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Life University Hands Arkansas State 32-0 Loss In Huckaby Cup


MARIETTA, Ga. — Life University proved too much to handle as Arkansas State’s rugby team suffered a 32-0 loss Saturday afternoon in the Curt Huckaby Cup at the Life University Rugby Complex. A-State now stands 1-2 overall, while Life is 4-0.

“Life University must be commended for that win,” A-State head coach NeMani Delaibatiki. “You’ve got to give credit to where credit is due. Beating us by 32 is a great win for Life and Coach Tui Osborne.

“We had no excuses that day. Our boys were fired up and ready to play and had glimpses of good rugby throughout the game, but we shot ourselves in the foot with some poor execution and decision making.”

Both teams played in muddy, sloppy conditions. The Running Eagles struck twice early to put Life up 10-0 in the first half at the 23:21 mark. Kicks by Blane McIlroy sealed the points for Life. Zach Warren was next, making good on the try to raise the tally to 15-0. McIlroy connected on the conversion kick to end the half with Life leading 17-0.

It was more of the same as Life came out in the second half and added more points. With six minutes remaining, Duncan Van Schalkwyk tacked on Life’s last score of the day.

The Red Wolves have been plagued with numerous injuries that may have caused depth problems. Only 32 players from the full roster of 68 were deemed healthy enough to play, but Delaibatiki declined to place the blame there. “Regardless of injury, we have no excuses,” he said.

“Our lack of varsity level experience showed, and a team like Life University capitalized every time. With a lot of injuries, our younger guys gained some valuable experience for the first time in varsity rugby. Life smelled blood and went for the kill by exploiting the spaces.

“I don't think our boys ever gave up the whole game, but Life U used their experience well, and were able to launch attacks off our mistakes. They seemed to move the ball a lot more than we did, which is unusual because we usually move the ball more than most teams,” he continued.

The match was dubbed the Curt Huckaby Cup, named in honor of A-State rugby coaching legend Curt Huckaby. For 14 years — all on a volunteer basis — Huckaby led the Red Wolves to an overall record of 183-44-1 before stepping down. Huckaby has Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Cup match was the brainchild of former Life coach Dan Payne and Huckaby’s son Matt, a former A-State player and head coach.

“It was tough seeing Life’s players hoist the Huckaby Cup, but they earned every bit of that win, and we have to go back to the drawing board and comprehensively evaluate what we need to do because we can’t afford to play like this in Varsity Cup or it will be a very short season for us,” Delaibatiki said. “I believe we can turn this ship around, but only time can dictate that.”

Delaibatiki said the Red Wolves will train through spring break Monday through Saturday, March 23-28, for a first round 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup matchup against Clemson on April 4 in South Carolina.

The varsity squad will take a break this weekend, while A-State’s junior varsity squad will host the Little Rock Men’s Rugby Club at 1 p.m. at the Arkansas State Rugby Pitch, 501 Red Wolf Trail. Admission is free.

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