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Small Schools Set for DIII College Finals

Wednesday Apr 22, 2009 in Grassroots Rugby Division III Colleges

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(Salve Regina celebrating their 21-20 quarterfinal win over Southern Conn.)

April 22, 2009 – The National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) will hold its DIII college national finals this weekend in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Hosted by South Jersey RFC, the event will see Longwood, Coastal Carolina, Oswego and Salve Regina face off for the title.

The NSCRO was formed to provide sanction of playoff competition for small schools. There is no USA Rugby DIII college championship, but the NSCRO holds championships for DIII men and women and DIV women. Co-founded by Stephen Cohen and Chip Auscavitch, the NSCRO holds its women’s championships in the fall, with Holy Cross winning DIV and Bryant taking DIII.

To get to the last four, Salve Regina won the New England Region after finishing 4-1 in regular season play. In the Round of 32 they edged Western Connecticut 29-21, and slipped by Plymouth State 19-17 in the Round of 16. It got even closer in the quarters, as Salve Regina beat Southern Connecticut 21-20. Three playoff wins by a total of 11 points.

Oswego won the New York State western title with a 6-0 record and beat Paul Smiths 30-0 in their opening playoff match. It got more difficult from there, with Oswego needing overtime to beat Clarkson 25-20. They then edged Fairmont (who also needed OT to make the quarters) 17-15 to make the semifinals.

Oswego and Salve Regina meet on Saturday.

Close games abounded in the other bracket as well. Longwood edged Virginia Tech’s C team 16-12 in the Round of 32, and Penn State-Berks 16-11 in the Round of 16. They then faced Widener in the quarters, winning 22-7.

Coastal Carolina made it to the Round of 16 with a forfeit win over Guilford. They took on South Champs Lee in the Round of 16, and won 12-5. Then they edged Furman 13-10 to make the semis.

Coastal Carolina plays Longwood on Saturday.

Of the 12 playoff games these teams needed to win to make it to Cherry Hill, one was a forfeit, and one sported a large winning margin (30 points). The remaining ten games averaged a winning margin of only 5.2 points. Take out the biggest of those wins (15 points) and the average winning margin is just over four. While this is a lesser-known championship of small schools, it is certainly highly competitive.

Plymouth State, Keene State, Southern Connecticut, Clarkson, Fairmont State, William Paterson, Furman, Elon, and Penn State-Berks could all count themselves a little unlucky not to be in the last four.

- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com

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