Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

What Is The Toughest College Venue To Play In?

irish rugby tours

What Is The Toughest College Venue To Play In?

Getting muddy at Huckaby Field at Arkansas State. Rich Carvell photo.

Goff Rugby Report surveyed coaches in D1A Collegiate Rugby to ask where is the toughest place to play.

For the most part, the coaches who responded discussed this topic in terms of the reception they get from the fans and the general atmosphere. Some instead option to talk about playing conditions, and in that group, artificial turf pitches, especially those not constructions specifically for rugby, were hit pretty hard. One other coach said Kutztown was the toughest place to play because they keep their grass long (which makes a territory kicking game a little tougher).

Indiana's turf field was noted because it combines with the conditions.

"Their pitch is relatively hard astroturf," said one coach. "The ball never bounces kindly on the surface. There are no structures shading the field so if you draw a trip to Bloomington in early fall, it's basically a convection oven between the sun and the turf reflecting heat back up. Melted a pair of trainers last September."

The coach means shoes, not team medical staff by the way.

But when it comes to atmosphere, a few locations came out on top:

Huckaby Field, Arkansas State, Jonesboro, Ark.

"Just a tough place to get a win," said one coach.

"The fans have the energy of a southern revival but the venom of the vipers inside the tent," said another coach, who clearly knows how to paint a picture. "It's in a flood plain along a railroad track with a singular portable toilet. The mud there smells a particular way and grabs at you with every step."

Witter Rugby Field, Cal, Berkeley, Calif.

"From a fan/intimidation standpoint ... Cal if the crowd is big. Those fans are mean. Never been heckled by a 90-year-old before," said one coach.

Said another: "Cal—crowd atmosphere, legacy, and history."

Cal has a turf field but didn't come under criticism for it, largely because it's a new, well padded field surface.

South Field, BYU, Provo, Utah

"BYU, hands down," said one coach, simply.

Those who voted BYU concurred with the coach who said it was the attitude of the players on their home turf, and the ferocious home fans.

Army, Navy, and Life all were mentioned for how passionate their fans are.

Playing And Preparation Conditions

Not only the field surface, but what it's like to play somewhere came up in comments throughout the league. Arkansas State's mud was mentioned, but there's also the fact that the pavilion where the visiting team drops its stuff is basically below the water table and all the bags get wet. 

"Reserve players eventually contract jungle rot by the time they enter the match," explained one coach.

But there were others. San Diego State's "confusing" myriad of rugby and football and soccer lines was singled out. Kutztown's "tough conditions to dress, tape, and get ready" got a nod, too. 

And Life makes it difficult if you're not ready.

"If you aren't used to it, the walk from the locker rooms to the field is taxing," said one coach. "Warmup space is difficult at best." But the coach also added that Life does provide an excellent playing environment, facilities, and support. It's just the conditions, as much as anything else, that make it tough.

And, finally, one coach picked his own field as the toughest to play on. We won't name the field, but he mentions the constant wind that gusts up to 30 miles per hour, making it "pretty much a guaranteed bad day for lineout throwers and kickers."