A year ago, the Fresno State men’s club rugby team knew the Bulldogs stood little chance against defending national champion UC Davis.
And those Bulldogs ended up finishing with just one win.
But with more experienced players and familiarity with second-year coach Patrick Quan’s system that’s translated into success, Fresno State believes it can match up with UC Davis this time.
Even if the Aggies have elevated their status to two-time defending national champs.
Fresno State has never had a better rugby team.
Bulldogs coach Patrick Quan
“Fresno State has never had a better rugby team,” said Quan, who played college rugby during the ’80s for San Diego State. “We’ve played some pretty similar teams to Davis and had success.
“How probable is it we beat them? I don’t know. But we certainly think we can. It’s the first time a Fresno State team has had a chance.”
The Bulldogs (3-1) will get their opportunity at 1 p.m. Saturday, hosting the Aggies (4-0) at Fresno State’s Kinesiology Field.
The Fresno State rugby team, in its eighth year as a club program, already is coming off of a signature victory after defeating Stanford 62-31 last week.
The teams all compete in the Pacific Western Rugby Conference of the Division I-AA level and operate as club programs.
Outside of their conference, though, there are some schools that field varsity rugby and fund the program more.
That varying level of funding and interest makes UC Davis’ two-year run as national champs, despite being a club program, all the more impressive.
Fresno State, however, refuses this time to be intimidated.
171-69 How much the Fresno State rugby team has outscored its opponents by while going 3-1.
Led by 2015-16 all-conference first-team selections Jackson Wagner and Marquez Watkins, Fresno State has outscored its opponents 171-69 this season. The Bulldogs’ lone loss was to Chico State (4-0), which is tied with UC Davis atop the PacWest standings.
“Two years ago, we lost to Stanford 85-0,” Quan said. “Last year, we were able to tie them 24-24. This year, we beat them. So we’re making gains.
“Is it enough to beat UC Davis? We’ll see.”
POSTSCRIPT: UC Davis beat the Bulldogs 43-24.
UC DAVIS AT FRESNO STATE
- Vitals: 1 p.m. at Fresno State’s Kinesiology Field
- Records: Bulldogs 3-1, Aggies 4-0
- Of note: UC Davis is the back-to-back Division-1AA national champions. Fresno State’s Jackson Wagner and Marquez Watkins both were all-conference, first-team selections last season.