Virginia Beach, Virg. hosts the Chicago Riot and Hilton Head Gators Saturday in the DIII Round of 16. The winner takes on the victor between Philly-Whitemarsh verus Saratoga.
The Riot are making their Nationals debut this weekend, but this is the third trip to the Sweet 16 for Hilton Head.
A majority of the tries for Chicago this season have been scored by Giovanni Rumbolo, flanker, and then the rest are evenly distributed among the backs. The forwards hold a lot of their experience with more veterans in the pack.
“We have a very mobile pack. We’ve come back in the second half because we are so mobile,” said Doug Anderson, No. 8, lock and president of the Riot.
The Riot emerge from a rugby-dense area, with numerous men’s clubs fighting for players within the greater Chicago area. As a young club, the Riot are proud to have as good a fan support, financial structure and organization as they do.
“The way we have seen a club grow is really refreshing, to have a group of players willing to contribute to the club,” Anderson said.
In contrast, Hilton Head emerges from an isolated rugby region where it can be difficult to find a new recruit with any rugby experience.
“Hilton Head is most known for its vacation spots and golf courses, but we pull from a small population on an island and put together a club that not only competes well, but gets playoff action,” Gators coach Wells Fulton said.
Established in 1974, the Hilton head Gators are the oldest organized club on Hilton Head and one of the oldest organized sports teams in Beaufort County according to Fulton. The Gators’ top scoring players include Salvador Da Cunha, back row player from Portugal, and fullback Jason Carnes.
Hilton Head actually lost a playoff game to Montgomery this spring, but didn’t result in elimination, instead it served as a wake up call.
“[The] loss against Montgomery was probably a good thing for us,” said Fulton. “Good eye opener for the guys to see what it’s going to take Saturday and Sunday.”