, Colorado State doesn’t see any reason to come out sluggish against Air Force.

“It hasn’t been ideal having our games canceled, but that’s been the only thing to negatively effect us,” Walker said. “We’re pretty fortunate to have some state-of-the-art facilities at Colorado State where we can practice indoors when the weather is bad.”

Those indoor training sessions will have to have been productive for the Rams to challenge Air Force tomorrow. Back in September, the Zoomies welcomed Colorado State to the Academy and promptly picked them apart – 57-24. The 33-point loss is the only blemish on the Rams’ record.

Colorado State fly half Lance Eberhard was forced to leave the pitch within the match’s first five minutes for an injury substitute, and his replacement at No. 10 didn’t last much longer before picking up an injury of his own. Even at full strength, the Rams have a few aspects of their game they will need to improve upon to upset the cadets at Infinity Park.

“Physicality and aggression are two of the biggest things,” Walker suggested. “Air Force is guaranteed to be in shape and they’re always going to be physical. They’ve got everything going for them, so at the very least we have to match their physicality.”

After postponing two trips to Colorado for conference matches the past couple of weeks, New Mexico hosts the Buffaloes tomorrow. The Lobos are seeking their first conference win of the season, while No. 19 Colorado is at full strength after dealing with an uncommon amount of injuries throughout the fall.