SALT LAKE CITY, UT. – 22 June 2017: The Rugby Utah Select 7s team kick off their summer qualification season this Saturday at the 50th Denver Sevens Tournament. Select 7s head coach, Ben Nicholls, has assembled a strong squad with a wealth of experience to chase another National title.
As summer starts to warm up the Wasatch front, the Rugby Utah Select 7s look to turn up the heat and prepare for a tough road ahead. In their inaugural season, Rugby Utah fought off competition from around the country to win the Men’s Club 7s National Championship, but according to Coach Nicholls, this year will be much more difficult.
“We have a good core group of players from last year but ultimately we are a new team, as are the teams we need to play to qualify. Last year means nothing in terms of qualifying or we would already have an automatic invite” said Nicholls.
Coach Nicholls continued “We have a lot of respect for the teams we will play and expect the likes of the Barbarians and the Blues to be very strong and well prepared. I think you can guarantee Aspen, Omaha and the Dragons will cause some upsets along the way”.
Capped 7s Eagle, Don Pati, will captain the side, and bring with him the experience of playing at the International level in 2016. “Don has really lifted his game. His presence just gives us a lot of confidence because he’s been there and done it at the highest level. He leads by example and brings with him a higher level of preparation and intensity which rubs off on everyone,” said Jared Whippy, BYU Senior.
Other squad members who have international experience include former Eagle John Cullen, Anthony Wellmers, Havea Unufe and Kisa Kalougata who spent time with the Olympic Champion Fiji 7s team. A new face to Sevens Rugby will be BYU All-American flanker Jackson Kaka, who brings some much needed size and physicality to a squad full of skill and pace.
The Denver sevens tournament will be played this Saturday June 24th at Dick’s Sportings Goods Park, Commerce Colorado. Games broadcasts will be live on www.florugby.com with the Select 7s team playing at:
10:20 am vs. Kansas City Blues 2
11:40 am vs Black Dragon
2:00 pm vs Denver Barbarians Premier
3:40 pm – Semi-finals
6:00 pm – Final
Rugby Utah Select 7s squad for Denver 7s
Coach: Ben Nicholls
Assistant Coach: Jeff Hullinger