Savannah Shamrocks RFC
|Union||USA Rugby, Georgia Rugby Union, Division III|
|Ground(s)||Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA|
|League(s)||Georgia Rugby Union|
The Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club was formed in 1978 in Savannah by Tom Nelson and Carl Shoemaker, who were looking for something “different;” now the team has up to 50 members, a senior men’s and women’s team, plays around the region, belongs to the Georgia Rugby Union and hosts the popular annual St. Patrick's Day Tournament. The team colors are kelly green and gold. The home field is Forsyth Park, Whitaker and Park Street in Savannah.
2013 saw new leadership at captain and during this year the Shamrocks club finished 4-2 in the Georgia Rugby Union Division 3 competition and were eliminated in the GRU Play-In Game with a loss to Charleston. Savannah would finish the 2013 season with a 4-3 record.
The 2013-14 competitive season would become one of the most successful campaigns in club history with the team opening up with a 4-0 run in the Black Rose Tournament, hosted by Georgia Southern University, and claiming the Championship. Savannah would run through the GRU Division 3 league season with an 11-0 regular season record defeating opponents from Armstrong Atlantic University, Golden Isles, Hilton Head, Valdosta State University, North Atlanta Rugby Club, High Country, Athens and Atlanta Renegades. The Shamrocks hosted the GRU Division 3 Championship and defeated the Athens Eagles. Savannah's 2013-14 season would come to an end in the South Regionals with a loss to Gainesville, Florida, and a final record of 12-1.
The club's 2015 season surpassed even the heights that were attained during the 2013-14 campaign. The Shamrocks completed their second consecutive undefeated GRU regular season with a 9-0 record defeating Atlanta Old White, Augusta, Gwinnett, Hilton Head, North Atlanta, Athens, G.R.I.T.S., High Country and Macon. Along the way the club participated in St. Patrick's Day Tournament and took 2nd place in Division 2 and in doing so defeated the Atlanta Renegades, making it a clean sweep of all opponents located within the state of Georgia. Savannah took a forfeit victory in the GRU Semi-Final matchup to set up the GRU Championship Game with the Athens Eagles for the second consecutive year. Savannah defeated Athens 29-24 to complete their second consecutive undefeated GRU season and capture the second straight GRU title. In the South Regionals, hosted in Augusta, Georgia, Savannah took on the #1 seed, Clinch River (VA), champions of the True South Region. Savannah defeated their opponent 38-5 to move into the South Championship game and rematch with last year's spoilers, Gainesville (FL). The Shamrocks had lost three consecutive matches to Gainesville, counting their South Semi-Final loss in 2014, but were able to avenge these losses when it mattered most by defeating the Hogs 27-5 and earn a spot in the National Elite 8 in Charlotte, NC. Savannah's 2015 season would come to an end with a loss to Old Gaelic (PA) by a score of 24-33. Savannah would also fall in the consolation match-up with Danbury (CT) by a score 27-38. The weekend's results mean that the Savannah Shamrocks would finish the 2015 season with a 13-2 record and tied for 7th place in the United States in Division III.
In 2016 the Savannah Shamrocks entered the GRU season as heavy favorites and high expectations for the year based on their past two competitive seasons. The Shamrocks would complete an unprecedented third straight undefeated GRU regular season with a 9-0 record defeating Atlanta Old White, Augusta, Columbus, Hilton Head, North Atlanta, Athens, High Country, Gwinnett and Macon by an average margin of 64-5. Savannah once again participated in the St. Patrick's Day Tournament in the middle of their competitive season; however, this time in the Premier Division, and defeated Chicago Blaze and losing in the semi-final to the USA Rugby South All-Star team by a score of 0-8. Savannah squared off with the Augusta Maddogs in the GRU Championship game by a score of 62-7 to capture their third consecutive GRU title. In the South Regionals, hosted in Montgomery, Alabama, the Shamrocks were able to come from behind at halftime to defeat the Montgomery Yellowhammers 33-21 to advance to their second straight South Championship game. Savannah squared off with Southern Pines, the Carolina Champion, in the South Championship game and roared out to a huge lead and were able to hang on to that lead in the second half, winning by a score of 53-26 and advance to the National Elite 8 in Pittsburgh, PA. Savannah's season would come to a premature end for the second straight year, this time to the hands of Bremer County (Iowa), dropping their contest 17-36. However, Savannah would not let the defeat ruin their season, and in the consolation match-up with Rocky Gorge, the Shamrocks would take out their frustrations to the tune of a 77-0 win. The win secured the Savannah Shamrocks a 5th-place finish in the United States in Division III, surpassing their 2015 finish and setting a new club's best finish nationally.
The St. Patrick Day’s Tournament
St. Patrick's Day Rugby Tournament in Savannah is one of the largest in the country; every year the tournament has over 75 teams from Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia as well as teams from Canada, England and Ireland. The St. Patrick's Day Tournament is held in Daffin Park, Savannah, Georgia.
The Savannah Shamrocks have given a portion of the proceeds from the annual event to local charities and individuals in the Savannah and rugby communities for the past 15 years and will continue to do so. They also host their own float in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, the nation’s second largest St Patrick’s Day celebration.
The tournament Grand Champions are :
- 1979 - University of Georgia
- 1980 - Atlanta High Country
- 1981 - Jacksonville
- 1982 - Mystic River Club University of Maryland
- 1983 - Xavier Old Boys
- 1984 - Life College
- 1985 - Augusta
- 1986 - Cincinnati Marmots
- 1987 - Pelicans (St. Petersburg)
- 1988 - Augusta
- 1989 - Old White (Atlanta)
- 1990 - Life College
- 1991 - Bergan
- 1992 - Rock'n'Roll Rebels Ottawa, Canada
- 1993 - Rock'n'Roll Rebels Ottawa, Canada
- 1994 - Maryland Exiles
- 1995 - New York Rugby Club
- 1996 - BAT'S Boston Area Touring Side
- 1997 - Northern Virginia
- 1998 - Northern Virginia
- 1999 - New York Athletic Club
- 2000 - New York Athletic Club
- 2001 - White Plains New York
- 2002 - Unpossible XV
- 2003 - Atlanta Renegades
- 2004 - Cincinnati Wolfhounds
- 2005 - Worchester RFC
- 2006 - Air Force
- 2007 - The Willing
- 2008 - The Willing
- 2009 - The Willing
- 2010 - The Willing
- 2011 - Cincinnati
- 2012 - Air Force
- 2013 - Cincinnati Wolfhounds
- 2014 - USA Rugby South Panthers
- 2015 - Cincinnati Wolfhounds
- 2016 - Cleveland Crusaders