Lions, Panthers to duke it out, while Life plays for Huckaby Cup

D1A Rugby: Lions, Panthers to duke it out, while Life plays for Huckaby Cup
Photo Credit: Steve Zomberg

BOULDER, Colo. – A crucial Mid-South match awaits Davenport and Lindenwood at Hunter Football Stadium on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles, Mo. The three-team Mid-South conference is so competitive that either team has a legitimate possibility of finishing 0-4 in league play – something both teams would dread. Meanwhile, Life will host Arkansas State in the second annual Huckaby Cup March 14.

Davenport and Lindenwood, ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, enter the match 0-1 in conference play. Each team lost its opening Mid-South match to Life – Davenport falling by three, while Lindenwood’s comeback effort fell four points shy.

The two teams know each other quite well from their two meetings a season ago, but more recently the Panthers beat the Lions, 7-3, in the inaugural Charles Labry Memorial Match. Saturday’s match is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for certain – Lindenwood will be in a better state of mind after playing the Memorial Match after the recent passing of teammate Charles Labry, and there are sure to be more than 10 points scored between the top-five sides.

To land on the winning side of the match, Lindenwood must contain standout fly half JP Eloff. The fly half’s return to form has given Davenport a much-needed spark in the back line. The AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American has a versatile skill set that allows Eloff to beat teams running, passing, and kicking. Lindenwood’s half backs, while talented, are young. So, the task of slowing down Eloff won’t come easy.

The Lions’ strength is in their midfield. James Poli, an All-American, and Sione Fangaiuiha will start at the center positions. Both are powerful runners, but have the speed to get behind a defense as well.

Life is using its bye week from the Mid-South schedule to host a rivalry game against Arkansas State, and to honor Curt Huckaby. Coach Huckaby brought the Arkansas State rugby program to national prominence, and has had a profound influence on many in the college rugby community.

Both the Running Eagles and Red Wolves have something to prove entering the Huckaby Cup. Life is 2-0 in conference play, but won its two matches by narrow margins. Arkansas State, on the other hand, recently picked up a win over Texas A&M, but was unable to secure a victory at home against Davenport in February.

Matches between the two rivals have been tight in recent years. If that is the case once again, Life may have the upper hand. Fly half Blane Mcllroy has proven to be an accurate kicker in both conversions and penalties, and has deep range, as well. His boot could prove the difference in Saturday’s clash.

The 2015 Huckaby Cup is scheduled to kick off at 12PM ET, and is available via Life University’s webcast: