The Pacific Coast Grizzlies and the SoCal Griffins claimed the Women's and Men's All-Star National Championship respectively at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista on Saturday.
USA Rugby sevens head coaches, Ric Suggit (women) and Al Caravelli used the tournament as a scouting vehicle for the upcoming international seasons. Suggitt will be looking towards his team's tentative fixtures in 2011 and Caravelli with an eye on the 2011 Pan-Am Games in October.
In the men's final, a very physical first half saw West with a 7-0 lead at halftime. Hunter Leland hit a gap at pace and scored straight under the sticks capitalizing on SoCal being out of rhythm and unable to match the West's intensity.
A few small mistakes for the West halted any momentum they started to attain in the second half and SoCal smelled blood in the water.
Fluidity crept back into SoCal's game in the second half, spurred by a nice score by Apelu Soialo, but a highlight reel try by Ed McKenna was an ominous sign that SoCal was regaining its composure in the most lethal of ways.
MVP Peter Sio was rewarded for his solid distribution and aggressive defense with a try in the final moments and kicked the ball straight out of bounds with his conversion attempt to enthusiastically seal the victory.
Tries: Sio, Soialo, McKenna
Cons: Sio (2)
Cons: de Achaval
The USA Developmental side, as you would hope, improved with every game in the All-Star tournament. Young stars like Rebekah Siebach and Kaelene Lundstrum were electric, but the experience and flat out talent of the Pacific Coast Grizzlies edged the younger players and gave them a wealth of experiential learning in the final.
Speedster Nathalie Marchino was remarkable, but not only because of her pace. She showcased her defensive awareness and knowledge of sevens to lead her team to what turned out to be a decisive victory over the USA Developmental side.
Phoebe Boone made a series of electric runs and ferocious fends in the middle of the field to force the USA to pay close attention to her, often leaving the outside backs with lots of space and unenviable match ups. Boone had a strong supporting cast too as Kelly Griffin and San Juanita Moreno were fantastic.
In the end, Pacific Coast's ability to read the field and exploit won out, but both teams exhibited fluid team play. The Grizzlies were too hungry and too experienced for the young national team hopefuls.
Pacific Coast 34
Tries: Marchino (3), Griffin, Boone, Cabrera
Cons: Griffin (2)
USA Developmental 17
Tries: Siebach (2), Rozier
AN EYE ON 2016
As rugby sevens will debut in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, both USA coaches used the Olympic Training Center to familiarize new crops of young players to the Olympic training environment.
In addition to the enormously talented group of men's and women's athletes representing their Territorial Unions, two age-grade teams competed in the tournament to round out the field in both the men's and women's competitions. Suggitt and Caravelli work collaboratively to develop young players so they are prepared for the international ranks.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.