Time to defend the crown
By Marco Cummings
GLENDALE, Colo. – The quest to defend the Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) crown begins this weekend as the reigning champion Glendale Raptors take to the road to face Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Glendale’s last trip to the Bay Area resulted in a 27-7 victory in favor of the Raptors, allowing them to clinch the top spot in the PRP table and host the championship game at Infinity Park. But Raptors head coach Andre Snyman is stressing the importance of his team not letting its guard down as it opens the season.
“They’ve been at the bottom of the log but that doesn’t indicate the quality of rugby that they play, so we have to be focused and not take them lightly,” he said. “They’re a team that you can’t underestimate. They’ve got some quality players. Over the last two seasons they’ve caused some upsets.”
The Raptors are on the road for the second-straight weekend following a preseason match with one of North America’s top clubs, the Seattle Saracens. It was the first time in three seasons of PRP play that the Raptors have prepped in such a way. Snyman saw the additional match as a much needed test before opening the season.
“Unfortunately we did get one or two injuries but I’m confident that it definitely worked to our benefit. It gets the guys match fit and game fit,” he said. “It was a tough game and hopefully that prepared the guys for the upcoming weeks.”
The match in Seattle also offered an opportunity to form cohesiveness amongst the group as new players are integrated into the fold.
“It’s a bit of a 50/50 team in terms of old and new players but I’m excited,” explained Snyman. “Hopefully our depth in the club is good enough to overcome those injuries. We’ve got a couple of new faces and players so hopefully we’ll get them into the system as soon as possible and keep the momentum.”
The most important key to Saturday’s game will be playing the same exciting brand of rugby that fans have become accustomed to back home at Infinity Park.
“We’re going to focus on ourselves and getting into a rhythm with our team and our patterns,” Snyman emphasized. “If we play to our strengths I believe we’ll come through with a ‘W’”.
The match kicks off at 1pm PT at Ray Sheeran Field in San Francisco and is followed by the match between Belmont Shore and San Francisco Rhinos.