After a week of practice through the cold and gusting winds that have come through Fort Collins, the CSU menâ€™s rugby team is ready for its biggest game of the year.
The Rams will be taking on their archrival CU-Boulder on Saturday at Glendale Stadium at Infinity Park at 4 p.m.
The American Rugby News put both CSU and CU in its top 25 collegiate teams in the nation, ranking the Rams at 20 and the Buffaloes at 21.
This being the final match of the fall season, the Rams are trying to build momentum going into their off-season workouts and spring season, said Wesley Slinkard, a sophomore forward and vice president of the team.
Last year, these two clubs split the season series, one game a piece.
This week of practice was particularly difficult for the Rams because of the weather conditions, said Kevin Dombrock, a team captain who also serves as the club president.
This squad typically practices from 8 to 10 p.m., and this week that included low temperatures, incredibly high winds and even a little snow.
Practicing through this, Dombrock said, makes playing in good conditions even easier, and it really helps the team.
Despite the poor conditions, he said, the team was able to have its best week of practice. There was an added intensity and focus knowing who this weekâ€™s opponent was.
Preparing for the Buffaloes wasnâ€™t drastically different from any other week of practice, but â€œthere was definitely more of a fire and intensity (in practice),â€ he said.
The Buffs are known for their conditioning and use of that strength by spreading the field and making the other team work harder and become tired, Slinkard said.
The Rams combated this, he said, by making sure they are fundamentally sound in their one-on-one tackling to reduce the amount of extra effort that the Buffaloes try to impose on their opponent.
In the spring, the squad will be moving to the Premier League, which is the top collegiate league in the country. CU is already in this prestigious league, which will add to the rivalry.
This rivalry isnâ€™t quite what you might expect for two schools that have so much disdain for each other, said Blake Stevens, head coach of the team.
â€œWe are blessed to have a good competitor in CU,â€ Stevens said.
The rugby culture is different, he said. Everything is left on the field, then after the game you can go out and eat and socialize with your opponent.
In the rugby culture, he said, you donâ€™t hate your enemy.
Off the field, Slinkard said, there is a mutual respect, but on the field you can feel the tension that this match means more than the others.
It definitely gets more physical and even a little dirty at times, he said.
Tickets for the game can be purchased on the rugby team website at www.csurugby.com.
Sports reporter Nick Childs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.