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Old Mid-South Rivals, All in the Top 10, Highlight Weekend

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Old Mid-South Rivals, All in the Top 10, Highlight Weekend

Life looks to make another statement vs Arkansas State. David Hughes photo.

Longtime rivals meet up in college rugby this weekend as the old Mid-South has a sort of reunion weekend, and all four of the teams involved are in GRR's Top 10.

Life University is coming off a victory over Lindenwood that launched them up to #3. They take on Arkansas State, a team we moved up to #2.

The win was the culmination of a ton of hard work, said Life Director of Rugby Blake Bradford. "During the winter we focused on continuing what we've been building on and on strength and conditioning. A lot of the guys were working on getting bigger, or small, or faster. And we worked on developing our team character. We want a group of guys who work hard for each other, put in a lot of hard work, are physical on defense, and strong in set piece. We then just work to put in a performance to be proud of and if we do that the wins will happen."

Leading the way for this team is Ishma-eel Safodien at halfback. He has been electric and a leader. Add to him a bunch of young American-produced forwards such as Leon Best at tighthead prop and Charlie Overton at lock and you've got a team that is putting things together. USA U20 player Logan Ballinger has an outstanding work rate. Seth Kramlich was a long-striding, physical wing for Life and now he's been moved to flanker and has embraced the new role. 

Injuries have hit, of course. Darius and Donovan Law both were hit by injuries and Darius is on the comeback trail. But flyhalf Bradley Crane is out due to a head injury assessment this weekend, so Jeron Pantor will take on the playmaker's role.

They face an Arkansas State team that plays fast and has hit some very solid form.

Like Life, ASU plays for each other and it's their unity of purpose that has helped them.

This game will be the Curt Huckaby Cup challenge match, which honors the founder of the Arkansas State program and a beloved advocate of the game in the Southeast.

Lindenwood, meanwhile, hosts Davenport. They are coming off a two-game losing streak (Arkansas State and Life), something they have never had to do before since Josh Macy became Head Coach.

It's been a bit of a wakeup call for the Lions.

"While it might feel easier to preserve something rather than build something, it comes with its own drawbacks," said Macy. "Doing just enough to win won't cut it in or outside of the lines. We are taking the month of March to rediscover what is important to us. We'll be lean and mean come April."

Davenport is coming off an impressive 39-27 win over a tough Mary Washington team. That was their first game in three months and they handled it quite well.

But this game with Lindenwood is a big deal in terms of how they set themselves up for the postseason. Winning, of course, helps, but even being close should provide evidence of Davenport's quality.