Rematch between Arkansas, Baylor jumpstarts Red River

D1A Rugby: Rematch between Arkansas, Baylor jumpstarts Red River
Photo Credit: Ron Raff Photography

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – A rematch of one of D1A Rugby’s best games of the fall will take place in Fayetteville, Ark. Saturday, Jan. 21 when the Razorbacks look to even the score with Baylor.

In October, Arkansas and the Bears threw down in a back-and-forth affair that looked to been won by the visiting Razorbacks before Baylor fly half Parker Vincent slotted a drop goal in the closing minutes to seal a nail-biting 26-25 win.

The triumph gave Baylor an early 2-0 start to its Red River season and the look of a real conference contender, but the Bears were unexplainably blown out by Oklahoma three weeks later.

“I could probably give you a list of excuses that have run through my mind these past few months, but at the end of the day we just got beat by the better team,” Baylor Head Coach Mason Hering said of his team’s 37-0 defeat to the Sooners. “We look at Oklahoma as our conference’s gold standard to some extent, and you can bet we’ll be circling that rematch on the calendar this spring.”

Don’t get the Bears intention of improving their result against Oklahoma next time out as proof the team is not focusing on Arkansas. Baylor is working hard to play a more disciplined game than they did against the Razorbacks in the fall, and do its best to pressure their best player far more often.

“Their fly half Alex Rees is a great kicker and he really changed the field position several times during our first match,” Hering complimented.

In Arkansas’ camp, the focus since the team’s last match two months ago has been on the defensive side of the ball.

“We have worked a lot on tackling fundamentals, as well as defensive patterns and organization, so I’m hoping to see improvements on defense this weekend,” said Arkansas Head Coach Warren Fyfe. “With our attacking running rugby, we have the ability to score against most teams but need to improve defensively this semester to give us a shot to play for the conference title.”

For Baylor, the spring portion of its season is all about capitalizing on positive field territory.

“We would spend a lot of time in the opponent’s 22 without a lot to show for it,” Hering said of Baylor’s performances in the fall. “Putting points on the board when knocking on the door is the top priority.”

No team in Red River’s North Division, which includes Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech carries an undefeated record heading into the New Year, making that side of the conference wide open. However, the losing team Saturday between the Bears and Razorbacks might have a tough time making up ground on the winner and the 3-1 Sooners.