By Tom Crosby
Deep South 2008 Division Champions
Boys High School: Co-Louisiana State Champs and South Regional Champs – Jesuit (multi-school) and Rummel (single school)
The state high school tournament on April 26th ended early as heavy rain with lightning began 3 minutes into the 3rd-4th place play-off match between Shaw and Brother Martin. Jesuit and Rummel agreed to cancel the final. There was no official declaration of a state champion. Jesuit had had a perfect season. Brother Martin defeated Shaw in the play-off 29-5. The following were the team coaches: Jesuit – Robert Markel, Rummel – Trip McCormick and Kevin Kern, Brother Martin – Gary Giepert, Shaw-Tim Falcon.
Louisiana sent three teams to the USA Rugby South Regional Tournament hosted by Middle Tennessee State University in Murphreesboro, Tennessee, held on May 3rd and 4th. Jesuit went as the Louisiana representative team to the multi-school division. This was Jesuit’s choice because travel arrangements made it difficult to get to the tournament for the earlier match times of the single school bracket. Rummel was the number one seed in the single school division of the tournament based on Jesuit winning and Rummel coming in second in the tournament last year. Rummel captured the single school South Regional Tournament by defeating an enormous side from Gilbert High School, South Carolina. The final score was 17-15. To get to the final Rummel defeated Ravenwood of Nashville (17-10) and Brentwood of Murphressboro (7-0). Jesuit defeated a multi-school side from Atlanta (17-15) called the Trojans. They were a large side coached by South Africans with several South African players. To get to the final Jesuit defeated a side from Knoxville by several tries and a close come from behind win (14-12) over a Chapel Hill side with New Zealand coaches. The story goes that the Kiwi and South African coaches were asking Jesuit parents where Markel was from – to which Markel asked them to reply, “ A country for old men.”
The National Tournament was the weekend of May 30-June 1st. Both Rummel and Jesuit competed for national titles. Rummell in the single school division and Jesuit in the multi-school U-19 club division.
Raiders lost their first match to the Notre Dame de La Salette Lions by a score of 31-0.
The Lions went on to the final match, losing to the Jesuit Marauders (Sacramento, California) 22-5. Rummell lost their second match 74-0 versus Xavier (New York) and their last match, a hard fought battle against St. Joe’s Prep (Philadelphia), by a score of 12-8 to finish 8th out of the 8 schools in their division.
The Blue Jays lost their first match (a valiant battle) against the defending tournament champion, Highland Rugby Club (Utah) by a score of 41-7. The Blue Jays withered in their second match losing to the LA Cougars (California) 25-0 and then lost a very exciting match 21-20 against Union County (New Jersey) to finish 8th in the division.
College / University
Men’s Collegiate Division III Champs: Univeristy of Louisiana Lafayette
University of Louisiana Lafayette Men’ Rugby were arguably one try away from being the national champions. University of Louisiana Lafayette Men’s Rugby and Coach LeJeune made it to the USA Rugby South Collegiate Championship Finals against Furman University. After a Furman 7-5 lead through the first half and 12 – 5 lead into the second half, ULL pulled back to tie the match at 12 -12 with 1 minutes left. However, in the last 10 minutes Furman scored the match-winning try leaving the final score 19 – 12.
The win over ULL allowed Furman (15-3-1 overall, 7-0-1 spring) to advances to the national National DIII Championship Tournament, held April 26-27 in Hamilton, New York. Furman has collected five Rugby South Championships and three National Championships during the past six years since Division 3 was established. In 2007, the Furman Paladins fell one point short in national finals with a 11-10 loss to Bentley (Boston). Their first game of the tournament was a semi-final match vs. Widener from the East Penn RU. In a fast paced, hard hitting match Furman triumphed 31-20. Furman lost the final to Plymouth State (PRU) by one try – 22-17.
