Barons rugby recap: Rallying to regionals, losing semifinal

Christopher Dacanay
Sports Editor

Although Barons rugby secured a No. 3 seed in the Allegheny Rugby Union Playoffs with a 19-5 win against Slippery Rock University Oct. 30, the team lost the semifinal to St. John’s University 34-31 Saturday, Nov. 20.

Jason Adams, head rugby coach, said on the athletics page that the battle against Slippery Rock was hard-fought. Muddy conditions complicated the match, but the Barons prevailed, bringing them to the playoffs.

The first match of the playoffs for the Barons was the semifinal match Nov. 6 against Robert Morris University, the No. 2 seed. Adams said the Barons were able to beat their “long-time rival” 29-26.

The Barons then proceeded into the championship game Nov. 7 against the University of Rio Grande, the No. 1 seed who had just beaten the No. 4 seed Slippery Rock.

Even though they were down three starters due to injuries, Adams said the Barons were able to perform a near comeback; however, it did not prove to be enough, and the Barons lost the ARU championship game 34-24.

In spite of the loss, the Barons were able to compete against Minnesota State University Moorhead Nov. 13 for the regional play-in-qualifier. The winner of the match would gain the No. 2 seed for the Central Regional Championship, according to Mitch Morelli, interim sports information director.

Due to injuries, the Barons had to start using three freshmen and a newcomer who had never started before. The lineup changes did not hinder the Barons, who beat Minnesota-Moorhead 31-28.

Adams recalled the match against Minnesota-Moorhead and said in an email, “It was a gutty performance by our team of leaders and first-timers. Hopefully, the experience gained by the youngsters helps us as we navigate through the regional playoffs and punch our ticket to the Final Four.”

The Barons moved on to the Central Regional Semifinal Saturday, Nov. 20. The National Sweet 16 match was played against Saint John’s University, which is ranked No. 2 nationally in rugby for small colleges. The Barons suffered a close 34-31 defeat to Saint John’s, thus closing the regular 2021 season.

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