Last weekend Texas and Texas State amiably coexisted on the 7s fields near Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, competing in separate pools of the CRC Qualifier. Saturday, that won’t be the case, as the Longhorns make the long road trip to Lubbock for an in-conference 15s duel.
Though Texas sits atop the league table at 3-1 and the Red Raiders on the bottom at 0-3, Saturday could prove to be a very close encounter. Tech actually boasted a second-half lead over UT in Austin in the fall, but were unable to hold on for the win. That, coupled with the potential pitfalls of a long road trip, has Texas head coach Butch Neuenschwander on high alert.
“We’re playing a Tech team that has some really great players on it,” Neuenschwander said. “We were losing to them pretty badly in our match until we came back, and they’ve got nothing to lose here. They can thrown the bus at me and give this team every challenge in the world, because even though they’re 0-3 in the league, they can bring it.”
500 miles southeast of Lubbock in Huntsville, Sam Houston State (2-2) is hosting Texas State (2-1) , to whom they fell 31-5 in their only fall loss. Now, Sam Houston is coming off a 43-17 Feb. 5th loss to Texas and is eager to get back in the win column. If they don’t, they’ll all but kill any chance of reaching the playoffs.
Likewise, if Texas State loses and the Longhorns win, the power within the conference will shift to Austin from San Marcos.
“Obviously, it’s very important for us,” said TSU coach James Summers. “We’ve been working very hard to be the best we can in this match, and I think the standings speak for themselves. This is a big game for us.”
Their last meeting was on neutral ground in Nacadogches at the East Texas Rugby Fest, but Sam Houston is pretty renowned for their home-field prowess, so Saturday should be a much tougher contest than the fall rendition.
“Obviously playing Sam at home is going to be a little different than playing in Nacadogches,” said Summers. “Home-field advantage is big for them, so we’re just going to have to try and take it to them from the start. They’re a tough team, always.”
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