Updated: Jan 16
Rugby in Arizona started off on the right foot on Saturday January 14th. ASU and GCU met for a combined practice and scrimmage to get their 2023 campaigns going. It was a perfect day for rugby. Family, fans and spectators got together at the GCU field to enjoy the beautiful day and good quality rugby. They also enjoyed a behind the scenes look at how the clubs prepare for their games and how rugby practices are conducted.
The mood was a friendly and relaxed one. Players from both clubs were happy to catch up with old acquaintances and happy to meet new ones. Coaches on both sides were relaxed and happy to work with each other and everybody on the field was eager to get the season going.
The teams worked on their set pieces, scrums and line outs. They got to exchange important information and knowledge with each other and finished the day with a short full contact scrimmage to finish what was one the coolest rugby experience for the spectators present.
The GCU squad looked good and they look ready for the season. Pack players looked SOLID with players Jesse Emerson, Isaac Browning and Jared Tavares showing great ability to move their team forward. During the scrimmage all three ran strong and were very difficult for ASU to deal with on both offense and defense, Jared Tavares in particular.
In the backs the Lopes welcomed back their leader Ethan Van Tonder who by now is known by everybody for his ability to create attacks, take advantage of space and coordinate play sequences that will be extremely dangerous for their opponents and very entertaining for spectators. Ethan connected very well with center Jackson Gray and full back Luke Neely. The trio looks comfortable with each other and have fun creating plays on the field.
On the ASU side the forwards looked good as always. Players like Sean Martin, Isaiah Fatigoni and Nick Davies proving again they will be very hard to deal with this season and continue to be the on field leaders of the whole team. Another player that stood out this weekend was Pearse McNamara who had a few good runs and showed good technique at the breakdowns.
In the backs the ASU team continues to search for their best 9 to 10 connection. Coach Hugo tried a few options including their well established inside center Kaden Elison. Outside center center Joshua Lesley was not available for the day due to injury (will be back for the 1st game of the season ). This gave ASU coaching staff an opportunity to give new players a chance to show their skills and make their case for a spot on the game day roster.
One of the biggest additions to the squad for ASU this year is the return of full back Devin Rivet. With unmatched speed and fierce defending skills Devin will be one of their key players for the upcoming season.
Both teams will start their 2023 season against their biggest rivals. This training session was not just fun for spectators to watch but also a perfect way for both teams to measure their progress so far and to see what aspect of their plan needs more work before the upcoming 2023 campaign. The players on both teams expressed they feel ready for the season and are confident this year will be a successful one. We can't wait to see these athletes at work.
Ranked #15 GCU will start their season on Saturday Jan. 21 at 2:30 pm against #14 UCLA
this is GCU's biggest game of the year and lucky for us it will be played at home in the GCU stadium. Mark your calendars, Jan 21 2:30 pm we are watching GCU play UCLA.
RUGBY THE BEST TIME YOU WILL HAVE WITH YOUR NEW BEST FRIENDS