Rutgers (0-1) v. Army (1-0)
The second week of Rugby East will have only Army traveling to face Rutgers in a pivotal early-season match for both teams. Rutgers is coming off a defeat to 2011 Rugby East runner-up Navy, while Army is coming off a hard-nosed win over a determined Delaware side. In the highly competitive Rugby East division an early win for Rutgers over the always tough Army squad will help give the Scarlet Knights a great boost of confidence heading into the middle of the season. Army is led into their match with Rutgers by 2011 All-American Will Holder as well as a strong group of forwards, namely Aaron Retter and Christopher Hardee.
Arkansas State (2-0) v. Oklahoma (1-2)
The Oklahoma Sooners travel to Jonesboro, AK to face an extremely tough Arkansas State side that has scored a total of 170 and given up just 20 in two games. The Sooners are the only team in the country to be playing their fourth regular season match this week and with their experiences from the first three games they welcome the challenge from the Red Wolves. Leading Oklahoma into Saturday’s match are veterans Brad Henry, Peter Santos, and Michael Al-Jiboori, all three of whom played an integral part in the Sooner victory over Notre Dame in week 3.
Arkansas State comes into their match against Oklahoma well rested after having week 3 off. The Red Wolves are led into the match by a strong group of veterans, including D1A try leader Paul Benade. Alongside Benade are Shaun Paterson (4 tries), Patrick Sullivan (5 conversions), David Caswell (16 conversions), and Zac Mizell (2 tries).
Life (2-0) v. Notre Dame (0-2)
Te Life Running Eagles remain at home for the second consecutive week to take on the visiting Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a highly important match for both teams. A win for Life keeps them in the Mid-South title hunt, while a win for Notre Dame will give their season a massive confidence boost and their first win of the season. If Notre Dame is to stop the commanding Life attack they must shut down one of the top offensive players of the 2012 D1A season, Men’s U20 and Collegiate All-American team member, Joe Cowley. In two matches this season Cowley has scored three tries, kicked 10 conversions, and kicked two penalties for a total 41 points scored this season, second in the nation by two points. Complimenting Cowley is fellow All-American and Sevens Eagle, Cameron Dolan, who has scored four tries this season in Life’s two matches. Coming into their match Notre Dame is led in scoring by Thomas Hickey and Ryan Robinson who have scored two tries and one try, respectively.
Air Force will be traveling to Provo, UT to face 2011 National Runners-Up BYU in an early season test for both teams. BYU dominated Arizona State last week in their 54-13 win and are looking for big play from their stellar line-up yet again. Paul Lasike will be a major defensive focus for Air Force after he scored two long tries against the Sun Devils that displayed the potential of his power and pace. Dishing Lasike the ball will be All-American flyhalf Dylan Lubbe who also touched down a try against the Sun Devils and is always a staunch defender.
Against Arizona last week Air Force was able to put 44 on the board, further proving they will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 season. The strong play by the Zoomies allowed them to continually break Arizona tackles and score tries.
Arizona (0-1) v. Colorado (1-0)
The Colorado Buffaloes are making the trip to Tucson, AZ to face the Arizona Wildcats in a match that will surely be tight. Last year in Colorado, Arizona was able to come away with a 36-26 victory at Infinity Park. National Sevens Team member, Peter Tiberio, was a key difference maker for the Wildcats last year and his absence will undoubtedly alter the potency of the Arizona attack. Nevertheless Arizona is capable of putting points on the board in bunches as they scored 24 in the first half of last year’s match. Last week the Wildcats were defeated at home by a big and strong Air Force team 44-21.
Colorado, on the other hand, defeated Colorado State 43-20 in their season opener. The Buffs were led in scoring by flyhalf Tony Quattrini, winger Luke Lahman, and fullback Chris Martin. In order for the Buffs to win the match they must take advantage of their speed on the outside and continue to play physical rugby. Colorado looks forward to playing Arizona as the Wildcats have defeated them the past three matches. As the Buff’s head coach, Jim Snyder, said, “It’s going to be a heck of a ball game.”
Arizona State (0-1) v. Wyoming (0-0)
The University of Wyoming begins their D1A season on the road at Arizona State in Tempe, AZ and will surely welcome the warm trip to the desert from chilly Laramie, WY. The Wyoming Cowboys finished last in the Western Conference last season and are looking to drastically improve upon their record. Arizona State is coming off a fine 2011 season but a bit of a disappointing opener against BYU. The Sun Devils were unable to keep the BYU attack at bay and gave up 54 points.
Last week Zach Utley and Nathan Shiya touched down tries for the Sun Devils and Adam Sandstrom kicked through a penalty for their 13-point total. A potential climatic factor for Wyoming is the heat and sun. The Cowboys are accustomed to cold temperatures and have not trained in the pounding sun and heat since the summer time, so keep an eye on the weather for Saturday’s match as it may play an important role.
Utah (0-0) v. Colorado State (0-1)
2011 National semifinalist Utah opens up their D1A season at home against Colorado State. Although this is Utah’s first regular season match, they come into it well prepared due to an extremely tough preseason schedule. The Utes have face D1AA 2011 runners-up Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, San Francisco Golden Gate (Super League), St. Mary’s, and Cal. They lost to SFGG, St. Mary’s, and to Cal on a last-second penalty 22-23. Not many teams in the country have had as difficult or demanding preseason as Utah so look for them to be hitting their stride early on in the season.
Colorado State fell to Colorado 20-43 in their opener and look to quickly bounce back with a big win over Utah. Forwards Aiden Hart, Marshall Brandt, and Chris Hooyman led the scoring attack last week and will be looking to duplicate their strong performances against the Utes.
Pacific Conference powerhouses St. Mary’s and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo will face off in this weekend’s Barnburner. As this match will be Cal Poly’s D1A season opener, St. Mary’s will head into this anticipated clash with a definitive conference win already under their belts. St. Mary’s defeated UCLA last weekend with a score of 76-19 that saw the Gaels find their well-known groove early in the season against a young, but organized Bruins team.
Cal Poly, on the other hand, had a strong build up to the D1A season where they confronted national powerhouses Utah and Cal in a tough but vital preseason campaign. The Mustangs fell to Utah 36-5 but came away with a firm foundation on which to build on their campaign in hopes of toppling some top ten teams. The biggest part of their preseason was their unexpected defeat of Cal, 22-20 that saw the Mustangs come right against an always-strong Cal side.
Central Washington (0-0) v. UC Davis (0-1)
National Sevens runners-up, Central Washington, will begin their 15s D1A season against a rested and determined UC-Davis squad. All-American and National Sevens Tournament MVP, Tim Stanfill, leads Central Washington into their first home match of the season. In the 2011 meeting between the two teams Central Washington won in Davis, CA 36-25 in an entertaining back-and-forth match. Leading UC-Davis into the match are Kevin Holland-McCann and Sam Shackelford. The match Saturday will see loads of hits, runs, and passion from two teams that are located in American rugby hot beds.