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NSCRO National Round of 16

  • 02 Nov 2018
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Endicott’s into the Colonial Coast final / Photo: Endicott Women’s Rugby

The National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) will begin its national playoffs on Nov. 10-11, and the 16 teams competing will be finalized this weekend as conferences wrap up their respective league seasons. On Dec. 1-2, the final four will convene at Life University in Marietta, Ga.

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“This year’s special. Although we’ve done it the last couple of years in 7s, this is the first time on the women’s side that the 15s national championship has covered coast to coast,” NSCRO commissioner Bryn Chivers pointed to the inclusion of California’s Gold Coast conference. “I’m excited for teams like Mira Costa and Northern Michigan making their first playoff appearances, and I think it’ll be an interesting one. There are a lot of unknowns this year, so you don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

Chivers is NSCRO’s best asset – knowledgeable and communicative, and the results are felt in the post-season, all-star tournament, select side program and just general conversations about the state of rugby. It’s also why, when walking through the NSCRO Round of 16, he not only rattles off the teams vying for berths but can also comment on their seasons. 

“I think Darrin Barner is fielding three players who started in last year’s national final, so he’s had a big rebuild,” Chivers said of defending national champion Wayne State College, which is hosting the WEST pool. “But I’ve seen them play several times [this fall] and I was impressed with how good they looked with that many brand-new players.”

Last year’s MVP Leanna Rosberg has graduated, as has Kelsey Stutzman, but look for Anna Fleecs to lead, as well as a new scrumhalf with a good boot and an Australian recruit who injects good physicality.

On the other side of the western pool, Mira Costa Community College will play the Rocky Mountain winner between Colorado College and Western State.

“I talked to the Mira Costa coach the other day: Dress warmly,” Chivers advised. “If you’ve never been to Nebraska during the second week of November, a tank top won’t cut it.”

The CENTRAL regional playoffs endured a last-minute location change, but Chivers’ was on the case all day Monday and the Findlay RFC men’s club stepped up with their home pitch. The Ohio Valley seed is down to first-year Wooster and Denison, and depends on Wooster’s result against Tiffin this weekend. The victor will play Upstate New York’s runner-up, and that seed will be determined this weekend between Oswego and Colgate. The conference is the only one to receive two seeds due to its sheer size – 14 teams in NSCRO-only pools and another four in DII hybrid leagues.

On the other side of the bracket are Allegheny’s California University of Pennsylvania and Northern Lights champ UM Moorhead.

“Moorhead struggled with numbers last year, but had they been able to travel with 20, they would have been a really strong team,” Chivers said. “I watched they play teams 11 vs. 15 last year and they still dominated possession, but once the ball moved wide they obviously got beat. But they were running teams off their legs, and this year they are healthy for numbers, traveling well and putting up points.”

Moorhead won the Minnesota seed by a combined 167 points during the final four weekend.

On the opposite side of the national bracket,  Schenectady, N.Y., will host the Northeast pool, and York, Pa., will host the Mid-Atlantic pool. 

In the NORTHEAST, Fordham University will represent Tri-State as the highest-ranking small school in the conference (champ Montclair State is a large-enrollment school), and face Upstate New York champion Rochester. Niagara forfeited its semifinal berth so the playoffs had to be reworked.

Colonial Coast and Rugby Northeast will supply the other Northeast Round of 16 match. The former held its semifinals last weekend and saw Endicott hold onto a 26-25 win over UMass Dartmouth, while Salve Regina shut out Wentworth 78-0. The two contest the league championship Saturday for the regional berth.

The Rugby Northeast names its rep via league standings, and it’s down to Franklin Pierce (3-1) and Bentley (4-1). Franklin Pierce beat Bentley 45-17 during the season, but kept it interesting with a 10-5 loss to Middlebury. If Franklin Pierce beats Southern Connecticut, then it will head to playoffs. If not, then Bentley advances.

The Carolinas fielded an NSCRO conference this year and sent a big, strong Citadel squad to Lee University for a play-in match. In the end, rugby know-how won on the day and the Tennessee squad will once again represent the South at the MID-ATLANTIC regionals. Lee will face the East Penn champ, which will be decided this weekend between Albright and Widener.

Both the Mid-Atlantic and Capital conferences will name their champions this weekend, and they’ll face each other in the Round of 16. Catholic and Longwood do battle in Capital, while York College and Scranton vie for top honors in Mid-Atlantic.

For more information, visit www.nscro.org

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