Round 20 Preview: Cal hosts invitational, Texas A&M and Army road-tripping, with big Mid-South showdown

D1A Rugby: Round 20 Preview: Cal hosts invitational, Texas A&M and Army road-tripping, with big Mid-South showdown
Photo Credit: Cal Varsity Rugby Instagram
  • Cal hosts top-ranked Saint Mary’s, Army, and Navy for the ‘Cal Invitational’ in Berkeley
  • Texas A&M hits the road for a two-game California-based back to back matchups
  • Arkansas State travels to Missouri in face-off against conference rivals, Lindenwood
  • Army and Central Washington meet at neutral field location for a crossover/independent showdown in California
  • UCLA travels to Utah for a PAC conference showdown
  • Multiple California conference matchups will commence on coastal California

CROSSOVER

As mentioned earlier, #1 Cal Varisty Rugby will host an invitational which will include traveling clubs: #4 Saint Mary’s, #5 Navy, and #13 Army, with their respective reserve grade teams to play as well. This incredible showcase of D1A rugby will take place Saturday, March 7th at Witter Field in Berkeley, CA. If you’re in the area, or diving distance away, this a highly recommended invitation to watch in person.

In the first varsity matchup of the invitational, #5 Navy will take-on #4 Saint Mary’s in the 1:30pm PST slot. This incredible matchup has been sought out the entire season as they would usually not play one-another, unless it were in a playoff structure. Navy has played 11 matches so far this 2019/20 campaign, and 9 of those clubs have been ranked in the Top-25, totaling a 7-2 record against those ranked opponents, only losing to #5 Lindenwood and #2 Life. On the other side of the pitch, Saint Mary’s is currently undefeated within the 2019/20 campaign, with 3 of their wins coming against Top-20 ranked opponents. This will be an exciting clash of Top-5 clubs, to say the least, with the crossover conferences of California and the Mid-South commence.

In the second varsity matchup of the invitational, #13 Army will take-on the #1 club in the nation, Cal. This crossover battle between the East and PAC will commence within the 3:30pm PST time slot. The home field club, Cal, has played just 4 D1A regular season matchups thus far, but has a bevy of friendlies and other invitational experiences. In their 4 D1A matchups, they have played and beaten 2 Top-25 opponents, and have yet to lose this season. On the other side of the pitch, Army has an overall record of 5-3, having lost to all Top-10 ranked clubs in #10 Notre Dame College, #8 Kutztown, and #3 Lindenwood. Army will have a difficult battle ahead playing the #1 team in the country, but will be prepared in the utmost since with the great challenge on the horizon.

In other Crossover news, #23 Texas A&M will road-trip throughout sunny coastal California and play two matches against California Conference teams: Santa Clara (Sunday – 3/8), and then Cal Poly (Tuesday – 3/10). The Aggies of College Station, TX have been one of, if not the most, well-traveled teams in the nation thus far, and will continue to do so. Including this weekend and the future, they will have played in 6 crossover matches in their 12 total tests. Texas A&M are still holding onto a Top-25 ranking due to their incredibly tough schedule, and their 6-3 record. This will be an intriguing couple matchups for the Red River squad as they take on some of California’s toughest in Cal Poly and Santa Clara.

MID-SOUTH

In another massive matchup, the Mid-South will produce an inter-conference battle between #6 Arkansas State traveling to Missouri to play #3 Lindenwood. As we all know, the Mid-South is a gauntlet of a conference, especially this year with many upsets and incredibly tough games that have come down to the wire. Arkansas State is currently repping a 2-1 overall record, having beaten the former #1 team in Life and #24 Clemson, but have fallen to #5 Navy earlier in the 2019/20 campaign. This second head-to-head matchup versus the Lions of Lindenwood this season (the first being a non-conference test) shall certainly be a hotly contested clash of titans. Lindenwood had previously came away with the 38-20 victory against the Red Wolves, in their previous non-conference match in Jonesboro, but will now have the home-filed advantage. Both Lindenwood and Arkansas State have 1 more test each after this match, The race to Mid-South champions may come down to the final match this month.

INDEPENDENT

With a wild Independent matchup ensuing on neutral territory, #13 Army will continue their California adventure after the Cal Invitational and travel down the road to Vallejo, CA to take on (also traveling) #7 Central Washington, on Wednesday, March 11th. The Wildcats of Ellensburg, WA are coming off their abolutely confident upset of the former #7 team (now #9) BYU in a 51-7 victory on their home turf. Central Washington will play Army after the Golden Knights had played Cal just 4 days earlier, but do not let construe a biased opinion on how this matchup may go. Both of these clubs have not faced-off in regular season play as far back as we can see, so this initial mid-season matchup will be great test to witness. CWU are currently undefeated at 3-0, having defeated 2 Top-13 clubs in Arizona and BYU thus far. They will now face another Top-ranked opponent on a neutral field in sunny California.

Jacob Thompson Photo

PAC

In the lone PAC matchup this upcoming weekend, #15 UCLA will hit the road and travel to face unranked and (XVs season) winless Utah, in Salt Lake City, UT. UCLA is currently riding a 3-game losing streak, all to Top-12 ranked opponents in: #12 Arizona, #4 Saint Mary’s, and #1 Cal. This upcoming test shall be a great challenge for Utah as they are in need to bounce back from their scoreless defeat last weekend versus Arizona. UCLA has produced offensively, but have run into difficult opponents who have outscored them favorable, except for the close defeat to Arizona by 1 point.

CALIFORNIA

Finishing this week’s preview will be within the California Conference as #19 Grand Canyon travels westward to challenge the winless San Diego State Aztecs. The Lopes of Phoenix, AZ have not played a regular season match since Saint Mary’s on February 16th. This 3-week hiatus should prove beneficial to Grand Canyon as their rested bodies will be ready to clash against San Diego State who have a 0-3-1 record thus far.

Int he final matchup, UC Santa Barbara will travel northbound to San Luis Obispo to challenge Cal Poly at home. The Mustangs are riding a 2-game winning streak, while the Gauchos are 1-1 in their last coupe tests. This will be the first and lone head-to-head matchup between these two rival clubs, where in last year’s matchup Cal Poly came away with the 36-17 victory. Both these clubs have proven to be difficult and tough opponents, but will be intriguing to see who comes out on top, especially with conference standings on the line.

DATEAWAYHOMELOCATION
Saturday, 3/7#6 Arkansas Stateat#3 LindenwoodSt Charles, MO
#5 Navyat#4 Saint Mary’sBerkeley, CA
#13 Armyat#1 CalBerkeley, CA
#15 UCLAatUtahSal Lake City, UT
UC Santa BarbaraatCal PolySan Luis Obispo, CA
#19 Grand CanyonatSan Diego StateSan Diego, CA
Sunday, 3/8#23 Texas A&MatSanta ClaraSanta Clara, CA
Tuesday, 3/10#23 Texas A&MatCal PolySan Luis Obispo, CA
Wednesday, 3/11#13 Armyat#7 Central WashingtonVallejo, CA