D1A’s spring season gets underway this weekend, as Central Washington embarks on their annual January tour of Northern California- playing UC Davis on January 3 and Saint Mary’s on January 5. Central Washington vs. Saint Mary’s will be broadcast through FloRugby, with kick-off at 1pm PT.
Central Washington enters the Spring season ranked 14th in the country, in large part due to their playoff appearance last year. The Wildcats were a young team in 2017-18, they showed flashes of their potential but also displayed their inexperience at stages too. They snuck into the opening round of the playoffs as the 15th seed, where the fell to the eventual national champions-Life University.
UC Davis, on the other hand, enjoyed a successful first year in D1A. They finished the season ranked 20th in the country and in a three-way tie for second (eventually falling to fourth due to point differential) in the California Conference. This weekend when they take on CWU they will be looking for a repeat of last year’s victory; where they beat an inexperienced Wildcats side, 28-14. CWU enters the game without having played any fixtures since October; while Davis have played two games early in December landing 52-7 and 26-10 victories over UC Santa Cruz and Chico State respectively. It will be interesting to see if rust plays a factor in either team’s ability to execute.
On Saturday, CWU will face a big test when taking on #4 Saint Mary’s. Saint Mary’s, winner of three of the last five D1A championships, experienced a down year by their lofty expectations last year when they fell in the quarterfinals. This year they will be on the hunt, once again for another national championship. They have been looking sharp so far in their exhibition games, rampaging through opponents winning multiple fixtures in excess of 80 points. It will prove to be a tough test early in the season for the Gaels; but after beating CWU by a 73-5 scoreline last year, the Gaels will be feeling confident in their chances.
St. Mary’s and UC Davis will kick off their conference slate next weekend when the Gaels take the trip up north. Both teams will be paying close attention to the outcome of their opponents matches against CWU this weekend.