For the first time in the history of the program, the CSU womenâ€™s rugby team will make the trip to Blaine, Minn., Friday for a shot at the Division I rugby title.
For a program that has been an afterthought to some in the rugby community, the Rams are eagerly awaiting the chance to gain notoriety in their first game of the tournament.
The first-round matchup will feature the seventh-seeded Navy Midshipmen and 10th-seeded CSU. The Rams have never faced the Midshipmen in their two years of playing at the Division 1 rugby level, but the team is focusing on its own play leading up to the game.
The focus of the team right now is: â€œMental fitness over physicality,â€ said head coach Jenna Middleton, citing Navyâ€™s youth and the relatively diminutive size of the Rams squad.
â€œWeâ€™re a really small team,â€ Middleton said. â€œTheyâ€™re young so Iâ€™m hoping to capitalize on that and be the smarter team on the field.â€
The first Division I playoff game for the team poses a tough matchup with a larger and more established program in Navy. Even though they have come so far already, the Rams are focused on not allowing their season to end with an early exit in the tournament.
â€œWeâ€™re happy with going (to the Sweet Sixteen),â€ Middleton said on Tuesday. â€œI donâ€™t think we want to show up and just play. We want to win.â€
The Rams locked up the 10th seed in the upcoming tournament back in March when they defeated Colorado and New Mexico to win the Western Rugby Football Unionâ€™s Division I womenâ€™s championship.
The path to the Division I rugby championship will not be an easy one for the Rams, as five of the eight teams in the region are seeded in the top 10 of the tournament.
CSU will play its first-round match at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the last slate of games for that day. If they win, the Rams will move on to the round of eight and play the winner of the UCLA vs. BYU game on Saturday.
Club Sports Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.