Life, Saint Mary's victories set up D1A Final rematch

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Life, Saint Mary's victories set up D1A Final rematch

Photos Karen Drinkwater (homepage) & Rich Carvell (right)

BOULDER, Colo. – Life University and Saint Mary’s College won their D1A Semifinal matches, setting the stage for a rematch of last year’s National Championship game.

Though the two collegiate rugby juggernauts find themselves in a familiar scenario, the Running Eagles and Gaels secured their place in the Final in completely different fashions.

Life beat rival Arkansas State for a third time this season, 34-27. The reigning D1A Champions played with patience and converted on the scoring opportunities Arkansas State lent them.

Captain Joe Cowley’s boot produced Life’s first half points, slotting five penalties in the first half, leading to a 15-14 lead for the Running Eagles after 40 minutes.

In the second half the ball moved more freely, with both sides’ offenses able to put together try-scoring phases. The Red Wolves used a Connor Cook penalty kick to make it a one-possession match with just two minutes to play, but Life regained the ball after an Arkansas State penalty and Joe Cowley found touch to seal the seven-point victory for the Running Eagles.

Out west, Saint Mary’s offense continued its utter dominance, punishing Lindenwood 72-7. The younger, less experienced Lions hung around in the early goings of the match, only trailing 20-7 at halftime. But Saint Mary’s attack proved to be far too potent, as Bubba Jones’ four tries paced the Gaels on their way to a Semifinal win.

Life overcame an early deficit to defeat Saint Mary’s 16-14 in the 2013 D1A Final. Twelve months later, both teams carry an 8-0 D1A record heading into USA Rugby’s National Championship Series at Stanford University.

The rematch to decide D1A’s 2014 National Champion will kick off at 7:00 P.M. PT at Stanford’s Steuber Rugby Stadium on May 10, and will be streamed live on USA Rugby TV.

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  • CC

    The goal is to raise the standard at all levels so that we can ultimately transition into a tier 1 rugby nation, right? Therefore, all efforts should be directed toward creating as much convenient (given limited resources vs. US geographical challenges) competition as we can. We need more teams competing at the level of Cal, BYU, SMC, ASU, LIFE, Lindenwood, etc. and people need to stop creating drama because its BS! And the top programs know it. If you really want to help raise the standard of American rugby, become a student of the game, get coaching experience, and go coach some place that needs it. And, preferably, at more than one level. Otherwise, cut out your destructive, ignorant comments

    I would love to see different competitions/conferences built up around each of the aforementioned universities. 6+ elite universities competing in No. Cal, the same around Provo/SLC, Atlanta, etc. That's the sort of thing I want to be a part of initiating

  • NCAA? Right...

    In reply to: CC

    Dividing up the top competitors into various competitions is not going to improve college or American rugby. Multiple competitions do not cause teams to improve and it complicates travel for the teams to get games with universities that remain in their league and in their region. Too much criticism is being laid on USA Rugby and too much praise on the Varsity Cup administrators for the way the competitions are run. As the governing body of rugby in America, USA Rugby has a lot more on its plate. All the VC admin people have to do is schedule a 12 team tournament. And the money that people talk about (notice they never give figures) is insignificant in terms of what football, basketball, and even baseball generate for colleges/universities.

    Like I said earlier, the top college teams all need to compete with each other. If USA Rugby has to deny the VC teams and players the benefit of membership in order to reunite the best teams in competition, so be it. I hope they do! Right now we are witnessing a few people (who control the primary news outlet for the sport) to bring down college rugby so they can grab a few dollars and a fake national championship, that everyone knows is fake.

  • CC

    In reply to: NCAA? Right...

    You think creating local competition won't improve college or american rugby?

  • NCAA? Right...

    In reply to: CC

    I think I'm agreeing with you except, possibly, on the local competition thing. I don't think pooling teams into conferences regional is bad as long as it leads to a playoff system at the end of the season. However, frequently, it leaves a dominant team to play a lot of games against teams that can't compete with them. That disparity isn't beneficial to anyone. I'm against the idea of splitting up the best teams into different competitions overall, as we see with VC and D1-A.

    I'd be in favor of starting all the top teams (whatever that is translated to) in conference play. As the season goes on, dividing them up into separate championship brackets based on their ability in that particular season. There are some club championships that work like that in Europe and it looks like it works well. It lets teams compete against like competition without having to spend an entire season beating up on others or being beat up on by others.

    In my view, USA Rugby is our national governing body. We, the players, coaches, and administrators own USA Rugby. If we don't like something that's going on, we need to get involved to change it. I don't think USA Rugby is perfect but I do think that having a united front is the best way to move forward in all forms of American rugby. College rugby is probably our best chance to raise the level of play across the board and we need to get our ducks in a row.

  • Some Guy

    In reply to: NCAA? Right...

    IMO, the exodus from D1-A wasn't due to ineligibility rules, improving the competition, etc, it was due to USA Rugby using cash generated from the college game (dues & playoff gates) to fund the national teams and other non-college enterprises. What the VC is doing (reinvesting the playoff gates & sponsorships back into the participating clubs) is the right thing to do and it's commendable, BUT it is still an invitation tournament, not a true national championship...

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  • NCAA? Right...

    In reply to: NCAA? Right...

    That's true. They talked about that revenue issue a lot when they first rolled out the VC idea. I watched the final though and how much money could they be talking about from the gate? The stands didn't appear to be even to half capacity. Who knows if they made any money off of the broadcast? I don't think we're talking about much money in terms of typical college sports.

    I think that having all of the college teams united together to press USA Rugby on these issue but still put out the best rugby possible is the most powerful way to move forward. The college game is improving finally! We need to keep that momentum moving forward for all college teams. When the group of elite teams gets up into the 20 or more, instead of the current number that is less than 10, then college rugby might be marketable to a major network and might start bringing in some revenues that are useful. The game has to get to that level though. Having just a small group of teams with some or full backing from their administrations to play at a varsity level isn't getting it done. Separating those teams from competing with each other makes no sense and slows down the growth of the game.

    0 Like
  • CC

    In reply to: NCAA? Right...

    My point isn't to divide competition, but rather create more competition, and doing so through getting more people educated and actively involved

    0 Like
  • NCAA? Right...

    In reply to: NCAA? Right...

    CC, I'm not following you on how the localized competition does that. The games that draw the most spectators are the games with rivals or top competitors. That's why I think that keeping the best teams playing each other is critical. Who wants to dedicate a Saturday to watching an elite team wax another team by 30 or more points?

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  • CC

    In reply to: NCAA? Right...

    I think we're looking through two different lenses.. You're looking at the current landscape and I'm looking toward the future landscape.. What I'm talking about, won't happen tomorrow.. But I believe for the game to get to the level we need it to get to, to become a tier 1 nation, we give ourselves the best chance by having more than competitive team for any given area.. Bay area, for example, has it the best probably as far as american rugby goes. You have Cal, St. Mary's, SFGG, and O Club. If each of them plays a home and away with each other, thats 6 top-flight matches with almost no distance traveled by comparison. And then of course they play their normal schedules. This is the type of thing we need in American rugby.. You get better by playing competitive matches at high frequency. No body will have played more than 8 or 9 of these types of matches (by my estimate) this season. It needs to be closer to 20

    0 Like
  • pete

    is the game free?