By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
Come rain or shine, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team is prepared to compete at any time.
The Lopes proved exactly that this weekend as they claimed two solid wins in California in their first two games of the season. Fighting some extreme weather conditions throughout the weekend, the Lopes outlasted California Polytechnic State University, 32-21, Friday night in San Luis Obispo; then throttled the University of California, Santa Barbara, 62-5, Sunday afternoon in Santa Barbara.
“Our first game against Cal Poly was quite difficult, since they had to scramble to find a field for us to play on, so both teams were dealing with a combination of poor lighting on the field, as well as a torrential downpour throughout the match,” explained Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper. “The game against UC Santa Barbara also had some pretty heavy rainfall.”
Wyper was extremely pleased, since even with the little experience GCU has playing in such weather conditions due to the dry heat of the Phoenix area, the team swept the weekend due to their strong adherence to the overall game plan.
“Once everyone bought in and set out to execute the plan we had set in place, the results followed,” said Wyper. “The times we started to slip up came when we lost our discipline and stopped following the plan.”
Any lack of discipline was miniscule to the overall result.
“This weekend was huge for us, since we were able to not just pick up two wins, but to do so on the road,” said Wyper. “Cal Poly also came in needing the win to keep their season alive, so we did a good job not dropping a game to a team that really needed it.”
Wyper acknowledged that his team, like any other, has a “laundry list” of areas that they could improve upon to better their chances of success. For now, though, the focus will be on one specific area.
“Team unity,” said Wyper. “Our guys are still getting used to playing with each other, so we just need to learn how to build a connection with each other. One of our main players, Austin Taefu, is out for the next few weeks with an injury, so some guys are having to step up and take extra responsibility in his absence.”
While team unity might be elusive for some teams, Wyper and his coaching staff have ample reason to believe that their athletes will make the necessary adjustments.
“We honestly are incredibly blessed with the players that we have on the roster this season,” explained Wyper. “We just have to go over the basics of rugby and help reinforce fundamentals, because all the players want to be here.”
The Lopes wind up their season-opening road trip this Saturday, Feb. 9 against the University of Arizona in Tucson beginning at 3 pm. Their home opener happens next Saturday, February 16 as they host Santa Clara University at 1 pm at GCU Stadium on the GCU campus. Admission to the match is FREE.
Interested in joining the Men’s Rugby team? Contact the coach to learn more!