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#1 Life Takes On #23 USC

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#1 Life Takes On #23 USC

On the strength of their big victory over a strong Army team in the ACRC Bowl Series, Life is ranked #1 by GRR. Dennis D Hawk photo.

Life University, currently ranked #1 by Goff Rugby Report, and South Carolina, currently ranked 23rd, meet up in what is essentially the opening game for each for the 2015 winter/spring season.

This will be the first game for Life without Dan Payne as their Head Coach. Payne is now the school’s Athletic Director. He serves as Director of Rugby, while a team of coaches, including Tui Osborne, Scott Lawrence, Shaun Davies, and David Gannon run the squad.

“We have a lot of rugby IQ in the program, so we’re using it,” said Osborne, who, like Lawrence and Davies, has been capped at the international level (Osborne in 7s, the other two in 15s). 

Osborne said the team has been working hard on basic skills, honing the fundamentals as the season comes closer. 

This is a fairly mature Life team, with Glen Maricelli, Paris Hollis, Jake McFadden, Jake Anderson, Harley Davidson, Zach Miller, and Tyrus Baytops among the experienced returning players. Duncan Van Schalkwyk had a big day against Army in November’s ACRC Bowl Series, and he represents a large group of talented underclassmen.

Gorman in action for USC
Zach Gorman for USC

South Carolina comes into this second half of the season after losing to Clemson in the ACRC Bowl Series. Still, they are SCRC champions. They are a little beat up, with captain and al-conference wing/fullback Tim Hamill out with a broken collarbone. Three other starters from the fall are studying overseas, but, said Head Coach Mark Morris, “we should have some seasoned reserves that should step up and fill the spots.”

Zach Gorman was a big charger for them in the forwards, and Brian Keown kept them ticking over at scrumhalf. 

This is still early days for the Gamecocks. They haven’t a lot of practices behind them this year, but they have a lot of work to do to get through four tough weekends of 15s before they transition to 7s. 

The additional 15s games, said Morris, “will give us an opportunity to get the team the added game experience and try some additional attack strategies on offense and defense and work on our overall game structure before next season. Another goal was to try and keep the continuity of the programs successes on the increase. We felt if we did not try to play 15s in the spring, we would lose too many players to other interests and the club would suffer for experienced players.”

The teams will play an A side match and a B side match. Morris said it will be a push for his team, but he values the series with Life.

“We felt there were too many benefits for us to set a benchmark for our players to step up to,” said Morris. “Life has a great team and I know our team is excited to challenge themselves to play at their best against one of the dominant teams in the country.”


(Note: Paris Hollis has been dismissed from the Life program due to a rules standards violation.)