Central Washington Falls Short in California

D1A Rugby: Central Washington Falls Short in California
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

After a stellar fall 7s campaign where Central Washington University (CWU) went a perfect 10-0 and recorded some impressive victories against some impressive outfits. There was a buzz of optimism and dreams of grandeur as the spring 15s season approached. That buzz was put to the test over the weekend as they headed down south to take on two of the strongest programs in California UC Davis and St. Mary’s, and for CWU the results were not as hoped. CWU lost both of their games in a convincing fashion, 33-14 and 73-5 respectively.

Friday night saw a young and relatively inexperienced side take on UC Davis who, after having made an appearance in the last 3 D1AA national championships and winning two of them, are playing their first year at the D1A level.  The match was a tight affair in the first half with UC Davis coming out hot and running in the first 15 points of the game, before CWU was able to cross the white line just before the half and narrow the half time deficit to eight points.  Coming out from their orange slices at half time, UC Davis again opened the scoring for the half and pushed their lead back out to eighteen. CWU got themselves back into the game with a try, but ultimately the damage had been done and UC Davis prevailed. CWU will be disappointed to have lost the game, but ultimately the game will prove as a good experience for the younger members on the team.

On Saturday the Wildcats had the unenviable task of taking on #1 St. Mary’s with only 24 hours rest to recover from Friday’s game. The Gaels who are defending national champions have been active throughout their preseason to ensure that they hit their regular season firing and raring to go. They had beaten the Iona Gaels, who were the best team in the Liberty Conference, by a resounding 70 points; and they had beaten a touring Gordon squad from Sydney, Australia’s prestigious Shute Shield system. Needless to say, they were well prepared for their first hit out against a ranked opponent in 2018. The game was one way traffic from the opening kick off with St. Mary’s running in 13 unanswered tries before CWU were able to conjure up a late try to avoid the shutout.   

In a weekend that bodes well for the California Conference, both UC Davis and St. Mary’s sent strong messages. UC Davis stating that it is ready for the trials and tribulations that will come with their promotion to D1A; and St. Mary’s making it all to clear that they are in no hurry to give up their Championship title. CWU will return to Ellensburg with a clear and unobstructed view of where they need improve if they’re going to compete for silverware for in May.