Furman Rugby Club competes for collegiate championship
The event, which took place at Fifth Third Stadium on the campus of Kennesaw State University May 14-15, was sanctioned by USA Rugby and its collegiate council as the official national collegiate championship weekend of the sport of rugby sevens in the United States. Rugby sevens is a variant of rugby with seven players a side playing two seven-minute halves, instead of the traditional matches of 15 players a side playing two 40-minute halves.
“All in all, we had an amazing experience, and the players were able to establish some lifelong memories,” said Mike Miller, the team’s head coach.
Competing in the Men’s Blue Division, the Paladins lost to the University of Memphis Tigers during the tournament semifinals Sunday afternoon. The University of Southern California Trojans were the Men’s Blue champions, defeating Memphis 29-7.
The Furman club was cheered on by roughly 40 people from what Miller called “the Dins Rugby Nation” – Furman rugby alumni and parents.
“Although we had a very strong season, this invitation is more than a reflection of that,” said Mike Miller, the team’s head coach. “Our invitation represents how well we have performed over the lifetime of our program and exemplifies how highly the rugby community values our sportsmanship.”
During the regular season, Furman reached the semifinals of two Southern Rugby Conference tournaments, losing narrowly both times. Over the past four full seasons between 2017 and 2021, the sevens team compiled a record of 78-31 for a winning percentage of 72% and has finished in second place in the Southern Rugby Conference three times, says Miller.
The tournament included 60 men’s and women’s teams from around the country across three divisions. The championship was broadcast live on NBC and CNBC on May 14 and 15 from 2 to 4 p.m., with additional coverage streamed on Peacock both days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The school’s rugby club has “the best team culture in any sport that I have played,” said Jack Hoffman ’24, a politics and international affairs major from Babylon, New York. “I’ve learned more about focus and effort in the past season that I have learned all throughout my athletic career.”
“None of this would be possible without the hard work, effort and commitment from everyone from 1998 to 2022 that pulled on the Furman jersey to compete,” said Miller. “We hope that all of our rugby alumni feel connected to this invitation.”