Tommy Gibble has been part of the UFRFC for four years. During that time, he's never beaten Tennessee. On Sunday, he and the Gators broke that curse.
After a physical matchup with LSU, the top-seeded team from the west, UF played its best rugby of the season against a stacked UT squad that had already beaten the Gators 20-12 in Gainesville.
Thanks to some excellent playmaking from the back line and physical play by the forwards, the Gators emerged as the best team from the SCRC with a 22-14 victory.
It was just part of a dominant weekend for Florida, who entered the tournament as the underdog according to Rugby Magazine. By Sunday afternoon, it was the Gators who had knocked off two top-10 teams.
Saturday featured one of the most physical games of the season as LSU and UF faced off in the semi-finals. The Gators' forwards dictated the game, hitting rucks and tackles with unparalleled force. With the score well out of hand, the Gators flashed their physicality with a tremendous goal-line stand in the game's final minutes. Tommy Gibble, Ben Patterson-Webber and Stephen Sheehan made some highlight hits to stuff LSU and keep them off the board.
Sunday's showdown was a bit of a different animal as Tennessee's talented back line forced the Gators to put more speed on the field. Things started well for UF, as they controlled the ball in Tennessee's end of the field for a majority of the first half. However, Tennessee broke through in the second half to gain a 14-12 lead.
Facing potential elimination and a second consecutive loss this season to their biggest rival, the Gators dug deep and once again relied on their backs to make plays. Playing deep in Tennessee's territory, Rob Roux took the ball into contact on the left side before offloading to Josh Nicdao, who weaved his way into the try zone to give UF the lead. Jordan Manning added another score for good measure as the Gators controlled the ball in the final seconds to close out a hard-fought victory.
With the SCRC title, UF will travel to Knoxville next weekend to face FSU in the Sweet 16 with a chance to face the winner of Tennessee-Maryland in the Elite 8.