Undefeated in league, the #4 UCSB men’s club rugby team faces southern California rival #19 University of San Diego this Saturday in a conference battle.
“Were going for a national title,” senior flanker and team captain Mitchell Raish said. “UCSB is currently [in] first place in the league, and this win will solidify the all point lead.”
After a challenging season last year, Santa Barbara entered the new season determined to regain its reputation as a quality D1 team. Two-a-day practices, 6 a.m. training sessions and a new coaching staff demanded a renewed commitment from the squad.
“We had a really long and pretty ruthless preseason,” Raish said. “From there it was keeping focused at trainings, not getting cocky and sticking to the game plan.”
The Gauchos defeated USD 36-8 on Feb. 5, and if they protect their home turf this weekend, they will have a strong hold on conference title.
“USD is second place in our league, but if we win then it will put us in the driver’s seat to get in the Sweet 16,” Head Coach Kevin Battle said.
Santa Barbara is set to host the first round of USA Rugby’s Collegiate Championships this April. With the Sweet 16 taking place on the Gaucho territory of Harder Stadium, the squad hopes to be a top seed in the tournament.
“We’ve been ranked fourth in the nation, that’s pretty huge,” Raish said. “We’re building a legacy.”
UCSB takes the field on March 5 at 1 p.m. on Roberston Field.
–Rochelle Farnum, UCSB Recreational Sports