Providence, RI - Sacred Heart men’s rugby traveled to Providence, RI this past weekend to compete in the Beast of the East, the largest collegiate rugby tournament. The Xmen fell just short of the title, falling in the championship match to Plymouth State University. It was SHU’s best finish at the tournament since they won the championship in 2012.
Saturday, April 14th, SHU opened pool play with a matchup against Bentley University. Despite a slow start on the offensive side of the ball, SHU held Bentley just out of the try zone for the majority of the first half. SHU was up 7-0 when Bentley committed a penalty and junior Connor McCutcheon converted a kick for points to end the half. Bentley was finally able to score in the second half before SHU sealed the win with another try and conversion, winning by a score of 17-7.
In their second match of the day, SHU took on Westfield State University. The Xmen were strong on both sides of the ball, sticking tackles on defense and scoring 4 tries. SHU was led by junior Ryan Welby, who scored twice in the second game, bringing his total on the day to 4 scores. As in the first game, SHU held their opponent to one try, winning 26-5. The 2-0 finish in pool play put them in the championship bracket for the second day of competition.
Sunday, April 15th, the first quarterfinal match pitted SHU against UMass Amherst. In a hard hitting match on both sides, SHU again dominated on defense and kept UMass scoreless for the duration, moving on to the semifinal 15-0. The Xmen were looking forward to a rematch with Bentley University for a spot in the finals, but never got the chance when they received a forfeit to advance. The championship matched SHU with Plymouth State University, who took out defending champ Salve Regina in overtime in the other semifinal. SHU and Plymouth were neck and neck the majority of the first half, trading possession before Plymouth State was able to push the ball over the try line. Led by senior Jordan Velez, SHU maintained defensive pressure and went into halftime down only one score. Senior Ellis Badger was outstanding in his final game with the Xmen, shifting from fullback to scrumhalf during the second half to lead the offense. Plymouth put another 5 points on the board before junior Anthony Sarno made his way to the try zone. McCutcheon nailed another conversion to put SHU within 3 points. But a Plymouth State try on a questionable call sealed the game, with the Xmen taking home second place.
For full tournament results and information, visit http://beastoftheeast.net/