Cal Poly Rugby ended their season on Memorial Day weekend in Cary, North Carolina with a 3-3 record.
The Mustangs got off to a hot start in the tournament, winning their first two pool matches against St. Bonaventure and Fordham. Cal Poly won both matches with a final score of 14-10.
The Mustangs won both matches in the final minutes with game-winning tries. Against St. Bonaventure, Senior Dustin Mollard lead a line-break in the final minute which ended with a Mark Grzanich try for the win.
Mollard’s late-game heroics were not unique to the first match, as he scored the game-winning try against Fordham on the last play.
Cal Poly lost to Lindenwood, the 2015 7s National Champions, in their final pool match by a score of 24-0.
Advancing to the knockout round in the same day, Cal Poly lost a rematch against St. Bonaventure in a back-and-forth match with a final score of 19-17. In a consolation game later that day, Cal Poly lost to James Madison 19-0.
In the final day of the tournament, Cal Poly ended their 7s season with a 17-12 victory over Arkansas. Senior Leandro Praseli dotted down the winning try in the corner.
To watch replays of all of Cal Poly’s matches in the tournament, click here.
Cal Poly has qualified for the USA Rugby College 7s National Championship in Cary, North Carolina. The tournament will be played May 28-29. The matches will be streamed at USARugbyTV.com.
Cal Poly starts training for 7s this week with around 20 players. The team will play a lead-up tournament on May 14 at UCLA. The team will select 12 players to travel to the national championship tournament in North Carolina.
In fall, Cal Poly played two 7s tournaments and ended with an overall record of 3-5.
To support the club with travel costs, please make a one-time donation at https://www.mustangrugby.org/
#13 Cal Poly earned a bid in the D1A Rugby Playoffs and will play #8 Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo. this Sunday, April 17.
Cal Poly finished third in the California Conference behind Saint Mary’s and San Diego State with a 2-2 conference record. The team is ranked #13, dropping one spot after a 50-11 loss at Saint Mary’s last Saturday.
Air Force finished with a 3-2 record, losing to #5 Utah and #15 Colorado State. With a higher ranking, Air Force gets the home-field advantage.
Cal Poly will return with the same starting lineup they had against Saint Mary’s.
The first round D1A Playoff game will start at 3 PM local time in Colorado Springs this Sunday. The game will not be available for live stream, but will be made available shortly after the fixture.
The winner of the match between Cal Poly and Air Force will play at #2 Saint Mary’s next weekend.
Prop Connor Cudeback has been kept busy this season. Along with being a usual starter on Cal Poly’s 1st XV, Cudeback has made appearances with both the USA U20s and Belmont Shore Rugby Club of the Pacific Rugby Premiership.
Cudeback attended several U20 training sessions throughout January and February playing in a friendly against Lindenwood during a U20 camp in January. In February Connor started for the U20’s match against Canada, which they won 19-18.
The USA U20s qualified for the World Rugby U20 Trophy which will be held in Harare, Zimbabwe starting April 19.
Cudeback made two PRP appearances with Belmont Shore Rugby in March, coming in as a reserve against OMBAC and starting against SFGG Rhinos in weeks 7 and 8 respectively.
In his last match Cudeback suffered a break in his tibia and fibula which also affected a ligament in his leg, which required surgery.
Connor had a successful surgery on Tuesday, and will be able to start a rehab process in the summer.
Cal Poly Rugby is currently #9 in the D1a Top 20 leading into the regular season beginning in 2016. The top-ten team had high expectations coming into the fall after a playoff berth last season and looked to fill the hole left by graduating players.
The team competed in both 7s and 15s, with much more success coming with the latter. Cal Poly played in two 7s tournaments and went 3-5.
The Cal Poly 1st team, also known as the 1st XV, finished with a 6-0 record in their fixtures this fall. Three of these came on Oct. 24 in a tournament at UC Santa Cruz. In the three other matches, Cal Poly played Chico State, Fresno Rugby Club, and Santa Barbara Rugby Academy.
Two opponents completely withdrew from matches with Cal Poly, along with many reserve sides not being able to field a team against Cal Poly’s reserves.
“Most of the challenges we’ve faced this year have just been actually getting games this preseason,” Club President Zach Markow said, “trying to get playing time and experience for our younger players has been a bit of a struggle.”
With depth being a concern, playing as many games as possible will help players filling in important roles by getting them more seasoned for 1st XV play.
Sophomore players were also expected to step up. Using the same game plan as last year, Head Coach James Tesoriero hoped that the continuity would be helpful for the veteran players.
“What we lost in terms of talent I was hoping we could make up in terms of continuity,” Tesoriero said, “we should be equally competitive.”
Even though Cal Poly’s 1st XV went undefeated this fall, the team thought they could’ve played better, and still have high expectations for the season.
Many of the opponents Cal Poly faced this fall were in lower division, like D1aa and Division II teams. Cal Poly will start to play tougher teams beginning Jan. 30 against Cal, who competes in the Varsity Cup.
There are some good overall signs of the team’s play according to Tesoriero which will help once the more competitive matches start.
“The young guys have come through and really stood up and made claims for the 1st XV jersey,” Tesoriero said, “and our fitness is really good, in all of our trial matches we’ve finished the game stronger than the opposition.”
Beginning his coaching tenure last year, Tesoriero noted how the veteran players look much better and organized in the style of play implemented.
“12 months down the track with the same group of guys, going through the same kind of systems, I think we’re a whole lot more organized.” Tesoriero said.
To help get the team prepared even further, Cal Poly Rugby will host a training camp starting Dec. 11 with #1 Saint Mary’s. Tesoriero said that bringing in an opposition will help the team to do more than go through the motions, and will give the new players a taste of what’s to come.
“It’s going to be a big step for us to learn from [St. Mary’s] and play with them, but we definitely have to get better.” Industrial Technology Senior Sean Gorman said.
Hopefully for the team, the camp will make up for some of the game time lost from opposing teams withdrawing from fixtures.
Additionally, practice against a conference rival will help prepare the team for not only it’s match against St. Mary’s, but also for the other California Conferencematchups.
“St. Mary’s, San Diego State and Santa Clara will all be quite tough.” Tesoriero said.
Cal Poly will need to have a favorable record against these teams to get a good spot in the playoffs, which the team expects to make after the end of the regular season.
“We’re certainly hoping to get a playoff berth again” Tesoriero said,
“the guys who traveled out to Utah last year and lost that playoff game last year will be a whole lot stronger for the experience.”