Rugby claims South division championship

It’s not the men’s or women’s basketball team, but one team associated with USF has qualified for the USA Rugby Sweet Sixteen. The USF men’s rugby team clinched a berth in the event by winning the USA Rugby South Championship, a Division II event, in Mobile, Ala. on Sunday.

The team defeated Middle Tennessee State in the semifinals and East Carolina 29-11 in the championship game to win its second South division title in three years. The South division extends from Florida to Tennessee in the northwest and up to North Carolina in the east.

“As it was told to us when the trophy was presented to us, we are the university that best represents for the South United States and we are the South Champions for 2011,” said Brent Couffey, the rugby club president. “I’m a fourth-year senior and this was my third time going to Alabama to play in the South championships. The first time, my freshman year, we were unsuccessful in 2008. The second time, in 2009, we won and once again this year we have won.”

The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight will be held in Sanford, Fla., on April 16 and 17. USF will meet Bentley College from Waltham, Mass., in the round of 16. Should the team win both games that weekend, it will advance to the national semifinals, which will be held in Pittsburgh.

Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Miami, Ave Maria and UCF are all in-state schools that have rugby teams competing in Division II.