The day dawned dull and foggy at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon last Saturday for the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference (NCRC) 7’s Championships. There were twelve teams there vying for the first place prize, automatic entry to the USA Rugby Collegiate National 7’s Tournament to be held in Greensboro, North Carolina, November 23-24, 2013.
The teams were divided into 4 pools with the number one seeds in each pool, Central, Oregon State, UW, and your Western Washington University Men’s Rugby Club. Each of these clubs were expected to make it through their pool play unscathed. At the end of pool play the top four teams would be reseeded into the quarter finals based on points differential (points for – points against). The reseeding, like last year, yielded a surprise in that Oregon State got the first seed, While tourney favorite, Central, slipped to second. UW was third and Western was fourth. So Oregon State was paired with Boise State, Central drew a surprisingly strong Gonzaga side, UW faced off against Eastern Washington, and Western was matched against Oregon.
The quarters went to form in that the top four seeds won and advanced making the semis. Western got a break here in that they ended up playing Oregon State who they’ve already beaten three times this year. And Central drew the UW in the other semi match.
The difference in the Oregon State vs Western match this time was that Oregon State had their best player, Pono Haitsuka, back on the team after he had returned from the USA Rugby National Team tryouts. Even then Western was giving Oregon State fits and were leading, 12-7, and knocking on the door again when Haitsuka took over, picked up a loose ball and took it all the way to the other end scored. That made it 14-12. Oregon State went scored another try ended up winning 21-12. Central had a little trouble with UW in the other semi, finally winning 15-0.
In the Finals then it was Central vs Oregon State with Central winning by a lot, 41-7. Playing for third and fourth, the UW got by Western, 19-0.
It is obvious that the team is missing the likes of Matt Jensen, Gavri Grossman, Gio Trujillo, and Quinton Willms this year but the progress the team has made in the last six weeks is amazing. They are just a player or two away from regaining the form they showed last year. Jon Kaimmer and Louie Henson, while not your typical 7’s types, are outstanding and getting the job done. Freshman newcomers Nick Bonovich, Ryan Glendenning, and Ollie Doughtery are showing real promise and with more experience will be exciting additions. Nate Muir is a beast and causes lots of problems for the other team and with a little better conditioning he’ll be damn near unstoppable. Max Webster, Jake Romano bring experience and a steadying influence. Nick Solimano is injured as are a couple of others, so the nucleus is there and I believe this 7’s team is only a player or two away.
The 15’s team stayed home this past weekend going through a two hour workout Saturday afternoon getting ready for their next 15’s match.