UCSB and San Diego State meet at 7pm (PST) in Santa Barbara, Calif. Saturday night to decide the inaugural Pacific Mountain West championship. The winner gets an automatic bid to the Sweet 16, while the loser will be left hoping for one of three at-large bids.
When the Gauchos and Aztecs met in Santa Barbara Feb. 4th, UCSB won 21-14. Both teams have gone convincingly undefeated since then. First-year head coach Matt Hawkins says SDSU has come along way in the last couple of months.
“From our perspective, I think we’ve grown a lot more than most sides and come together a lot better than other sides,” he said.
“The first time we played them we were still trying to understand what system we were going to be playing, and it was hard to get any sort of momentum or rhythm, so I’m looking forward to seeing the guys play again.”
Saturday’s loser will likely be a prime candidate for an at-large bid to the Sweet 16, but both teams would rather not leave their postseason fate in the hands of a committee. For the Aztecs, Hawkins believes the team’s psyche, too, would benefit from beating UCSB.
“If we win this game, we go into the playoffs and anything’s possible, it’s up to us to walk away with whatever we decide to walk away with. But if we don’t, then even if we do go through, you kind of limp through, and you still don’t have your confidence and you’re not quite sure exactly what you’ve got and what you don’t have,” said Hawkins.
“I think it’s very a important game, mentally, but also just as a team growing, I think it’s very, very crucial for us to bounce back from a loss against a team and be able to sort of put them away. I think there’s a lot riding on this game. But at the end of the day, it’s just a game. It’s 80 minutes of rugby, so let’s just go out there and play.”
Highlights of the USA High School All Americans in their 12-6 loss to England North U16s during the Wellington International Rugby Festival.
The HSAA's got two penalty goals from Fitou Fisiiahi, and, as you will see, had myriad chances to score tries.
“The game was outstanding to watch but our boys were devastated they lost the chance to beat England North. The progress the boys have made over the past week has been tremendous,” said High School All-Americans Head Coach, Salty Thompson.
BYU did the job in the big matchup in College rugby, Old Puget Sound pulled off a surprise, and there’s talk about new eligibility regs for college rugby. Alex, Pat and Bruce talk about it all, and check in with the USA 7s team as well.
The Detroit Tradesmen Colts returned from Ireland and concluded their first international tour Tuesday. The Tradesmen Colts are made up of players from 9 high school clubs, mostly from the Detroit Metro area, but also including Grand Rapids, Mich., Ft. Wayne, Ind. and Nashville, Tenn.
The Colts met in Chicago for the flight to Dublin on April 3, and, upon arrival, went straight to a training session with Leinster’s Derek Dowling. They played their first fixture against the Skerries at the scenic Malahide Rugby Club outside of Dublin the following day.
As is often the case, the score didn’t support how closely matched the teams were, as the Skerries were able to capitalize off of some overloads from quick restarts and second-phase play to best the visitors in a the twilight match. The Colts dominated the tight play and ground their way to 15 hard-earned points, but gave up some long breaks ultimately fell to the Skerries by two tries and a conversion (27-15).
After taking in some local color, the Colts left Dublin for Nenagh, where they tried their hand at Irish Hurling before heading back to Dublin to play against the Turenure College RFC and take in the Heineken Cup match between Leinster and Cardiff at AVIVA stadium.
Many of the lessons that were learned against the Skerries were implemented in the Turenure match, and the results were closer, but the Tradesmen could not capitalize on their second half rally and again fell short of victory. Play was dominated by the larger American forwards, but disorganization in the second phases proved to be the undoing once again.
The final training session of the tour was conducted outside of Galway by former Connacht player and current Irish U19 coach Nigel Carolan. Nigel’s session focused on handling and much needed defensive alignment strategies, and the Colts hoped to close their tour down with a win the following day against the Westport RFC.
While victory alluded the young tourists, the level of play rose with every match, and the Westport match had the Colts within a single try of winning, but they were held off until full time by a determined Bulls team.
18 players made it across and back, and the tour was considered a success by all. The Detroit Tradesmen Colts plan to make the spring tour an annual event and are beginning preparations for a South American tour in the spring of 2013. Information on the Colts can be found at www.DetroitTradesmen.com, or by contacting Dave Huff (
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