Ryan Chartrand

The recreation field lights will blaze tonight, lighting the north side of campus as a long traditional rivalry ensues.

Trent Yackzan, a wing for the Cal Poly rugby club team, says the Mustangs couldn’t be more ecstatic to play UC Santa Barbara.

“We are excited to play under the lights,” Yackzan said. “It adds a different dynamic because we usually play during the day.”

Cal Poly (4-1) beat UCSB (0-1) last fall, but this will be the first time they face in league play this season.

“(UC) Santa Barbara is in for a beating,” said Cal Poly openside flanker Jesse Dundon. “We are all fired up. Santa Barbara always fosters a good rivalry.”

The Mustangs’ first, second and third teams are comprised of about 50 players total.

“We have guys that start and guys that come in at half time,” Mustangs loose tight prop Gabe Escalera said. “We are a pretty well rounded team; we don’t have a big, flashy player who will just run all over the place. We are very team-oriented.”

The Mustangs’ training has included participating in yoga sessions at the crack of dawn at Bikram Yoga SLO, where players perform poses in a heated room of 105 degrees.

“Yoga helps with flexibility,” Escalera explained. “In rugby, your body goes through a lot of different positions that are not natural. But having to do (yoga) for 90 minutes helps you maintain focus, kind of like a rugby game.”

Although Cal Poly lost to San Diego State (3-0) last week, 29-26, the Mustangs seem to be staying optimistic.

“We came out flat and made mistakes, and when you make mistakes against a good team, it costs,” Escalera said. “We made all kinds of mistakes, especially mistakes in judgment.”

Even though it was a sizable loss, the Mustangs, halfway through league play, have already beaten UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona.

They’re slated to play UC San Diego, Long Beach State and Penn State later this quarter and will most likely have a rematch with Arizona for a second seed in the playoffs.

“We’re hoping – no, we’re planning – on going to the playoffs this April in New Mexico,” Escalera said.

The game starts at 7 p.m.

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