A week ago the All Americans rebounded from a spotty start at the Serevi 7s to win the Plate, showcasing their fitness as they finished strong.
This week, at the National All-Star Championships, the All Americans were in something of the same situation. They started softly, losing one and tying two games in pool play on Friday.
Obviously ties could just as well be losses, but they could also be wins – the All Americans were close. All they needed was to figure out how to play together a little bit better.
And that’s what they did.
“A lot of our players were tired on Friday,” said All American Head Coach Tony Pacheco, noting that half his squad flew in from Ireland on Wednesday and had basically one day to get into the swing of things.
“The plan on Day One then was to get guys on the field and get all these guys used to playing with each other,” Pacheco said. “They had to learn how their teammates play. I thought today everyone was much more fluid.”
While the players who played both weekends – Nate Augspurger, Patrick Blair, Trevor Tanifum – played well. The new guys had an impact, too.
“Ryan Roundy did so much work this weekend,” enthused Pacheco. “He did a lot of work in good support play, defense, and ball-retention. I also thought Zac Mizell really kept getting better and better, and had his best game in the final.”
Oh yes, the final.
Tied at 21-21, the All Americans put Tanifum over for a slim 25-21 lead. The Northeast came right back, knocking on the door. But the All American defense held, and Blair helped force a fumble and turnover.
“They went 90 meters,” said Northeast Head Coach Sean Horan. “That was the killer, because it basically ended the game right there – it was a 14-point turnaround, and that’s the sort of thing that can happen in 7s.”
It was over, and interestingly enough, the try was scored by Keofi Unufe, who was brought into the team to fill in for some injuries.
The victory ended an excellent two weeks for the All Americans 7s team, and Pacheco probably wishes it could be longer.
“I’d love to coach these guys again,” he told RUGBYMag.com. “To have them all summer would be great. I was grateful to have them for the time we had and to put together our style of play. It’s been great.”