Round 17 Preview: Colossal weekend has 9 total matchups, with 5 being top-ranked

D1A Rugby: Round 17 Preview: Colossal weekend has 9 total matchups, with 5 being top-ranked
Photo Credit: St. Mary's RFC Instagram
  • #1 Life will travel to #7 Arkansas State in a clash of titanic proportions
  • #3 Lindenwood to battle #23 Clemson in a meeting of Mid-South monsters
  • FTF Game of the Week as #2 Cal travels to Tucson, AZ to challenge #14 Arizona on their home turf
  • Multiple California matchups include 2-games over the weekend from #20 Grand Canyon & #4 St. Mary’s
  • #8 BYU going head to head versus crossover rival #4 St. Mary’s
  • Red River showdowns as the middle of the table fight for conference standings

Heading into the 17th Round of the 2019/20 D1A campaign, we have the pleasure of providing you a breakdown of an absolutely fantastic weekend of premier collegiate rugby. So many top-ranked head-to-head matchups, mixed with a couple clubs playing multiple games, along with the struggles of conference standings positioning. The Mid-South, California, PAC, and Red River conferences are officially in full swing as the meat of their schedules make way for an exciting next four days of D1A madness.

MID-SOUTH

We as a rugby fandom community, will enter the thunder-dome as national powerhouse clubs #1 Life (1-0) will travel to Jonesboro, AR to take on Mid-South rival #7 Arkansas State (0-1). Life has yet to play this 2020 campaign as their last week’s match versus Clemson was cancelled due to rain. On the other side of the pitch, Arkansas State had played Lindenwood the previous weekend and was defeated by the higher ranked club, in a spirited match.

The defending back-to-back national champs will be hungry in their first test of the season, but A-State will also be excited for the challenge to avenge last year’s defeat to their rivals. It will be tough for both of these clubs to not make playoffs, but week-in and week-out, the Mid-South is gauntlet of fire for each club, which hardens them for playoff preparation. Be ready for a barn-burner of a test between these two proud and deeply talented clubs; I know if I had a plane ticket I’d be on my way to Arkansas.

In the other Mid-South matchup of the weekend, #3 Lindenwood (5-0) will travel to South Carolina facing-off against On The Bubble #23 Clemson (1-2). Lindenwood has looked better than ever with victories in their first five tests of the season, something they haven’t done since 2017/18. Having played four Top-11 teams in their opening season matches has been no easy task, but have come out on the other side still undefeated.

Regarding Clemson, this is a club who has been hit by the “unlucky bug” with their last matchup vs Life being cancelled due to poor weather. Clemson have yet to play a match since Davenport on November 9th, in 2019. They are hungry to show the nation their potential in this ‘Clash of the Claws’ as the Lions of Lindenwood take on the Tigers of South Carolina. In last year’s test match between these two sides, the Missouri club came away with a decisive victory, but it’s a new year with enthusiasm high early on in the season.

PAC

In the FTF Game of the Week, which will be nationally broadcasted on FTFNext and Eleven Sports at 4pm EST / 1pm PST (Time Update), #2 Cal (3-0) hits the road traveling to take on #14 Arizona (2-1). Cal has been absolutely dominant this year demolishing clubs in their wake, but haven’t played a Top-14 club yet this year, in Arizona.

The Wildcats of Tucson have had an unsatisfying start to the season, having lost to a strong Central Washington club two matches ago. Since then, Arizona pounced back in the win column against a very tough Grand Canyon side, which shall prove to be a great warmup for this clash of PAC conference clubs. These two teams had also met twice last year, once in regular season and in playoffs, with the Golden Bears coming out on top in both opportunities. Watch live this Saturday on FTFNext with details below!

WATCH LIVE HERE » FTFNext.com, DIREC TV (channel 623), T&T U-verse (channel 1665), and Verizon Fios (channel 597).

ELEVEN can be found on various other cable and OTT providers such as  RCN 571, Atlantic Broadband 501, Hawaiian Telcom 1091 and FUBO TV

CALIFORNIA

Before beginning the preview of this conference and clubs, we wanted to make sure there is no confusion in thinking there were typos. Grand Canyon and St. Mary’s will both play (2) matches this weekend, in a bold move, which should greatly increase their chances of improvement, along with potentially climbing the rankings ladder.

