The Life University Elite Training Group will finish its season off with a match against the Glendale Raptors in Marietta, Ga. Saturday, and both teams come in a little unfulfilled, although for slightly different reasons.
Glendale lost a close Aspen Ruggerfest final to the Denver Barbarians on Sunday, a game led were leading well into the second half.
“It was just a moment of individual brilliance by Max [de Achaval] that turned it,” lamented Glendale Head Coach Andre Snyman. ”We were right there with a chance to win it.”
The rain had plenty of influence on the weekend, as floods in the Denver and Boulder area prevented some players from making the trip, and then sunny skies on Saturday gave way to a deluge right before the final.
“The conditions for the final were very different from the rest of the tournament,” said Snyman.
Without some of his main starters, Snyman was able to play some Raptors who have been spending time on the DII side. Those challenging for a DI place got a good look, and with injuries and the like this weekend, will get a look again this weekend in Georgia.
Wing Clint Meehan is one of those who earned himself more playing time, while utility back Cody Melphy, former Littleton HS flyhalf, has also taken advantage of more playing time. Watch out also for hooker/flanker Jack Haward from England.
The team Glendale will take to Marietta will be competitive, said Snyman, but likely not his top-flight squad.
“This will be a terrific opportunity for players to step up to the next level,” he said.
And that level will be a high one. Life’s Elite Training Squad demolished the South All-Stars – the same team that won the North American Caribbean Rugby Association title, beating national teams to do so.
The score was 85-0, and it showed the caliber of players Life has at its disposal.
“We were unhappy with how we played in Canada,” said new Life men’s Head Coach, former 7s Eagle Tui Osborne, about Life’s loss to the Ontario Blues. “We had a lot of things we wanted to fix, and while we knew the level of competition wouldn’t be as high, we had our goals of what we wanted to do, and I think we did that.”
Everyone played better, said Osborne. The defense was difficult to evaluate, because Life rarely played any defense in the game, but their attack was smooth and executed well.
Almost the entire Elite Training Group (a mixture of undergrad and men’s club players that play a specialized schedule in August and September) has some professional or international experience. But some don’t, and they found themselves elevating their game surrounded by such strong teammates. Former Davenport standout Lance Cavanaugh played well at wing, while flanker Jason Davila, said Osborne, was one of the most active forwards on the team.
“We’re all still learning, but that’s what we want out of this,” said Osborne.
the idea of the Elite Training Group is to position Life players to challenge for international places. This game against Glendale, which has players thinking along the same lines, should be an excellent Eagle scouting opportunity. But with the floods and injuries dialing back the Glendale selections somewhat, Life looks to be the stronger.