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Florida Rugby Union’s 2013-2014 Season ends with some surprises

The Miami Rugby Football Club won this years Florida Rugby Union 2013-2014 Division II Championship.
The Miami Rugby Football Club won this years Florida Rugby Union 2013-2014 Division II Championship.
Miami RFC, Rugby in Florida

Had any one said last October that the Miami Rugby Football Club (RFC) would finish the then upcoming Division II (D-II) 2013 to 2014 Rugby Season at the top of the Florida Rugby Union (FRU); most ruggers would consider you having taken on one concussion too many. However, the Miami RFC, who finished the 2012 through 2013 season without a win, improved to a nine win and one loss record for the 2013 through 2014 season.

Division II Rugby wrap-up for 2013-2014 season

Miami’s only loss was at the hands of the Tampa Bay Krewe RFC on Saturday, March 1, on the Krewe’s home pitch at Cuscaden Park. Miami met the Krewe again in early April as the playoffs began, and narrowly defeated the team from Tampa 20 to 14. Miami went on to defeat the Fort Lauderdale Knights RFC, Florida’s runners-up, 37 to 10 to on April 12 to earn the FRU’s only D-II place in the South Championship’s Elite Eight, which will take place in May 3nd 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

The Tampa Bay Krewe and the Boca Raton Buccaneers RFC, who perennially finish in the Top Four teams in Florida and make a run in the playoffs, did not disappoint their fans through most of the regular rugby season. However, neither team advanced beyond Florida – a goal the Krewe and new head coach Dan Slagle had set after serving a one-year probation handed to the club by USA Rugby South. The sanctions were set for the Krewe because the demoted itself back to D-II level after being forced by USA Rugby South to compete at D-I in 2011-2012.

Few in the Krewe viewed this move to D-I as a feasible obligation, and agreed to take the penalty, limiting the club to compete only within Florida in 2012-2013. In March 2013, the Krewe upset the Naples Hammerheads to win the FRU Championship, but sanctions placed upon the team prevented Tampa Bay from moving onto South Championship.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Griffins and Naples Hammerheads normally strong contenders in the FRU, suffered through unexpectedly disappointing 2013-2014 season. The Griffins finished with four wins and six losses, while the Hammerheads finished a game behind Orlando with three wins and seven losses.

Division III rugby season summarized by Examiner

One of the biggest surprises in Division III (D-III) Rugby for the 2013 – 2014 Season was the downfall of the Treasure Coast Pirates. After finishing a strong Sevens season through the summer, the club could not come together for the regular season, and wound up playing no games at all once Fifteens kicked off in the Fall. Hopefully, the Pirates will reorganize, and return to action in time for the 2014 – 2015 season.

Also, the Bay Area Pelicans out of St. Petersburg dropped from D-II to D-III for the 2013 – 2014 Season, which prevented any match-up against the clubs rivals from the other side of Tampa Bay, the Krewe. However, the drop in level of competition did little to help the club, as the Pelicans only win was against the up-and-coming Indian River Raptors, who went winless this season. However, this is only the second season for the Raptors, so the club will continue to build in the coming years.

The Gainesville Hogs and the Sarasota Surge (a new name and a new coach, Dai Morgan), turned out to be the D-III powerhouses for the 2013 – 2014 FRU Season. Gainesville only lost one match in the regular season, which was at the hands of the Surge. Meanwhile, Sarasota remained perfect through the entire regular season.

However, when Gainesville and Sarasota played for the D-III FRU Championship, the Hogs went on to upset the favored Surge by a final score of 20 to 16. With this win, the Gainesville Hogs will represent the FRU at the Division III level May 3 and 4 in Charlotte, N.C.

Like the D-II Tampa Bay Krewe, league forced the Gainesville Hogs to sit out any post-season play outside the state of Florida in the 2012-2013 Rugby Season. After the Hogs had won the D-III title two years in a row, USA Rugby South pushed Gainesville to advance to D-II. The club knew it could not maintain the structure to compete at D-II, and chose one year of sanctions over the forced and unwanted promotion.

Miami and Gainesville travel to Charlotte this weekend

The Miami RFC, the FRU’s D-II Champions, and the Gainesville Hogs RFC, the FRU’s D-III Champions, are preparing to play for each division’s South Championship on May 3 and 4 in Charlotte, N.C. The Sweet Sixteen Tournament, once again includes four teams from the South. However, unlike in previous years, only the top team from the South will advance, instead of the top two clubs. The Tampa Bay Rugby Examiner will publish the results from these matches as they are played over the weekend in Charlotte.

Links to more rugby information across Florida

For more information on rugby across Florida, please visit the website and Facebook page for Rugby in Florida. Also, please visit the website and Facebook page for the Florida Rugby Union. To find out more about rugby across America and around the world, please check out the website and Facebook page for Rugby Magazine.