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From Bottom to Top, Auburn Wins SCRC DII

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From Bottom to Top, Auburn Wins SCRC DII

Yep, believe it, you won. Mitchell Carr photo.

 

Aside from the NCR DII college playoffs there was another important DII college game going on last weekend.

Auburn defeated Memphis 25-15 to win the SCRC DII and book a place in a championship clash with Rocky Mountain champs Montana State at the CRAA Championship weekend in Mathews, NC Dec 4.

For Auburn, this was a massive shift for a program that has struggled to be a top player in college rugby. After opening the season with a tie with Georgia Tech and a 12-7 loss to Memphis, the Tigers beat Ole Miss, won two forfeits, and then beat Georgia Tech 24-22 to make the final.

And so while this final was close, it wasn’t as close as most of their other games. Auburn started the game going through 10 phases, running forwards off their flyhalf to test the Memphis midfield defense.

This spread the Memphis defense to deal with the big runners wide from the breakdown, so Auburn then attacked tight around the weak side.

“We recognized when they weren’t covering the weak side well enough and switched the field on them,” said Auburn Head Coach Nick Prather. 

Reading where the space was did the job for the Auburn Tigers on attack. On defense, they suffocated the Memphis team.

“The only time they made forward progress was off penalties,” said Prather.

Auburn stole a large proportion of Memphis lineouts and that helped them control possession. Physical and intense in creating pressure defense, Auburn led the entire game and their attack worked the options well.

“Auburn was consistently last in the conference before COVID, and now we have won it,” said Prather. “We have a super young team with some good recruits potentially coming in.”

One that has committed already is Conestoga (Pa.) player Harris Langston who is an accomplished football player and wrestler as well as rugby player.

Prather played his college rugby at Kentucky and while several from that program have gone on to coach Prather is the first to win a conference championship. And he’s only 23.

 “It was a good team win,” said Prather. “Nobody stood out because everyone played so well. We definitely changed the program.”