A week after winning the CRC 7s Qualifier in Las Vegas, Life University has to put their 15s jerseys on and open up their D1-A season.
For Director of Rugby Dan Payne, the adjustment won’t be that big a deal.
“For both 7s and 15s, you need to be a good rugby player,” Payne told RUGBYMag.com, and told his players, as well. “Make your tackles, take care of the ball, and move the ball forward. You do that, and show up fit – that’s implied – you’ll do fine.”
Payne is quite happy to have his players not rest on their laurels from Vegas. They got his with reality pretty darned quickly, taking an early-morning flight Sunday back to Georgia to make class on Monday.
“I guarantee Monday in class winning a rugby tournament was the furthest thing from their minds,” he said.
He was also glad to have his team emerge relatively injury free from a tough weekend of rugby.
They will need their health as the Running Eagles travel to Norman, Okla. to face the Oklahoma University Sooners. There Head Coach Kenneth Forehand has some work to do.
“We’ve been very busy preparing,” said Forehand. “I am proud of the players’ efforts. They’ve taken a lot of responsibility on themselves.”
Forehand said he enjoyed coaching in D1-A, but was certainly not happy with the 0-6 record.
“This is a good competition to aspire to,” he said. “In our conference we have two of the top three or four teams out there. We’re happy to compete, but didn’t get the results we wanted.”
OU has recruited more heavily and is looking at a strong freshman class and another to come. But right now, it’s going to be tough for them to handle a fit and well-drilled Life team.
“We’re playing against one of the best in the country,” said Forehand. “We’re looking at it as a challenge. We’re going to have to tackle low and maintain possession. We’re better when we play a bit more wide open, but against Life you have to be careful with the ball.
The Sooners will also have to look to win the territorial game. For that, they are pleased to have Brenner Roath, a former Dallas Jesuit standout, who will direct things from flyhalf.
Meanwhile Life brings a forward pack led by Cam Dolan at No. 8 and a backline directed by the nifty Colton Cariaga at scrumhalf.
“We’ve been working on our 15s pattern for a while, so taking a break to play 7s shouldn’t be an issue,” said Payne. “The travel is going to be tough. That’s something we know we have to take care of. But the guys have been back to work.”
And now all they have to do is tackle, take care of the ball, and move forward. Simple, really.
Notes: Life was 5-1 in D1A Mid-South Conference in 2011, losing a 28-26 decision to Arkansas State and then being eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Cal. Oklahoma was 0-6. In 2011 Life defeated the Sooners 90-10 April 30.