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Consider this: Three weeks ago Life University's men's team played NYAC in the Elite Cup semifinal; a week later they played Boston and Old Blue on successive days in the DI club playoffs, and then a week after that, played SFGG in the Elite Cup championship game in Glendale, Colo.
This weekend they take on the Denver Barbarians,
and then, if they win, either New Orleans or, more likely, Old Puget
If that all goes according to the form sheet, Life will have, in the space of three weeks and one day, played six former Super League teams. They will play at least five, and so far they are 3-1 in those games, with the one loss being 31-26 to SFGG last weekend in a match in which Golden Gate was a little bit fortunate to win.
"It's kind of an amazing string of games," said Life Head Coach and hooker James Isaacson. "And to do that basically with a squad of only 24 guys is even more impressive."
The Life men's team is not deep, in part because USA Rugby rules make it impossible for a college player to fill in on a club game and retain his eligibility in college. So the same group of players had muscled through the spring, and now looks to finish it with a DI title. That's one thing that has eluded Life during their solid run these past few years. They have come very close, losing Super League finals and semifinals by tiny margins, but they haven't hoisted a trophy.
Having lost the Elite Cup in a close one, the Running Eagles now have a unique opportunity to put that demon to bed this week with a good game against a talented Denver Barbarians team. They will need everyone, led by the redoubtable Kris Headlee and the ever-present Benji Goff in the forwards - with Isaacson hoisting all on his back as well - and with the smooth-running Tui Osborne and skilled AJ MacGinty in the backs.
This past week has been a mellow one for the players. They scrimmaged the USA U20s on Tuesday, but that was their only heavy lifting, as Isaacson said it's about managing athletes and healing battered bodies at this point. They have worked instead on film analysis, tactics, and mental preparation.
What that all means for Life is that they are at the end of a long and hard road. And the finish to their journey will be enormously demanding. They will play Denver in Gloendale (again), which is basically a home match for the Barbarians. And they will be tired. But they have already shown they can master a challenge; is Life loses, it won't be because they didn't man-up.