By Adam Bushell
The USC Men’s Rugby Club travel to Las Vegas this weekend to compete in their last match of the regular season against Grand Canyon University. The Trojans secured a playoff spot after a victory against Santa Barbara City College two weekends ago. A win will put the Trojans in a highly advantageous position going into their playoff run, securing second place with the possibility of moving up to first, and a home-field advantage for their first playoff game. The coaching staff has made clear that the only objective is to come away with a win. Getting the victory will be no easy feat, however. USC experienced the might of GCU at last year’s Rugby Bowl, an exhibition match held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Trojans fell heavily. With a chip on their shoulder the USC side are looking for redemption to cap off their most successful regular season in years. Director of Rugby Dominic Riebli commented, “This is an important test for us. Can we go on the road, into a foreign environment with lots of distractions, and keep our poise and focus? It’s going to take 80 minutes of commitment to see us through.”
Here are some key points leading into the match:
Players to watch for…
Dima Veremeenko: Freshman Veremeenko has scored in four out of five games this season. The explosiveness of Russian Center has been difficult to for opposition back lines to handle and has proved deadly on many occasions.
Michael Cesar: The Openside Flanker has a level of experience that few can match, having played for the highly renowned rugby school in England, St. Pauls. He has the tenacity of a flanker but the ball skills of a back; a double threat to say the least.
How the table stands…
If the Trojans manage to come away with a victory on Saturday, second place will be secured with the possibility of a first place finish if Cal State Long Beach slip up against Santa Barbara City College. However, in the event of a loss for the Trojans, conceding three or less tries will still secure second place on the basis of point differential. If the Trojans concede four or more tries and go on to lose the match without having scored four tries themselves, GCU will go one point ahead in the standings, putting USC back to third place.
“GCU have had a very uneven season thus far. They lost to USD then came from behind to take SBCC. LBSU beat them soundly a couple weeks back but they responded last weekend by doubling up Fullerton. Reports are that they have a sizeable pack and have skill position players returning from injury. They are a good, young team.” said Riebli.
If you are in Las Vegas this weekend, come out and support the men as they go into what will be their most important matchup yet.
Address: Field #17 at the Silver Bowl Fields, 7000 E Russell Road, Las Vegas, NV 89122.