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ASU Rugby Spring Season Preview

Updated: Jan 25

As a new semester begins at Arizona State, ASU Rugby prepares for the upcoming season. The fall season was solid capped off by a win over Red Mountain one of the more prominent men’s teams in the valley.  

This spring’s schedule sees ASU’s A and B sides play a total of 13 times, five A side and 8 B side games. ASU’s A side will compete in the Gold Coast D1AA division, the two other teams in the division are Claremont Colleges and the University of San Diego. Each team will play each other twice, home and away. First place will go to the playoffs in northern California, and the winner of that goes to the National Championship. The 2nd place Gold Coast team is eligible for a bowl game in Texas against the 2nd place team from Florida. 

A side's season kicks off on January 20th with a warmup game at GCU at 12. The first regular season game will be at home against Claremont on February 3rd at 12. The following week ASU will travel to San Diego to take on USD on February 18th. The following week will see ASU on the road as the A side travels to play Claremont on February 24th. The regular season will end at home on March 16th against San Diego. That final home game will be both the alumni game and the senior game. Should ASU qualify for any postseason or bowl game on the weekend of April 20th. 

The B-side schedule is similar they also start their season at GCU on the 20th and will play after the side at 2 pm. The following week the B-side will play NAU at Fear Farm on the 27th. Then February 3rd the B side plays the Phoneix Storm at 10 am before the A side game at 12. The B side will then travel to San Diego with the A side to take on USD's B side following A side's game. While the A side travels to Claremont the B-side will play the Phoneix Storm at Fear Farm on February 3rd. On March 2nd B side will play GCU B at GCU again. Then on March 16th, the B side will play USD B after the A side game. The B side will wrap up their game on March 23rd at home against the Phoenix Storm. Home games for both A and B sides will be at the Dorsey Intermural fields (510 S Dorsey Ln).



ASU’s strength in the fall was its forward pack. The core of the pack has experience playing together plus the size and skill to mix it with the best. The front row of Nick Booz, Ethan Walls and Issiah Fatigoni was a fearsome combination and made the scrum a real weapon in the fall. Captain Nick Davies and Carter Carlson completed the tight five. Carlson brought speed and dynamism while Davies took the tight carries and offered set-piece stability. 


ASU Rugby Scrum
ASU's scrum became a real weapon during the fall winning penalties and turning over opposing scrums. Led by the front row Nick Booz, Ethan Walls and Isaiah Fatigoni.

The back row was excellent and had a big influence on open play. Landon Lahodny and Taniela Sikalu formed a formidable flank combination. Lahodny did the dirty work hitting the most attacking rucks and making the most tackles in the program. Sikalu brought carrying and dynamism scoring three tries, was tied for most line breaks with 6 and also assisted two line breaks. Pearse McNamara rounded out the back row at No.8, his all-round skill set provided balance and set piece nous to an already stellar back row. 

While the forward pack stood out, the backline was much improved from last season. Try scoring Scrum-Half Jacob Hurl carried his spring form to the fall, scoring three tries and assisting two. The occupant of the fly-half position was chopped and changed throughout last year. Not so this year, Teague Perez has been ever present at fly-half, bringing game sense and distribution to the pivot position. 

Kaden Ellison and Matt Loeffler shared the 12 shirt throughout the fall. Both players are similar, they provide the main crashball option but are capable distributors and can kick. Bennet Ronay had a monopoly on the 13 jersey for ASU, Ronay was the main strike runner in the backline he finished with six linebreaks and five tries including a double against Red Mountain.  

The back three was solid during the fall. Wingers Will Quinn and Evyeni Gavriilidis contributed 4 tries and 2 try assists between them while also being industrious on the kick chase. At fullback, Graham Ferguson emerged as an important tactical option his kicking from hand allowed for quality kicking from the backfield,  While his kicking from the tee gave ASU a reliable option to kick penalties. Aside from kicking Ferguson contributed one try and four try assists. 




 

Despite a relatively settled starting 15, there will be competition for spots across the entire team. The A side will be strengthened by the return of McCade Siegel and Cooper Baines from semsters abroad. Plus Robert Gacula and Cole Macias return from long-term injuries.

Siegel will bring power, workrate and versatility he can play across the forward pack for 80 minutes. Most at home at loosehead prop Siegel also appeared in the 2nd row and at No.8, playing well in both positions. This provides welcome competition across the forward pack plus adds experience and depth to an already strong forward pack. 


McCade Siegel
Senior McCade Siegel returns to play for ASU after spending the fall semester abroad in Australia. Siegel has the ability to play across the forward pack but usually plays loosehead prop.

Gacula brings experience and more depth to the devil’s pack. Capable of playing hooker and across the back-row Gacula brings a blend of smarts, footwork, workrate and ball playing while being a solid lineout thrower. Once back to full fitness allows Gacula’s skill set complements that of incumbent hooker Walls nicely and allows Walls to be withdrawn during a game without a significant dropoff in any key areas. 

Cole Macias's return strengthens the forward pack even more. His workrate on the flank is borderline inhuman, constantly hitting rucks in attack and making tackle after tackle in defense. He faces a tough road to get into the starting XV Lahdony was excellent in the fall, and will be tough to displace. Both players have similar playing styles so are competing for the same spot on the flank. Assuming that Sikalu will be on the other flank. 




 

Baines's return makes the outside backs a real strength in ASU’s backline. Capable of playing wing, outside center and in a pinch fullback. Baines brings his exceptional defense to an already talented outside backs unit. Baines faces the tough prospect of displacing one of the incumbent's outside backs. His defensive skills are something that sets him apart from incumbent 13, Ronay. However, Ronay’s attacking upside is greater than Baines’s. Playing either Ronay or Baines at 12 allows both to play simultaneously but leaves out the ball-playing and kicking of Ellison or Loeffler. In the back three things aren’t any simpler, Ferguson has proved a solid fullback in all departments and his kicking from hand and off the tee are crucial tactical options. The wing is probably where Baines has the best chance of getting into the starting lineup.

Between a powerful forward pack, exciting backline, returning players and strong results in the fall it’s shaping up to be an exciting season. ASU Rugby’s first game of the spring will be on Saturday, January 20th at GCU the A-side will play at 12 and the B-side game will start around 2 pm.

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