Defending GCCIR Champs to face UC-Davis in first round of Sweet 16 West Coast Pool Play April 20
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Rugby team has officially secured a berth in the 2017-2018 USA Rugby Women’s D1/D1 Elite Spring National Tournament. The Lopes will face the University of California, Davis in the Sweet 16 West Coast Regional Pool Play on Friday, April 20 in Provo, Utah. The winner of that matchup advances to the second and final day of pool play April 21 against the winner of the other first-round matchup between Washington State University and the hosts of the pool play round, Brigham Young University. The announcement comes two weeks after the Lopes qualified for the national tournament by winning their first-ever Gold Coast Conference Intercollegiate Rugby (GCCIR) Championship March 26 over UC-Santa Barbara, 67-17, at GCU Stadium.
The matchup between the Lopes and the Aggies will actually be the second time that the two teams have squared off against each other in 2017-18-although the first matchup was technically a preseason affair. The Lopes’ big fall tuneup for the 2018 regular season came in San Diego, California, over the first weekend in November. The Lopes took their first-ever Scrum by the Sea Tournament title by winning four straight matches in a 30-hour span, and included in that was a 15-5 defensive victory over UCD in the quarterfinal round to prevent the Aggies from seeking their third straight SBTS title. Since then, the Lopes (8-0) haven’t lost a match, sweeping all six of their regular season matches to enter the GCCIR Playoffs as the #1 seed (and earn the right to host the tournament), then breezing through victories over Arizona State University and UCSB to clinch the crown.
To commence their first trip to the national tournament, the Lopes will be greeted by none other than the two-time defending national champions of D1 Women’s Rugby in the first round. The Aggies won their second straight national title last May in Marietta, Georgia, but after losing a lot of last year’s talent to graduation, will have to follow a slightly more difficult road this year to make it a ‘three-peat’. UCD entered the Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference West Seeding Tournament with just a 3-5 record, but caught fire to come from behind in both the semifinals to beat Washington State, then scoring four straight tries in the finals match’s final 15 minutes to upset Stanford, 44-31. The win earned the PMRC’s #2 seed for the Aggies (5-5) in the Sweet 16.
The full schedule of matches for the tournament is below.
2017-2018 USA Rugby Women’s D1/D1 Elite Spring National Tournament
Sweet 16 West Coast Regional Pool Play Schedule
At Brigham Young University-Provo, Utah (all times Arizona time)
Friday, April 20
|10AM||BYU vs. Washington State|
|1PM||Grand Canyon vs. UC-Davis|
Saturday, April 21
|Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser|
|Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner|