By: Ruby Arani/ GCU Staff
Setting the bar high.
Over the weekend, the Grand Canyon University men’s rugby team traveled to San Luis Obispo, CA to compete in the West Coast Collegiate 7s Tournament. Despite the fact it was the Lopes first action of the year and facing tough competition throughout the tournament, GCU men’s rugby nearly upset the best team of the nation.
The Lopes started off the weekend sweeping Santa Clara University, 43-0. Their next match a 21-14 win over the University of California, Santa Barbara sent the Lopes to semi-final round.
The Lopes reached the semi-final round to take on the No. 1 team in the nation, the University of California. This was a highly anticipated match for the Lopes. “Cal is the powerhouse in 7s rugby at the moment,” said head coach Cameron Wyper.
The Lopes had a tough match against Cal but were able to stick with the Bears throughout the match, ending the first half trailing, 12-10. As the match progressed, Cal was able to gain more try downs on GCU, holding on to win, 24-17. “We did really well against Cal, we had an opportunity to level the match toward the end but Cal’s defense is pretty strong,” said Wyper.
“I was super happy how the boys played the whole tournament,” said Wyper. “To get that close to Cal this early on, I think it was a great start to the season.”
The Lopes ended the tournament beating San Diego State University, 15-0 to secure the third-place spot of the tournament.
GCU Hopes to Qualify for the USA Rugby Nationals and Silicon Valley 7’s
The GCU men’s rugby team came in to the West Coast Collegiate 7s tournament with a specific objective in mind.
“The goal is to push for a qualification for both Nationals and the Silicon Valley tournament,” Wyper said.
The USA Rugby Nationals is held in April for the top-notch rugby teams in the nation. This last season, the GCU men’s rugby team made it to the semi-finals of nationals, making strides to take the national title.
Meanwhile, the Silicon Valley International Rugby Competition is a new event to the United States. In November, national teams from around the world will compete in San Jose, CA to kick off the 2017-18 international rugby season. If GCU men’s rugby team qualifies, the Lopes will have the opportunity to compete in the feature collegiate matches.
“That will be an amazing tournament to be a part of it,” Wyper said. “The boys will get great experience playing and being able to watch the international 7s teams play.”
The GCU men’s rugby team is off to a great start to their season with even greater promise. The Lopes will continue preseason play, Saturday, October 14 in Tucson, AZ to take on the University of Arizona.