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Furman Ranked #1. Here's Why

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Furman Ranked #1. Here's Why

Pat Conley takes it forward for Furman. Buster Kennett photo.

Furman is ranked #1 in the latest GRR Men's D2 College Rankings and there's a good reason for that.

The Paladins have started strong and accomplished one of the things the rankings look for—beating a competitive team in a convincing manner. This past weekend's 48-10 result over Appalachian State is the latest example.

Head Coach Mike Miller says he sees similarities between this year's Furman team and the 2016 team that finished 2nd in the national championship. This year's team, however, is perhaps superior defensively.

"Our defensive structure feels a little stronger to me," said Miller.

Men D2 College Rankings 2021 Week 4

The Furman forwards have started the season well with some American high school products leading the way. Junior flanker Pat Conley, who played his high school rugby at Staples in Connecticut, and freshman prop Keaton Anderson (Greenville in South Carolina) have been especially effective on defense.

And this week former Life University All American and current Rugby ATL player Alex Maughan visited the Furman training to run them through some pretty grueling sessions. The front-rower worked closely with the forwards, and that kind of help will likely pay off down the road.

Senior flyhalf Ollie Kennett has led the attack nicely, sets up tries for his teammates, and has logged 24 points from the boot in two games.

It's all looking pretty good so far, but more tests remain.

"We are having a lot of fun, the team plays for each other, and we will have good structure," said Miller. "The good news is that we won't have to wait long to figure out where we stand locally in the SRC. We have big matches against Belmont Abbey and UNCC coming up around the corner. "

Speaking off the rest of the Southern Rugby Conference, UNC Charlotte and UNC Chapel Hill both logged impressive wins over the weekend. Charlotte defeated Lander 32-5 and Chapel Hill slammed Coastal Carolina 60-5. Meanwhile, East Carolina edged UNC-Wilmington 17-15. Belmont Abbey, which beat UNC-Charlotte 10-7 the week before, was idle. Ctiadel played a nonconference game against South Carolina, and lost.

So Furman sits at 2-0 in the SRC Premier West, while UNC Chapel Hill is 2-0 in the East.