The BYU rugby sevens team dominated a recent regional tournament played at Helaman Field.
Sevens is an exciting form of rugby that offers speed, skill and a lot of attacking flair – making it an ideal spectator sport. Sevens will become an official Olympic sport in 2016.
BYU player Jordan Lowry explained the difference between sevens and normal rugby as “running.”
“I’ve never been so tired in my life!,” Lowry said. “You only have seven players (per team) to cover the whole field. You get to run the ball and tackle more, which is fun, and the halves are only seven minutes long instead of 40.”
Play is continuous and there are only three substitutes per game. Unlike football, once you come off the field you cannot return to the game. Since the game is so fast paced, with no stoppages, it means players must be fit and fast.
Teams that competed were BYU, Uof U, Northern Colorado, UVU, Utah State, Weber State, SUU, and Dixie State College.
Bill Ungricht, Commissioner for the Utah Collegiate Rugby Conference, helped to organize the tournament in an attempt to grow the game in Utah and offer players more experience.
“Seven’s in Utah is doing great and really starting to pick up,” Ungricht said. “There’s about 35 high school teams in Utah that have competed in sevens and every college and University in Utah have also competed in sevens. We currently have two residents of Utah, Maka Unufe and Mike Palefau, who are on the USA Rugby sevens team and we hope with these tournaments in the State that we can generate more players for the USA team.”
Current BYU Captain Ryan Roundy is no stranger to sevens. Roundy has represented the USA at the highest level – playing in an international tournament with rugby heavyweights New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
“It was great having teams from all over the state here at BYU to participate,” Roundy said. “I am glad that we finally have a sevens team here at BYU because we have the potential to field a very good team. We will be going to Colorado at the end of October to try and qualify for nationals. By that time, if we keep improving and learning, we will be able to put a very dangerous team on the field. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
BYU went through the tournament unbeaten and beat a capable Utah team in the final. Utah are former sevens national champions while BYU has yet to play at a national tournament for various reasons, including games on Sundays.
“Playing against Utah in the final was a sweet experience,” Lowry said. ” I wouldn’t have wanted to play anyone else and it’s always good to beat Utah in anything. It was the hardest game we had but it was a success because we fought hard and didn’t let them back in the game. Utah played well though and have some talented players. I think the tournament was a success not only for both the teams we had in it, but for all the teams that were there to get more experience playing 7’s.”
With so many talented players taking the field its only a matter of time before more players from the state are picked for higher honors.
“We’ve had many players from BYU and U of U in the past who have played for the USA sevens team and I think there is a large talent pool here in Utah that USA Rugby can draw from,” Ungricht said.
The BYU sevens team will continue training in preparation for qualifying tournaments for the national championship which will be held later on in the year.