On Valentine’s Day, this Friday, #20 Grand Canyon (2-1) will travel to the Bay Area to play conference rivals Santa Clara (1-2), in the first of their two California based matchups. GCU is coming off a tough loss to #14 Arizona which ended in a 13-25 final score. The SCUTS of Santa Clara, have had a tough-go in the beginning stages of their season playing some very strong clubs which ended up not going their way. This proud team will be ready for the challenge, in getting their season on the right track, but will have their hands full with this ever-improving Phoenix side.

On President’s Day, next Monday, #20 Grand Canyon (2-1) will endure their 2nd match of the weekend challenging the ever-powerful and dangerous #4 St. Mary’s (4-0). This will be both clubs 2nd game of the weekend, with the attrition of the previous match a big factor in deciding the winner of the test. St. Mary’s may have more depth, but will be a tough decision who to play and not, with their first match going against the massively successful #8 BYU, just two days prior.

This matchup will be an extremely interesting one with these Top-20 clubs facing off for the first time since last April in 2019. In last year’s two head-to-head matchups, The Gaels of Moraga came away with the clean sweep both home and away, in decisive fashion.

In the final California conference matchup, San Diego State (0-1-2) will head North on I-5 to face off against UC Davis (0-3), in Davis, CA. Both of these clubs have yet to record a win this Spring, but will be foaming at the mouth in achieving that first sweet taste of victory. SDSU has recorded 2 points within the standings, while UC Davis has none. The winner of this test will either pull away from the other, or be overtaken, after this weekend’s clash. In last year’s head-to-head, UC Davis came away with the win in a 32-12 final score.

CROSSOVER

With the resurgence of #8 BYU (9-0) this spring, playing in their upcoming third match 2020 traveling to Moraga, CA. This challenging of #4 St. Mary’s (4-0) will be known as the ‘Battle of the Undefeated‘. This will be St. Mary’s first test of the weekend, before playing GCU on Monday, and couldn’t be more of an exciting match for rugby fans. Both clubs have played in the D1A Championship game multiple times in the past decade: BYU x2 & SMC x5, but had never played each other in the final game. This is a potential playoff matchup that could go down to the wire, as SMC are playing in two games this weekend having to rest some key starters to save them for GCU. BYU is hungry as ever, continuing their dominating performances in the Rocky Mountain or Red River clashes. This will be their first California club to face yet, but will have to bring their A+ game against the Gaels, who have not lost to a club ranked lower than #3 in the rankings since Utah in 2015.

RED RIVER

In a couple inter-conference clashes within the Red River, the winless LSU (0-4) travel to Austin to play Texas (1-3) in game which could mean heartbreak or jubilation for the Tigers. In last year’s two matchups with these clubs, both had split the difference with a victory each, interestingly enough as the visiting club. If history repeats itself this weekend, LSU could came away with the needed W. But on the other side of the pitch, Texas has already defeated LSU, in Baton Rouge, on November 9th, 2019. Texas has 5 points recorded on the standings, while LSU has none. This could be a massive standings switch-up if the Tigers leave Texas with a win, but will have to dig deep in order to do so.

In the other conference test, the also winless Texas Tech (0-4) travels Eastbound down I-20 to Waco, in their matchup versus Baylor (1-3). This will be the lone opportunity these clubs see each other in the 2019/20 campaign, and will be sure to make the most of it in this inter-state game of bragging rights. In last year’s lone head-to-head game, Baylor had handily defeated the Red Raiders in Waco and will be looking to repeat on that earlier success. Texas Tech has had two close matches in facing North Texas earlier this year, and are on the cusp of recording that first win. Although with all that put aside, the Bears of Baylor will be ready to defend their home turf agains the invaders of the West.

DATEAWAYHOMELOCATION
Friday, 2/14#20 Grand CanyonatSanta ClaraSanta Clara, CA
Saturday, 2/15#1 Lifeat#7 Arkansas StateJonesboro, AR
#3 Lindenwoodat#23 ClemsonClemson, SC
#8 BYUat#4 St. Mary’s Moraga, CA
#2 Calat#14 ArizonaTucson, AZ
San Diego StateatUC DavisDavis, CA
LSUatTexasAustin, TX
Texas TechatBaylorWaco, TX
Monday, 2/17#20 Grand Canyonat#4 St Mary’sMoraga, CA