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And Then There Were Four

Furman defeated Sacred Heart 68-31 and North Carolina State 41-19 to win USA Rugby’s Division II South Regional this past weekend and punched its ticket to the Final Four.

In so doing, the Paladins paired a fast-paced and versatile offense with a solid defense in putting together two comprehensive victories. In Saturday’s game, The Paladins led 40-7 at halftime. Against the Wolfpack, Furman led 35-7 with 25 minutes remaining.

“Our defense was extremely strong when the games were in doubt,” said Furman coach John Roberts. “Our offensive attack clicked, too. While our penalty count for both days was high, I felt we put together our best overall game against N.C. State in the finals.”

Furman joins University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of Minnesota-Duluth and Norwich University (Vermont) in the Final Four which will be hosted by Furman Dec. 3-4. The Paladins (12-0) will face Duluth, the three-time defending champions, in the semi-finals.

In all, 12 teams will participate in the USA Rugby Tournament of Champions event as fall champions will be crowned for Women’s DI, DII and Men’s DIAA.

Furman captured Div. III national championships in 2003, 2004, 2005 and finished runner up in 2007 and 2008. The Paladins moved up to Div. II in 2010. Should Furman claim the DII title, they would be the first program to capture both Div. III and Div. II national championships. Founded in 1998, the program has compiled a 187-60-2 record in 15s.

Furman has outscored its opponents 634 to 130 this fall and has limited its opponent to 10 points per game while racking up an average of 51 points.

Lock RJ Bradley and 8-man and captain Patrick Musau sat out Sunday’s regional final with foot injuries. Both should be healthy for the Final Four, said Roberts.

“Our goal this year has been to make the Final Four and to play our best rugby in that event,” said Roberts. “All of the teams in the final four are extremely good, and the games will be excellent. Playing on our home turf, we are going to be a tough out. So our chances are just as good as the others.”



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