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The American Collegiate Rugby Championship Bowl Series will see its second edition kick off Friday, with UMass taking on North Carolina State, Syracuse facing Notre Dame College and Boston College squaring off against Alabama.
Saturday the action continues with St. Bonaventure against Western Michigan, Iona playing Delaware, North Texas challenging Rutgers, Stony Brook versus Cincinnati, AIC and Clemson, the SCRC championship match between Tennessee and South Carolina, and finally Kutztown taking on Indiana.
All of the matches, except Iona versus Delaware, are being held at the Rugby Athletic Center in Charlotte, N.C. Delaware and Iona are squaring off at Iona in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Bowl. The Charlotte matches will be streamed live.
UMass vs. North Carolina State – Friday 4:50pm
The Minutemen finished the regular season 6-3, with conference wins over Northeastern, Middlebury, UConn, Fairfield, Albany, as well as DII Vermont. They fell victim to New England College, Boston College and AIC in conference play, landing them at fourth in the East Coast standings.
The Wolfpack finished second in the Atlantic Coast Rugby League, losing only to conference champion Clemson. They tied Virginia, and beat Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina and Wake Forest.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame College – Friday 6:40pm
The Orange are Empire Conference champions, having avenged a regular season loss to Stony Brook by beating the Seawolves in the conference title game. Overall, Syracuse is 6-2, with the other loss coming at Queens University.
The Falcons are an independent, meaning they don’t belong to a conference, in their first year in DI. They started the season hot, winning five in a row over Buffalo, Notre Dame, Kentucky, West Virginia and James Madison, respectively. The toughest tests of came the next two weeks, and the Falcons were beaten 38-3 by Davenport and 34-29 by St. Bonaventure. They rebounded to beat DII SLU 53-3 before falling 37-17 to Navy.
Boston College vs. Alabama – Friday 8:30pm
The Golden Eagles had a very successful season, finishing 9-1 and second in the East Coast. The non-conference was highlighted by a 43-17 win over eventual Ivy champ Dartmouth, and the lone blemish was at the hand of a very good American International College in the league decider.
Alabama also had a good run, going undefeated until the conference semifinals, where they lost 34-27 to South Carolina in a rematch of the 2014 conference title match. The Tide are on the rise, as are the Golden Eagles.
St. Bonaventure vs. Western Michigan – Saturday 11:20am
The Bonnies finished the conference season 2-5, but in the toughest fall-playing league in the country. The wins were over West Virginia and winless Buffalo. Multiple losses were competitive.
Western Michigan came one game short of an undefeated MAC campaign, falling to perennial conference champ Bowling Green in the MAC Tournament title. The Broncos beat BGSU 31-25 in the regular season.
Iona vs. Delaware – Saturday 1:00pm
The Ice Bucket Challenge was started by an Iona rugby man, and this game is being played in his honor, as well as a fundraiser for ALS research. The Gaels finished 4-3 and in fourth place in the toughest autumn league in the nation, picking up a signature win over then-unbeaten Army. They also scored non-conference wins over traditional rivals Fordham, Albany and Stony Brook.
Delaware is in its first season back following a lengthy suspension, and the Blue Hens played a competitive independent schedule, going 4-3. They beat St. Joe’s, Rowan, Rutgers and Princeton, and lost to Kutztown, Penn State and Wheeling Jesuit.
North Texas vs. Rutgers – Saturday 1:10pm
The Mean Green have enjoyed a great season under head coach Michael Engelbrecht, a longtime age-grade coach for USA Rugby. They went undefeated through Southwest Conference play after winning the Texas Cup tournament at the start of the year.
The Scarlet Knights finished 2-2 in the Keystone’s eastern division, beating Villanova and West Chester and losing to Temple and St. Joe’s. They were bounced from the conference tournament in the opening round by eventual conference champion James Madison.
Stony Brook vs. Cincinnati – Saturday 3:00pm
The Seawolves finished second in the Empire conference to Syracuse, despite beating the Orange in the conference regular season, which they finished undefeated. In non-conference play Stony Brook lost to Iona and Rugby East winner Kutztown. The Seawolves lost the rematch with Syracuse in the Empire title game.
The Bearcats finished the regular season 4-4, with wins over crosstown non-conference rival Xavier, Miami, Louisville and Bowling Green. They lost narrowly to Wheeling Jesuit, Ohio, Western Michigan and Dayton.
AIC vs. Clemson – Saturday 4:50pm
The Yellowjackets are a perfect 11-0. They manhandled the East Coast, going 8-0 with an average score of 73-8. In the non-conference they beat Penn State, Yale and Dartmouth. The Yellowjackets are eager for a tougher challenge, which they’ll get with Clemson.
The Tigers are 7-1 overall and champions of the Atlantic Coast Rugby League. They swept the conference, going 6-0 along the way, never giving up more than two tries in a game. The lone blemish on Clemson’s resume is s 43-0 loss at the hands of mighty Life.
South Carolina vs. Tennessee – Saturday 6:40pm
The Gamecocks are 8-1 on the season, with most wins being of the blowout variety. The one loss was to Tennessee, 17-14 in Columbia, S.C. A highlight in the non-conference was a 62-14 over James Madison, the eventual champion of the Keystone.
Tennessee is undefeated in Southeastern Conference play, having advanced to the final with a 30-13 defeat of Florida. A non-conference highlight was a 25-10 win at Oklahoma.
Kutztown vs. Indiana – Saturday 8:30pm
The Golden Bears saw a perfect season go out the window in their final Rugby East game, a 24-15 loss to rival Penn State. They did enough, though, to win the conference title by a single bonus point. The high point so far has been the program’s first-ever win over Army.
The Hoosiers dominated the Big Ten this year, finishing a perfect 7-0. They beat Ohio State 34-14 in the conference title match. Throw in non-conference wins over Southern Indiana, Ball State and Davenport, and IU is 11-0 going into the ACRC Bowl Series.