The Black Nights take home U.S. Armed Forces Championship.
GLENDALE, Colo. – In the thick of the summertime heat, pool play drew to a close on Day 2 of the RugbyTown Sevens. But the competition is still heating up with all to play for in Sunday’s trophy matches.
“The tournament keeps improving each and every year from the standard of the teams to the number of fans and overall fan experience,” said Glendale Merlins head coach David Williams. “The players all love playing at Infinity Park due to the playing surface and number of fans that support the games.”
The All-Army team was the first to take home silverware from the 2017 RT7s tournament on Saturday however, defeating Air Force in convincing fashion to take home the U.S. Armed Forces Championship. Saturday’s intense and high scoring action ramped up into the afternoon and evening as teams contested the first of the Bowl and Cup quarterfinals.
“Every year we invite the armed forces and every year they come back better rugby players,” said Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon, who served as the master of ceremony during the medals presentation.
Army proved to be the class of Pool B, winning all four of its group matches against its U.S. Armed Forces counterparts, and setting up a Military Championship rematch against U.S. Air Force. This year’s contest marked the fifth-straight Military Championship win for the Black Knights of the Army, and they have dispatched their Air Force rivals in each of those finals. This year would be no different with Army winning by a score of 34-0.
“Every year our goal is to come out and win our pool and win the Armed Forces championship,” said U.S. Army coach Nate Conkey. “The other services get our emotions peaked, bring out the best of our performance, and never give us an inch – we have to earn everything. What is also great is the consistency in so many of the players, coaches, and staffs from across the military community. Every year we look forward to seeing each other and competing against one another.”
Recent winners of the Club 7s National Championship, Rugby Utah, continued their dominance in Pool A and remain undefeated, winning all five of their matches thus far including a 24-19 win over Pool D runners up Negro y Azul in a Cup quarterfinal matchup.
In Pool C, fan and tournament favorite Fiji (SAVU Water), affectionately known as the “Viti Barbarians”, bounced back from yesterday’s upset loss in pool play to earn a share of the lead in their pool and advance to the Cup quarterfinal, tied with pool leaders Ramblin Jesters with 10 points each in the table.
British Army dominated Pool D with wins in all four of its matches in pool play. After advancing to the Cup quarterfinal, British Army advanced to Sunday’s semifinal with a 17-14 win over the 1823 Rugby Tigers.
After wrapping up pool play with a fourth-place finish in Pool D, the Glendale Merlins were set to face off with the USA Collegiate All-Americans in the Bowl quarterfinal. The 2013 Cup winners dispatched the Merlins by a score of 38-5 to advance.
“It has been disappointing for the Merlins but we hope for an improved performance tomorrow and challenge for some silverware,” said Williams.
Glendale still has an opportunity to play for hardware however, set to face off with U.S. Navy to open Day 3 action in the Shield semifinal (11 a.m.).
“We came together well after only two weeks of training to play some excellent rugby,” said Navy head coach Koma Gandy Fischbein following Saturday’s action. “Every athlete improved and each game was better than the previous one. We are looking forward to continuing our progress into the Shield Semifinal.”
Concluding Saturday’s action was a marquee matchup between newly re-crowned Military Champions Army and favorite Fiji (SAVU Water). In that match, Fiji dominated, taking a 31-5 victory to advance.
As Day 2 of the RT7s concluded, the teams still in contention for the RT7s Cup and a shot at the $10,000 purse were Rugby Utah, Ramblin Jesters, British Army and Fiji, which each advanced after winning their Cup quarterfinal matches.
Entering Day 3 of the tournament, Sunday’s slate of rugby will feature an entire day of semifinal and final matches as teams compete for the Shield, Bowl, Plate and Cup awards with gates opening at 10 a.m. The Cup Final will close out the Sunday’s action and conclude the 2017 RT7s Tournament with kickoff tentatively scheduled for 4:50 p.m.