Quarterfinals Preview

D1A Rugby: Quarterfinals Preview
Photo Credit: Alex Ho

This weekend the national quarterfinals take place with a slew of incredible matchups in both the East and West Conference. There are no shortage of rivalries taking place and each team will be chomping at the bit to see kick off roll around.

All games will be live on FloRugby

Life vs. Navy: 11am EDT

One point is all that separated Navy and Life back in March, on Saturday don’t be surprised if the game is as close or in fact swings in favor of Navy. The Midshipmen, while they have always been a strong program, have really grown into a legitimate contender for the National Championship this year. They were a missed conversion away from taking down last year’s champion and were only 13 points behind Saint Mary’s, when they played. However, they will face their biggest challenge yet, taking down Life in the playoffs. The Running Eagles have been in tremendous form, going undefeated throughout the entire year. While this year their wins may not have been as emphatic as they were in years gone by, they certainly still possess an innate ability to strike at anytime and from anywhere against their opponents. One of the things Navy did successfully against them in the prior meeting was slow the tempo of the game down, and suffocated attacking opportunities close to the line. This will again be the recipe for success for them on Saturday. For Life, if they want to put their stamp on the match, to avoid another nerve racking ending, they will need to leap out to an early lead. Navy is much more methodical in their attacking approach, so rupture the method and they are left susceptible.

Lindenwood vs. Arkansas State: 1pm EDT

It’s hard to find two teams with a stronger understanding of one another in all of college rugby. For the third time this season, Lindenwood will line up across from Arkansas State. The series this year has been split down the middle, at 1-1, with Lindenwood taking the aggregate, 39-29. The first game of the year, was somewhat of a coming out party for Arkansas State. While, they were known to be one of the best in the coutry, by beating Lindenwood it proved how good they really could be. For Lindenwood, the loss seemed to have lit a fire under them and they have been dominating teams since, with the exception of two losses to Life. This game will be a battle of the backlines, with Arkansas State possessing lethal weapons throughout and Lindenwood having arguably the best players at their position in the country, in Lorenzo Thomas and Christian Rodriguez stepping out for them. While, the backs might be the stars of the show, the important work will be done in the forwards. In the back row a battle of back row titans will take place between the likes of Akransas State’s Tabo Maree and Pedro Alvarez and Lindenwood’s  Wesley White and Michael de Waal. This game will be an engrossing affair from start to finish.

Cal vs. Arizona: 4pm EDT

Cal will host Arizona for the second time this season, as the two PAC powerhouses collide. Last time around Cal won by a large margin, but it would be doing dissercive to Arizona’s play to label it as a comfortable win. The first half was an even contest with Arizona dominating possession and at one stage leading Cal. It was the first time all season Cal had been trailing a D1A opponent. However, a yellow card open the door for Cal, and as they have done throughout their history, were clinical with the man advantage. If Arizona is going to beat Cal, they need to score tries. While kicking penalties will bring slight reprieve, it will not be enough. Cal can strike at anytime from anywhere, so the key to Arizona pulling off the upset will be to control the ball, keep it out of Cal’s hands and ensure they are clinical in their finishing. It will be a brilliant display of running rugby and thoroughly entertaining fixture.

Saint Mary’s vs. BYU: 6pm EDT

Two of the most successful teams in the history of collegiate college rugby will face each other for the third time this season; and for BYU, they’ll be hoping they can prove it is hard to beat a team three times in a season. In the regular season, Saint Mary’s swept BYU, 2-0,  by a combined score of 84-24. However, BYU has shown tremendous growth since their last outing against Saint Mary’s and last weekend, proved emphatically they are ready for a deep run into the playoffs. Despite struggling in the Spring BYU has turned the corner and won their last three games by an average margin of 36 points. This turn around has been led by Cole Semu and Cole Meier. The outside and wing, respectively, have been tearing opposing defenses to shreds, expect the Gaels to have their hands full trying to slow them down. However, the Cougars will have worries of their own, trying to slow down Aaron Matthews and Tavite Lopeti, who combined for five tries last weekend in the Gaels Round of 16 win. If Saint Mary’s can get out to an early lead, it will be interesting to see if BYU can stick around or if they will fall off.