Denver wins back-to-back Cup titles.
GLENDALE, Colo. – A grueling weekend for the competitors and equally entertaining one for the fans came to a conclusion Sunday with thirteen matches highlighting the final day of the 5th Annual Serevi RugbyTown Sevens (SRS) Tournament. Day 3 kicked off with semifinal matches, with each match not only determining who would take home silverware but also which team would ultimately take home the $10,000 purse awarded to the SRS Cup winners.
Sunday’s SRS Cup Final was a fitting matchup between the hosting Glendale Raptors and the Denver 7s selects, last year’s overall tournament champion. Denver held off the hosts to win back-to-back SRS Cup titles in a 31-24 win.
“It was a great tournament and a very tough pool.” Denver captain Maximo DeAchaval said postgame. “But that’s how tournaments go, you have to win every game.”
Denver jumped out to a 19-0 lead with three consecutive first half tries until the Raptors answered with a score from DeWon Reed. The Raptors had a chance to close the gap further just before the half, but ball handling skills let them down as the clock ran out.
A turnover led to another Denver score to start the second half, growing the lead to 24-7. But Glendale closed to within a try at 24-19. The two teams exchanged another two tries, but time ran out on the Raptors as Denver held on.
The SRS Cup final also marked the final game for Raptors captain DeWon Reed.
“I’ve been here since it started,” Reed said. “I’ll miss everybody. I want to say thank you the fans, the coaches and everyone that I’ve been around since I moved here. You changed my whole game and made me a better person inside the field and also off the field.”
To reach the Final, Glendale continued its momentum from the first two days of action by securing its spot in the final with a 17-5 victory over Tiger Rugby, coached by former Raptors’ player Nese Malifa. Denver started its road to the championship with a 19-12 victory over early favorites after the first two days of competition, U.K. touring side, the Ramblin’ Jesters.
Another highlight of the early action was the SRS Plate semifinal, which gave a matchup fans had been clamoring for; a Revolutionary War-style pairing of the U.S. Army against the British Army. This time around, the British Army were victors, taking away a 31-12 victory and advancing to face the SoCal Griffins, who had defeated Air Force 42-5 earlier in the day.
Three other finals helped set the stage prior to the championship with SRS Shield, Bowl, and Plate awards contested prior to the Cup Final.
Royal Air Force opened up the string of finals, defeating Canadian side Upright Rugby Rogues 17-14 to win the Shield.
The Bowl Final was one of excitement with Rugby Utah facing Negro Y Azul of Texas. The match went down to the final play with Utah captain Don Pati putting in a desperate tackle of Azul winger Gerson Blaise, causing a knock on right at the try line according to replays and the referee’s final decision. With the tackle, Utah held on to a 21-19 victory, winning the SRS Bowl.
“I wouldn’t picture any better ending playing against [Negro y Azul],” Pati said after the match. “It was well fought and we were really lucky that the ref gave us that win.”
In the Plate Final, British Army weathered early and late pushes from SoCal Griffins to win the Plate with a 20-12 victory.
“I believe we represent the forces and those who are serving everywhere,” British Army captain and forward Tams Tamatawale said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t make it to the [Cup] final, but that’s rugby. It’s a great honor.”
That match was followed up by a third-place game between the Ramblin’ Jesters and Tiger Rugby. The Jesters dominated the match, jumping out to a 24-7 lead by halftime. The Tigers stormed back in the second half, but the Jesters held on for third place with the 31-21 victory.
“We love this tournament,” Ramblin’ Jesters captain Niall Barry said. “It’s our first time here and it’s a great atmosphere, great stadium and facilities. We’re just thankful we could be here.”
It marked another successful year at the Serevi Rugbytown Sevens in its fifth year of play.
“It’s an honor and privilege to have a partnership with Glendale, Infinity Park, and Glendale Rugby,” said Waisale Serevi, the Fiji legend for whom the Serevi RugbyTown Sevens bears its name. “To give an opportunity for all U.S. players to showcase their talent, I think we’re moving in the right place. I believe this is the strongest tournament in Canada and in the U.S.A.”