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Warmup or Not, Life v Arkansas State Can Be Special

    

College Men

Warmup or Not, Life v Arkansas State Can Be Special

Life and ASU post together after last year's Huckaby Cup.

Goff Rugby Report #12 Arkansas State plays GRR #2 Life University in the first Mid-South Conference game of the season, and there's something weird about it.

It's not weird that the two teams are playing each other, or that Arkansas State is back in the Mid-South after a couple of years as an independent, no. It's certainly not weird that they are playing for the Curt Huckaby Cup, a challenge trophy honoring the founder of the ASU program and a champion of rugby in the South (Curt Huckaby passed away after a long battle with ALS last June). 

All of that makes perfect sense, and honoring Huckaby with this game is a great way to keep his memory alive.

What's weird is how they enter this weekend. Like most teams going into conference play, Arkansas State has had some warmups, most recently their win over LSU last weekend. For Life, there have been no games since the Running Eagles played the Charlotte Rugby Club in November.

Coach Colton Cariaga isn't too worried about it. They've been training hard.

"The team is finding a way to get better each day," said Cariaga. "Competition is part of that. Up to now, we have worked to create that amongst our squad but, you know, it’s never quite the same. So we look forward to a new opportunity this weekend."

So they've been working on what they want to do on the training field. Now they get to show it.

"The competition between our two programs has been invaluable over the years, thanks in large part to Curt Huckaby Sr.’s leadership," said Cariaga. "The Huckaby Cup is about legacy. What a privilege it is to have an opportunity to build on that legacy this weekend."

Life has a solid group of experienced players who have been playing together for a while, including prop and capped Eagle Alex Maughan, flanker Sebastien Banos, center Cody Melphy, center Zander van Schalkwyk, and wing Harley Davidson. But there's some competition for spots, as well.

"The back five in the scrum is a competitive group that will fight for spots weekly," said Cariaga. "Wwe have also spent the fall and winter working different combinations in the front row and midfield."

All will be expected to put intense defensive pressure on ASU and run the phases.

Meanwhile, Arkansas State has to be in more mid-season fettle thanks to the earlier games they've played - wins over the Little Rock Men's Club, University of Arkansas, and LSU. But they also know they lost to Life in a non-conference clash in the fall. Head Coach Shaun Potgeiter said he saw some good things against LSU, but was pretty pointed in his assessment that the Red Wolves gave up too many penalties. Was that due to the ref or the players? Well it could have been both, but Potgeiter had to be clear with his players to stop giving up the penalties regardless, and when they did that, they were able to beat Louisiana State.

Arkansas State Wins a Close One over LSU

Potgeiter also chalked up his team's win last week to ASU's superior depth. That's not in dispute - the Red Wolves have some really good players on the bench. Thing is, so does Life. The question will be, does Life have enough game time to perform?

They should, and the defending DIA champs against their chief rivals is always a special game, made more special because it is played in memory of one of the true gentlemen of American rugby.