Week 23 Preview: All Top Four Teams in the Nation in Action

D1A Rugby: Week 23 Preview: All Top Four Teams in the Nation in Action
Photo Credit: Alex Ho

This weekend, in similar fashion to last round, there are a bevy of massive matchups around the country. The Mid-South has two blockbuster games, while there are are a series of important cross over matches and conference games in the California and PAC that will have huge playoff implications.

In the Mid-South #4 Navy will travel down to Marietta, Georgia to take on reigning National Champions, #1 Life University. Navy comes into the game, after a huge performance on the road last weekend against Arkansas State. A last minute try saw them over the line, but it was strong pack work that laid the platform for their success. Life has been strong all year, and have shown resiliency, fending off strong competition all Spring long. Saturday will prove to be another tough test for them.

The other Mid-South game will see #5 Lindenwood taking on #6 Arkansas State. The last time these two met, Arkansas State were too strong for Lindenwood, coming away with a 29-23 win. In that encounter, the difference maker was Arkansas State’s inside center, Mazvitaieshe Nyamarebvu. Expect Lindenwood’s game plan to have a major focus around him this weekend. Despite their loss last time out Lindenwood will be brimming with confidence and ready for another shot at the Red Wolves, as the Lions are coming fresh off a dominating 26-7 win over Army and will be playing at home. It should be a great matchup and one that very possibly pops up again during the playoffs.

#3 Saint Mary’s will travel to Provo Utah this weekend to take on #9 BYU. This will be the second time these two meet this season, the Gaels claiming the first encounter, 34-12. On that occasion it was the Yacoubian brothers, at scrum half and fullback, that were causing the havoc. They will central, once more, to the Gaels and their attacking patterns. Connor Parry, BYU’s fullback, will likely be the big difference maker for the Cougars on Saturday. If he comes out firing the Gaels could be in trouble.

In the PAC Conference, #2 Cal will play #15 UCLA. Cal has been unstoppable in D1A play this year, scoring over 100 points in every game. This streak will likely come to an end when they face UCLA. The Bruins have been one of the best teams in the country during the fall, with one loss to Arizona, where they pushed them for the full game, they are putting together a resume that will make them dangerous come playoff time. It will be a tall order to knock off Cal, but with home field advantage, the Bruins will be feeling confident.

In the California Conference, #20 Grand Canyon looks to brush off last week’s loss to Saint Mary’s with a strong showing against San Diego State. GCU will need a win here to help solidify their place in the Top 20 and to give them confidence ahead of their match up with UC Davis, which could decide who takes silver in California Conference play. The other game will see Cal Poly welcome UC Santa Barbara to town.