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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

South Carolina Defeats James Madison In Season Opener

Press Release

Columbia, SC - The University of South Carolina Men’s Rugby team suited up this past weekend in Columbia against a formidable team from James Madison University to kick off the fall 2015 season. Looking to claim their third straight Southeastern Rugby championship in as many seasons, the South Carolina Gamecocks played with the same championship enthusiasm we hope will continue throughout the season. Although the Gamecocks played with expectancy of a win, it would not come easily as the JMU Dukes were recently promoted to Division I after winning the Cardinal Conference 15’s Championship in 2013, as well as the USA Rugby College 7s DII National Championship in May.

The Gamecocks came out in mid-season form, showcasing their returning starters and their new class of freshmen that is 35 men strong. The Gamecocks lit up the scoreboard first off of a maul by senior Dana Corcoran. With little hesitation, the Gamecocks maintained the quick pace against JMU with senior Jared Magill touching down the second try for the Gamecocks shortly after the first. The Gamecocks finished out the half with continued pressure and several tries from Senior Michael Rudzinsky, Senior Mike Mahon, and Senior Luke Bolembach. Gamecocks were nearly perfect in the first half with the only blemish coming when a JMU player intercepted a pass and touched it down under the posts.

Take the jump to read more.

The Gamecocks entered the second half with the hopes of keeping up the pressure and working on the fundamentals, and the results were just that. The Gamecocks continued to run up the score with tries coming from junior Thomas Coar, sophomore Chris Harrell, senior Brian Keown, junior Sean Barnes, and Senior Ben Mather. James Madison kept their heads up and scored one last try before the whistle. The final score was South Carolina 62 – James Madison 14. Man of the Match honors were awarded to senior 8 man Mike Mahon from the Bronx, NY and senior scrumhalf Brian Keown from Newton Square, PA.

South Carolina’s second team came out with equal vigor and desire. Several freshmen showcased their talent against JMU’s reserves and put on a near perfect clinical performance all game. The finale score for the second match was 50-0. Man of the Match honors were awarded to sophomore 8 man Quintin Brinkley from Clemmons, NC and freshman flyhalf Jacob Powers from Alexandria, VA.

South Carolina’s Palmetto side traveled to Charleston to take on the Citadel reserves in their first match of the season as well. With points earned by sophomore Cameron Higginbotham, junior Ollie Harvey, and freshman Tyler Heasley, Carolina took the match with a final score of 15-7. Man of the Match honors were awarded to sophomore prop Cameron Higginbotham from Kailua, HI and junior center Ollie Harvey from Queensland, Australia.

"We should be happy with the results, though the number of mistakes and errors committed during the premier side match was very disappointing," said backline coach Steve Darnell. "The first match of the season can be stressful, for both the players and the coaches, as we reestablish our tempo and introduce new talent to the mix, so hopefully we're over the initial hump. There were several great moments from many players, with each score coming from a different player. The freshman back line in the reserve match had a strong showing and could certainly hold their own as starters on most teams. Overall, a good start with much work to do with this incredibly talented team."

Up next, South Carolina begins SCRC conference play on the road against the Bulldogs of the University of Georgia with an 8pm kickoff on Saturday, September 12th. A reserve match will follow directly afterwards. Carolina’s Palmetto side will remain in Columbia to host the local men’s team, Olde Grey, with an 8pm kickoff on Friday, September 11th on USC’s Strom Field. Admission is free to the public.

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