U.S. Army wins Armed Forces title.
GLENDALE, Colo. – Beautiful weather and clear skies were the backdrop to the high-flying intensity of Rugby 7s action on Day 2 of the 2016 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens (SRS) at Infinity Park. Saturday’s events included the conclusion of pool play and teams inched closer to silverware with the Armed Forces Championship and quarterfinal matches highlighting the afternoon’s events.
Pool A featured representative teams from five U.S. Military branches, each competing for a berth in the afternoon’s Military Championship. As it has done throughout the history of SRS, Army proved to be the team to beat, winning all four of its pool matches.
Air Force also showed why it is one of the best military teams, winning three of its four pool matches, their lone loss a 41-0 defeat to their Army rivals to kick off SRS action on Day 1.
With Army and Air Force finishing first and second in Pool A, it set up a rematch to determine this year’s Armed Forces champion. In the rematch, the Black Knights of Army again proved dominant, winning the championship match by a 55-5 scoreline.
It marked the fourth-straight time Army has won the Military Championship in the five years of SRS.
“We love having this event here as part of the Armed Forces Championship. We could have it anywhere in the country, but we love having it right here in Glendale” said Army team captain Andrew Locke. “We have two or three guys that are probably deploying here in the next couple of months. We represent your Army and it’s an honor to represent the Army.”
Just a few matches later, Army was pitted against Tiger Rugby, the second-place finishers in Pool D. In a barnburner, Tiger Rugby held on to advance to the Cup semifinal after a last second try from the Black Knights went unconverted. Army will play in Sunday’s Plate semifinal at 1:20 p.m.
In Pool B, both the hosting Glendale Raptors and SoCal Griffins came out as co-leaders of the pool following their 19-19 draw on Day 1. Both teams dispatched Black Dragons in their final matches of pool play to close out pool play with 11 points in the table and advance themselves to the SRS Cup quarterfinals.
“It was a bit of a slow start and they put us under pressure in the beginning,” Raptors head coach Andre Snyman said of the match with Black Dragons. “Our defense held it tight and we managed to score some tries off of their mistakes. I was happy with the win.”
In the Cup quarterfinal, the Raptors faced a tournament favorite in the British Army, winners of Pool C. Glendale continued the momentum it has built throughout the tournament however, defeating British Army in a 26-5 victory.
“Everybody thought that they would walk all over us,” Snyman said of the British Army team. “I’m really stoked at the manner the guys battled up and we walked away with a victory. Our defense was unbelievable. We rattled them. We didn’t give away space and time for them to do what their strength is, to move the ball and look for space. We just shut them down. It really paid off.”
The win sets up a semifinal match between the Raptors and Tiger Rugby with kickoff slated for 1:58 p.m. on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Snyman said of Sunday’s semifinal matchup. “The tigers are a really well drilled side. They train together every day. They know each other and have some big names. It’s going to be a challenge and I see another physical game coming up.”
The Denver 7s may not have won Pool C, but solidly secured a berth in the quarterfinals with three wins and ten points in the table. The defending SRS Champions from last year’s Cup Final will have a chance to defend their title after a closely contested 14-10 quarterfinal win over the SoCal Griffins to close out Saturday’s action.
“We just had all 12 guys step up for us today,” said Denver head coach Steve Laporta. “We went through a little adversity. We didn’t have Maximo DeAchaval for that last game but the rest of the guys really stepped up and made the plays they needed to. I’m incredibly proud of the effort and the heart.”
The Ramblin’ Jesters won Pool D with undefeated play in the team’s pool games, closed out with their 31-10 defeat of Upright Rugby Rogues. The Jesters punched their ticket to Sunday’s Cup semifinals with a 45-0 quarterfinal win over Air Force and will face Denver at 2:17 p.m. on Day 3.
Sunday’s slate of rugby will feature an entire day of semifinal matches as teams compete for the SRS Shield, Bowl, Plate and Cup awards with gates opening at 11 a.m. It will also feature a stadium concert with a performance by the Mile Highlanders pipe band set for 2:45 p.m. and Championship matches kicking off just under an hour later at 3:40 p.m.
The Cup Final will close out the Sunday’s action and conclude the 2016 SRS Tournament with kickoff tentatively scheduled for 5:20 p.m.