Credit: Travis Prior - U.S. Army Rugby Men
Seventh Annual RugbyTown 7s Kicks Off In Glendale
World-class rugby was on display in Glendale Friday, with 20 domestic and international rugby teams competing in 28 matches, each vying for the $10,000 winner take all championship purse. Representative teams from all five branches of the U.S. Military, as well as the British Army and Royal Armoured Corps, competed alongside participating teams from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Organized into pool play, the rugby action kicked off at 11am Mountain Time and carried on until after 9pm. In addition to the ultimate winner-take-all tournament purse, U.S. Military teams competed to set the stage for separate Military Championship honors. The U.S. Army team is the multi-year defending champion, having won every year save 2012, when the Marines took top honors.
RugbyTown 7s (RT7s) has historically invited and featured new teams and talent, and 2018 is no exception. Featuring new faces and seasoned veterans, the history and world-class facilities at Infinity Park continue to draw teams from far and wide. Pool play will continue Saturday, once again kicking off at 11am Mountain Time. In addition to this year’s rugby competition is the Bruises and Brews beer festival, which for the first time in the tournament’s history is a two-day event in 2018.
The action-filled Friday kicked off at 11am. Under sunny skies, and as Colorado continues to be blanketed by a pall of smoke from the forest fires raging across the Western U.S., teams had to cope not just with high temperatures but also with playing at elevation. Those unaccustomed to rugby at altitude were clearly struggling for oxygen in the early segments of tournament play. Notably, many of the day one matches were one-sided – better structures and conditioning making themselves immediately apparent on the scoreboard.
Temperatures cooled as the afternoon pressed into evening, though the rugby action continued to heat up. Breezy conditions on the pitch complicated post-try conversion attempts for many teams as they worked to solidify both pool and overall standings moving into Saturday play.
The U.S. Coast Guard beat the U.S. Navy 17-14 to start the day, followed by a come from behind U.S. Air Force win over the U.S. Marines, 12-7. An early standout in day one, the Collegiate All-Americans bested the Sacramento Eagles in a dominant 33-7 performance. The hometown Denver Rugby 7s Selects closed out the day’s opening matches with a 33-5 victory over Washington Athletic Club.
The second set of Friday matches saw the Southern California Griffins coming out strong, putting up 47 points to the Royal Armoured Corps’ 7 to secure their first win of the tournament. Tiger Rugby, favorites to take the tournament purse, showed spectators why with a shutout win over the Dark n’ Stormy misfits, 36-0. In one of the day’s more closely contested matches, the Ramblin Jesters bested the USA Falcons 17-5, while British Army finished out the segment, taking out the North American Tsunami Sport Barbarians in a dominating shutout, 36-0.
As play kicked back in with Pool A teams, defending military championship winners U.S. Army put up plenty of points in a win against Navy – 43-14. The U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard battled in a tight contest, Air Force ultimately earning the win, 33-21. In another of Friday’s close games, the Sacramento Eagles held off Bermuda to take a 24-17 victory. One of the breakout stars of this year’s tournament, the Collegiate All-Americans secured their second win of the day to close the segment, defeating Washington Athletic Club 35-5.
Pool C kicked off with Lomaiviti taking down Royal Armoured Corps 33-7, in the California-based team and RT7s newcomer’s first match of the day. The Dark n’ Stormy Misfits followed with their first victory, a decisive 35-12 win over the SoCal Griffins. The Cayman Islands squad was unable to put points on the scoreboard in their first match, falling to the Ramblin Jesters 33-0. The USA Falcons took care of business against the Barbarians to close out the round, winning 31-10.
The U.S. Army side opened the segment by proving why they remain the perennial military championship favorites. They shut out their opponent in the U.S. Marines putting up a tidy sum in the process, winning 32-0. The USAF then bested Navy with nearly equal gusto, taking the win 34-7. The hometown Denver Rugby 7s Selects took their second win of the day next, knocking off Bermuda 36-5. The round closed with one of the most exciting and closely contested matches of the day – Washington Athletic Club taking on the Sacramento Eagles. Looking particularly evenly matched, the two teams battled from the first minute to the last, with WAC edging out a 29-28 victory.
Tiger Rugby kicked off the penultimate segment of competition with a decisive win over RT7s newcomer Lomaiviti, 26-7. The Dark n’ Stormy Misfits enjoyed their second win of the day next, defeating Royal Armoured Corps 35-12. British Army then took down Cayman Islands with a 29-7 victory, and the Ramblin Jesters secured a perfect record on day one with a decisive win over the North American Tsunami Sport Barbarians, logging the most points scored on day one in the process in their 50-12 win.
The final segment of Friday play featured matches from each of the four pools. Finding revenge for their loss to Army, the U.S. Marines side took down Coast Guard, 17-14 in a close battle. The breakout Collegiate All-Americans squad then dismantled the Denver 7s Selects, maintaining a perfect day-one record and winning 36-12 over the local team. Tiger Rugby also held on to a flawless Friday record, shutting out the SoCal Griffins 34-0. British Army put their stamp on Friday pool play with a stunning 45-0 win over the USA Falcons to end the first day of the 2018 RugbyTown 7s Tournament.
With the first day of the annual international tournament completed, championship contenders have already begun to establish themselves. Pool play continues on Saturday, and kicks off at 11am Mountain Time. In addition to the fast-paced, hard-hitting rugby 7s action, Infinity Park’s annual Bruises and Brews Beer Festival will continue during Saturday play, a favorite event that only adds to the exciting rugby atmosphere. The Saturday action will help determine which teams will advance toward the winner-take-all $10,000 purse, and perhaps more importantly, bragging rights as winner of the RugbyTown 7s tournament.