Salisbury Wins Gorge Cup and Rocky Gorge Advances to MAC Playoffs
Salisbury hoists the Gorge Cup and Rocky Gorge defeats Lancaster to advance to the semifinals of the MAC Playoffs
On a beautiful sunny afternoon on April 12th, Rocky Gorge held its 18th annual collegiate Gorge Cup tournament in Columbia, MD. A total of twelve teams were represented in the event that was sponsored by the Greene Turtle Restaurant and Steamroller Rugby. The victor hoisted the famed Gorge Cup and was awarded with a new set of jerseys provided by Steamroller Rugby.
Rowan University, Navy, Towson University, Mount St. Mary’s University, Salisbury University, Frostburg University, Niagara University, University of Maryland, George Mason University, George Washington University, and University of Maryland Baltimore County participated in the tournament. Additionally, Rocky Gorge’s Division III side competed to make an even twelve teams.
An afternoon of hard-hitting rugby after a brutal winter in the Mid-Atlantic came down to matchup between bitter rivals, Towson and Salisbury. Salisbury scored the first two tries of the test, but Towson closed the gap to 19-12 at the half. In the second half, each team added one more try and did not let up until the final whistle. In the end, Salisbury was victorious and the champions of the Gorge Cup.
When asked about the tournament Towson Coach Don Stone said, “the tournament was excellent. We all know we tough winter here on the east coast. We haven’t had many nice days. So to get gorgeous weather, all these college teams to turn out, really good quality games called throughout the course of the tournament, and a really nice final in the end. We’re disappointed we lost, but we’re pleased to get into finals and pleased to be in the tournament. It’s our fourth year here.”
On the final versus Salisbury, Coach Stone added, “I think we tackled poorly, but not to take anything away from Salisbury, they ran hard and they played hard. I was pleased because we could have folded at multiple points in that game, but instead we lost by a try and a conversion.” Going forward into the next season, Coach Stone stated that, “we knew that Salisbury was going to lose some good players, they lost their All-American. We still have work to do. To their credit, they knew they were going to lose some good players and they have been working their butts off to make up for those players that they lost. We’ve lost two All-Americans too, but we have some work to do. The fact is that we just need to be fitter. I think the difference between the Salisbury program and our program is fitness. I think their commitment to fitness is better than ours. I think our guys need to work out all summer that can be a struggle. “
Regarding the tournament, Salisbury Coach Bob Davis said that “it’s a wonderful venue. Good competition and you can’t be blessed for any better of a day. For me, I get to come here and coach Salisbury and at the same time I get to see all my alumni that played for us on the Rocky Gorge side.“
Remarking on the final against Towson, Coach Davis said that “Towson played good. This is a purely developmental season for us. Most of the guys out there are essentially B-side players. This was a good opportunity for them to develop more. Towson was good, they never let down. Towson is scrappy. All of Salisbury’s tries were technical; Towson’s tries were powerhouse kind of tries. There are a lot of lessons were can work on. Stuff we can think during the summer time. Today really is our last match of the season and we got plenty to work on.”
The match before the collegiate final featured the first round of the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) Division II playoffs between the #1 seed Rocky Gorge from the south division versus the #6 seed Lancaster Roses of the north division. The last time these two teams met was semifinal of the conference playoffs last year where Gorge won, 54-12. Gorge came in undefeated this year and the Roses were owners of a 6-4 record.
As the marquee match in front of a crowd of prospective recruits, Rocky Gorge dismantled Lancaster from the first whistle, 76-7. Gorge scored a total of twelve tries by ten different players. The shutout was all but certain except for Lancaster scoring on their last possession. Gorge used an aggressive style coupled with good support to constantly go forward and turn everything they could into an offensive attack.
Gorge Club President Tracy Hall said, “Gorge Cup is a recruiting opportunity for Rocky Gorge. We invite colleges to that have traditionally provided players to the club and we give back to them a good day of rugby sponsored by Rocky Gorge. Our hope is that when they graduate college they will come play for us. Gorge has grown dramatically over the last 4½ years where we had 20-25 players at practice and we had serious discussions about moving our club from D2 to a D3 level competition. Now, we have a D2 and a D3 squad that is well supported to the point that we have full rosters for both squads and a complete coaching staff. “
Rocky Gorge will travel to Wilmington, DE on April 26th and 27th for the MAC playoffs as the only D2 South Division club left in the bracket. First up will be the second-seeded Doylestown in the semi-finals and if they advance, will play the winner of the Media vs. Wilmington match on Sunday.