It’s called summer 7s for a reason, with the operative word being ‘summer.’ For the Best of the West tournament this weekend in Fort Lewis, Wash., the high temperature was 61 and not so summery. Nonetheless, teams still found a way to put some great players out on the pitch for a great two-day tournament.
“Weather aside, I think everyone had a great time,” tournament director Nick Punimata said. “Lots of great support for the rugby teams that made it and a chance to pay a bit of tribute to military personnel.”
For the shield final, it was more of an inter-squad scrimmage for two teams. Old Puget Sound Beach (OPSB) entered three teams into the tournament; themselves, Serevi Selects and Seattle. Beach played the latter, and despite a bit of a lop-sided score of 19-5, it was a great game.
One might assume that letting your players play against each other might be a great way to get some unnecessary injuries, but it’s not a big deal for Beach.
“Not the first time and probably won’t be the last for this squad,” head coach Evan Haigh said. “Got a lot of new players coming through and we want to get them as much playing as possible,." Despite Seattle getting off to a quick 5-0 lead from Shelby Williams, OPSB scored 19 straight with scores from Kellen Gordon, Shane Moore and John Lumbra.
The Bowl matchup featured two very strong squads with very similar playing styles; Pacific Rovers and Portland Tsunamis. The Rovers won the game 31-7, but it was an entertaining game to say the least.
The Rovers got their first score of the game within two minutes of the opening whistle for a quick 7-0 lead. The Tsunamis answered right back with a long score from Ala Tuliau, but it would be the only points as the Rovers proved to be too much in the end that saw 5 five players score for the Rovers.
In the plate final and maybe the most intriguing matchup of the day was the Military Selects against the Oregon Sturgeons; which the Military won 33-14. Usually when two teams match up in the plate final of this tournament, they’ve spent, at least, a few years playing together to get the team chemistry down.
Well, there are exceptions, which is why people love sports. Between the two teams combined, they’ve formed and played together for three weeks, give or take. The tournament host Military Selects spent a total of one week practicing together after flying in plaerys from all over the country.
“Pretty amazing how well these guys played considering the circumstances,” coach Kevin Swiryn said.
The Oregon Sturgeons are the second part of the matchup. Having just joined the DIII league of Oregon Rugby, the Sturgeons feature a squad that was thrown together in a short time frame and with limited players with 7s experience.
However, the squad full of islanders and the culture they bring to the pitch keeps bringing them success. Having beat OPSB in the Tatunka 7s tournament just a few weekends ago, they came into the Best of the West with a lot of confidence.
Though they lost to a very talented Military Select squad, it still didn’t stop them from chanting in unison off the pitch and eventually to the trophy matt for their awards. Everyone knows this team has a lot of potential.
“This squad is trying very hard to get up to scale with some of the more elite teams in this region, and while it seems as though its taking a while, everything is moving forward,” Sturgeons head coach Lisona Roebeck said. “We are brand new and therefore lack experience, but the more we play, the more we learn and get better. That’s extremely vital to this club.”
The Cup final was the last game to be played against the Serevi Selects and Pacific Coast Grizzlies. And based on the first day, it looked apparent these two teams could see each other again with Serevi winning the match, but the Grizzlies gave them their best match of the tournament.
In the end though, Serevi took the trophy and check for $10,000 back to Seattle with a 35-12 victory.
Led by the extremely deadly duo of Fijian brothers Fili Botitu and Isimeli Daveta, Serevi Selects got out to an early 14-0 lead with two scores from Daveta and never looked back. Playing great defense and with patience and poise on offense, the Selects capitalized on the few errors made by the Grizzlies to carry the lead into the half.
Grizzlies’ Bubba Jones got his team on the board with an early score to start the second half. However, quick counter tries from both Mike Nelson and Botitu were too much for the Grizzlies to make a comeback despite a late score.
“This is such a great way to get people out to the base and showcase a great sport,” Colonel Thomas H. Brittain said. “It was once again a great tournament thanks in large to the many that helped bring it all together.”