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Around D1A: Confirmations, Cancelations, and Surprises

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Around D1A: Confirmations, Cancelations, and Surprises

Saint Mary's got by Cal by four points. David Barpal photo.

Let's talk D1A rankings, results, conferences, and playoff seedings.

Numero Uno

Navy has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and even if they have put a foot wrong, it didn't result in a loss. Friday night's victory over Army solidified that as the Midshipmen are now Rugby East champions and 15-0.

Navy To 15-0 After Beating Army

Numero Due

Who is Numero Due? Could it be Saint Mary's? Possibly. After the Gaels beat Cal this weekend there's an argument to be made.

Wild Game in Berkeley as Saint Mary's Edges Cal

However, Central Washington won as well. And really it was pretty impressive. Only three tries scored by Central Washington but it was a enough as they held Arizona scoreless in a 17-0 victory.

Calvin Liulamaga, Mitchell Hirose (of course), and Campbell Robb scored tries for Central, all in the second half, and Arizona battled to defend hard in the second half as both teams were held away from the tryline. 

"Credit to Arizona, they put is under a ton of pressure today and we weren't accurate enough in attack to negate that pressure," said CWU Head Coach Todd Thornley. "We have had two weeks in a row with a lack of accuracy in attack so this feedback is so valuable as we head into the post season. Overall, I am so proud of our team's effort so far in the regular season and look forward to seeing what we can do in the postseason."

Central Washington is now 8-1. Their only loss is from last week, 24-23 to BYU. That result showed the parity in the higher levels of men's college rugby, but it shouldn't discount the things CWU has done, such as beat UBC, beat Saint Mary's, and beat Army. If BYU and Central Washington play again does CWU win? Maybe. If BYU plays Saint Mary's again, does BYU win? Maybe. If CWU plays Saint Mary's again, does Saint Mary's win? You know the answer to that.

BYU beat Utah 65-22 in a result that was expected. Grand Canyon won over San Diego State. That was also not much of a surprise given recent results.


It's official. Lindenwood wins the Mid-South in what may well be the final standings ever for the Mid-South.

Mid-South 2022-23 W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Lindenwood 5 1 0 170 89 81 3 0 23
Life 4 2 0 143 82 61 3 0 19
Davenport 3 3 0 84 125 -41 0 0 12
Arkansas State 0 6 0 62 163 -101 0 1 1

That's because Life is moving to the Rugby East and it looks like a new Midwest tournament with Lindenwood, Davenport, and a cadre of other teams moving up a level will be the new conference. Arkansas State may be moving also. 

Lindenwood did the job on senior night and even though Arkansas State had perhaps their best offensive showing, the Lions are pretty happy. Here's the evidence.

Duncan Krige's early try put Lindenwood up 7-0, but it stayed that way for about 20 more minutes before young lock Eddie van Heerden stretched over. Arkansas State flyhalf Warrick Day kicked a penalty goal for the Red Wolves but a very photogenic buildup from Lindenwood led to Krige scoring on a pick-and-go to make it 21-3 at halftime.

Captain Neil Moylett finished off some good work from the forwards and a nice catch-and-pass from hooker Caleb O'Donoghue to start the second half. ASU answered very nicely and prop Lane Pruisner powered over. The Red Wolves camped out in Lindenwood territory and, with the Lions on a yellow card, wing James Beauclerk run a nice line up the middle to score. Suddenly it was 26-17 and ASU was in position to make a move.

But Lindenwood, as they do, put it away in the final 15 minutes. Wing Nic Hardrict II beat three defenders with one move and a burst of speed. Not to be outdone ASU center Timothy Glatthaar cut through about seven Lions to score. But a Rhys Smith penalty and then a break from Clayton Means to set up Smyth finished it off. Smith scored 16 points.

