There are playoff implications all over DI-A this week, including in the Rugby East, as Penn State and Kutztown meet to decide the conference’s No. 2 seed for the postseason.
Army is still mathematically catch-able in the Rugby East standings, but the Black Knights clinch the conference title with a single bonus point, a win or a tie against 0-2 Delaware Saturday. With conference foes only playing each other once, a very short season has left little room for error.
Both Penn State and Kutztown have lost close matches to Army, the Nittany Lions by seven and the Golden Bears by five, and beaten Delaware big, Penn State 86-0 and Kutztown 59-5.
“We’re healthy and they’re healthy. You can flip a coin as far as I’m concerned. It’s going to be like a mirror image,” said Kutztown coach Gregg Jones.
“We pretty much do the same things, have the same type of personnel. You look at their Army score and our Army score, I’ve got to think it’s going to be a pretty close game.”
It usually is a close game between these intrastate rivals.
“Penn State, we have a rivalry with Penn State more than we do anyone else, because the games are always so close,” said Jones.
“It’s a real professional rivalry, too. Everybody likes each other, the coaching staffs, the players, and everybody’s friends, but for those 80 minutes it’s a contest. We always look forward to it. They do.”
Lining up across from each other for the first time in this rivalry are friends and high school foes – Bobby Stortz of Kutztown and Blaze Feury of Penn State. They played against each other on different New Jersey high school teams, and they’re making impacts for their current clubs in college. This week they will both likely be at outside center.
There are other great match-ups, too – Niku Kruger against Joe Baker at No. 10 and Mike Lawrenson in KU’s engine room against Dan Metcalf in Penn State’s.
The winner of this installment of Pennsylvania’s college rugby rivalry will either advance straight to the DI-A quarterfinals and meet the Mid-South champion or face the Big Ten’s champion in a play-in game. For a look at the DI-A bracket, go here.