In what has to be one of the most exciting match-ups of the 2012 Metro Area Varsity Rugby Conference (MAVRC) season, the Pride of Perry Street Prep will be facing off against the Eagles of Gonzaga this Friday night at 7pm in Washington, DC. While both programs have racked up impressive wins against league and regional opponents, their approach to the season has been markedly different.
After graduating 12 of 15 players from last years MAVRC championship team, the Pride has focused on speeding up the varsity rugby learning curve with a busy local and league schedule. An impressive 6-0 record has produced a budding confidence in their fledging team. Despite fielding only three seniors, and with 45 % of the starting squad being 9th or 10th graders, Pride Coach Tal Bayer feels his team can meet the challenge.
"Our guys have really stepped up and surprised a few teams," he said.
That gain in confidence has come at a cost, however, as the team sustained injuries from the almost doubled weekly playing time. Instead of continuing rugby through spring break, the team opted to take some well-deserved time off from rugby to recover and renew focus on the remainder of the season.
Gonzaga on the other hand has had just as impressive results but with a much more aggressive schedule that includes wins against top 10 nationally ranked teams Xavier(NYC), Charlotte Catholic (NC) and St. Thomas (TX). Additionally, Gonzaga recently returned from a successful tour to Portugal where they went went 2-1, with their only loss of the trip coming against tournament finalist Biarritz Academy. Their string of wins over nationally caliber opponents has resulted in a #2 National Ranking in the most recent rugbymag.com. That being said, Gonzaga Coach Lee Kelly was measured in his outlook for Friday night’s game, stating “year in and year out, our game against the Pride is one of our toughest league games of the season and we don’t take them lightly.”
While Gonzaga are an odds on favorite in Friday nights matchup, the Pride hope they can capitalize on their growing confidence and experience. Coach Bayer said “it is games like this that you can gauge how far you have come and much further you need to go.” Friday nights game will be interesting to see how far the Pride are from their destination because win or lose, there is a good chance these teams will have to play each other again in the league championships.