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Written by Alex Goff    Wednesday, 20 June 2012 23:30    PDF Print Write e-mail
Best of West Showcases Game on Mil. Base
Sevens - Club Sevens


The Best of the West tournament is slated for Saturday and Sunday at Joint Base Lewis McChord just south of Tacoma, Wash.

Fans are invited to Cowan Stadium (enter the base at I-5 exit 119, park for free and take the shuttle) to see 12 top teams from around the nation and internationally, as well.

Seattle is represented heavily in the tournament, with Old Puget Sound Beach, Seattle RFC, and Serevi Rugby field squads. Also from the Seattle area comes the Pacific Rovers.

Oregon provides the Northwest Sturgeon, who finished second at the Tatunka 7s (Olympia) and first at this past weekend’s Roy Lucas 7s in Portland.  Also from Oregon will be the Tsunami.

From further afield, East Palo Alto comes from Northern California, while a Pacific Coast Grizzlies team will draw players from all over the region.

Utah also sends two teams, Humless, led by some impressive young talent, and a Utah Collegiates side.

And finally, a Combined Services team will also participate. That team has been running two-a-days all week, with recently retired former USA 7s team captain Kevin Swiryn running them through their paces.

The tournament will run Saturday and Sunday, and will also feature a High School bracket. The JBLM Garrison Commander  Col. Thomas Brittain is expected to attend and the US Army will provide a full color guard for the opening ceremonies.

“We’re very excited about this tournament,” said Nick Punimata, Chief Warrant Officer in the US Army and father of USA 7s player Nu’u. “We’ve got high school select teams from four states, and 12 really solid teams competing in the men’s division. We’re looking forward to showcasing the game on base.”




 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Wednesday, 20 June 2012 21:22    PDF Print Write e-mail
Sturgeons Win Roy Lucas
Sevens - Club Sevens


The men’s bracket of the 2012 Roy Lucas 7s Tournament in Portland, Ore. provided some proof that maybe the NW Sturgeons are for real.

The Sturgeons, a local newcomer team, claimed the Cup with a series of convincing wins, defeating Eugene and Fort Tacoma in pool play, and the Pigs in the semis. The Sturgeon leveraged their deep roster numbers in the final to overcome the Tsunami 43-7.

ORSU beat the Pigs 24-12 to take third place, while Fort Tacoma pipped Corvallis 17-12 for the Plate, and Eugene defeated Salem 29-19 for the Bowl.

The tournament was a big success and organizers are talking about expanding, with the high number of teams in the area looking to play


Scores:


Cup FinalSturgeons 43 v 7  Tsunami
3rd/4th:         ORSU  24 v 12  Pigs

Plate Final: Fort Tacoma 17 v 12  Corvallis
7th/8th:         Battleground 17 v 12  N. Clackamas

Bowl Final
Eugene 29 v 19  Salem

Cup Semi #1: Pool A #1 - ORSU  7 v 26  Tsunami - Pool B #1
Cup Semi #2: Pool C #1 - Pigs  5 v 19  Sturgeons - Pool D #1

Plate Semi #1 : Pool A #2 - Old Boars  15 v 17  Corvallis - Pool B #2
Plate Semi #2: Pool C #2 - N. Clackamas 0 v 39  Ft. Tacoma - Pool D #2

Bowl Semi #1: Pool A #3 - WOU  34 v 5 Salem - Pool B #3
Bowl Semi #2: Pool C #3 - Battleground 31 v 7  Eugene - Pool D #3

Pool Play

ORSU   26 v 7  WOU
Tsunami  45 v 10  Corvallis
Pigs  34 v 5  N. Clackamas
Sturgeons  43 v 0  Eugene

ORSU  17 v 19  Old Boars
Tsunami  48 v 0  Salem
Pigs  19 v 12  Battleground
Sturgeons  36 v 5  Ft. Tacoma

Old Boars  17 v 26  WOU
Corvallis  57 v 7  Salem
Battleground  5 v 22 N. Clackamas
Eugene  5 v 20  Ft. Tacoma

WOU 34-5 Salem
Old Boars 15-17 Corvallis
Battleground 31-7 Eugene
Ft. Tacoma 39-0 N. Clackamas

 

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Wednesday, 20 June 2012 18:09    PDF Print Write e-mail
Injury Riddled Raptors March Into 7s - P
Sevens - Club Sevens


Glendale was stung with a rash of injuries at the end of the 15s season, and that has significantly hurt their 7s prospects.

