Austin primed for Red River Conference Championship Saturday

D1A Rugby: Austin primed for Red River Conference Championship Saturday

Austin, TX is set to kick off the month of April at Huns Field with the Red River Rugby Conference Championship, presented by Canterbury. The inaugural championship features matchups between North and South division teams to determine final overall rankings in the conference. Catch the action live on YouTube, leading up to the first place game between Baylor and No. 16 LSU. Stay tuned for a preview of the championship game later this week.

5th-place game: Arkansas vs. Texas – 9:00 a.m. CDT
The Hogs have remained busy since the end of the regular season with a sevens appearance in the Heart of America CRC Qualifier in Kansas City, MO. this past weekend. Though not as successful as the team’s run to the Big XII 7s Championship at the end of February, the workload of multiple games in a small amount of days highlights the endurance levels Arkansas has been tested by this spring.

“We are looking forward to our game with Texas. They are a good team and any match up in the Red River is a good contest,” said Razorbacks head coach Warren Fyfe.

Helping lead the Razorbacks this season has been junior fly half Jack Casey, a key piece in several of the team’s regular season games and tournament appearances this season. Along side him is Coby Graves, whose energy and grit have helped describe the flanker as a formidable menace offensively and defensively by the coaching staff.

Texas has not crossed paths with Arkansas yet in 2017. With one game in the win column, the Longhorns continue to search for their identity late in the year. A coaching change midseason has not helped, but Texas remains confident leadership will be found sooner rather than later among the roster. It makes Saturday’s matchup a preview into the future as to the direction of the program.

7th-place game: Texas Tech vs. Houston – 9:00 am CDT
Houston’s first season in D1A has truly been a test for the program. It has opened the Cougars better competition, and have seen improvement since fall. The team’s spring season finale versus LSU was subsequently cancelled due to weather concerns, making the Cougars inactive since a 139-0 defeat by Texas Tech nearly a month ago. The differences between then and now for Houston will be put to the test and will be led by 8-Man Winston Manly.

The same goes for Texas Tech who has also dealt with cancellations this month as well. Junior Sadiq Sule notably highlighted the team’s two wins since the New Year. In the matchup with Houston, the flanker scored eight tries en route to the lopsided victory. Head coach Phil Terrigno has strong faith in Sule to be a big leader heading in to next year, and could begin with another strong showing on the pitch in Austin. With the tragic passing of team captain Quinn Noel, a final win on the year would be an ideal send off for the Texas tech squad, with Sule helping guide the way.

3rd-place game: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M 1:00 pm CDT
Prior to the third-place game, both programs’ B-side squads, who also hold the best records in the conference, will be in action at 11:00 a.m. CDT in the B-side 15s Championship.

At 1:00 p.m. the Sooners and Aggies A-sides clash for the first time this season. Both teams hold a 5-3 record in the conference, and both have been keeping busy with sevens training since regular season play concluded. Oklahoma, specifically, is coming off an appearance in the Heart of America CRC qualifier on top of healing up injuries on roster, according to head coach Doug Neubauer.

“We are coming together as a team to finish the season strong. Texas A&M has always been strong against us and we are looking forward to the matchups,” Neubauer added.

The Sooners have averaged over 35 points in 15s action this spring. Most recently, they marked a 64-6 win over Texas with Zachary Raines talliing four tries in the game, which led the team. Neubauer has also gave praise to center Jon Lucas as of late for his leadership and grit in the month of March.

Texas A&M, meanwhile, are not without offensive talent either. Averaging nearly 23 points per game this spring, the Aggies handled TCU and Texas without problem. John Schell has remained a key workhorse for the team in the New Year, whose play was highlighted with two tries and three conversions in the win over the Horned Frogs.

When the offense has stalled, the defense has picked up. Most notably in the close loss to top conference foe Baylor, the Aggies kept the Bears to its lowest scoring game of the year. Strong play and sharp awareness could once again be a trump card for A&M when facing the Sooners’ more consistent offense.