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.