Rugby team in Elite 8

A hard-won victory over Georgia Southern qualified the USF rugby team for the Elite Eight Championship and keeps alive its hopes of competing for the National Championship.

The Bulls defeated Georgia Southern 27-17 at Myrtle Beach, S.C., Saturday in a Rugby South Championship match-up. Despite losing their other fixture to Arkansas 32-10 Sunday, the Bulls finished in the top two in their division and will take their place in the Elite Eight Championships in Arkansas on April 19. The top two teams emerging from the Elite Eight will contest the National Championship in Virginia Beach on May 5.

Two tries from Sean Gates alongside tries from Jason Phillpott, Mark Allen and James Lawton put the Bulls out of sight of Georgia. Stand-in kicker Ben Asman weighed in with a conversion. The Bulls’ success in the lineout provided a steady supply of possession with which their backs were able to launch numerous attacks.

The contest remained close until the final 25 minutes of the game when the Bulls built up a conclusive lead.

Forward Joey Hoffman said the extra fitness of the Bulls had proved decisive.

“Late in the second half our fitness started to tell,” Hoffman said. “We opened up a lead and let our defense hold them.”

Hoffman said the Bulls had exceeded their own expectations in qualifying for the Elite Eight.

“We’re shocked that we made it this far. You can’t explain with words how good it is to go up there and win,” Hoffman said.