The Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team’s season came to an abrupt end Saturday, losing, 85-14, in the D1A College Rugby Playoffs Round of 16 to No. 3 University of California-Berkeley. The loss eliminated the 14th-seeded Lopes from the postseason, and snapped the team’s five-match winning streak.
Despite having a breakout season filled with upsets over San Diego State University and the University of Utah, plus a revenge win over California Polytechnic State University, GCU was unable to keep the magic alive in northern California this weekend. Cal capitalized on a number of tackling errors in the first half Saturday that led to a 45-7 advantage at halftime. The Lopes did open the second half with a try early on from Lopes’ Wing Dom Lacovino, but the Golden Bears answered back quickly to stay undefeated on the season.
“They made it so hard for us to be efficient,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper. “Berkeley has amazing depth and coaching, and when they play at their best like this, it’ll be hard for any team to beat them.”
One of the most surprising statistics of the game was GCU’s season-low mark of 14 points. Despite the team from scoring over 30 points in each of the previous five weeks, the Bears proved to be just as prolific defensively as they are on offense.
“They did a nice job disrupting our rucks,” said Wyper. “They’re a team who’s great with the ball in their hands. It was tough to get anything going.”
Even with an early first-round exit, this was the second year in a row that the program at Grand Canyon improved greatly. With everything trending in the right direction for the team, Wyper placed heavy perspective on the future.
“This wasn’t the outcome we planned for in this match, but I’m proud of the way they competed,” said Wyper. “Cal is arguably the toughest team in the nation, but you can’t take anything away from what we accomplished this year.”