Charlotte Women Win South, CGRU Clubs Show Well
May 07, 2018
This past weekend, the National Athletic Village in Southern Pines, North Carolina hosted the South XVs Championship. The two day event brought together the top Men's and Women's teams from throughout the Southern Competitive Region. Clubs from the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and True South Unions came together with the hopes of advancing to the USA Rugby Eastern Championship. All of the clubs from the Carolinas Geographic Rugby Union advanced to the championship matches, but unfortunately only Charlotte's Women advanced to the Eastern Championship where they'll take on Mid-Atlantic Champs Harrisburg.
Women's Division 2
The Women's division was the most closely contested of the brackets at the NAV with the semifinals and the championship being decided by a total of 12 points. In the semifinals, Charlotte edged the Knoxville Minx by a score of 24-21 and Fort Miami narrowly defeated the Atlanta Harlequins 23-21. The championship match was more of the same with Charlotte bringing home the title with a 19-12 win over Fort Miami. Led by Team Captain Amanda Watkins, Charlotte now sets their sights on the Eastern Championship in Columbus, Ohio in two weeks.
"The women have been very ambitious in setting their goals/targets and have been working very hard to match their preparation with said goals," said Charlotte Women's head coach Brad Richard. "They travelled to different GU's for competition, participating in additional off-season development, and entering premier tournaments like the DC Ruggerfest. We have too many players that have made immense progress as athletes to list them individually. As of now they are all contributing to the maximum of their individual capabilities and it is allowing our team to become greater than the sum of it's parts. They truly have embraced the process of improving themselves and contributing to the advancement of women's Rugby in this region."
Men's Division 2
The semifinals of Men's Division 2 produced the highest scoring match of the weekend when hosts Southern Pines rolled to a 71-12 victory over New Orleans. The Atlanta Renegades produced a 41-24 win over the Birmingham Vulcans to set up a rematch of the Carolinas D2 Championship which was won by Southern Pines. This time around it was the Renegades coming out on top as they stole a 30-29 victory with a last minute try. Atlanta advances to the Eastern Championship where they'll face off against the Mid-Atlantic Champions Doylestown Dragons.
"The club was pleased to be able to move up to D2 and become Carolina Union Champions," said Robert Bortins of Southern Pines. "The Carolina Union is one of the most competitive in the country and we look forward to next season playing with all our brothers from other clubs."
The loss ended the season for Southern Pines, whom reached the USA Rugby Round 16 in their first season in Division 2 after reaching the National Division 3 semifinals last season. Southern Pines was led by player/coach Zach Miller, fullback Shawn Riley and a great mixture of veterans and young players.
Men's Division 3
It was a clean sweep for the CGRU clubs in the semifinals as Asheville staved off a late rally by the Augusta Maddogs to win 44-38. In the other semifinal, the Palm Beach Panthers pulled away in a 46-12 win over the Montgomery Yellowhammers. The Division 3 Championship produced another barn burner with Palm Beach sneaking past Asheville by a score of 25-24. Palm Beach advances to the Eastern Championships where they take on Phoenixville White Horse in the Eastern Semifinal.
Celebrating their 35th year, Asheville produced one of their best seasons in club history. Head coach Frank Holly, who was in his second full season at the helm, oversaw a squad that steadily improved as the season progressed. Holly introduced a cohesive structure to the team play and instilled a physical intensity to the squad. The team, led by Captain David Ellis, responded to the new methods and developed a strong bond. Asheville's uncle/nephew center pairing of Brian and Payton Marshall produced a dynamic combination.
"There are a few reasons that Asheville Rugby was successful this year," said Holly. "The players developed an incredible bond early in the season, they worked for each other on and off the field and really showed the true values of a rugby club in their attitude towards the teams success. The players bought into a game plan that was started last season and slowly developed. This season it started to click which frustrated the opposition teams and allowed us to use all 23 players on a match day roster with really no drop off in performance. Overall it was the belief in each other and the huge courage and heart to put their bodies on the line that was the reason between success and failure."
The completion of the South Championship officially closes the books on the XVs season in the Carolinas. The Carolinas Geographic Rugby Union would like to thank all of the clubs, players, coaches, administrators, and volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the sport of rugby.