OK rugby fans we are down the last stretch of the schedule with playoffs just around the corner. In the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference (NCRC), there is still plenty of fight in the season, but as of right now, here is where things stand.
To get this out of the way, three out of the ten league teams are not eligible. Simon Fraser (SFU) and University of British Columbia (UBC) hail from Canada and therefore have their own playoff system north of the border. Central Washington, meanwhile, already has a squad in D1-A and isn’t eligible for the playoffs, either.
The defending NCRC champion Oregon State Beavers (4-0, 19 pts) have been just as advertised. They were challenged early in the year by both the Canadian squads mentioned earlier, but have since breezed through their schedule. Their most recent victory came against Oregon in the Civil War and now are slated to get back on the road for a tough test next weekend against Washington.
The Beavers have control of their own destiny at this point and must win out to take the league title back to Corvallis, OR. However, with the remainder of their schedule being on the road, Beaver rugby nation knows every game will be an all-out battle.
Washington State University (2-0-1, 10 pts) got off to a bit of a slow start with a tie to Eastern Washington and a loss to UBC (doesn’t count against them), but nevertheless. Since then, they have been a hot streak with three straight wins and currently have the shortest distance at a shot for the title.
The Cougars have three of their remaining four games at home with their only road game coming next weekend up in Bellingham, WA against Western Washington. This weekend they battle Central Washington at home.
Should they win that game, it will set up a league title matchup on March 14 against Oregon State. If the Cougars beat the Beavers, they would have league wrapped up and looking to end their season on a strong note against nemesis UW in the Apple Cup.
Up next are the Huskies (1-0, 5 pts) and the crazy schedule that’s been handed to them. UW didn’t get started with their season until week four with a win against the Oregon Ducks. Then, the weather took over and they haven’t played a game since which is always tough for team.
Now, though, it’s time to buckle down and make up for some lost time with five games, including WSU and Oregon State. If the Huskies plan on taking the lone playoff spot that is given to the conference champion, they must win out and do it in dramatic fashion to make up some bonus points. They start in a few hours on the road against Central Washington.
Eastern Washington rounds out the playoff picture in the NCRC. The Eagles (1-1-1, 8 pts) have tied WSU, beat Idaho and lost to the Huskies, all in dramatic fashion, and are looking to do what it takes to get a shot at league.
The road, unfortunately, is not in their favor. Not only must they win out, but they must do it, like UW, with bonus points and pray that somehow OSU and WSU tie in their matchup. Should all that happen, the Eagles will be on their way.