Who’s league is better?
That’s a constant question in American rugby, where many leagues and teams play in isolation.
This weekend, we perhaps get something of an answer, as the Southeastern Collegiate Conference Western #1, 4-0 LSU, plays the SEC Eastern #2, 3-1 Florida.
The game is in Gainesville and gives the Gators a chance to show they’ve got the tougher conference, and are just as good as the other guys.
“We’re pretty confident that we’re going to give a good performance,” said Florida flyhalf Luca Baistrocchi. “We played them in the fall, but neither side had their best side out there. But we’re confident we can beat LSU. We cannot expect it to be the same game. We know they’re doing really good this season, but so are we.”
Baistrocchi said the team has been working hard on their line speed, and also their running lines, assessing space, and support. They expect, it seems, LSU to kick, and they are working to be prepared.
Defensively Florida has been supremely tough on defense, having scored 162 and given up only 30 in league play. Twenty of those points came in a 20-12 loss to Tennessee February 11; a game Baistrocchi said the players would like to have back.
Defense is solid also with LSU, as the Tigers have won all four of their league games, scoring 194 and giving up a paltry 17. Their last effort was an 85-0 drubbing of Mississippi State, with Daniel Dowd, Will Middleton, Morgan Mills and Jason Pickup all scoring three tries. Dowd came on as a sub at fullback for Pickup, meaning their fullback position claimed six tries. Obviously using their #15 in the line is working for the Tigers, and they will want to punish the Gators the same way.
It wasn’t all offense for LSU, as they held off Mississippi State on several possessions.
It’s a classic clash between two teams on a roll. Despite being the traveling team, LSU should be favored, but they will also be looking forward to perhaps their sternest test of the season so far.