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Undefeated and Undeterred: The Furman Rugby Team Sets Eyes on Conference Title

By Lane Fahey

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As the regular season comes to a close an undefeated men’s rugby team is looking to make its mark on the playoffs.

Furman’s club rugby team is in the Southern Rugby Conference. This conference consists of 12 Division II teams separated by the west and east divisions. Furman is in the Western Division, along with schools like Elon, UNCC and Wake Forest.

The top two teams in each conference advance to the conference final four. The number one seed plays the number four and the number two plays the number three. The winner of those games will advance to the conference championship game. Furman will be the number one seed entering the playoffs and the conference semifinals.

“To get to the finals and to win in the playoffs you not only have to be good but you have to be lucky. I know we’re good. It’s probably going to require maybe a little luck too, but if you’re good you can make your own luck,” said Head Coach John Roberts.

Currently, the Dins are undefeated as they embark on the playoffs. However, being undefeated does not change their mindset.

“We’re not motivated by going undefeated. We’re just motivated by continuing to play,” Roberts said.

Sophomore John Williams agrees with this mindset.

“It’s just another business trip. We’re looking just to win and we’re not overthinking anybody,” Williams said.

As the men’s rugby team closes their regular season, they look on to the playoffs, and a championship. An undefeated season will help Paladin’s team gain home field advantage come playoffs.The pressure of going undefeated turned into motivation for the Paladins.

“I think if anything, it encourages us to do better. The more games we win the more home games we get in the long run,” Adam Miller said.

An important key for the team has been unity as a whole instead of focusing on individual play.

“It’s such a team oriented game. I’d say as a whole our pack is really strong, we’re really fit in the pack so we’re able to get to the ball quick when there’s breakdowns and when there’s rucks that are being formed,” Williams said.

Despite the success the Dins have had so far, there is still room for improvement. One area that has caused some trouble is penalties.

“Right now we have had some games where we’ve committed a lot of penalties. Every referee is different in calls at different games. So many of the penalties in rugby are subjective,” Roberts said. “So what we need to do a better job of doing is understanding that, and learning how to read the ref and interpret the ref quicker and to be more disciplined particularly on defense to come down on the penalties.”

Even with minor setbacks, the men’s rugby team strives for the best possible outcome in the playoffs. A home advantage can also help this team surge through and get far in the postseason.

“We play at home, and keep playing at home until somebody beats us on our field. That’s hard to do because no one’s done it this year, and it’s only happened just a couple times over the last three years or so when we’ve lost a home game,” Roberts said.

The conference semifinals take place Oct. 29 as the Paladins will take on University of North Carolina Charlotte. Earlier this season the Paladins defeated the UNC Charlotte 49ers 13-5 giving the 49ers their lone loss of the season. If the Paladins can get that victory they will play in the conference finals Nov. 5.

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