New York Athletic Club visits Life University in a preseason friendly this weekend.
It’s an important run out for NYAC, which has spent a lot of time trying to train in rough winter weather. Life has had much more outside time, but that’s not the only factor influencing the outcome of this game.
Life has added some new players, including points machine AJ MacGinty from NYAC. He will likely slot in at flyhalf and in doing so will have an advantage in that he knows how NYAC operates.
Life looks for solid up front and while they have made a few changes in the backline, backs coach and (probably backup) center Tui Osborne is fashioning the squad into an effective unit.
NYAC has added a couple of players, but really their strength lies in who returns. They have Eagles at #5, #9 and #10, and USA-caliber players (or close to it) elsewhere. Conor Coyne is an excellent hooker and part of an excellent front row.
The NYAC backline certainly matches Life for savvy and possibly for speed also.
This game is a preview of what might be the battle between the top teams in the East when all is said and done. NYAC won’t be playing in DI, but they will play in the Elite Cup, and that’s where these two will certainly meet once more.
Despite being a friendly, this game may well be the biggest of the weekend, unless of course you’re going to the opposite corner of the country.
In Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach Seattle hosts Olympic Club. While Olympic Club has had difficulties early on, they are a formidable team with plenty of talent. Up front, with Mike MacDonald, Will Johnson, Andrew King et al, Philippe Farner’s team will be a challenge.
They will also match up interestingly with OPSB as the Seattle club is heavy in the backs and perhaps has the edge in overall creativity and ability in broken play. But Olympic Club is solid at set piece and might be expected to have the upper hand in tight.
For new OPSB Coach Justin Fitzpatrick, jumping in mid-season has been an adjustment, but he said he is getting a handle on what his team is able to do.
“Against BYU I got an opportunity to see a broader mix of players and the more I can see the better,” said the former Ireland international prop. “It was good to win and good to see how the guys react to traveling and playing a quality side. Olympic Club will be a good test for us. I have heard nothing but good things about them and their tradition. It’s an exciting prospect to play them.”
A victory for Olympic Club will be a massive accomplishment for them, playing as they are in a two-forfeit hole. Should they win this away game, or even garner some bonus points, they will get some much-needed confidence.