We are heading into the weekend and with that there is always great rugby. For a few teams in the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU), it’s the start of the playoffs. In particular, it will be a quarterfinal matchup between Virginia and West Chester.
West Chester (6-2-1) is coming into the game on a bit of a roller-coaster schedule. Having tied Navy beat Rutgers and most recently lost to Princeton; they are looking to get back on track. With their seeding as the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union (EPRU) number two seed, it won’t be easy.
They must tangle with the Virginia Cavaliers who hold the number one seed out of the Virginia Rugby Union (VRU). Neither of the teams has played each other in more than two years and since their last meeting, change has been on the horizon.
In years past, Golden Rams have fed off their strong forward pack and attack the fringes of the ruck, but things have been switched up a bit. WCU has relied on their back line this year lead by flyhalf Anna McGlade and outside center Cheryl Johnson and are now looking to attack and play great defense.
"We are planning to match whatever Virginia throws at us and play onus on defense," WCU head coach Tony DeRemer said. "We've been concentrating a lot on defense over the past few weeks and taking care of our own ball. We have to limit our penalties and not give Virginia any opportunities to attack."
For Virginia, the game plan is as follows; when out on the pitch, run every second that the clock is ticking and get the ball into space.
“We are a bit on the small side, but extremely fit so our goal is to just get out and run,” captain and flanker WCU Anderson said. “The team that retains the ball the best is going to get to dictate the flow of the game so our last few practices have paid particular attention to our point of contact skills, winning rucks quickly, and managing mauling situations.”
And even though there has been a lot of shuffling of the lineups, Virginia has started to find something they are comfortable with putting on the pitch.
“The changes have actually done great things for our overall style of play,” Anderson said. “People have stepped up to shine in unexpected positions, such as our hooker moving to scrum half, and there's a little more spontaneity on the field which has been really great.”
Whatever lineups happen to be put out on the pitch, one thing is clear; both teams are both excited and ready for the whistle to blow.
"I think the team is glad the match has finally arrived," DeRemer said. "I've tried to keep the excitement to a minimum by focusing on the major areas we've had to cover and I think we're ready as we can be."