Three Ways Gaels Showed They Are Contenders Again


Don't crown Saint Mary's your next D1A champion just yet, but take note, Saturday's victory wasn't just any old result.

The Gaels looked on top of the heap for much of the 2017-18 season, thanks in large part to a sweep of BYU, a win over Cal, and domination in the California Conference. But injuries and fatigue made for an early exit in the playoffs, providing a lesson in how you can't count your chickens, ever.

But ... let's count three chickens, at least. Here are three reasons Saint Mary's showed it is a top-level team once more.

Game Plan

Head coach Tim O'Brien and the team leadership formulated a plan that was decidedly non-Gael. Don't quick tap (much). Don't fling the ball around. With the wind and the rain and the cold, you're better off punching it to the corner and pressuring from there.

On penalties? Drive it, said O'Brien. Drive it, drive it, drive it.

Normally, college players playing in an early game, the first shown live on FloRugby, might be a little over-excited, and perhaps forget that game plan. Not Saint Mary's. The Gaels did (mostly) what they were supposed to do. They used the boot to force Central Washington into errors, they kicked for touch on penalties, and they played to the conditions, as asked.


All kinds of questions have dogged Saint Mary's in the offseason. Would the loss of Mike McCarthy at flyhalf be a problem? Would the loss of Alec Barton and the recent injury to Marcus Viscardi hamper them at flanker? What would happen with a bunch of small freshmen on the perimeter?

Answers: Not really, apparently not, and they would play defense and score tries.

The big news seems to be that Joe Yacoubian has slotted in at flyhalf and looks pretty comfortable there. Working with his older brother, Sean, at scrumhalf, the Scottish-born pivot handled his role just fine.

Out wide, Tsuyoshi Enokida, Diego Vasquez, and Edward King handled themselves well, didn't over-commit to the counter-attack, and showed some nice skill, too (see the try up above).

And at flanker? Well Colin Clancy was called into the fray in place of Viscardi and was superb. He was the main target in the lineout, stole lineout throws from Central Washington repeatedly, and was solid around the field.

The Stranglehold

Central Washington could barely hold onto their scrums ... and sometimes not even then.

They struggled a great deal with winning their lineouts, and had no answer, really, to the Saint Mary's set piece. The Gael defense bottled up the Wildcats such that the most dangerous CWU runners (Cole Zarcone, for example) had little ball and less space.

It wasn't just that Saint Mary's shut out a good team with good coaching and good personnel; Saint Mary's didn't allow even the suggestion of a score. 

So Watch Out

More tests are to come. Saint Mary's will play Cal at Cal, BYU twice, and a pretty formidable Glendale Academy U23 team this year. There is no really entrenched top tea at the moment, as Cal, BYU, Saint Mary's, Lindenwood, and, of course, Life, could all be good enough. 

But Saint Mary's at least confirmed that it should be in that conversation.

So Long Samu

Samu Manoa Is Hot

Today, the man known for his hard hits delivered his biggest blow of late. 

Chicago Lions Start 2019 7s Off Right

The Chicago Lions kicked off their 2019 sevens qualifying campaign with a victory at Forest City 7s in Rockford, IL by defeating the Detroit Tradesmen 17-7 in the final. 

Bastareaud, Parra Miss Out on France World Cup Squad

Top 14 SF Highlights: Toulouse v La Rochelle

Experienced pair Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra missed out on France's 31-man World Cup squad, head coach Jacques Brunel announced on Tuesday.

Black Ferns Select Squad For Super Series

Black Ferns Raring To Go Against USA

New Zealand Women's National Team head coach Glenn Moore has selected 30 players to for the Women's Super Series kicking off June 28 in San Diego.

The Eagle Women 7s Are Much Better; Here's Why

USA Women's Sevens head coach Chris Brown won the Women's World Series Coach of the Year Award, and it was well-deserved.

More Ways To Watch FloRugby


Never miss a moment. 

Kaino Eyes World Cup Selection For Toulouse Teammates

Bounce Pass Sets Up Huget's Second

Toulouse captain Jerome Kaino believes the next challenge for his team is to get as many callups to this year's World Cup after France's most decorated side lifted their 20th league title on Saturday. 

Seattle Wins Second MLR Title On Last-Second Try

It's two for two for the Seattle Seawolves as the 2019 Major League Rugby season game to a close Sunday. 

USA Women Win Biarritz 7s

The U-Haul Workout

The USA Women’s Sevens team has made history, winning a Sevens World Series for the first time, as the Eagles beat Russia, Spain, and New Zealand to take home a tournament trophy in the final round of the 2018-19 season.

Atlanta Old White Wins First South Qualiflier


Atlanta Old White won the first qualifier of the South club sevens season, defeating Stormers 24-21 in the final.