Nic Johnson suffered a concussion, and Glendale is taking every caution to prevent exacerbating his situation. Mike Kenyon broke his leg. Spencer Scott tore his hamstring. Ata Malifa tore his pectoral muscle. Nese Malifa is battling a knee problem. Max Statler is out with a broken collarbone.

In addition to the injured players, the Raptors have lost James Paterson to the 15s Eagles, Iniki Famausili to the Junior World Trophy and Tyler Siegel and Ryan Chapman to relocation. Chapman has caught on with Youngbloodz in Minnesota and Siegel is back in native Sacramento.

“I was really excited in the beginning of the season when I looked at the players available, but it’s like gambling -- you’ve got to play the hand that you’ve been dealt,” said Glendale 7s coach Andre Snyman.

“And the players I’ve got left, they’ve stepped up to the plate and filled those positions. I’m confident in them, and I hope they can get the job done.”

Glendale’s experience will come from Dewon Reed and Bradley Winbush, who have played plenty of high-level 7s. Stan Moaali and Justin Pauga are also experienced players who were anchors on the 15s team.

The big pickup for Glendale is Bryce Spaur of Northern Colorado, who would have gotten his shot anyway. Spaur played with the Denver Barbarians the last couple of summers and played for Snyman on the West 7s team last year. He is with Glendale and will provide some stability in the lineup.

There are four kids from Colorado, too, who help make up the batch of baby Raptors who will get their opportunity to shine in light of the aforementioned injuries.

“I won’t say they’re as experienced as the players I’ve lost, but they bring a fresh edge to the team. They’re excited, they’re young, they’re full of energy, and I hope that will pay off,” said Snyman.

“I’m confident their eagerness to learn the game and to play the game will pay off. And then, obviously, the stability of players like Dewon Reed, Stan, Justin Pauga and Bradley Winbush, the experience will come through.”

The Raptors are in Houston Saturday for the West’s first qualifier.

 
Written by Alex Goff    Wednesday, 20 June 2012 18:59    PDF Print Write e-mail
Great Start for USA U20s
National Teams - Age-Grade Men


Up 12-11 with very little time left, the USA U20s put away Tonga 22-11, scoring two tries and turning more than a few heads at the Junior World Rugby Trophy.

Great start for USA. P. Crane photoFor a team that finished 7th out of 8 in 2011, this result was a huge step forward. Head Coach Scott Lawrence was pleased, but also not surprised. He had spent a year working on developing this team and his approach, with such a performance in mind.

“It was a good way to finish,” Lawrence told RUGBYMag.com. “Overall, though,  we weren’t as precise as we wanted to be. But these are the heart attack kids, and they are finding a way to win games.”

Key in the match against Tonga, Lawrence wanted his players to handle the physicality, and be aware that they couldn’t let the borderline (or over the border) hits bother them. Tonga ended up slammed with yellow cards (and the USA got one, as well), and the USA kept playing rugby.

“We talked to the guys about keeping their discipline and driving up the phase count,” said Lawrence. “We made some tactical changes that were installed to help us avoid those double tackles, which I think helped.”

Those double tackles were brutal, and often the second Tongan tackler came in forearm first. Lawrence didn’t want his players hurt, or to retaliate, and for the most part that plan worked.

“I think we just knew if we kept on the pressure there would be opportunities, and there would be penalties,” Lawrence said. “Madison [Hughes] did well. That was a big thing, our kicking game both from the hand and the tee. But at the same time, Tonga’s one try came from when we didn’t exit the red zone effectively. That’s something we need to focus on doing well.”

