Big weather battered the West Coast last weekend, but the rugby went on for the most part. Club, college and high school were active, although a significant uptick in activity is still a couple of weeks away. [Lead photo: Cindy Caldwell]
Stanford University (1-0) traveled to UC Davis (0-1) for the DI Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference (PMRC) West’s first league game of the 2022-23 season. It was only 17-5 at half, but then the Cardinal pulled away for the 54-5 bonus-point win. Stanford hosts Chico State this weekend, while Cal and Fresno State face off in Berkeley. Teams have the opportunity to play each opponent home and away until early April. The PMRC North plays a split-season schedule, and Oregon State and DII Western Oregon are meant to hold a friendly this Saturday. The competition resumes league play on Jan. 28.
The PMRC moves into the post-season on April 8-9, when the North and West divisions send their best to crossover matches. The victors then advance to the CRAA Spring DI West Coast playoffs on April 21-22 in SoCal, where opposition from the Pacific Desert conference will await.
The closest college game of the weekend occurred between DII West Coast Rugby Conference‘s UC Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo. TRB contributor Larry Freitas was on the whistle and recounted a wet, cold and fun game at War Memorial Stadium in Paso Robles, Calif. The rain held off for most of the first half but moved in second half and gusty winds. The handling errors followed, but fortunately the turf prevented a muddy game from evolving. Teams were also rusty coming out of winter break.
“One thing for sure: The wings, both teams, ran out of space on a 53.5-yard-wide field when the ball did get shifted out wide,” Freitas explained. “The soccer lines were about two yards away from a cement walkway on one side and an asphalt one on the other. Too close for comfort.”
With the equalizers in play, just one try was scored in the first half. Cal Poly had an attacking lineout 15 meters from UCSC’s try line, and the Slugs were pinged as several forwards failed to retreat the required 10 meters. From the quick tap, freshman Elizabeth Darth dove over over the line for the Mustangs’ 5-0 lead. Right after the break, UCSC evened up, as wing Ash Wing dotted down, and then flanker Sophie Killabrew followed with the go-ahead try at minute 68. Vanessa Shaffer added the conversion for a 12-5 lead that held until the final whistle.
Cal Poly will play Santa Clara this Saturday, and then the split-season conference will ignite Jan. 28.
THIS WEEKEND … The Pacific Desert fires up. In Division I, UCLA, which had last weekend’s friendly against DII Claremont canceled due to weather, travels to Arizona State; reigning spring champ BYU heads to Grand Canyon Univ.; and UC Santa Barbara drives south to UC San Diego. Division II opens with reigning spring champion Claremont Colleges vs. Occidental, and UC Irvine vs. UC Riverside.
In DI Florida, Univ. Central Florida travels to Univ. Florida for the league’s season-opener. But the bulk of the collegiate action will be occurring in Round Rock, Texas, site of the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) All-Star 7s Championship. TRB will be on the ground for coverage.
Southern California and Red River Texas teams logged league games last Saturday. In the Pacific South, DI San Diego beat Belmont Shore 22-7, and will head to reigning league champ Tempe this Saturday. Santa Monica topped Pasadena 26-5, and both teams will get a bye week before returning to the pitch Jan. 28.
The Dolphins’ new DII team had its game against San Luis Obispo postponed. This Saturday will see Camp Pendleton and Santa Barbara contest their season openers against each other.
It was a two-point affair between DII Red River‘s Bay Area Rugby Club (BARC) and Round Rock, two teams in the South pool. BARC took a 7-0 nine minutes in, as prop and Forward of the Match Ashley Connelley scored and scrumhalf Elizabeth Clementi kicked the first of two conversions. Rage answered in the second half with back-to-back tries from No. 8 Ireland Pelletier and outside center Rachel Steubs, and a Steubs conversion but the Austin-area team up 12-7. But then in the 74th minute, BARC fullback and Back of the Match Ashley Boice dotted down the tying points, and crucially, Clementi hit the extras for go-ahead and win. Rage gets the bonus point in the loss.
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This Saturday, Little Rock and Dallas Harlequins contest a DII Red River North match.
It’s still pretty quiet around the rest of the country, but the USA South and Capital Selects are making some noise. Four senior all-star games are occurring this Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., and Capital is fielding a first team against the Panthers (see roster), and a developmental side against the DI Raleigh Venom.
Southern California Youth Rugby’s girls’ high school club 7s season began last weekend, and Rancho Bernardo (and its three sides), Long Beach Poly and Fallbrook all went undefeated in their respective round-robin tournaments. The regular season continues until Feb. 17, and then playoffs and championship follow. See full results and schedule. The Southern California Interscholastic Rugby Federation (SCIRF) has been underway since the fall, and the 10 single-school teams meet at one location every Saturday for friendlies. The championship is Feb. 11.