It wasn’t because he scored the most tries or had the most highlight moments. Miles Craigwell was named the Club 7s National Championship MVP Sunday because he did the grunt work really well and really often, as well as score a few tries along the way.
“It feels great. We worked very hard in the off season and leading up to this weekend,” said Craigwell of winning a National Championship and the MVP trophy. “We executed very well in the finals, stuck to our game plan and a lot of calls didn’t go our way, but we didn’t let that phase us.”
Seattle-OPSB was up against it in the first half. Denver came into the game with the same plan anyone playing Seattle should have – don’t let them have the ball. And the Barbarians put that plan into practice for about nine minutes and 55 seconds of the first half, partially because Seattle kept getting pinged at the breakdown.
“We were pretty aggressive in the rucks, and the referees called it their way, so we just had to go with it, but that didn’t stop us from being aggressive and being physical and attacking," said Craigwell. "We had to blow up the rucks to get the ball. We knew that if we kept possession of the ball and kept them on defense we’d wear them out. We have a pretty strong attack. We knew we could score anywhere on the field, whether it’s our forwards, our play makers or our wings. We just needed to get the ball and we did that the second half.”
Craigwell was instrumental all weekend in prying possession from Seattle’s opponents, whether with a jarring hit, a ball ripped out of a maul or a big counter ruck. He was OPSB’s, and the tournament’s, best forward. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a shiny MVP cup presented by former teammate and current National Team coach Matt Hawkins.
Craigwell hasn’t gotten on the field for the 7s Eagles since February of 2012, largely because of decisions he’s made, but he hopes that changes very soon.
“Coming into this season, that was my goal, to get back on the team. I had a lot of personal things to deal with, student loans to deal with, and then wanted some work experience as well,” said the Brown grad.
“I figured a year or two away wouldn’t hurt and only help me develop as a player. I focused and played 15s for the last two seasons. 80 minutes as opposed to a minute that I was getting on the circuit really accelerated my skill as a rugby player and my production, so I feel that was one of the best choices and decisions to make, and hopefully I get the call from Matt Hawkins.”
It’s not as simple as Matt calling Miles and inviting him to rejoin the residency. The money at the Olympic Training Center has been scarce, and Craigwell has bills to pay.
“Hopefully they’ve developed a way where we can just be residents and don’t have to focus on anything else – the money’s coming in, we have enough to live off of and enough to just focus on rugby. I look forward to seeing what happens. It’s a new year, a new team, a new staff, so time will tell.”
In the mean time, Craigwell has a pretty nice new vessel for beverages and a medal to go with it.