Furman to host UNCC in SRC finals
Furman defeated Coastal Carolina 47-0 Saturday and will host UNC-Charlotte 1 pm., Sunday in the Southern Rugby Conference Final.
The Paladins defeated the Forty-niners 13-5 to hand UNCC their only loss Oct. 6. The Forty-niners advanced to the finals by knocking off defending SRC Champion UNC-Wilmington 48-17 in Wilmington. Since the conference was founded in 2011, UNCW has won the fall 15s championship every year except 2014 when Furman took the honors.
As the highest remaining seed, Furman earned the right to host the finals. Although both teams have earned a spot in the USA DII play-offs, Sunday’s contest is critical for positioning. The winner gets a week off and qualifies for the Southern Regional, which will be hosted Nov. 19-20 by Furman. The loser must defeat the number two seed from the Cardinal Conference (VMI or NC State) in a play-in game next weekend to advance to the Mid-Atlantic Regional to be held in Pittsburg.
The USA Rugby Div. II Final Four will be hosted by Furman December 3-4. The university has hosted the finals since 2013.
“We have never made the final four, but we’ve watched it for three years,” said Furman Coach John Roberts. “We are extremely fortunate. The table is set for us. If we keep winning at home, we keep advancing.”
Roberts said the goal throughout the season has been to reach the Final Four. That pathway will be easier with a win over UNCC.
“We don’t want to have to win a play-in game and travel the Pittsburgh,” he said.
Roberts said UNCC is a very physical, athletic and hard-hitting side.
“They are very well coached and they come right at you with their size and their athleticism. They are very, very strong defensively.”
To win the game, Roberts said the Paladins must continue to play good defense (Furman has limited league opponents to just 41 points or 6.8 points per game) and keep the ball moving against a less experienced but hard-nosed squad.
“We just need to play our game,” said Roberts. “If we do that we should be fine. But if we get mired down in a slow-moving slugfest, we’ll be in for a fight.”