This postseason reflection was written by a member of the CU rugby team.
Colorado rugby had a disappointing season in 2012.
After coming into the season with high expectations, the Buffs finished with a 3-4 overall record and missed their shot at the D-1A playoffs. Playing in the always tough Western Conference proved too much, as Colorado finished fourth behind Brigham Young University, University of Utah and Air Force Academy.
“Our record does not show the talent this team has, and this was a huge improvement over last year,” said Charlie Barkmeier, the starting eight-man for the Buffs. “Every game we played up until BYU, we certainly could have and should have won.”
CUI's Scott Annis writes a first hand reflection of the CU club rugby team. (CU Independent/Josh Shettler)
The season got off to a great start when the Buffs beat rival Colorado State University 43-20 at Infinity Park in Glendale. The first half was a closely-contested battle, but the Buffs pulled away in the second half. After a couple of preseason losses, the Buffs stepped up at the right time and the team started to gel.
The team continued to play admirably in a very close game against the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. The Buffs lost 40-36 after knocking on the ball while trying to score a last-second game winner. There were some questionable calls by the referees in the match, leading to some disgruntled Buffs players and coaches.
“The game against Arizona is one we felt we should have won, and there were some controversial calls,” Colorado coach Jim Snyder told Rugby magazine.
After losing such a close game, the Buffs were out for revenge, and Arizona State University was coming to Boulder the following week. The Buffs dominated the Sun Devils from start to finish, getting their season back on track with a 67-5 win.
The win made many people across the rugby world sit up and take notice of Colorado. It was surprising to many and proved that the Buffs were the real deal this year.
It all came crashing down the following week, however, as the Buffs lost to Air Force 55-44. Both teams knew it would be hard to make the playoffs if they lost this game. Colorado had an early 15-point lead and led in the game 44-43 with seven minutes to go. Air Force never quit though, and after the full 80 minutes, it was the Falcons who ended up on top.
After the devastating loss to Air Force, the Buffs knew they would have to win all three of their final games in order to make the playoffs. They started off on a good note, taking down the University of Wyoming in Boulder. CU’s Brendan Cox put the Buffs on his back while scoring four tries in Colorado’s 61-31 win over the Cowboys.
After winning the first of their three must-win games, the Buffs were looking forward to playing the University of Utah. In a Friday night match under the lights, both teams stepped up with playoff implications on the line. The Utes jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the Buffs came back and tied things up. After the first half, CU was down only four to the heavily-favored Utes. But in the second half, after some back-and-forth play, Utah started to pull away and took the 49-32 win.
This loss eliminated the Buffs from playoff contention. Utah is a perennial power in rugby, and the Buffs performed extremely well against tough odds. Many people saw this game as an indicator of good things to come for Buffs rugby.
“A lot of young guys really stepped up towards the end of the season,” Barkmeier said.
In their final game, the Buffs lost to the No. 1 team in the country, BYU, 99-12. The Buffs, already out of playoff contention and dealing with injuries after the hard-fought Utah game, were no match for the high-flying attack of the Cougars.
This season was a stepping stone for the Buffs, who are losing only nine seniors on the 58-man roster. Freshman Adam Page said he is looking forward to next season and the opportunity to play with a year’s worth of experience.
“We have the potential to go to the playoffs next year,” Page said. “I think our losses came from a lack of discipline and experience rather than lack of skill.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Scott Annis at Robert.email@example.com.
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