Written by Alex Goff    Friday, 02 November 2012 14:29    PDF Print Write e-mail
Youth to be Served in Pac Rugby 7s
Sevens - Collegiate Sevens


All 12 Pac 12 schools will send rugby teams to UCLA this weekend for the Pac Sevens Rugby Tournament. This is a huge event as Pac Rugby gets starting in 15s competition this coming spring.

Seamus Kelly for Cal. Nancy Trent photo.
Stanford in action earlier this fall. Mike Geib photo.
Colorado in action against Air Force. Rich Bristol photo.
Washington v Oregon State. Geoff Vlcek photo

Not all 12 Pac 12 schools will be in the Pac Rugby Conference, but this 7s tournament is perhaps the first step along that road. In previous years Pac 12 (and before that Pac 10) teams have assembled in UCLA for a 15s tournament called the Storer Classic, named after former UCLA and USA coach Dennis Storer. But it has always been difficult to get every rugby program involved. This time, it’s happening, and that’s good for rugby.

Who will win? Well therein is an interesting question. For many of the teams involved, just getting there will be victory enough.

The teams, for the most part, are young and still getting to where they need to be. This will be an interesting tournament. But not a polished one.


Pools:

Pool A
California
USC
Arizona State
Oregon State

Pool B
Arizona
Washington State
UCLA
Stanford

Pool C
Utah
Oregon
Colorado
Washington


Cal leads Pool A but has been hit with injuries.

Freshmen Patrick Barrientes, Charles Guiraud, Anthony Salaber, Cameron Todd and Russell Webb have all had to step in, and they augment upperclassmen Jake Anderson, Paul Bosco, Jared Braun, and captain Seamus Kelly.

"Seamus is a really good captain for this team because he is so highly competitive," said Cal Head Coach Clark. "Slowly but surely, his teammates are likewise developing a competitive mindset."

Oregon State and Arizona State are very good teams led by impressive athletes. For OSU Nate Kimmel is always easy to notice, as is Adam Sandstrom for ASU. USC is a young team on a program that is still playing catchup.

In Pool B, there are all sorts of questions.

“We’ve got a good young team,” said UCLA Head Coach Scott Stewart. “We expect to be competitive, and we felt in the last tournament we were competition. The guys have put in a lot of games, but I don’t think any game will be easy.”

Grant Penney is a fast guy with good field vision, but he will need his teammates to be with him.

Arizona will have to rely on youth, as Brett Thompson is with the USA team, and Cody Naber, Ryan Nance, and Damian Vaughn will all be absent.

But Head Coach Dave Sitton said he is very excited about his freshman talent, but isn’t sure how polished the team is.

“I am not sure how well any of us on the West Coast are dialed into 7s at this point,” said Sitton. “Playing 7s and then 15s and then 7s again is tough. We are working on developing our team of newcomers, and our 7s team, and the returning players who aren’t playing 7s. It will be interesting, that’s for sure.”

Washington State is also a working to improve. They, at least, have had the experience of the NCRC series. Stanford has been quiet, but Daniel Ibarra is a very good player and he captains the team.

In Pool C, former Eagles Kevin Swiryn and Brian Schoener coach the University of Washington, but there are no magic wands to bring them up to speed immediately.

“We went from our first tournament where we lost every game, to placing 4th in the Northwest,” said Swiryn, who captained the USA 7s team. “We’ve seen a lot of progress. One thing I learned from [former USA Coach] Al Caravelli is that you can’t rely on one or two players. You have to have a full team.”

Justin Santos captains the team and is quick and intelligent. Swiryn says he’s also a very hard worker and it’s that attitude that makes him a leader.

The first Pac Rugby 7s last year saw Colorado as surprise winners. They are back, and in the same pool as Utah, Washington, and Oregon. Utah has all sorts of talent and could blow everyone away if they travel well.

At Colorado, Head Coach Jim Snyder said he has been working very hard to build depth and develop his 15s team, while also identifying his best 7s squad.

“We tried to take our known 7s players and get them playing 7s early and often this semester,” said Snyder, “[with] lots of scrimmages and one-off matches.  We were also trying to identify, from our new players, who is 7s capable and bring them into that mix.”

What that has meant is weekends of a couple of 15s games and a few 7s games as well. Certainly everyone is playing.

“We have put a heavy emphasis on defense this fall,” said Snyder. “We graduated a couple of guys who were game breakers last year, so we’ll be looking to sure up defensively first and foremost since we’ll want to keep opponents out of the try zone.”

Colorado is like almost every other team in this tournament – young. But they are young with Pac 7s experience.

“This is obviously going to be a very tough field, arguably the toughest in the country, so it will be a big challenge for our boys,” said Snyder. “But the beauty of 7s is on any given match the win is up for the taking, so we’re excited for the weekend.”

Cal looks set to win their pool.

Pool B is probably the most competitive top to bottom, with all four teams capable of finishing 1st or last. And Pool C is likely the most competitive at the top, where Colorado or Utah are among the tournament favorites.

After pool play, all 12 teams will be re-seeded. The top eight will then play quarterfinals on Saturday. The bottom four will play a consolation bracket on Sunday.

So it could be that a team will win its pool, but have a tough quarterfinal matchup anyway, and it could be that a third-place team might rebound in the knockout rounds to win the whole thing.

Cal, Colorado, and Utah are probably the favorites here, with someone out of the UCLA/Arizona/WSU/Stanford pool breaking into the mix, as well. Arizona State is definitely a dark horse. Their key game will be against Cal. If they can’t win it, they need to keep it close to ensure a better seeding.

Time

Home

Away

Match #

09:00

California

USC

1

09:20

Arizona State

Oregon State

2

09:40

Arizona

WSU

3

10:00

UCLA

Stanford

4

10:20

Utah

Oregon

5

10:40

Colorado

Washington

6

11:00

Break

11:20

California

Oregon State

7

11:40

Arizona State

USC

8

12:00

Arizona

Stanford

9

12:20

UCLA

WSU

10

12:40

Utah

Washington

11

13:00

Colorado

Oregon

12

13:20

Break

13:40

California

Arizona State

13

14:00

Oregon State

USC

14

14:20

Arizona

UCLA

15

14:40

Stanford

WSU

16

15:00

Utah

Colorado

17

15:20

Washington

Oregon

18

15:40

Break

Reseed

16:00

Break

16:20

#1

#8

19

16:40

#4

#5

20

17:00

#2

#7

21

17:20

#3

#6

22




Day Two Schedule

Time

Home

Away

Match #

10:00

#9

#12

23

10:20

#10

#11

24

10:40

L19

L20

25

11:00

L21

L22

26

11:20

W19

W20

27

11:40

W21

W22

28

12:00

Break

12:20

L23

L24

29

11-12 Playoff

12:40

W23

W24

30

9-10 Playoff

13:00

L25

L26

31

7-8 Playoff

13:20

W25

W26

32

5-6 Playoff

13:40

L27

L28

33

3-4 Playoff

14:00

W27

W28

34

1-2 Playoff