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Gamecocks Win 1st SEC 7s Tournament

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Gamecocks Win 1st SEC 7s Tournament

Tim Hamill in action for USC. Photo courtesy U. South Carolina Rugby.

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks have won the first 7s tournament in the SCRC Conference, defeating Alabama in the final.

In Pool A, Alabama finished 1st with wins over Ole Miss (19-5) and Alabama-Birmingham (33-5). Ole Miss defeated UAB to finish 2nd at 1-1. In Pool B, Mississippi State won the pool with Auburn 2nd and Georgia’s 2nd side 3rd.

South Carolina won Pool C with wins over Florida and Tennessee II. Tennessee II won surprisingly convincingly 27-7 over Florida to take 2nd. Tennessee’s 1st team had much more trouble, losing to USC’s 2nd side 19-0 and tying Georgia 12-12. Georgia ended up taking 2nd.

So the quarterfinals were set: Alabama v Georgia, Tennessee II v Mississippi State, USC II v Auburn, and USC v Ole Miss.

Here are the scores:

Alabama 41 Georgia 0

Mississippi State 12 Tennessee II 0

USC II over Auburn (score unconfirmed)

USC 19 Ole Miss 12.

The losing teams went on to the Plate semifinals, where Auburn defeated Ole Miss 31-19, and Tennessee II beat Georgia 27-5. That set up the Plate Final (5th place), with Auburn winning 24-5.

In the Cup semis, USC beat Mississippi State and Alabama dispatch USC II. But it was one too many games for Alabama in the last home effort for their seniors, as the Gamecocks won the final to take the 1st of the series.

“We feel good about the program we have,” said Gamecocks 7s Coach Steve Darnell, who has to be happy with how well his 2nd team did. “We feel we have a lot more depth than last year. We’ve added a bit of size and some of the freshmen have helped there. When we play well we can dictate the pace of the game. We can play fast, and when we need to slow the game down, we can do that, but we also have the pace and fitness level to play catchup.”

Among those freshmen, Nick Skalka and Brandon Holmes have provided a nice combination of power and skill.

Darnell said the plan for the Gamecocks is to double-up and field a team in both the USA Rugby 7s nationals and the CRC - should they qualify. Based on Saturday’s effort, they should be able to do that if they can afford it.

The SEC teams will meet again next week in Knoxville, Tenn. for the second tournament in the preliminary series. The points from the two tournaments will determine the seeding for the championship event in Columbia, SC on April 16.

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