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There was once a time when East Coast fifteens competed in a Second Division Championship, an opportunity for secondary clubs to play for their own title. In 1991, the Battleship RFC of Mobile, Alabama, triumphed 19-13 over Burlington, Vermont, in a game played at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The tournament entered its eighth iteration, and, for Battleship, the win marked their first victory from three other prior trips into the Final Four. The club is named after Battleship Memorial Park, home of the USS Alabama. It was founded in 1975, and has hosted the Battleship Invitational Tournament in November one of the oldest and best events in the south.
The Rugby East playoff welcomed representative sides from eleven member unions. And five of the larger unions supplied the union’s runners-up as wildcard entries.
The four finalists were Burlington (New England), Connecticut Yankees (Met New York), Hilton Head (Palmetto), and Battleship (Deep South). Burlington advanced to the final with a 44-0 whitewash over Connecticut while Battleship prevailed easily 28-12 against Hilton Head.
The Battleship strategy was to bottle up Burlington’s outstanding flyhalf Chas Stewart, a native New Zealander who played for Manawatu. Scott Montague scored eleven points (three penalties and two conversions) for the winning Mobile-based team.
Burlington RFC was founded in 1970, and remains in the New England Rugby Union as a Women’s and Men’s second division club. Battleship joined the True South Union.