The USA Rugby DII College Spring Championship was supposed to field three of four pools in the east for the first round of playoffs, but only eight teams committed. So two of the three eastern pools feature just one match, so we’re previewing the entire group together.
Up until a couple of days ago, Mid-America’s John Brown and Kansas State were supposed to contest a play-in match on Saturday and the victor was to play Tulane on Sunday. But John Brown withdrew from the competition, and now there will be one game on Sunday: Tulane vs. Kansas State.
The Green Wave is coming off a confidence-boosting SIRC title, one that gave senior leaders Gwen Leifer, Clare Sullivan and Carolina LaGow reason to believe the program will be in good shape not only during this post-season – with 14 of last year’s title-winning players now graduated – but in the future.
Both Tulane and Kansas State suffer from some geographic isolation and the lack of quality, local competition. But the latter really struggled for games this season, as K-State head coach Rachel Pate elaborated: Read more. That fact made the Mid-America final absolutely crucial in terms of preparation, and that is exactly what the 39-22 loss to John Brown did.
EAST CAROLINA X 2
Salisbury and UGA took byes through the Spring Round of 16 and will play each other in the spring quarterfinals on Saturday. The teams enter this post-season game under very different circumstances.
Salisbury dominated the Capital league in the fall, when the Maryland team was named champion. Coach Brock Brooks talks about how the disappointment of spring 2018 fueled the determination of fall 2018: Read this TRB-produced article for FloRugby. The team remained motivated through the winter but as always, the spring weather can hamper a proper build-up.
UGA on the other hand ramped up in the spring but the lack of consistent competition in the SIRC left gaps in the schedule. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs put in a solid performance during the league final four, and finished only 12 points shy of Tulane. Read more.
The other pool in Greenville, N.C., is a full four-team group. On Saturday, Capital runner-up George Washington will face Eckerd College, the Florida champion. GW captain Peyton Swift talked about a tight, young squad that is trying to ramp back up to the heights of the fall (read this TRB-produced article for FloRugby), while Sirens head coach Mike Geibel talked about the benefits from a DI/DII hybrid league in Florida. Eckerd managed to mix in some 7s as well and clinched a berth to the NSCRO national championship by winning Queens Cup (read more).
Eckerd has a little more momentum behind it but George Washington has the benefit of playing good competition in the fall and building from there.
The winner will play the winner of Coastal Carolina and William & Mary. The former won the Carolinas championship uncontested, as College of Charleston forfeited due to lack of numbers. When the teams met in the matrix season in February, Coastal Carolina won by one point. Head coach Chelsea Renoe reviewed the team. William & Mary finished third in the Capital conference and didn’t play a bunch of rugby this spring. The team ran out against NSCRO’s Catholic (29-28 loss).