Furman put a wrap on the team’s inaugural spring 7s season with a respectable third-place finish in the Southern Conference Championship 7s tournament April 26-27.
The Paladins completed the two-day tournament, hosted by UNC-Greensboro, with a 5-1 record and narrowly missed advancing to the finals by dropping a hard-fought match to UNC-W 21-19 in the semifinals. The Seahawks went on to defeat Coastal Carolina in the championship game.
The Paladins entered the tournament as the sixth seed. On the opening day, Furman defeated ECU 31-0, Elon 26-7 and the Citadel 45-12. On Sunday, the squad started slowly against the Citadel but rebounded in the second half with a 28-6 win.
After dropping a game to Wilmington the Paladins advanced to the consolation finals against host team UNC-Greensboro. Furman started slowly, falling behind 12-0 at halftime. After making a few adjustments at the break, the Paladin offense found some rhythm. The squad rattled off 24 unanswered points before surrendering a try in the final minute. The final score was 24-19.
Though senior Eric Dolan led the team in scoring, scoring was well balanced on the weekend. Nine of the ten members on the roster scored at least two trys. The roster included five freshmen, three juniors and two seniors.
Perhaps more than any other team, the Furman squad improved throughout the 7s season. In the first qualifier at the Citadel, Furman finished sixth out of a 12-team field. A month later at Appalachian State, the Paladins finished fourth out of an eight-team field.
“This was our first 7s season and half of the squad are freshmen,” said Furman Coach John Roberts. “It took us a while to figure out who should be playing where. But once we did, everything began to click and we found some rhythm. While we are disappointed that we narrowly missed the finals, I am proud of the progress we made.”
With the 7s season over, the Furman team closes the chapter on the 2013-14 rugby season, which saw the team record third-place conference finishes in both the fall (15s) and spring (7s) seasons. There are 12 conference teams.
The squad returns 13 starters next year along with a few talented players who joined the team in the spring and an impressive recruiting class that includes players from Indiana, New Jersey, New York City, England and Ohio.