Life finished 2nd in the conference with a 26-17 victory over a Davenport team that has played very well this season. Tries by Sean Lenzsch, Gabe Michnya, and Julian Roberts sparked a 19-7 lead. But Davenport clawed back to 19-17, which is how it remained until the final moments. With four minutes to go and Life's attack somewhat stalled, Jerron Pantor popped a kick over the top and raced in to try to recover the ball in-goal. The ball bounced up nicely for Pantor but just as he reached for it he was barged off the ball.

Illegal hit, penalty try, ballgame, 26-17.

(Not) Looking Ahead

Lindenwood was slated to visit Central Washington this coming weekend, which would have been a really interesting pre-playoff game. However, Alaska Airlines reportedly canceled Lindenwood's group reservation with a meek "uh ... sorry" and the game has had to be canceled.

Lindenwood Head Coach Josh Macy posted about this on social media, saying: "Shoutout to @AlaskaAir for cancelling 30 group tickets before 5:00pm on a Friday! Really great customer service. (Clown emoji) (Sic)

Alaska Airlines' rather pathetic reply was this: "Oh no! Have you been able to work with our group desk yet? - Alexis"

Macy replied to the obvious bot with this: "We tried. We were informed that @AlaskaAir was not obligated to help us outside of refunding our cancelled fair home resulting in an additional $12K - 20K of expenses for our trip. We will be more careful in the future when sourcing providers." (Sic)

Behavior like this has a chilling effect on sports travel. For us at GRR World Headquarters we field questions about why Editor Alex Goff drives so much. Well since he started flying post-COVID he has encountered two lost bags, three canceled flights (none of which were weather-related), and four other delays of more than six hours. It's a nationwide problem, but you'd think an airline wouldn't screw over 30 fares. 

The Big Surprise

Cal Poly has been in excellent form and UCLA has been up and down. So ... of course ... UCLA beats Cal Poly 36-27.

"Great to see us put together a full 80," said UCLA Head Coach Harry Bennett. "They guys looked like they were climbing into the game the longer we played. Cal Poly opened the scoring through Coby Baker but UCLA responded with two tries, one from captain and center Alex Cortessis, and one off an off-the-deck offload to No. 8 Nathan Beil, who charged on for 50 meters. 

The game was tied 17-17 going into halftime before Cal Poly nudged ahead 20-17. It took until 10 minutes into the second half for UCLA to regain the lead with another long-range try—Beil working hard to be there for the final pass. Back clawed Cal Poly with outside center Dylan Caillouel bumping off a defender and beating a couple more before taking it to the corner. Baker converted from the sideline and it was 27-24 Cal Poly.

 Beil was once again working hard in support to score his third, and then with 12 minutes to go Cortessis looped around to score from long range. UCLA held on from there. This was partly a case of UCLA's best chances resulting in tries, and it was enough.

Beil was a force while flyhalf Sacha Martiny controlled the attack smartly despite being put under pressure by Cal Poly.

"I am extremely pleased with how we played in the second half in particular," said Bennett. "It's always a great contest between us and Cal Poly."

This result shakes up the rankings and potentially the playoffs. Was this sufficient for UCLA to unseat Cal Poly in the playoffs?

Navy almost certainly is the #1 Seed in the East, with Lindenwood #2, leaving the other four East playoff teams to be Army, Life, Davenport, and, as we said earlier, potentially Arizona (which is what we were hearing but is unlikely). But maybe UCLA now? Or Texas A&M (who beat Texas to win the Red River this weekend)? As we understand it A&M will be in the West (or not?. (What if Penn State beats Life next week?)

It's a little more turned around in the West but our observations say Central Washington is #1 and probably Saint Mary's is #2. But what if BYU beats Cal? The Cougars have an argument to be in the top two.

We think it will be CWU and SMC, with BYU, Cal, Arizona, and ... umm ... UCLA or Cal Poly. Or Grand Canyon. A reader pointed out we missed them and, yes, really, they should be in the mix also. The rankings will tell.