Michigan, Lindenwood look sharp in non-conference matches

D1A Rugby: Michigan, Lindenwood look sharp in non-conference matches
Photo Credit: Potted Palm Productions (homepage) & Tay Hawker (right)

BOULDER, Colo. – The 2014-15 D1A Rugby season does not kick off until the Rugby East Conference gets underway Sept. 13. Still, the majority of D1A teams are well into their fall training regimens, and several clubs were in action this weekend against non-conference foes.

University of Buffalo, one of three new additions to Rugby East, pulled off a narrow victory against Notre Dame College. A week after a successful scrimmage against Niagara, the Bulls stormed back from a 14-8 deficit to eventually overtake Notre Dame’s varsity side, 20-19.

In a Big 10-versus-Rugby East showdown, Michigan was successful in Head Coach Brandon Spark’s debut against Wheeling Jesuit. The Wolverines’ 24-15 win over Jesuit is reason enough to believe the boys from Ann Arbor are well on their way towards a smooth transition to Spark’s coaching style and structures, and should be firing on all cylinders by the time their Big 10 opener against Illinois rolls around Sept. 20.

Wheeling Jesuit will take to the pitch twice more before getting into its conference schedule, starting this Saturday against Wake Forest. A week after its home game against the Demon Deacons, the Cardinals will look to revenge last spring’s loss to West Virginia.

The other inter-D1A match saw 2014 National Semifinalists Lindenwood on the road again Indiana. The home team made things difficult for Lindenwood in the first 40 minutes, only trailing 21-12 at halftime. However, the Lions would eventually run away with a 56-27 win, which included tries from centers James Poli and Sione Fangaiuiha, as well as AIG Men’s Junior All-American James Gannon.

While the defeat against Lindenwood wraps up Indiana’s non-conference schedule, Lindenwood is just getting started with its daunting fall slate. The Lions will prepare for their Mid-South Conference matches by testing themselves against three of the best men’s club teams in the country in the Glendale Raptors, Life University, and Metropolis.

One of those Mid-South rivals Lindenwood is prepping for is Davenport. The Panthers are fresh off of a brief but successful tour of Canada, which saw Davenport beat both McMaster University and University of Western Ontario, while also gaining some quality time off of the pitch as a team. Like Lindenwood, Davenport has put together an accomplished list of non-conference teams to make up its fall schedule including: Arkansas State, Bowling Green, Penn State and Wheeling Jesuit.