UVA and James Madison will play each other in Atlanta. /// Photo courtesy Virginia Women’s Rugby
To preface, USA Rugby has not released the seeds and berths to the public, but the following information has been gleaned from regional tournament hosts.
With the conclusion of the Mason Dixon conference championship and the final Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference (PMRC) crossover played, the DI spring Round of 8 is set.
As previously mentioned, the Mason Dixon final four actually included five teams. South #3 Virginia Tech challenged North #2 Pittsburgh for its berth to the semifinals, and since the teams couldn’t coordinate the match earlier in the season, it occurred Saturday morning. Pittsburgh owned the first half scoring 24 points. Virginia Tech rebounded in the second and matched the 24 points to end regulation in a tie. The first overtime period elapsed with no change, and then Virginia Tech senior Emily Lessner broke free for a game-winning try, 31-24, and berth to the conference semifinal against UVA later that afternoon.
But that 100-minute game took a toll on Virginia Tech, and the teams and referee agreed to a mercy rule if needed. The first half produced 72 points for UVA, and the game was called approximately 10 minutes into the second half with UVA as winner.
Meanwhile, UNC pulled away in the second half against James Madison for a 47-5 semifinal win. The North #1 team kept it close after 40 minutes, trailing only 14-5, but then an explosive offensive output from Tanya Houston saw the front row cross for multiple tries and put the game out of reach.
UVA and UNC had booked their spots to the spring Round of 16 by advancing to the final, which was a rematch of last weekend’s league-ending game. UVA beat the Tar Heels 52-17 last Saturday and followed with a 39-5 conference title win today.
But the real game of interest was for third place, as the conference is sending three teams to Atlanta next weekend. After 150 minutes of play Saturday, Virginia Tech faced James Madison in the third-place match and took a three-try lead. James Madison surged in the second 40, and for the second time that weekend, a playoff game went into overtime tied at 24. But this time it was JMU with the late-game energy and another two tries for the 38-29 win.
Atlanta hosts the east half of the DI spring Round of 8 and welcomes three Mason Dixon teams and one Florida team. Central Florida won the five-team Florida league and beat out Florida International, which was also 7-1 but failed to score a bonus point in its loss to UCF, by one point in the standings. The match-ups:
Saturday, April 9 (times in Eastern)
9 a.m. Central Florida (Florida #1) vs. North Carolina (Mason Dixon #2)
11 a.m. UVA (Mason Dixon #1) vs. James Madison (Mason Dixon #3)
Sunday, April 10
9 a.m. Consolation
11 a.m. Final
Victor moves onto the spring championship on May 7 in Moraga, Calif.
The PMRC was waiting on the Washington State vs. UCLA game to solidify the west portion of spring Round of 16. The Cougars defeated the Bruins 55-5 to keep its post-season alive (stay tuned for a full match report):
Saturday, April 9 (times in Pacific)
1 p.m. UC San Diego (PMRC South #1) vs. Chico State (PMRC West #2)
3 p.m. UC Davis (PMRC West #1) vs. Washington State (PMRC North #1)
Sunday, April 10
1 p.m. Third place
3 p.m. Final
Again, winner moves onto the spring championship against the eastern champ at St. Mary’s May 7.