SALT LAKE CITY -- Ravens, Steelers. That’s how Salisbury coach Robert Davis and Towson coach Don Stone describe the rivalry between their two teams, which will be played for the third time this season Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah in the DII semifinals.
“You have to be from our area to appreciate that, but I guess it could be the Redskins, Cowboys, or Giants, Cowboys,” explained Stone. “In DII, no disrespect to Lindenwood or any of these other schools, but I think Salisbury and Towson is one of the biggest rivalries in the country in DII.”
Stone and Davis have played on the same men’s clubs and against each other for a long time. Recently, they suited up as teammates in a 50-and-over game, and the players have played with and against each other in high school.
“Everybody knows everybody, but for 80 minutes we’re going to go out there and we’re going to play good rugby against each other,” Davis said.
They may know each other, but they don’t necessarily like each other.
“These teams don’t really care for each other,” said Stone. “We all like the coaches, we all get along great, and I try to get my team to do the rugby culture and like each other, but it’s hard. These teams don’t really like each other.”
Salisbury won the first two meetings this season, 18-10 in the Potomac Rugby Union final and 30-26 in the Mid-Atlantic final. In the latter, Towson led 19-3 until RUGBYMag All American flyhalf Nick Kuhl took over with his boot.
“They were doing nothing against us, but he starts kicking, chipping the ball over,” recalled Stone of the MARFU final. “His kicks were perfect. They were very good, and it was the difference in the game.”
Kuhl’s performance, and Towson’s ability to deal with him, will be huge on Friday. Likewise, the play of Towson flanker Travis Rodgers will be big.
“He is a guy that you have to tackle twice if you’re going to tackle him,” said Davis of Rodgers. “He runs like Ray Rice.”
With more at stake than ever before, Friday’s rendition will be the most important Salisbury, Towson match ever. To the victor goes a National final berth.
“Not saying we’re going to win tomorrow, but I think we’ve closed the gap, and I think it’s made us better,” said Stone. “The Salisbury, Towson rugby you see today is much better than it was three years ago. They’ve made us better, and I know we’ve made them better.”