Coach Boyd Lejeune’s comments:
Hey there, we will be losing 2 starting locks and 1 substitute back, so I think that we should be ready for another run. I am lucky to have such a great group of young men. Our concept is to develop a tight family atmosphere that strengthens us through any ordeal that comes our way. We are able to throw around ideas and everyone contributes to the team’s success. Since the boys have invested so much time and effort, I am able to guide them to attain what we set out to do. Everyone knows that each person is important to the team, there are no cliques or attitudes. If you start this match, you are no more better than another chap who has shown up for every practice and put his blood and sweat on the line for his teammates and coach Bill and myself. I sometimes wish we had the numbers of say an LSU, but God has given me a tight group of 18 guys that have made the university, the fans, and coaches very proud.
Men’s Collegiate Division 1 Champs – LSU??
Technically LSU plays in the Texas Union, but certainly there is an argument that they are spiritually a Deep South Side. There are currently no other Division 1 sides in the Deep South Union. Ranked as high as number 7 in the country, LSU consistently played exceptional rugby all year. LSU’s record was 17 wins and 1 loss, including beating a very good Tennessee team to win the SEC Championships and winning the Texas Rugby Union Division 1 championships. The LSU Rugby Club lost to the University of Colorado 37 –21 at the Western Collegiate Championships held in Fort Worth. LSU had an 11-point lead with 15 minutes to go but a very strong Colorado team battled back and won. LSU had too many penalties, and some crucial mistakes let the Buffalos back in the match. Colorado went on to win the tournament on Sunday beating the Air Force Academy 27-20. LSU beat the University of Nebraska in the third place match 20-7. LSU ended up with a #17 ranking by American Rugby News. (University of Tennessee ended up ranked #12 even though they were beaten by LSU in the SEC Tournament.)
Colorado lost 42-13 to Brigham Young University in the semi-final. For the 3rd consecutive time in the final BYU faced UC-Berkeley. Berkeley captured their 24th national title by defeating the Cougars by a score of 59-7.
LSU Coach Scott McLean comments: We had solid wins this season against Shreveport Rugby Club, Baton Rouge Rugby Club, Old White Rugby Club, University of Florida Rugby Club, University of Tennessee Rugby Club, Texas A and M (finally !), Sam Houston, University of Texas, and University of Nebraska.
The program continues to get better and should be “reloading” with talent as more high school programs develop and student athletes are coming to LSU to get their education and be part of a great rugby program.
LSU 2007-2008 Coaches: Scott McLean, Mike Moore, John Staub, Bob Causey.
Men’s Division II Champs: The New Orleans Rugby Football Club
The NORFC posted an undefeated season defeating main rival Memphis both at home and away to give New Orleans home field advantage for the South regional play-off with the Atlanta Renegades division II side. New Orleans easily handled the Atlanta side and at the South division II championships in Jacksonville lost their first match 22-8 to Charleston. Augusta fell to the NORFC in their second match (30-11) giving New Orleans a place at the national playoffs in Austin on May 17th. New Orleans was seeded #13 and faced #4 seed Tulsa (the #1 team from the West). Tulsa jumped out to a big lead in the first half and held on to it through the second half to end a great NORFC season.
Tulsa fell to Detroit by a score of 47-14 after getting behind 37-0 by half. Detroit lost to Brandywine who went into the final as the top seed, but ended up losing to Red Mountain 41-18. Detroit, also, lost the consolation match to Wisconsin 24-16 to end up in 4th place.
NORFC Coach: Jerry Malina
Comments from Deep South Rugby Union President, Charles Dube:
Because several of the Deep South brackets contain teams from Georgia and Mid-South LAU’s we only had two outright Deep South LAU winners. ULL won the Men’s Collegiate Div III and New Orleans won the Senior Men’s Div II.
One could argue that because Pensacola was 2nd in their bracket that they would be the Div III Senior Men’s winner, but without having them play Birmingham that may be a stretch. Deep South only has two Div II collegiate sides in Bama and Ole Miss. Bama did beat Ole Miss in regular matrix play, but I believe that Ole Miss may have finished higher in the matrix bracket. Certainly doesn’t look impressive that we have all of these mixed brackets in the Deep South. In a regular season if everything goes against the Deep South teams we would only have the Div III collegiate winner as the sole representative from the Deep South at any playoff level.
On a side note I have to give props to MSU who were 2nd in the Div III collegiate bracket and DID travel to Lee University in Tennessee when Tenn Tech did not travel down to play ULL in the 1st round of the playoffs!