Fire up the BBQ, get that face paint ready and hoist up your team’s flag because D1A Men’s Rugby National Championships are here! Round one of the CRAA National Championship Playoffs begin this Saturday. Eight of the nations most elite rugby teams will battle it out for a chance to take one step further towards the ultimate prize. The weekend’s slate of matches include; Arizona at BYU, Cal Poly at Cal, Davenport at Army, and Texas A&M at Life University. Here’s what you need to know going into the weekend.
Arizona @ BYU – Provo, UT – 1:00 PM MT – (youtube.com)
Arizona – The Wildcats enter this year’s playoffs with a record of 18-6-1, bringing them in at 10th in the Power Rankings. They will be hungry for vengeance after losing to BYU 38-13 in their most recent clash on 2/11/23. Player to watch – EJ Freeman is an explosive center who has been nominated for the Rudy Scholz Award for best male collegiate rugby player.
BYU – The Cougars will be gunning for their 6th national title as they begin the 2023 playoffs. They closed out the season with a record of 10-2, only falling to Life and St. Mary’s. The Power Rankings put them in 7th. Player to watch – Taysan Hammer is the center and captain of the squad and is nominated for the Rudy Scholz Award.
Cal Poly @ Cal – Berkeley, CA – 1:00PM PT (pac12.com)
Cal Poly – The Mustangs gallop into the postseason with a record of 14-2, falling short to UCLA and Saint Mary’s. In the Power Rankings they find themselves in 11th. Player to watch – D1A All-American Honorable Mention Coby Baker.
Cal – Jack Clark’s Bears roll into the playoffs with a record of 30-4 putting them in 5th in the March Power Rankings. The long-standing California program has won a whopping 28 national titles, but have not lifted the trophy since 2017. Player to watch – co-captain fullback Max Schumacher has been a 4 year starter for the blue and gold and is nominated for the Rudy Scholz Award.
Davenport @ Army – West Point, NY – 12:00PM ET (therugbynetwork.com)
Davenport – The Panthers begin their playoff campaign with a record of 8-3, placing them at 9th in the Power Rankings. Don’t let their lighter game play fool you, this team will come to play. This season they made program history beating Life University for the first time. Player to watch – freshman scrumhalf Luther Deacon from Cape Town plays with pace and will look to move his Panthers over the line.
Army – The Army Mules charge into the playoffs with a record of 8-5, setting them at 8th in the Power Rankings. The men from West Point will look to repeat this year after winning the D1A National Championship in 2022. Player to watch – junior scrumhalf Tiaan Mosconi runs Army’s attack and is nominated for the Rudy Scholz Award.
Texas A&M @ Life University – Marietta, GA – 1:00PM ET (florugby.com)
Texas A&M – The Aggies enter playoffs with a record of 7-2, losing only to Cal Poly and USAF. They sit at 12th in the March Power Rankings. Texas A&M rocked the Red River Conference Championship, beating University of Texas 68-5. Player to watch – junior co-captain flanker Will Hofstetter will look to lift his team with dominant tackles and carries.
Life University – The Running Eagles soar into playoffs with a record of 8-2 and a 6th place spot in the March Power Rankings. Life won the D1A National Championship in 2018 and then in 2019. Player to watch – senior back row Orrin Bizer has been a 3 year starter and is crucial to Life’s set piece and attack. He is also nominated for the Rudy Scholz Award.