With both Life West Men’s and Women’s team’s taking a mid-season break from their D1 season for the Las Vegas Sevens, it is an ideal time to take a quick look back at their season to date and then preview the rest of the season, including post-season playoffs.
With the Gladiators fresh off a strong California Cup campaign where they were beaten finalists, losing 26-22 against OMBAC on January 21, 2017. The Adriaan Ferris coached team moved straight into the Northern California D1 season play the following week with a close fought 30-27 victory over East Palo Alto Razorbacks.
Buoyed by this success, they moved on to play a rejuvenated San Francisco Golden Gate side at their home field on Treasure Island. Life West took an early lead through a try by Cal Cup MVP, scrumhalf Devereaux Ferris. Despite a new look side taking the field against SFGG, the result didn’t go the Gladiators way, failing 35-19 against a strong Gate side. Coach Ferris was positive in his reflection of the D1 season to date stating “whilst we were happy with how we performed in the Cal Cup, the D1 season is now our focus and we are a new side with some exciting young players”. Coach could well be referring to 23 year old 8-man, Maka Tameilau, younger brother of USA Eagle and fellow Gladiator Tevita Tameilau, who now plays for Narbonne in France in the Pro D2 league. Maka has been a revelation after a positional switch from prop to Number 8. Coach Ferris noted “he is big, strong, fast and skillful. He has great vision which comes from his exceptional knowledge of the game. He comes from a rugby family so this reflects in the way he plays the game. If he continues to develop, he has a big future in the game as a backrower”.
The next three matches, the Gladiators faced Olympic Club, Santa Rosa, and SFGG Green respectively winning all three matches by a cumulative points of 153 points for and 47 against. The Gladiators currently sit at the top of the table with 20 points, tied with SFGG for first place.
When asked what we can expect from the rest of the season, Coach Ferris said: “We have had a long season already when you consider we have been training since October. We didn’t get the result we wanted in the Cal Cup final but we are happy with how we progressed in that campaign. Now we have a new focus (NorCal D1 season) and we’ve lost a few players from that campaign but that’s created an opportunity for other players to step up. We are a good side and we continue to grow and develop. Our focus will be on lifting our efforts for the top 4 playoffs (starting on March 25th).”
Last year’s D1 campaign benchmark was a top four finish at the National Championship. This year the Gladiators are looking to go all the way to the National final. To do that, they will need to get through a very tough Northern California top 4 league that consists of EPA Razorbacks, SFGG and Olympic Club. With a star studded SFGG side and a powerful EPA side in that group, it is not going to be an easy task. But according to Ferris, “playing in the tough games is what will make our game better. If we are good enough then we will step up to the challenge. What ever the final result is, we will continue to grow and improve”.
The Gladiators have the bye round this weekend and play the last round of the NCRFU D1 league regular season on March 18 at home (Sunset Park, Hayward, CA) against the Sacramento Lions. Details to come.
The Life West Gladiatrix have proven to be the strongest team in the NorCal league, having moved up to D1 after an undefeated DII National Championship run in 2016. The result from the 2016 final capped off a stellar season with a 12-try, 66-20 rout of defending National Champions, Wisconsin Rugby.
Five games in to this season, the ’Trix as they are affectionately known, are sitting at the top of the table undefeated with five bonus-point victories. Along the way the ladies have amassed a 325 points differential and conceding only six tries. With Head Coach, Jarrod Faul back at the helm after a successful stint with the San Diego Surfers WPL side, the Gladiatrix look to repeat their national championship success and continue their journey towards the National Championship in June.
When asked about their current progress Gladiatrix & USA Eagle prop Catie Benson responded “We are coming along this year. We have had a lot of changes to last years group, with new players joining the team. We are excited to keep working on building our team dynamic as we get progress throughout the season.”
Although the Gladiatrix have yet to face serious competition, that does not mean they are able to rest on their laurels. Outside Center, Hali Deters said “while we are in NorCal league, it is important to stay focused and disciplined within ourselves and our system. Moving forward towards playoffs the competition will increase and we need to be prepared.”
When asked about the current state of the team in the NorCal league, Head Coach Jarrod Faul replied “it’s not ideal preparation but we have no control the quality of opposition sides. We can only look to ourselves and make sure we are competitive internally. Ultimately, we know that it will come down to the Seattle (Saracens) game on May 6” – referring to the must win Pacific Coast Championship CR1 game scheduled for Saturday 6 May at Treasure Island. The winner advances to the National Championship playoff in Tucson, AZ while the loser starts preparing for the summer 7s series.
This weekend, the Gladiatrix face the San Jose Seahawks at home at Sunset Park in Hayward, CA. Kick off is 11:00am.