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Clemson opened its season with an emphatic 48-10 win over in state rival South Carolina. The Tigers came out fast and hard, rolling to a big first half lead that South Carolina could not works it way back from.
It had been nearly seven months since the Tigers had taken the field and they were chomping at the bit. Clemson elected to move to the DIA Mid South Conference after the ACRL folded. With the move, however, Clemson’s primary season moved from the fall to the spring, meaning that the team had not paid a competitive match in a long time.
“Our whole fall this year was developmental. A bunch of guys had seven months off and this was their first test,” said Clemson coach Steve Lynch. “It was pretty nice to go out and beat a rival on our new pitch.”
It was a special day for Clemson. The Tigers played their first game on a newly constructed field. With help from alumnae purchasing and donating 20 acres, the rugby program was able to build a permanent pitch for the rugby team. Last year it was not clear if the Tigers would have a home field at all after the old pitch was taken as part of the new football stadium renovation. However, with strong alumnae support, the program is growing and is now under the auspice of the athletic department.
Clemson came out firing scoring the first five tries to take a 27-0 lead. The traditionally strong forward pack scored three of the first five tries with Jason Damm, Joshua Dyson, and Joel Jaldin finding pay dirt.
“We were very patient. We controlled the ball. Our goal coming out was to put pressure on both sides of the ball. In the defense as well as the attack,” added Lynch. We were able to keep them in their end of the pitch. We dominated territory and created some opportunities through high pressure defense.”
South Carolina got a try to end the first half but could not muster much momentum. Dyson got his second of the game and the Tigers added two more. Captain Dylan Goulding scored the first of the day and the last in a 48-10 win.
“The guys have been working really hard in offseason strength and conditioning. Being part of the athletic department now is a big deal. It gives us access to resources we did not have before and it is starting to pay off on the pitch,” said Lynch.