The ability of Hughes to punish Tonga penalties with three points was a crucial part of the game, certainly. Once penalties start costing points, teams are less likely to keep doing it. And if they do keep doing it, they end up seeing a card.

“Once we got into their end we wanted to stay in the middle of the field and apply pressure,” explained Lawrence, hinting strongly that they knew the penalties would be there, and being in the middle of the field would make the kicks easier.

Looking ahead to Friday, the USA plays Chile, which torched Russia 53-19. Lawrence says this will be another tough game, and another game that challenges the USA’s dedication.

“South American teams are all very good at the age-grade level,” said Lawrence. “Uruguay has won this competition before. Chile beat the Argentina U19s. They are going to be a physical group. Set piece is going to be a strength to them and they will be tough in the contact area.”

Certainly the USA front row, which performed well Monday (although the entire pack will recognize they need to improve their lineouts).

“The front row was an important part of the game,” said the coach. “We had ascendancy in the scrum and the lineout, although the throwing wasn’t quite there. But really, about 90% of our focus is on doing the things we need to do right. We talk about our journey, which is nothing to do with the opposition. We know we need to stay on the right patch, no matter who we play.”


Junior World Rugby Trophy - USA U20s v Tonga

Action from the USA U20s v. Tonga U20s in the first round of the Junior World Rugby Trophy Monday, June 18, 2012 in Salt Lake City. Photos by P. Crane. The USA won 22-11.


 
Written by Alex Goff    Wednesday, 20 June 2012 17:19    PDF Print Write e-mail
Biller Makes Strides at Hooker
National Teams - USA Men


USA hooker Chris Biller had one of his stronger games Saturday against Georgia, hitting his lineout throws, getting the strikes in the scrum despite being under pressure, and making some key tackles and counter-rucks.

Chris Biller pushing his way through against Georgia Saturday. Phillipa Snyman photo
USA plays Italy Saturday. Click for tickets.

For the former Cal All American, this could be a year where he takes complete hold of the national team job. Certainly he has come into camp with a professional attitude, say coaches.

For a hooker, there’s a lot of work to take care of on the field. You are expected to be as strong as a prop, yet active like a flanker, with sometimes a little scrumhalf thrown in. You need to have the skill and timing to get those lineout throws right, and don’t forget the scrum, either.

Against Georgia, there was little margin for error in the lineouts. The early throws went to Todd Clever at the back, and Biller’s throws had to be high and hard enough to elude the Georgia jumpers, but low enough to be hauled in by Clever. He did that superbly. Only late in the game was Georgia able to disrupt a few USA lineouts.

“The lineouts have been solid,” Biller told RUGBYMag.com. “We got a new system in that’s pretty simple. I think Scott LaValla and Brian Doyle have been really steady in the lineout. We’ve have good lifts, good jumps, and good tempo, and that’s a good combination.”

At the end of the game, Georgia deserves kudos for their hard work.

“Credit to Georgia,” said Biller. “They started getting up in our spots and made good guesses. I probably could have thrown a better ball, but more than anything, credit to Georgia.”

In the scrums, Biller and Shawn Pittman spent a lot of last week working together.

“Their tighthead is strong and we needed to be ready for that,” said Biller. “And at tighthead Eric Fry is getting better every game. We felt the scrum was stable.”

Out in the loose player is where Biller can really make an impact. At his best he wins the point of contact and bounces right onto his feet and is ready to do it again. The USA rucked very well against Georgia, allowing them to get quick ball.

But it’s all symbiotic, said Biller. The forwards produce quick ball for the backs, but the backs help the forwards too.

“It helped that our backs put us on the front foot so much,” said Biller. “So it was easier for us to get those first guys off the ball. Dan Pane puts us through the works every week on that.”

The USA will have to take care of all of that, and more, against Italy.

“Italy is a tough ballclub,” said Biller. “if we thought the set piece was tough [against Georgia], it will be even tougher [against Italy]. But if we compete and keep improving hopefully we can get a scalp. Hopefully with our new style we can ask some questions of them.”

 


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