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SIRC Championship Around the Corner

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SIRC Championship Around the Corner

Georgia is ready to go. Photo courtesy University of Georgia rugby.

The SIRC's seeding for the DII's Round of 16 will be determined by this weekend's set of playoff games between Georgia, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tulane, and Kennesaw State.

Saturday, UGA has a scheduled bout with UTC while Tulane faces off against Kennesaw State. The winners will play Sunday for the conference championship.

Tulane and Kennesaw State were both undefeated in the regular season and this game is hard to pick.

"All of the girls work incredibly hard and have put in lots of time to become the team that they are," said Tulane Head Coach Jessica Mallindine. "They are very excited that they have reached this point in their first season in a matrix when only two years ago they only had eight people. They work well together and are strong through individual understanding of their roles within the patterns that we have established. They play off each other strengths."

Tulane is led by Erica Makar, who has been basically perfect as a tackler at fullback. Maddie Brenner is a No. 8 who is tough to stop.

"Erica Makar is maybe not the most technical tackler, but she most certainly gets the job done and has stopped some critical linebreaks this season," said Mallindine. "Maddie has such an incredible presence on the field, really being a leader, and carries so incredibly hard with tactical understanding that you would never know that she is a freshman." 

Lily Wissinger is a solid flanker who has moved around from position to position, but always brings intensity and physicality.

So tylane has come a long way, but KSU, led by Lydia Wood's 57 points and a superb defense, will be a stern test.

Georgia's undefeated season puts them as a favorite in their match with Tennessee-Chattanooga. However, UGA isn't letting their record make them cocky.

"We haven't got to see [UTC] this year," Georgia Coach Rebecca Martin said. "But, we lost a game to them last year earlier in the season, and they just play what I would classify as hard-nosed Northern rugby. They are looking to feed it down your throat."

Even though it's been a year since Georgia last saw UTC, Martin is still focusing on interior defense with her team to prevent UTC's forwards from successfully crashing to the inside. Their practices and film studies have prepared them for Saturday and Saturday alone. A game against Tulane or Kennesaw State on Sunday will be the focus Saturday night.

"First things first, we need to defeat UTC, and they're a hell of a team," Martin said. "In my mind, there's no real difference between our #1 seed and their #4 seed. All four teams are solid teams so you have to prepare specifically for each one of them."

Along with preparation, all the teams are focusing on the recovery. Two 80 minute games in two days at a higher level of gameplay is a lot on the body, and for some teams entering the playoffs, they haven't experienced this test of physical and mental endurance.

"We'll have an extended cool down period, we'll ice bath," Martin said. "We''ll focus on our recovery manage protocols and procedures." 

But for now, each team will need to focus on making it successfully to Sunday for the chance to continue on to the National Round of 16.