April 26th marked day one of this year’s ACRL Sevens Championship, which was hosted by UNC-Greensboro. Unfortunately, the Demon Deacons had to make the short trip to Greensboro with a short roster, closing out the sevens season with only 10 of the 15 players permitted in the competition.
That number dropped to nine as junior Max Wohlmuth went down with a severe ankle injury in a heartbreaker against UNC. Just hours later, senior Rob Kelly joined Wohlmuth on the injured reserve list after sustaining a concussion in an especially rough loss to Virginia Tech.
Wake’s seniors rallied their teammates to give Notre Dame a good fight, but their first half heroics weren’t enough to stop the Irish from handing the Deacs their third loss of the day, positioning Wake Forest as the seventh seed going into Sunday’s knock-out round.
Thorough recovery and stretching left the Demon Deacons well rested and ready to attack day two of the tournament with the help of senior Liam McIntyre, who ‘retired’ after the fall season, but suited up to play in the final day’s matches when he heard his teammates were shorthanded.
Wake started the second day against a first-ranked Maryland side, whose conservative approach resulted in a 7-5 lead at the half. The Deacs’ lack of depth hindered their attempts at a comeback, ultimately allowing Maryland to pull away with a 28-12 victory.
That loss set up a rematch against the Tarheels, who had just suffered a quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame. The Demon Deacons’ second dance with UNC was anything but déjà vu, as the Tarheels leveraged their depth to head home with a 43-7 victory.
Following the hard-fought championship, seniors commended their teammates for displaying marked courage and discipline in the face of such adversity. The team is looking forward to a final night of celebration and reflection at the team banquet that will take place later this week.
DAY ONE SCORES
Wake Forest 17 (5)
UNC 22 (12)
Wake Forest 0 (0)
Virginia Tech 33 (12)
Wake Forest 12 (12)
Notre Dame 35 (14)
DAY TWO SCORES
Wake Forest 12 (5)
Maryland 28 (7)
Wake Forest 14 (7)
UNC 43 (17)
( ) indicates halftime score
This Saturday and Sunday, Greensboro will live up to the name “Tournament Town” once again by hosting the ACRL Sevens Championship Tournament. All seven conference teams and one special invite, the University of Notre Dame, will compete for the conference title at the UNC-Greensboro Spartans soccer stadium. The two-day event will showcase some of the regions top university rugby programs battling it out while promoting the newest addition to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
We invite all students, families and fans support the Demon Deacons during our pool play matches:
Saturday, April 26th
10:10AM vs UNC-Chapel Hill
12:00PM vs Virginia Tech (on Field 2, outside the stadium)
1:30PM vs University of Notre Dame
TBA (based on Saturday results)
Tickets are available at the gate, though price information has not yet been announced. Visit www.atlanticcoastrugby.com for more information about the tournament. For driving directions and parking details, visit UNCG Athletics.
The third leg of the ACRL Spring Sevens Circuit took place at Virginia Tech this weekend; given their morning kick off, Wake Forest opted to travel up the night before to ensure their 12-man roster would be rested and ready to go.
Due to some last minute team withdrawals, Wake Forest opened the tournament against an aggressive UVA squad eager to prove themselves in the home of the Hokies. Though both teams demonstrated equal aggression, two small errors sent the Demon Deacons into halftime trailing the Cavaliers 12-0. Wake Forest bounced back with fresh legs and two strong tries from senior Jack Zimmerman, but UVA pulled away with a 26-12 win in the end.
For their second match, the Deacs caught UNC coming off of a quick turnaround versus Virginia Tech, which helped neutralize the Tarheels’ clear size advantage. Wake tested UNC’s depth by maintaining most of the first half possession, which featured two converted tries from senior Johnny McMurray. Freshman Austin Cunningham won a second half foot race to add another five points and solidify the Deacs’ 19-12 victory.
Next up, Wake Forest took on Radford University, a Virginia-based Division II powerhouse using the tournament as an opportunity to put their skills to the test. The Demon Deacons exploded out of the gates with tries from Zimmerman, Cunningham, junior Max Wohlmuth and sophomore rookie James Doerfler to take a 26-5 lead at the break. Starting the second half, junior Christian Gutowski made his way into the try zone and Cunningham pulled a hat trick with two more. The convincing 43-10 victory placed Wake Forest in the 3rd/4th place playoff against Maryland, the second seed from pool A.
Despite coming off a physically demanding loss to Virginia Tech, the Terps gave the Deacs the toughest defense they had seen all day. Wake Forest managed to exploit some gaps that sent them into the break with a 12-10 lead, but a brief mental lapse on the Deacs’ defense allowed the Terps to take a 12-15 lead just after the restart. After some very tense back-and-forth play, Zimmerman broke through a number of would-be tacklers to touch down a wide try that showcased McMurray’s boot and gave Wake Forest a 19-15 lead with only 10 seconds on the clock.
Gutowski pressured the kickoff and forced a turnover, allowing Wake Forest to control possession and wait for time to expire, but the ball was accidentally thrown into touch, forcing the official to call a penalty on the Demon Deacons that afforded Maryland one final play. After three strong, open-field tackles, Maryland eventually found a crack in the Deacs’ defense and slipped through to win 19-20.
When it was all said and done, Wake Forest finished the day in 4th place, having outscored their opponents 93-68. With just four training sessions before the next tournament, players are eager to get back on the pitch Tuesday and begin addressing their weekend errors. Efficiency will be key to the Deacs’ success at the two-day ACRL Sevens Championship, which will be held at UNC-Greensboro’s Spartan Stadium.
On Tuesday, April 29th, Wake Forest Rugby will be hosting its annual awards banquet to remember the season highlights and recognize some players for their individual performances. This year, the team has more to be thankful for as the program celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The current team is grateful for to everyone who played a part in the first 39 years of Wake Forest Rugby and would like to recognize any alumni that are available to attend. The event is free for alumni and will kick off at 6:30PM in The Barn, an on-campus venue. Dinner will be served at 7:00PM followed by highlights and award presentations.
If you would like join us in celebrating 40 years of Wake Forest Rugby, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat for you and a guest.
Thank you and Go Deacs!
Jack Zimmerman '14 Justin Goonan
President Head Coach
With the support of Intramural Sports and the generous help from Wake Forest Womens Rugby, the first ever Intramural Flag Rugby Tournament was held Sunday on Poteat Field. Three student teams and one alumni squad would fill up the round robin bracket.
During the competitive pool matches, every team demonstrated amazing skills and blistering pace as the high scores captured spectators attention. Title hopes were short lived for Sigma Chi, led by British ex-pat Jackson Allan, as their player pool would quickly be reduced and force the team’s withdrawal. The team representing the DKE fraternity had some difficulty with player attendance, but found some help from current players.
However, it was the team known as Siggies, made up of former WF Rugby members, who implemented a well-structured substitution strategy. It was the quick thinking of captain Sean Barrett that would win his team a spot in the championship match against the experienced Alumni.
When it came to the winner take all showdown, the Alumni eagerly waited at midfield for the coin toss, but were never met by the opposition. The forfeited match would give the title to the Wake Forest Alumni and wrap up the afternoon’s activities.
A huge thanks to Pat Kane, Trent Justice ’10, Liam McIntyre ’14, Nelson Brunsting ’06 and David Hobson ’08 for making up the alumni roster.