The Glendale Raptors took their first Division I National Title on home turf at Infinity Park Stadium June 5th, beating San Francisco’s Olympic Rugby Club
20-15. The Championship Match was a thriller with shifting momentum and nail-biting plays.
Glendale scored first at the six-minute mark with a penalty kick by Ata Malifa. Less than three minutes later the Olympic Club’s Kegan Englebreck would kick the first of his four penalty kicks to tie the score, 3 – 3. The rest of the half was a stalemate as the Raptors had three try scoring opportunities go begging in the first half due to poor decision making and bad ball handling. The Olympic Club controlled possession throughout the half but hard nailed defense by the Raptors keep “O” Club out of the try zone. The first half ended 9 – 6 to the Olympic Club.
Following another Englebreck penalty kick to stretch their lead to 12 – 6, San Francisco kicked deep to fullback Dewon Reed who immediately began another Raptor counter attack. Cutting through the defensive with evasive running and change of speed he timed a successful pass to opposite wing Dustin Croy for the converted score. This allowed the Raptors to go ahead, 13 – 12, a lead they would not relinquish. Eight minutes later, Croy made his second try of the day and with prop Mike Tafel’s conversion the Raptors pushed ahead 20 -12. Despite intense Olympic Club attack and continued superior possession percentages, the Raptor defense held on to deny Olympic Club any scoring opportunities to take the National Championship.
Dewon Reed was named MVP of the Championship Game. Reed also performed brilliantly in Glendale’s 51–10 semi-final win over the Boston Irish Wolfhounds on June 4th.
The last time Glendale played in the finals was 2008, when Life University beat them by a single point with a drop goal in the last fifteen minutes of the match. It was the first season the Raptors competed at the Division One level after having an independent schedule their first year of existence, and the opening season of Infinity Park Stadium, the first municipally owned rugby stadium in the country. That early promise has now been answered with a National Championship and it is all smiles in Glendale, Colorado – a city so dedicated to the game of rugby that they have created their own municipal brand, RugbyTown USA.
Both the Semi-final and Final Championship Matches will be broadcast as follows:
Sunday, June 12
Glendale Raptors v. Boston Irish Wolfhounds - Root Sports at 9 AM AND Denver’s 7 (ABC Local Affiliate) at 12 PM
Sunday, June 19
Glendale Raptors v. Olympic Club - Root Sports at 9 AM
Sunday, June 26
Glendale Raptors v. Olympic Club - Denver’s 7 (ABC Local Affiliate) at 12 PM
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