The stakes were high Sunday afternoon as the Franciscan University rugby team of Steubenville, Ohio took on the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Wisconsin RFU) in the NSCRO Central Region Final at the Wisconsin Rugby Club Sports Complex. In an unrivaled display of team unity, skill and pure talent, the Barons walked away victorious, bringing home a 35-5 win.
The match was the perfect finish to an undefeated season for the Barons after winning the Allegheny RU D3 title. After defeating the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota RFU), 26-12, at Saturday’s semifinals, Franciscan holds a season record of 10-0-1, and the team is now expected to be ranked among the top four teams in the nation. Also on Saturday, Parkside beat Wabash College (Indiana RU) 34-10.
“This is by far the best game that Franciscan University rugby has ever, ever played!” said head coach Mark Hanrahan. “We were up against some big guys but we had even bigger heart. Our men ran them [University of Wisconsin-Parkside] all over the field; the other team didn't know what hit them."
“We beat the other team with sound, fundamental rugby; run hard, tackle hard, play hard,” he added.
Jason Liuzzi scored four tries on the match while Tony Gayed and Matthew Strickland each added a try. Mike Brasie kicked a penalty and a conversion for a resounding victory on the day.
“The man of the match goes to the whole team. All fifteen players out on the field played like all-stars,” beamed Hanrahan. “This was a defining moment in the history of Franciscan University.”
Parkside Coach, Todd Streeter, commented that "Franciscan was a class act and definitely the better team on the day we played ".
Franciscan University embodies what small college rugby is all about. They have a full time undergraduate enrollment of about 700 men, an experienced and dedicated coaching staff and receive outstanding support from the college administration.
Franciscan has become the first of 4 teams to qualify for the NSCRO National Championship scheduled for April 28-29, 2012 in Glendale, Colorado at the premier rugby facility in the country - Infinity Park.
NSCRO would like to thank NSCRO Representative Todd Streeter, the Wisconsin Rugby Club and many others who were instrumental in hosting this playoff championship event.
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