By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
Just a number.
In the fall, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team made history as they claimed their first-ever preseason ranking by grabbing the No. 12 spot in the D1A College Rugby Top 20 Poll. Since then, the Lopes have fallen seven spots to No. 19 just days before their 2019 regular season opener. Although a sudden slide in standing might seem problematic from someone on the outside looking in, the Lopes remain positive that their rank is nothing more than a number.
The Lopes will quickly get a chance to prove that mindset this Saturday, January 19, when they face off against No. 4 ranked Saint Mary’s College of California.
Despite a very tough matchup, Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper remains optimistic about his team’s potential.
“We have a lot of good players who are coming into the program and we should be able to compete at a high level,” said Wyper. “We start with a really tough test against Saint Mary’s, but it should be a great indicator of what we can achieve this season.”
Wyper has plenty of reasons to expect great results from his team – especially after a productive fall semester of preparation. Alongside their fill of regular workouts and team practices, the Lopes found plenty of other ways to prepare for an action-packed spring season. In October, the Lopes traveled to San Diego, California, for the USA Touch Rugby Collegiate Nationals. Wyper saw incredible value in the tournament in terms of reinforcing key values and fundamentals for his athletes, then built off of that with scrimmages against local competition.
“Right before the winter break, we had a Tempe men’s club come out and help us out with some semi-live competition,” explained Wyper. “We got some really valuable variability out of it. Combining that session with the other ways we trained last semester, I couldn’t have asked for a better run up to the spring competition.”
With plenty of practice and preparation in their back pockets, the Lopes know that the true key to a successful season lies within their ability to get the most out of themselves.
“Now that we’ve put in all the necessary work, it’s really up to us to just find a way and piece everything together,” said Wyper. “As long as we can do that, we should see plenty of improvement on the field.”
Kickoff for the Lopes’ season opener against the 4th-ranked Gaels is 1 pm this Saturday, January 19 at the GCU Stadium. Admission is FREE.
Interested in joining the men’s club rugby team? Contact the coach to learn more!