It is no secret the Tiger Rugby program has gotten exponentially better throughout the last three seasons, and any organized team that will play the Tigers should not overlook them.
The fall season is finalized, and the Tigers will likely do very well in their debut season in the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference (SCRC). If the Tigers find enough ways to win, the team could be headed to a postseason.
Here are the upcoming games for the Tigers to watch out for:
North Alabama: The UofM hosted the University of North Alabama Lions last spring and found a way to win 38-12. The Tigers had lost in 2018 to the same team. The Lions displayed good efforts with their speed and elusiveness in previous years due to their attention to fitness, I believe Memphis will handle this team and start the year off with a solid win.
Vanderbilt: The Tigers have not played Vanderbilt recently. So the team will have to focus on themselves and play to their best abilities going into the game. Vanderbilt has done well in the SCRC in some recent years, but the scores should be close.
Tennessee: The Volunteers played the Tigers in the last two seasons, and the Tigers only saw victories in the B side matches. Memphis did well in the last meeting after leading at halftime 13-7. Tennessee took control and won 41-13 by the end of the A side game. The Tigers may not beat UTK, but the game should be very close compared to last year.
Ole Miss: Although both teams agreed to play a three-game series of 7’s rugby, the Tigers swept the Rebels and outscored them 100-12 in a heavily lopsided game. Many teams have been resorting to 7’s in hopes of higher winning opportunities. If the Ole Miss coaching staff decides to go with 7’s once again, then the result will be another win for the Tigers.
Auburn: These two teams are pined to meet in Birmingham for this new match up. There is not much history between Memphis and Auburn in rugby, but Auburn has become established at the top of the SCRC more than once. However, I believe Memphis will win this game because this would be their first game back from fall break and the team should be fully rested.
Mississippi State: The UofM hosted the Bulldogs last semester and found a 34-12 victory. MSU played very well and scored on turnovers. The Tigers played with more determination after they lost their home opener so it may have fueled the drive of the this game. The Tigers will likely be victorious again considering the Bulldogs have not been a very big name in the SCRC standings.
MTSU: This will likely be the best game to anticipate in the beginning of the season. Middle Tennessee defeated the Tigers by one point in the first game of the spring 2019 season. Then a month later, the Blue Raiders defeated the Tigers by two points in the Men’s Collegiate Championship match in Nashville in the NashBash Tournament. Now this match will be a conference game, both teams could benefit from a win to help determine conference standings and eligibility for the conference playoff. It is expected to be the last game of the regular season as well.
The production the Tigers rugby team have seen has been phenomenal compared to last season. The number of players on the roster has doubled and the coaching staff went from three to six. Funding has brought new equipment and mentality to the team, and this season could be the spotlight season of this program.