Colorado State opened up their Rocky Mountain account with a 52-12 defeat of Utah State this past weekend, and that is just the latest step in the Rams long climb to a conference title they felt they should have won last year.
In the 2016-17 season, CSU beat Colorado, but that game was later called a forfeit loss for both teams because both had played unregistered players. That was enough to cost the Rams the conference title, and they remember it.
"That was unfortunate," said Wyman. "We remember it. But we've always been in an underdog position and don't mind proving ourselves every year."
That result on Saturday came after CSU sweeping their games at the Jackalope tournament.
"In the Jackalope tournament we were behind in every game and our defense came through," said club president Max Wyman. "Our defense is much improved because of the Jackalope. This has always been a fit team and a well-put-together team but we've been a second-half team. Against Utah State we led the whole time, played a full 80 minutes, and held them to [two tries], it was great."
The defense has blossomed under some new coaching and a commitment among the players to work for it.
Offensively, things went well, too, despite too many knock-ons in wet conditions. Inside center Liam Wynne scored two tries and six conversions for 22 points. Wynne spent a semester in New Zealand and is much improved since he came back. Lock Jake Russell scored two tries, as did his second row mate, Duncan Frost.
Two freshmen stood out in the back row. Daniel Trump out of Fort Hunt was excellent, and scored a try Joe Rusert-Cuddy, a HS All American, is just coming back from injury but started at openside and was a factor.
"It's really rare to see rugby-specific athletes come out of high school and be able to contribute like that," said Wyman.
Those new players don't remember the hiccups from last year, but that's OK. Maybe having everyone looking forward is the right thing to do.
Colorado also won this weekend, defeating Wyoming 38-15, a game in which CU led 31-3 at halftime.
Utah Valley University is an associate member of the Rocky Mountain, meaning the scores don't count in the standings but they play a conference schedule anyway. UVU beat Air Force 56-29 in a game where UVU center Kinitoni Falatau scored 39 points, outscoring the Zoomies all by himself. In a hard-hitting clash, Utah Valley was more savvy in the breakdown, more physical, and just stifled Air Force momentum.
Here are the Rocky Mountain standings with Utah State's win listed, but not Air Force's loss. UVU and BYU are the two affiliate members of the conference.
|Utah Valley U. *||1||0||0||56||29||27||1||0||5|
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