On a weekend when the whole nation was watching the Super Bowl, the #20 UCSB men’s rugby team did a little hard hitting and scoring of its own.
The Gauchos (5-3 overall) opened their home schedule with back-to-back wins over Arizona (4-3) and Arizona State (2-3). UCSB beat the Arizona Wildcats 42-3 on Friday night and followed that up with a dominant 64-0 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils at Harder Stadium on Sunday morning. Sophomore flyhalf Jonathan Schaefer led a Gaucho attack that put both games away well before halftime on the way to a weekend sweep.
“Schaefer played extremely well both days as well as [team captain] Justin Roberts,” club president Travis Kaufman said. “The whole team did a phenomenal job.”
The Gauchos jumped out to an early 21-3 halftime lead against Arizona behind the strong play of Schaefer and junior hooker Roberts. UCSB ran six tris on the night while keeping Arizona to just a single penalty goal. Schaefer led all players with 22 points, coming off of two tris and six conversions while Roberts added a pair of tris of his own.
Against ASU, the Gauchos once again jumped out to a big lead, this time leading 33-0 at the half. UCSB finished the game with nine five-pointers, led by sophomore outside center Mikhael Zusmunovic who finished with a game-high three tris. Sophomore center Nick Conn and junior forward Andrew Negus finished with two scores apiece. Schaefer had another strong game for the Gauchos, making eight conversions as well as a dropped goal to finish with 24 points.
The weekend series provided a nice recovery for the Gauchos, who were reeling off of a 28-23 upset loss to San Diego State. The Gauchos will now take on Brigham Young before heading back out on the road to face Claremont.
“We have a couple of heavy games coming up. BYU is good and they played us really well last year,” Kaufman said. “We started off fairly rough this year but we’ve got a pretty solid team with a lot of returning players and a whole bunch of new guys that are stepping up. We should do pretty well for the rest of the season.”
Yet, the game looming on the schedule for the Gauchos is a March 9 home match against rival Cal Poly. UCSB lost 34-17 at Cal Poly last year, but the Gauchos feel confident that they’ll come out on top this season.
“We usually alternate wins against Cal Poly,” Roberts said. “Whoever is playing at home usually wins that game, so we’re looking pretty good.”