The inaugural PAC Rugby season came to a close Sunday, as UCLA beat Arizona State 54-12 and Arizona edged Oregon State 27-23 to cap off a four-game weekend. Friday, The Bruins beat Arizona 52-10 and the Sun Devils beat the Beavers 28-19.
The results saw UCLA finish second in the new league, a promising showing for a program on the rise.
“We’re really happy with the way the guys handled themselves and performed on the weekend. We’re very, very happy,” said UCLA coach Scott Stewart. “It’s not easy playing two games in three days, but it was the same for everybody, and we’re just really pleased with the way the team’s going right now.”
The results also saw Oregon State end the PAC Rugby season 0-4, but only just, as the Beavers nearly nipped the Wildcats Sunday. OSU had a try disallowed on the last play of the game against Arizona when a Beaver, who seemed to score the game winner, grounded the ball on an Arizona defender’s foot and let go of the ball, resulting in a knock on.
Oregon State led 11-5 at halftime and 18-5 at one point, but a 19-point run from the Wildcats erased the deficit. Despite finishing the PAC Rugby season winless, Oregon State is happy with the new league.
“As a team that basically was happy to walk away from a conference, we’re really proud of what we’ve done this year in joining the [PAC],” said OSU coach Anthony Lally. “A few balls bouncing a different way Friday and Sunday, we were as close as we were going to get.
“We went through a conference season without a win, played very good rugby, enjoyed ourselves and we’re looking to grow the conference.”
UCLA has a postseason berth in the Varsity Cup, and the Bruins will host BYU in the quarterfinals on April 20. The Cougars won in Westwood 84-14 earlier this season, but Stewart is optimistic that his team’s poised to take a more competitive run at the reigning DIA National Champs this time around.
“We’ve come together really well with a nice camp over the break and going out and getting this trip out there,” he said. “It’s been really good for us, and we’re as ready as we can be right now. We’re going to continue to work hard over the next two weeks to make sure we’re ready to go and we’re going to give it our very best.”
Arizona is also hoping to play postseason rugby, as the Wildcats have applied for an at-large berth to the DI-AA Sweet 16. Sunday's win over Oregon State should bolster the Wildcats' resume.
“We are proud of our schedule,” said Arizona head coach Dave Sitton. “In addition to a league with five ranked [teams] and a sixth [which] should, we have played another three ranked non-conference opponents. In all, I believe that eight of our ten matches to date have been contested against top 20 teams.”