Life West and Raleigh Meet Again for the Women’s Division I National Championship

Déjà vu ensues in the Women’s Division I championship game, as it is a rematch of last year’s, with the Life West Gladiatrix taking on the Raleigh Venom.

Glendale, CO.-Déjà vu ensues in the Women's Division I championship game, as it is a rematch of last year's, with the Life West Gladiatrix taking on the Raleigh Venom. Life West were last year's champion after triumphing 39-17, Raleigh has had revenge on their mind ever since, and on Saturday they'll finally have their shot.

The Women's Division I National Championship Match will be played at 5pm MDT on June 2nd at Infinity Park and will be available to watch via FloRugby

The Gladiatrix have been the toast of the town these past three years, as they are undefeated since 2015. According to their director of rugby, Adriaan Ferris this is down to the commitment of their players and coaches. "We have a group of committed players who work extremely hard on and off the field. We want players to drive their own development and challenge themselves to work hard on the areas of their game they need to improve" Ferris explained.   The excellent coaching staff that Life West has assembled has also played a large hand in their incredible run of form, Ferris noting, "We (the coaches) challenge the leadership group to be better leaders and we challenge the players individually and as a group. I guess we always ask the question 'Are we doing everything we can to be successful?'" Their continual hunger and reevaluation of their position and process is something that drives the team constantly.

At the beginning of the year the venom was missing some of their bite, and despite being one of the more dominant teams in the past years they struggled to separate themselves from strong regional competition. However, as the season progressed so too did the venom and they once again developed their lethal bite. The lessons they've learned early in the season have translated into their post season success nicely. According to the Venom's coach, Kameran Lee, "Venom has been tested this year through a number of tough games. We lost games in our fall season which put on the pressure throughout the playoff season. Being able to come away with a win against a team like Boston, who was fighting to come back in the final minutes, shows the resilience our team has when we come together." Raleigh's ability to be and remain resilient over the course of eighty minutes will be one of the major keys to determining who will win the championship.

Raleigh has a point to prove, as they search for redemption, but interestingly enough Life West, also feels as though they have a score to settle as. Life West, like they did not play to their full potential, and will look for an improved performance this year. "We are excited to play in the final. Raleigh were a tough team last year and we felt we didn't put in a performance in the final that matched how we played for most of the season last year. We will be aiming to play better than we did last year and focus on producing a better performance in the final," Ferris elaborated.

A year is a long time to wait for anything, but the Venom will be hoping that Saturday is worth the wait. As Lee put it, "It's definitely exciting and motivating to have an opportunity of redemption... knowing what it felt like to fly home disappointed is more motivation for a better result this year." The dissatisfaction that sat with them for a year and will undeniably be something pushing them forward on Saturday. They also have taken lessons from last year, and will be looking to build from their mistakes. Lee noting, "Getting an early lead won't be enough, that we have to keep the throttle down. We also have another year of experience under our belts of lessons learned and skills gained."

Come Saturday these two will know what to expect from one another, for the Gladiatrix they know that the Venom will be improved from last year, and be physical upfront. "It will be much harder this year as Raleigh they will be used to the atmosphere of a championship final. We need to make sure we are not complacent in our approach. Their power runners up front will need to be stopped and we will need to front up around the ruck," explained Ferris. For the Venom they know to expect a well drilled side that is stingy and will not give away. According to Lee their success will depend on their ability to hold on to the ball, "Phases. We have to be able to keep possession through 5-6 phases. We have done the stats and know we will score if we can keep the ball active through phases." For the Gladiatrix they will need to control the advantage line on defense if they are to repeat as champions.