Sunday saw the conclusion of rugby sevens play at Infinity Park, the final day of the seventh annual RugbyTown 7s tournament reaching its exciting crescendo. The annual Glendale event, which draws teams from across the planet, saw three days of exceptional competition from squads invited for the first time to those that are veterans of the Colorado sevens tournament.
As the physical exertion from three days of matches piled upon the teams, the hot, humid conditions at elevation, made clear that conditioning would be the deciding factor on Sunday. Favorite teams that looked unbeatable on Friday showed signs of cracking during Saturday’s day-long competition: on Sunday the stand-outs made themselves known.
This year’s tournament has been characterized not just by the exceptional play from the domestic and international teams, the cheering fans, and the party atmosphere of the two-day Bruises and Brews Beer Festival, but also by the Colorado weather. High temperatures, unseasonable humidity, and smoky conditions from wildfires in the western U.S. made the fast-paced play even more difficult – not to mention thunderstorms threatening game stoppages. Teams coming from overseas or from lower elevations clearly struggled to acclimate to Glendale’s mile-high elevation and the accompanying reduction in oxygen.
Shield semifinals opened on Sunday with the U.S. Marines and newcomers Washington Athletic Club (WAC) facing off. The Marines side fell to a WAC squad that found their stride late – the Seattle-based team took the 17-7 win, securing a spot in the Shield Final. The Sacramento Eagles then took on the U.S. Coast Guard. Both teams struggled throughout the tournament, but the Sunday semifinal match was hard fought, neither side willing to concede. The Eagles earned the win, 40-12, and a shot at the tournament shield.
The first contest in the Bowl Semifinal saw the Tsunami Barbarians matched against the Southern California Griffins. The teams looked evenly matched for most of the game, but the Griffins proved superior, pulling away from the Barbos in the second half to take the win, 35-19, and locking up a chance for the RT7s bowl in the process. The Dark n’ Stormy Misfits then outplayed the USA Falcons side, securing a place in the Bowl final with a convincing 31-7 win.
The Plate Semifinal saw competition continue to heat up, starting out with U.S. Army edging out another fresh face for the 2018 RT7s tournament, Lomaiviti. In a tough match, the winners of the U.S. Armed Forces Championship took down the newcomers 17-12. The U.S. Air Force then fell to the hometown Denver Rugby 7s Selects. With some of the Glendale Raptors players in their ranks, the local team was a crowd favorite, especially after securing a 31-10 victory and a shot at the RT7s plate.
Semifinal play for the overall RugbyTown 7s prize saw intense play and inclement weather. To start the segment, British Army took down the impressive Collegiate All-American squad, experience and size proving the better part of valor in the 17-5 win – though the young U.S. side showed again that American rugby is a force to be reckoned with. Even in the loss, the All-Americans would compete again for third place overall. The match proved a defensive battle initially, but the Brits gained a head of steam as the contest progressed, putting up points with the Americans unable to answer. The British Army team picked up momentum as the tournament entered its third day, securing a well-deserved spot in the RugbyTown 7s Cup Final.
The Ramblin Jesters and Tiger Rugby entered the semifinal as the clear favorites for top tournament honors, each team unbeaten coming into the match. The squads looked evenly matched in the first half of play, though the Jesters entered the break ahead 14-7. The conclusion of the first half also signaled an extended break due to weather – lightning strikes in the Glendale area causing the second half to be postponed by nearly an hour. Though the pitch stayed dry, the match stalled. As the second half whistle sounded, Tiger dominated play, showing they’d weathered the extended rest more effectively than had the Jesters. Two tries dotted down and converted after the break saw Tiger take the 21-14 win, earning a spot in the Cup Final in the process.
Shield Final – Sacramento Eagles Win Shield Over Washington Athletic Club
The Colorado weather once again proved a factor in the final day of the 2018 RugbyTown 7s Tournament, an additional lightning warning postponing the competition for the RT7s Shield. In spite of the possibility of storms, conditions were cooler to begin the contest, though strong breezes complicated conversion kick attempts. Sacramento piled on an early offensive burst that Washington was ultimately unable to match. The Seattle team rallied in the second half of play, but the California side took home the shield with a 24-12 victory.
Bowl Final – Misfits Best Griffins in Bowl Final
The Dark n’ Stormy Misfits took down the SoCal Griffins in a tightly contested match that went to the wire. SoCal made a late effort to overcome the misfits but were unable to claim the win. The RT7s Bowl will remain in Colorado with a deserving first-year Misfits team.
Plate Final – U.S. Army Take Down Denver 7s Selects, Secure RT7s Plate Victory
The U.S. Army then battled the local Denver 7s Selects in a close fought and entertaining match for the RT7s Plate Title. Army proved too strong for the mile high side, securing a 26-17 win to take the Plate, adding to their already impressive tournament showing that included a sixth-consecutive U.S. Armed Forces Championship.
Third Place – Collegiate All-Americans Take Third Place In 2018 RugbyTown 7s
Hot on the heels of the contest for the Plate, the Collegiate All-Americans met the Ramblin Jesters for the honor of third place in this year’s RT7s tournament. With tremendous showings from both teams this year, the match was highly anticipated and a crowd favorite as Sunday play wound down. A tight fight saw the young Americans take the third place spot in the 2018 RT7s tournament with a 24-14 win. Breakout stars in this year’s competition, the All Americans overcame the crowd favorite Ramblin Jesters to take third place overall.
Cup Final – British Army Secures First RugbyTown 7s Cup Victory, Take Home $10,000 Purse – Favored Tiger Rugby Finish Weekend As Runners Up In Hard-Fought Three Days Of Sevens Play
British Army met Tiger Rugby on the Infinity Park pitch Sunday evening to decide who would earn the 2018 RT7s Championship in the weekend’s final game. Evenly matched, the two squads played a physical first half. Vying for the tournament’s winner-take-all, $10,000 purse, Tiger went into the break with a 5-0 lead over British Army.
Coming off the half time rest, the hard-hitting action continued. The British Army side dotted down early and converted to give their team a 7-5 lead, but the tough play wasn’t over. In a defensive second-half shootout, the British Army proved their mettle, securing a tight but definitive 7-5 victory. The U.K. team will take home not just the $10,000 purse, but top honors as Cup winners and the overall 2018 RugbyTown 7s Champions.
For more information on the 2018 tournament, complete scores and standings, and additional information on all of the teams, visit https://rugbytown7s.com.