Salt Lake City, UT—Rugby Utah’s state-based elite representative 7s team, the Olympic Development Academy (ODA), which is a USA Rugby-sanctioned National Development Academy program, began its climb towards a Clubs 7s National Playoffs berth this weekend by winning the Denver 7s Qualifier Tournament beating the Kansas City Blues 29-12 in the championship final.
The Denver 7s event showcased some of the Rocky Mountain and Midwest Region’s top 7s rugby clubs and is sanctioned as one of three Frontier Region 7s qualifiers for the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships August 13th-15th.
The Rugby Utah ODA 7s team featured seven players from college powerhouse Brigham Young University, with the rest featuring from some of the state’s top clubs.
The ODA 7s team was captained by former University of Utah All American Don Pati, while former USA Rugby U20 captain and current BYU All American was also named the Denver 7s Tournament MVP.
Rugby Utah went 2-0 in Pool C play beating the Kansas City Blue Academy side 27-7 followed by a 31-0 victory over the Omaha Goats.
The quarterfinal match saw the ODA 7s face off with a familiar foe in the So. Utah Dragons, who they played in the Rugby Utah State Championships earlier in June, which the ODA 7s won 45-7. The result this last Saturday was similar with the ODA 7s side winning their Denver 7s tilt by the score of 38-5.
Rugby Utah next faced the Denver Barbarians in the semifinals and won a hotly contested match with some late tries by the score of 31-22.
The final saw Rugby Utah’s first ever tournament final with the veteran Kansas City Blues team. After exchanging a few scores and with the Blues being penalized with a yellow card late in the first half, the ODA 7s team was able to take control and hold on for a final 29-12 victory to win the Denver 7s Championship.
Rugby Utah ODA 7s head coach Ben Nichols, himself a former 7s international with the USA and Zimbabwe, saw much that could be improved from his side, but he knew the program’s first tournament championship was no small feat.
“Obviously as a team we were happy to come away with a good result,” Nicholls said, “It was good for the boys to play at a higher level and be pushed out of their comfort zone. It was nice to see the boys fight through tough moments and to win the program’s first tournament is a huge confidence booster. However, not everything went to plan, and there are multiple facets of our game that need to be addressed. We know teams will come back strong and we need to better if we want to secure our trip to nationals.”
The ODA 7s team next travels to the Heartland 7s Tournament for the 2nd leg of the Frontier 7s National Qualifiers, hosted by the Kansas City Blues Rugby Club, on July 9th.
Following the Heartland 7s Tournament Rugby Utah will play host to its own qualifier on July 23rd, the third and final leg of the Frontier 7s National Qualifiers.
For more information on Rugby Utah and ODA program, please visit www.RugbyUtah.com. Follow Rugby Utah on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Local Clubs Impress Across the Intermountain West
Rugby Utah men’s club Park City Haggis (PCH) showed well at the Jackson Hole 10s winning the tournament for the second year in a row over the hosts Jackson Hole Moose 35-7.
PCH went undefeated on the day beating the Speedgoats 31-0, the Laramie Lumberjacks 33-0, the Boise Snakes 35-7 and the Rexburg Yeti 17-7 in the semifinals.
PCH head coach Jason Hoke said his team showed well on both sides of the ball.
“Our guys offensive production was never a problem,” Hoke said, “But it was nice to see the guys step up and work on defense.”
Women’s side the Salt Lake Vipers also took the Jackson Hole 10s Women’s bracket championship beating all comers and bringing the championship to Utah.
The Denver 7s hosted regional high school and youth brackets as well. Utah Youth Rugby representative teams came away winners on all levels, from U14 up to the girls and boys varsity levels. In total Utah Youth Rugby and their member teams took home 6 Denver 7s titles.
RUGBY UTAH ODA 7s SCORES & ROSTER
Team for Denver 7s
- Keoni Dellerman (Weber State)
- Vern Ale (Mana)
- Ben Keith (BYU)
- Don Pati (Park City Haggis)
- Kevin Schofield (BYU)
- Jason Pye (Hawaii Harlequins)
- Jared Whippy (BYU)
- Tua Laei (BYU)
- Zach Webber (BYU)
- Calvin Whiting (BYU)
- Peni Pahulu (Provo Steelers)
- Joseph Nicholls (BYU)
Coach: Ben Nicholls; Asst. Coach: Jeff Hullinger; Trainer: Chelsea Clayton
Scores for Denver 7s
- Pool C: ODA 27 Kansas City Blues Academy 7
- Pool C: ODA 31 Omaha Goats 0
- Quarterfinal: ODA 38 So. Utah Dragons 5
- Semifinal: ODA 31 Denver Barbarians 22
- Final: ODA 29 Kansas City Blues 12