Norwich vs. VMI – USA Rugby Division II Final Four Preview

GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Norwich University men's rugby team is making its second-ever USA Rugby Division II National Tournament final four appearance in program history when it travels to Furman University in Greenville, S.C. on Dec. 2 and 3.

The Cadets punched a ticket to the ultimate weekend for the second straight year with a 43-19 victory over University at Hartford in the quarterfinal round on Nov. 19 in Kutztown, Pa. The Cadets also defeated North Carolina State 30-17 in the Sweet 16 round. 

"Our goal in preseason camp was to win the national championship so we have been working every week, every game for that goal," said NU head coach Bob Weggler. "We are very happy to be back and to be able to do it two years in a row it says a lot about our captain Tom St. Pierre and the overall team commitment." 

No. 3-nationally ranked Norwich (12-0, 7-0 Rugby Northeast) won its second straight conference championship with a perfect 7-0 regular season in the Rugby Northeast Conference and then followed up with two more wins in the playoffs, including a 35-33 thriller over Southern Conn. State in the finals. 

The Cadets have won 23 of their last 24 15s matches over the last two years heading into this weekend. Furman is the site of Norwich's only loss in that streak, a 58-29 defeat to eventual champion UW-Whitewater. 

This year, Norwich will face No. 4-ranked Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. VMI punched its ticket to South Carolina with wins over RPI, 49-5 in the sweet 16 and then a 43-5 victory over Bloomsburg in the quarterfinals in a regional hosted at the United States Naval Academy. 

VMI is 10-1 on the season and has won nine straight after it opened its Cardinals Collegiate Rugby Conference (CCRC) regular season schedule with a 34-29 loss to North Carolina State. VMI enacted revenge in the CCRC Championship game, defeating NC State 40-22. NC State is the lone common opponent between Norwich and VMI this season. 

In the other semifinal, defending 15s and 7s national champion UW-Whitewater will take on North Dakota State at 3 p.m. Both semifinal final matches along with the national championship match will be streamed on www.therugbychannel.tv. The championship match is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday. The consolation match is at 11 a.m. on Sunday and will not be streamed. In order to watch the games, you must sign up for a fee-based subscription. You can use promo code AF74A083­­ this weekend to get 10% off an annual subscription.   

Norwich features a balanced and deep offensive attack with 20 different players scoring tries this season. Senior scrumhalf captain Tom St. Pierre (Warwick, R.I.) leads the team with 16 tries, while senior Ryan Wagner (Newtown, Conn.) has 12 and Nate Rolling (Taylorsville, Utah) has 11 scores. Junior Korbin Wayton (Southlake, Texas) has scored a majority of his five tries on the season during the Cadets' playoff run. 

Senior Keegan Frick (Thornton, Pa.) leads the Cadets in points scored with five tries, 10 penalty kicks and 42 conversions on the season for an impressive 139 points. 

VMI is outscoring its opponents 690-123 so far this season with two shutouts. Norwich has outscored its opponents 592-170, limiting its opponents to one try or less in six matches this season. 

Norwich is making its third appearance in the last six years in the at the USA Rugby Division II National Tournament. The Cadets also made appearances in 2013 and 2016.

USA Rugby D-II National Tournament History

2017 Fall - Greenville SC

Virginia Military Institute (VMI)
Norwich University
UW-Whitewater
North Dakota State

2016 Fall - Greenville SC

UW-Whitewater
Furman
Norwich University
Minnesota-Duluth

2015 Fall - Greenville SC

Minnesota-Duluth
UW-Whitewater
Towson
Salisbury

2014 Fall - Greenville SC

Minnesota-Duluth
UW-Whitewater
Notre Dame College
James Madison

2013 Fall - Greenville SC

Minnesota-Duluth
Salisbury
UW-Whitewater
James Madison

2013 Spring - Bowling Green OH

Salisbury
Minnesota-Duluth
Towson
IUP

2012 - Sandy UT

Lindenwood
Salisbury
Utah Valley
Towson

2011 - Pittsburgh PA

UW-Whitewater
Middlebury
Salisbury
Sierra College

2010 - Palo Alto CA

Claremont
Temple
Miami (OH)
UMass

2009 - Palo Alto CA

Middlebury
Wisconsin
Georgetown
Miami (OH)

2008 - Palo Alto CA

Radford
Utah Valley
Coast Guard
Middlebury

2007 - Palo Alto CA

Middlebury
Arkansas State
Coast Guard
Salisbury

2006 - Palo Alto CA

Coast Guard
Northern Colorado
Claremont Colleges
Humboldt State

2005 - Palo Alto CA

Northern Colorado
Humboldt State
Georgetown
Michigan

2004 - Palo Alto CA

Salisbury
Arkansas State
Claremont Colleges
Coast Guard

2003 - San Jose CA

Radford
Northern Colorado
Claremont Colleges
Santa Rosa

2002 - Virginia Beach VA

Stanford
Northern Iowa
Salisbury
Sam Houston State

2001 - Virginia Beach VA

Baylor
Arkansas State
Claremont Colleges
Nevada

2000 - Columbus OH

Sacramento State
Claremont Colleges
Northern Colorado
Colby

1999 - Cincinnati OH

UC San Diego
Chico State
Northern Colorado
Colby

1998 - Clifton Park NY

UC San Diego
Oregon
Salisbury
Central Conn.

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