After a year filled with notable on-field achievements in 2019, Life West’s rugby programs have their eyes on more glory in 2020. Spring schedules for both the women’s and men’s squads have been released, and opportunities to succeed on national stages are right around the corner.
“We’re obviously excited,” Life West athletic director and head coach Adriaan Ferris said. “Everybody’s looking forward to kicking the season off, but we’re still in the preseason so we have to temper that excitement with a lot of hard work.”
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The women are eyeing a playoff run a year after the team’s inaugural campaign in the Women’s Premier League. They will compete in the Pacific North Women’s Division II league, which will decide its champion in late April. The winning team advances to the USA Rugby National Championship tournament, while the runners-up will play in the California Cup.
The men’s “fifteens” team, meanwhile, is seeking a second straight Pacific Rugby Premiership title. Conference play kicks off on Feb. 8 with a home contest against the Glendale Merlins. The league slate features six regular-season games in February and March, followed by a semifinal tilt on April 18 and the final on May 2.
National semifinals for both men and women will be contested on May 16. The finals will be held on May 30, and more information about times and locations for tournament contests will be announced as the event draws closer.
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There will be plenty of new faces on the Life West side in 2020. Seven players from last year’s men’s team have moved on, including a handful that have since signed Major League Rugby contracts. One of those MLR signees was Adriaan’s son, Devereaux, who doubled as the head coach of the women’s team during their first-ever WPL campaign.
“It’s a double-edged sword, really,” Ferris said when talking about the roster turnover. “We lose a lot of experience, but that opens up some doors for the new recruits that have come in. We’re certainly excited about those players.”
The 2019 women’s squad finished its first year in the Women’s Premier League with an 8-2 mark and advanced to the championship game. The 2019 men’s fifteens squad finished 9-3 on the season while winning the PRP and advancing to the national semifinal, and both men’s and women’s “sevens” teams made deep runs at nationals this past August as well.
Regardless of changes from the 2019 teams, expectations remain high for both programs due to the winning traditions that have been installed during the last several years.
“It’s important that the culture remains the same,” Ferris said when asked about his goals for the new year. “Like anything, it comes down to the preparation that we put in. We’ve been in preseason training since the fall, and we’ll be ready by the time the first game comes around.”