Big Exam For New Year: Central Washington Visits UC Davis, Saint Mary's

Ian Muir Central Washington Silicon Valley 2017 Ian Muir 9.jpg

The New Year kicks off with a pair of earth-shaking college games in California, as D1A national championship contender Central Washington takes on two imposing opponents.

CWU, which is a varsity program in Ellensburg, WA, and is now playing as a D1A independent, will take on UC Davis — 2015 and 2016 D1AA national champion — on Friday night under the lights at the Aggies’ football stadium in Davis, CA. Then, on Saturday, the Wildcats go one better and face defending the D1A champion Saint Mary’s Gaels in Moraga, CA.

Both of these matchups should provide an early look at where these teams fall in the national pecking order.

After winning two D1AA titles in a row, UC Davis lost the 2017 final to Notre Dame College. That run, however, was good enough for the Aggies to move up to D1A. There have been all sorts of arguments about whether D1AA teams can handle the demands of a D1A schedule, and while NDC going 4-2 in the Rugby East demonstrated that the move up can be made, the Aggies have something to prove, too.


“I think there are D1AA teams that are better than some D1A teams,” said new UC Davis Andy Malpass, who coached UC Davis some years ago, as well. “That said, we know it will be a big step up. Central Washington’s a really, really good program. They’ve got some very talented players and Todd [Thornley] is a really good coach. This is the type of team we need to play. I want my guys playing Central Washington, BYU, Saint Mary's. That’s the only way we’re going to get better.”

The Aggies played Sacramento State and Chico State in warmup games just before the fall semester finals week. UC Davis won those games comfortably, but Malpass hasn’t seen his players since, as exams and the winter break mean they will show up on campus and pitch up a couple of days later.

Central Washington is in somewhat the same situation. 

“We will just have two indoor sessions before hitting the road on Thursday,” said Thornley, who is in his second year as Wildcats head coach. “While they have been away they have been given high conditioning standards that need to be met and also will be assessed on our gameplay understanding. 

"Despite the less-than-ideal preparation, we are very excited by the challenge of playing two quality opponents this weekend. It’s a great way to kick off our season.” 


Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s has had several warmup games in the fall and went back to campus early for a run-out against the Diablo men’s club, a game the Gaels, predictably, won.

“I think it was really beneficial for us to get some game time even though we came out of break a little early,” Saint Mary's flanker/lock Alec Barton said. “We are really excited about this Central Washington game. We circled it on our calendar a while ago. We’ve faced them in sevens, but we’re feeling that competitiveness and excitement because we get to play them in 15s.”

Eagles Battle Inconsistency, Defeat Brazil

David Barpal 180210-Eagles V Canada-Barpal-1134.jpg

After a somewhat scattered effort, the USA Men’s 15s national team moved to 4-0 in the Americas Rugby Championship with a 43-16 defeat of Brazil in Sao Paulo.

Eagles Must Look To Avoid Traps In Brazil

David Barpal Ben Landry Eagles V Canada-Barpal-1130.jpg

Estadio Martins Pereira in São Jose Dos Campos, Brazil plays host to the USA and Brazil in Saturday's Americas Rugby Championship game, and despite the teams' relative records, this is a risky game for the Eagles.

No Backing Down: Life Hosts Davenport

Steve Zomberg Life v Davenport 2017 Steve Zomberg 1.jpg

After a long winter Davenport finally gets to play a Mid-South Conference game, and will start off the so-called spring season at Life University.

OMBAC At Belmont Shore In Battle For The Top Of PRP

Belmont Shore RFC Belmont Shore v OMBAC 2018 Preseason 1.jpg

Two undefeated teams meet up 3pm on the campus of Cal State Long Beach as Belmont Shore hosts OMBAC.

SFGG, Life West Choose Sides For PRP Round 3

Austin Brewin SFGG DI 94800.jpeg

After a 2-0 start in the Pacific Rugby Premiership, San Francisco Gold Gate will take on a somewhat wounded and always dangerous Life West in Round 3 Saturday at 3pm on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.

Olympic Club, Santa Monica Look For First Victory

Olympic Club Photo 2018.jpg

The Olympic Club and Santa Monica have named their lineups to face off in Round 3 of the Pacific Rugby Premiership Saturday afternoon in San Francisco.

After Statement Win, Gaels Want More

Michael Geib Saint Marys vs Gordon 2017 Michael Geib 9.jpg .jpg

Saint Mary's put an early stamp on its 2017-18 college season with a dominant win over BYU last week, but more challenges are coming the Gaels' way.

Life Women Put Out Welcome Mat For Capital Selects

Life University Athletics Life University Women - 2017 - Life Athletics 2.jpg

The Life University women's team had to battle for an ugly 12-5 win over the Atlanta Harlequins last week, and that's exactly what head coach Rosalind Chou has been looking to see from her team.

Men’s College Preview & Picks: Are More Surprises In Store This Weekend?

Joseph Kling Photography CSULB v Loyola Marymount Joseph Kling Photography.jpg

There has been no shortage of unpredictable results this season, but perhaps none was more stunning than BYU's margin of defeat to Saint Mary's last week.

Men's College Player Of The Week: Payton Talea-Ilalio, Saint Mary's

Michael Geib St Marys v Gordon Michael Geib 2018.jpg

The success of Saint Mary's begins and ends with the scrum, and at the fulcrum of that, is prop Payton Telea-Ilalio.