CHAMPIONS ONCE MORE! LIFE UNIVERSITY MEN’S RUGBY REPEATS AS D1A NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Santa Clara, California, May 6, 2019 – In a rematch of last year’s D1A Rugby National Championship, the Life University Running Eagles faced the Cal Berkeley Golden Bears for the title. The match came down to the final seconds, as Life U emerged victorious to claim back-to-back titles over Cal by a 29-26 final score. This marks the fourth D1A title for Life U Men’s squad in the last seven years.
Life U struck first in the title match with an offensive drive that was led by Ryan Rees. A couple passes later saw Justin Johnson nearing the line to score, and a kick forward from Mitchell Wilson allowed Duncan Van Schalkwyk to put the Running Eagles ahead 5-0.
Cal Responded shortly after to take a 7-5 lead with a man advantage, however Julian Roberts found the corner to score Life U’s second try of the match, and give the Running Eagles a 10-7 lead. The physicality of the match began to set in soon after, however, and neither team scored in the remainder of the first half.
Coming out of the break, Life U wasted no time adding to its lead with a penalty try awarded after a dominating maul. Minutes later, another lineout resulted in a powerful maul as Brian Muntanga was able to score, putting the Running Eagles ahead with a commanding 22-7 lead.
Cal refused to go down without a fight, as the Golden Bears scored 19 consecutive points to take a 26-22 lead with less than ten minutes remaining in the game. Cal looked to have all the momentum; however, resilient defense proved to be in favor of the Running Eagles.
After a penalty inside the Cal 22, a kick to touch once again set up a lineout for Life U. A driving maul came to a stop just inside the five meter line, as Rees swung a pass out wide to an open Conner Mooneyham, who scored the try with less than five minutes remaining. Wilson stepped to the tee for the conversion to extend the lead to a penalty, and the Running Eagles celebrated as the ball crossed through and the flags rose up. Life U now led 29-26.
Cal refused to settle, and won a penalty just outside the Life U 22 meter line. Electing to go for points, the kick, if successful, would tie the game with mere seconds on the clock. It wasn’t meant to be for Cal’s freshman fullback, as his kick sailed wide left. Life U had a 22-meter restart that pinned Cal back in their own half. Crucial defensive efforts saw a late turnover as Johnson picked up the ball and dove out of bounds. The final whistles sounded as the Running Eagles stormed the field in celebration, claiming their second consecutive title over Cal, 29-26.
For his efforts, Rees was named the MVP of the game.
The full story from D1A Rugby can be found here: Life Win 2019 D1A National Championship in a Thriller
The full story from FloRugby can be found here: Life Edges Cal in Thunderous D1A Final
Photos from the match can be viewed here: Men’s Rugby vs Cal (5.4.19 D1A National Championship) Gallery