Let the stampede begin.
With one of the toughest schedules in the country, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team starts it off by hosting 13th-ranked University of Arizona in their official season opener this Friday night. Because GCU is an independent team, earning a bid into the playoffs is based on their own ranking, which comes officially from D1A Rugby.
“This is exactly how we wanted it,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper. “To be the best, you have to beat the best, so that’s who were going to play.”
The Lopes went head-to-head with the Wildcats in a pair of scrimmages last fall, and was able to get a small sample-size feel for their opponent through C side matchups. This time, however, both teams will be showcasing their best talent available, and the atmosphere of the game is rising.
How is the team managing their excitement for a big game?
“Every player is different,” said Wyper. “Some players need to build up excitement to get juiced for the game, and some need the reins pulled back. Last year when we played Notre Dame in (GCU) Stadium, we got a bit ahead of ourselves. This time, I’ll try to keep the boys pumped during training, but then (tell them to) go home, relax, and get your mind off things.”
It’ll take a full effort from everyone on the team to pull off the upset against UofA, but keep an eye out for Lopes’ team leader Darien Pickett be a main contributor to the team’s success.
The Lopes will square off with the Wildcats Friday night at 6 pm located at the GCU Stadium. Admission to the game is free.