GCU lock Amber Falemalu (Photo: Jeff Dalton)
The question in round five of the USA Rugby DI College Spring Rankings was how to adjust the list to account for two important decisions in the Pacific Mountain West and Mason-Dixon North conferences. Ultimately, we split the difference in terms of moves.
The UVA vs. Virginia Tech rematch did not disappoint, as the Hokies took the 21-19 lead in the final 12 minutes of the match and held on for the win (stay tuned for VT interview). These two teams are clearly the best of the Mason-Dixon north, and we can’t wait to see how the conference’s best south team – Queens University, which beat USC 37-5 last weekend – figures into the league playoffs.
Both UVA and Virginia Tech are virtually even, but an important Pacific Mountain result tempered UVA’s greater gain in the rankings. Reigning USA Rugby spring champion Chico State hosted previously undefeated UC Davis in a 37-5 victory – recompense for a 34-19 loss to the Aggies on Feb. 2. These teams are getting close to the same number of games as the Mason-Dixon teams, but they’re still very much figuring themselves out after a month on the pitch.
Stanford also held strong with a big bonus-point win over Cal, as did UC Santa Barbara with a shutout against UC San Diego. Pacific Desert’s second-place team, Grand Canyon, eked out a one-point win against unranked CSU Northridge. The Lopes took a 10-point lead into halftime, and then four lead changes occurred in the second half. Back-to-back tries from center Viviana Garcia put Northridge ahead 38-34 with only minutes remaining. Grand Canyon had one more drive to make a change and sent lock Amberae Falemalu in for her second try to seal the win, 39-38. During the previous week’s 32-29 loss to UC Santa Barbara, Falemalu also scored in the 80th minute.
Finally Washington State got back on the pitch after a weather cancellation and bye week, and with 17 players, banked a 41-0 win against Oregon. Flyhalf Erica Chandler accounted for four of seven tries, and flanker Danielle Anderson added two. In other Pacific Mountain North news, Washington beat Oregon State 24-22 for the closest decision in the league. These teams are desperate for field time, especially as cancellations with Boise State pile up.
Finally, Central Florida got out of the state to compete in the Mardi Gras 15s tournament in New Orleans. The Knights advanced to the final against DI Elite Life University, and dropped the title bout 29-5 – a respectable scoreline considering the Running Eagles’ capabilities. Stay tuned for UCF interview Tuesday.