Round 19 Preview: Jam-packed weekend with clashes of titanic proportions

D1A Rugby: Round 19 Preview: Jam-packed weekend with clashes of titanic proportions
Photo Credit: Lindenwood University RFC Facebook
  • (5) Top-25 ranked matchup occur across the D1A landscape
  • Navy and Illinois reappear with their first regular season collegiate Spring matches
  • Crossover conference galore, which means some potential playoff matchups
  • This weekend is the exact half-way point of the 2020 spring schedule

The half-way mark of the D1A Rugby 2020 spring schedules is upon us this upcoming weekend. Only two months until the playoff picture is set, but with six weeks under our belt, will still have much rugby to cover until this season’s champs are crowned. This upcoming Round 19, will involve a total of (10) matchups, (5) head-to-head ranked matchups, and (12) of those individual clubs are ranked in the Top-25. A monstrous weekend of premier collegiate rugby will be an exciting one to say the least.

CROSSOVER

More than any head-to-head conference matchups, the crossover category will dominate the numbers of tests overall with four. All of which will be ranked within the Top-25.

In the first spotlight, #7 BYU Cougars travel to the #12 Central Washington Wildcats in Ellensburg, WA. BYU has been versatile this year not only being the Rocky Mountain Conference champions, but have traveled to Texas and California already this year to play top ranked opponents. They will have one more tough challenge this upcoming weekend as this talented Ellensburg, WA side will travel southbound test their mettle against another very difficult club. Central Washington has already beaten a Top-15 opponent in Arizona this year, and have kept that confidence moving forward. This will be an interesting matchup to say the least, as BYU comes off their only loss on the year to Saint Mary’s in a 1 point defeat.

Next up within the crossover matchups, California Conference’s #2 Saint Mary’s will travel to PAC’s #15 UCLA in Los Angeles, CA. These two clubs have not played each other in a XVs test in some years, potentially on the longer side of a decade. The Gaels have shown their consistent dominance in beating the seven first opponents they’ve faced, while only conceding 48 points. Their closest victory was to BYU weeks ago in a 25-24 battle that came down to the final minute. UCLA had an impressive 7s preseason in the Fall, but since Spring has sprung the Bruins are 1-2, having lost to two tough opponents in #14 Arizona and #1 Cal. The Southern California club will have their eyes set on a difficult match yet again, but will be ready for the challenge.

In the third crossover matchup, Mid-South’s #4 Life will host Red River’s #23 Texas A&M in Marietta, GA. Combined, these two clubs only have three losses on the entire 2019/20 season thus far, falling only to ranked opponents. Life was defeated by now #3 Arkansas State, while Texas A&M has lost to #24 Clemson and #7 BYU. Judging by our CMS system, it seems these clubs have not played a head-to-head XVs matchup within the last 7 years, if at all. This will be an interesting test as the Red River and Mid-South clubs are close in distance, but far from each other in styles of play. The Aggies of College Station will have their hands full with the Running Eagles of Life, but they will be soundly prepared as they have already faced a Top-7 club thus far.

In the final crossover matchup, Mid-South’s #5 Lindenwood will host the Big Ten’s #22 Illinois in St. Charles, MO. The Lions of Lindenwood have only lost one matchup the entire 2019/20 season, which was last week versus #4 Life University, by only 7 points. Illinois hasn’t played a XVs test since November 9th against Michigan in the Big Ten playoffs. They have been dormant in the XVs news, but have been active in their off-season. This will be an incredibly tough matchup for the Illini, as they highest ranked opponent they’ve challenged were #16 Indiana and #17 Ohio State in September and October, respectively. Lindenwood will be looking to avenge their previous weekend’s loss to Life, but other than the lone blemish on their record, they’ve been nothing short of stellar.

