Arkansas State and Life won their semifinals convincingly, setting up a renewal of one of college rugby’s best rivalries in the 7s National Championship match. The Red Wolves thrashed Delaware 45-0 to reach the final, and Life pummeled St. Mary’s 33-0 in the other semi.
For Life, it was the fourth shutout in five games this weekend.
“We work a lot on defense during practice. We have Scott Lawrence as our defensive coach and he teaches us a lot of good things, how to stay in a line and stay together,” said Life’s Joe Cowley.
“We just play like we play and play hard, and we don’t want any points on the board at all.”
For Arkansas State, the semifinal marked the first time all weekend they’ve played up to their potential.
“We were working from yesterday to today trying to work into our stride,” said ASU’s Shaun Potgieter. “We had a few great moments by certain individual players and stuff, but coming out today, we said come on let’s get this game, make us really get into our stride. So this game was the game for us to take it to our peak.”
Arkansas State has never beaten Life in 7s. The Running Eagles are two-time defending 7s champs of the South Independent Rugby Conference and they bounced the Red Wolves in the semifinals last year. That match was won on the last play by a Calvin Nell try. When they met earlier this fall, Life had Cam Dolan and Glen Maricelli, starting forwards currently out with injury.
“Last year we didn’t have Cam on the team for Nationals and we got through that, and it’s sad to have Glen out, but he’s not been training with us the last six weeks,” said Cowley, “so we’ve been kind of doing different things with different patterns to get around those guys not being there.”
The keys for Arkansas State are possession and staying focused just before and after the half.
“They’re a good side, somebody that can push us,” said Potgieter of Life. “We’ve got to keep our ball, keep ball retention.”