After a long winter, college rugby is back. The Northwest, PAC, Pacific Western, South Independent, SEC, Gold Coast and California conferences have either begun play or picked back up in the last couple of weeks.
Blowouts in California
The California is the only DI-A conference currently in action, as the Allied is slated to start this week and the West begins league play in March. Defending California champ St. Mary's opened the conference season with an impressive 103-7 defeat of Sacramento State. The Gaels, who have been impressive all spring, were way too much, and they might be for any conference comer all season.
California runners-up Cal Poly had a strong showing, too, beating rival UC Davis. Michael Mitchell scored two tries in the contest, both coming in the final minutes. Davis held the Mustangs to just two first-half tries, but the Aggies' lack of scoring prowess left them trailing the entire game.
“We had some good patches, some patches where we were a little frantic and failed to finish,” said Cal Poly Head Coach David Burnett. “But, all in all, we came out of the game injury-free, played good rugby and we got a bonus point out of it.”
San Diego State also posted a strong opening performance, slugging UCSB 46-3. The Aztecs were not competitive in a friendly against Life University a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas, so putting together a complete game was important for morale.
“The team’s performance was pretty good,” said SDSU Head Coach Alex Lichtig. “There are some areas that we’d like to work on, but overall it was the result we were looking for. The guys played hard for 80 minutes, which is great to see.”
LSU impressive in SEC opener
The bayou bengals pasted Georgia 52-10, utilizing a big opening 25 minutes to get the job done. LSU poured in 26 minutes in that time before Georgia stiffened up.
Despite the lopsided loss, Georgia head coach Doug Porter thinks his team will improve on 2013's last-place finish in the East Division. And the Bulldogs were much more competitive in the game's final three quarters.
"I knew it would be a tough ask, but I didn’t expect this. We have a really good front row. We’ve got a really good 8 and a 9, and we’ve got athletes," said Porter. "What we have is no one from 10 back has played more than a year of rugby, and against a team as savvy as LSU, that really showed...We’re clearly better than we were last year. Without question, we’re much, much better."
Another team not discouraged by a season-opening loss is Florida. The Gators had a down year last season and lost 24-17 to 2013 runner-up South Carolina on Saturday.The Gamecocks built a two-score lead in the meat of the game, but Florida was pressing to draw level as time expired.
"I’d say the first 20 minutes were pretty tough. They spent most of the time in our half. Second half we pretty much spent most of the time in their half," said Florida coach Ken Simmons.
"I was really pleased with the way we played the last half, and especially the last 10-15 minutes. We’re getting some depth. We picked up some really nice talent in the fall – new players who haven’t played rugby before but have the natural ability."
Vanderbilt also started SEC play 1-0 with a 35-22 defeat of Kenrucky Saturday, and both Alabama and Ole Miss won their in-state rivalry games over Auburn and Mississippi State, respectively.
Schedules and Standings updated
For all the latest scores in each league, and a look at fixtures to come, check out this link.
To see how the teams stack up in their respective conference tables, go here.