MID-SOUTH

In the lone Mid-South inter-conference matchup this weekend, #3 Arkansas State will travel to #6 Navy in Annapolis, MD. This will be a colossal test between these two rival clubs, as not only are they both within the Top-6, but also including massive playoff potential. Navy has not played a D1A match November 16th, but have been playing off-season tests along with a MLR crossover match. Navy is currently 1-2 in their last three matches, while boasting an 8-2 overall record. Arkansas State is still riding the big boost of confidence after defeating the former #1 team in Life just weeks ago. The Red Wolves will welcome the Midshipmen with open arms this weekend, and will be most likely be the toughest competition this weekend. This matchup could shakeup the rankings next week, but let’s not ‘put the cart before the horse’ and just enjoy this wonderful display of premier collegiate rugby.

PAC

In the lone PAC matchup of the weekend, #14 Arizona will host their inter-conference rivals Utah, in Tucson, AZ. Utah had unfortunately forfeited their previous weekend’s matchup versus Central Washington, which would have been their first XVs test of the 2020 season. Arizona has already played five tests so far in 2020 currently 3-2 on the year, having played difficult top-ranked competition in four of those five matches. Since Utah has not played any other team thus far, the public is unaware of their talent and potential, but the public will most certainly find out once they take the pitch against this tough Arizona squad.

RED RIVER

Within the Red River, there is only two head-to-head inter-conference tests, one in Oklahoma and the other in Texas. The first match to be spotlighted is #25 Oklahoma hosting North Texas in Norman, OK. Oklahoma is currently 2nd in the conference and only 5 points behind Texas A&M in the standings. North Texas has been an impressive team having won the last four of their matches to conference rivals. Their last, and only, loss on the year was to Oklahoma in the first test of the season, 8-41, in way of the Sooners. Be ready for a hard-hitting matchup between these two rival clubs, as North Texas will have the fiery desire in continuing their win streak and pull off an upset versus the 2nd place team in the conference.

In the other Red River matchup, Texas will be hosting Baylor in Austin on Saturday, the 29th. Both these clubs are 2-3 on the year and are also tied in points within the standings for 4th place. These two clubs have yet to play each other in the 2019/20 season, but have always had a spirited match when they take the pitch. In last year’s two head-to-head tests, Texas was no match for Baylor as the Bears of Waco, TX outscored the Longhorns 148-10. For both teams, this is a new year with different starting sides, and should be an interesting matchup to see who finished atop the other in conference standings.

CALIFORNIA

In the final spotlights of the weekend, the California conference boasts two matchups with the first being UC Davis hosting UC Santa Barbara. The Battle of the ‘UCs’ will have the Aggies of Davis challenging the Gauchos of Santa Barbara. UCSB is currently 4th in the standings ahead of the 5th place UCD. The Gauchos are only 4 points ahead, which means if UC Davis comes away with the victory while not allowing them a bonus point, they would be tied dead-even in the standings. We’ll have to see how UCSB will respond to the long bus ride, but will be using last week’s victory momentum in establishing a potential winning streak.

In the final match of the conference and the weekend, San Diego State will host Santa Clara in Southern California. Both of these clubs are in the bottom-two of the California conference with Santa Clara being in 6th, and San Diego in 7th. Whoever wins this game will surpass the other in the standings, while the loser will have a difficult uphill battle for the remainder of the year. Only few games remain in the schedule for everyone, but for these two clubs, this will be the second last test of their 2019/20 campaigns.

DATEAWAYHOMELOCATION
2/29/2020#22 Illinoisat#5 LindenwoodSt Charles, MO
2/29/2020#3 Arkansas Stateat#6 NavyAnnapolis, MD
2/29/2020Utahat#14 ArizonaTucson, AZ
2/29/2020UC Santa BarbaraatUC DavisDavis, CA
2/29/2020San Diego StateatSanta ClaraSanta Clara, CA
2/29/2020BayloratTexasAustin, TX
2/29/2020#25 OklahomaatNorth TexasDenton, TX
2/29/2020#7 BYUat#12 Central WashingtonEllensburg, WA
2/29/2020#2 Saint Mary’sat#15 UCLALos Angeles, CA
2/29/2020#23 Texas A&Mat#4 LifeMarietta, GA