Planning their return to the title game this year, defending Division II National Champion, Rocky Gorge Rugby Football Club, from Laurel, Md., looks to build on a successful regular season by testing their mettle versus a series of DI opponents.
After going 7-1 in Division II South of the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU), Rocky Gorge is setting up for a playoff run with a team relatively unchanged from last season.
In the first Division I match of the spring, Rocky Gorge traveled to play the Raleigh Vipers on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. A tough game saw Rocky Gorge prevail 24-22. With tries by Will Miller, Kevin Jackson, Jamel Murray, and Chase Lawrence, Rocky Gorge was able to secure the victory. Additionally, Rocky Gorge showed off their depth by winning their B-Side match 44-5.
A week later, a well-organized Rocky Gorge executed a structured game plan against a feisty NOVA Rugby Club at home. Using fast rucks and hard hits, Rocky Gorge shut out NOVA 20-0. NOVA was under pressure for most of the game.
Dustin Meehan, Will Miller, and Derek Chell scored tries for Rocky Gorge and Billy Trentzsch capped off the victory with a penalty kick in the 55th minute.
“We had a solid day,” said Rocky Gorge Head Coach Chuck Moore. “NOVA was really good at tying up the ball in the ruck area and breakdowns. We adjusted in the second half and opened it up a little more. It was a battle out there.”
NOVA Head Coach Mike Sohdi added that Rocky Gorge “played well as a unit in the pack and their back line was well drilled.”
As in the first game, the B-Side won their match 58-12. Rounding out the successful day, Rocky Gorge’s DIII side won its inaugural game, as they came roaring back from a three-try deficit to win 27-24 against the All Deaf Rugby Football Club.
Rocky Gorge will continue its spring season against exclusively Division I opponents over the next three weeks. The action starts with two playoff-bound clubs, the fourth-seeded Maryland Exiles on March 30, followed by the second seeded Schuylkill River Exiles on April 6. Finally, Media Rugby Football Club visits Rocky Gorge on April 13. The spring season culminates in the first round of the MARFU playoffs with a home game versus Brandywine on April 20. If Rocky Gorge advances, the MARFU playoff semifinal and final are in Pittsburgh, Pa. on April 27-28.
The train keeps rolling for Rocky Gorge and as team captain Matt Carroll said, “we are just trying to take our momentum from last year and turn it into another championship season. We are trying to get better, try to peak at the right time. Every game is another note, every game is another step. You try to build to that crescendo at the end of the season where you play your best rugby.”