CPD Barnburner: Colorado (0-1) v. Colorado State (0-0)
BOULDER, Colo. -- USA Rugby has selected the College Premier Division (CPD) “Barnburner” for week two of the season. The University of Colorado (CU) Buffaloes and the Colorado State University (CSU) Rams have been playing one another since the 1970s, but the regular year-in year-out matchups have not taken any venom out of this in-state rivalry.
Kickoff for this week’s Barnburner is at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. and will be broadcast on USA Rugby’s UStream channel (http://www.ustream.tv/usarugby).
Fueling the rivalry fire in this encounter is the need for each team to put a definitive stamp on their CPD seasons. CU and CSU have both had lackluster preseasons, but both played well in the fall and will be looking to get back to that level. And fast.
BLACK AND BLUE BUFFS
With losses to the Denver Barbarians and the University of Northern Colorado in the preseason, the Buffaloes came into their CPD match at Arizona State with injuries to key players Reggie Bryant, Jeff Tarshis, and Chris Martin. Those losses took some oomph out of the Buff attack but CU hung with the Sun Devils until the 60 minute mark at which point the home team ran away with a sizable score line (48-19). CU wants to prove they aren’t the team that their CPD record implies they are. Putting up a big score on their archrivals would help. Plus, the Buffs have an axe to grind with CSU after losing to the Rams in October.
RAMS SEARCHING FOR FALL FORM
CSU got the better of the Buffs in their fall fixture, ferociously defending a late Buffaloes surge to come away with a 32-29 victory. The Rams had a good fall season taking care of the Air Force Zoomies, Wyoming Cowboys, and of course those CU Buffaloes, in successive weeks. However, the team has struggled so far in 2011 and are ranked 30th of the 31 teams in the CPD according to RugbyMAG.com’s rankings.
“We’ve been building up to the CPD all year. Now it’s all about raising up to the next level,” said Rams head coach, Blake Stevens.
“We’ve played the University Northern Colorado and Wyoming and lost both those games. So it’s not the best preseason record, but we’re trying to find that form we had in the fall.”
Both coaches know what this match means to the players and what it means for their chances in the Western Conference if they lose. But they are playing a known entity, so it comes down to execution and grit on Friday night.
“We play them enough that we know what they have. We know how they play. They’re always big, always athletic and play a go-forward style,” said CU coach, Jim Snyder.
“Our players love the tradition, the physicality, and want to reclaim the in-state bragging rights.”
Stevens is very familiar with the style of play the Buffaloes employ and defensively knows that the Rams need to be ready to “handle and take care of” the wide CU attack.
FIRED UP FOR FRIDAY
The two teams know the significance of this game to their respective programs and universities. That makes pregame pep talks a breeze.
“Our players love playing in rivalry games, and this one is the big one. It’s going to be one heck of a ball game,” said Snyder.
Stevens said, “I don’t have to do a whole lot to get [the team] fired up. It’s CU versus CSU and our guys know what that means.”
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