The Memphis Tiger Rugby Club (8-3) swept Ole Miss in a three-game 7’s series and was inducted into the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference over the weekend.
The win over SCRC opponent Ole Miss helped the Tigers achieve the conference placement. The Tigers beat both SCRC teams from Mississippi and Coach Steve Swatzyna said his team played as well as they could and he couldn’t ask anything more of them.
“We just played together as a team,” Swatzyna said. “Everyone participated and everyone played well. It was just an overall team win and it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The Tigers dominated the Rebels and outscored them 100-12 through three games. During the first game the Tigers led 12-0 at halftime and would later win the first game 31-0. Jalen Jackson, Britton Roedel and Turk Wigley were the only players to score in game one.
The Tigers led the series 1-0 and won a pivotal game two 29-5. Grant Caldwell scored two tries in the first half and helped Memphis lead 15-0 at halftime. A couple of Memphis players were given a yellow card in the final minute because of a dangerous tackle and a hands-in-the-ruck call. The Rebels scored a try and the game was over.
The Tigers won the series but both teams agreed to play a third game to allow all players to receive playing time. Ole Miss put multiple starters in the second half after Memphis led 26-0 going into halftime. The Rebels were shut out going into halftime of every game. The Tigers continued to play well and won the game 40-7 and took the series 3-0.
Roedel scored five tries and became the team’s leading scorer. Roedel said the series win felt great and his team just continued to put him in positions to score.
“We all wanted to come in after losing to Tennessee and bounce back,” Roedel said. “It’s great that we could come back and roll over them like we did.”
The Tigers announced their SCRC induction two days after the sweep of Ole Miss. Captain Musa Banat said he wanted to see the Tigers enter a conference before he graduated from the program and he is proud of the work they put forth.
“This took a whole season of reconstructing Tiger Rugby and consistent dedication from the leadership of the team as a whole,” Banat said. “Our mindset was our biggest limiting factor, and it ended up helping us.”
The Tigers are scheduled to play SCRC opponents like Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, MTSU, Georgia, Ole Miss and Mississippi State in their future fall and spring seasons. This was the first Tigers team to be entered into the SCRC in the history of Memphis Rugby.
The final game of the season will be played in St. Charles, Missouri, against the nationally ranked Lindenwood University Lions. The No.5 Lions (18-4) have dominated at home with 9-2 record. Banat said he is aware of the competition and is looking forward to the opportunity to play a high-caliber team.
“I’m very excited to play them and it’ll be a great learning experience to play one of the best D-1 schools out there,” Banat said. “It will be an amazing way to finalize our spring season.”