College All-Stars Overview
Saturday Jun 13, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby All-Stars
(Ian Muir photo.)
Glendale, Colo. – The USA Rugby National Guard Collegiate All-Star Tier A Championship final was appropriately the closest and by far the most exciting match of the day as Southern Cal faced off against the West on Saturday, at Glendale’s Infinity Park.
Although Southern California never relinquished the lead after it scored the first points off a penalty kick in the first two minutes, the West stayed within striking distance till the very end. In fact, the West only trailed by one point until the 50th minute. Unfortunately that’s when they hit a wall and Southern California took advantage.
Southern Cal went on to score three tries in the next within the next 15 minutes and successfully walked away with their first All-Star National Championship title, beating the West 32-12.
“It’s been a long road,” SoCal coach Jeremy Ognell said. “It’s been four years in the making and this was a team effort for the whole of Southern Cal. It shows that So Cal is on the rise and everyone needs to be recognized for being a part of it. This really is a dream come true.”
The South is also on the rise and has been promoted up to Tier A after a strong performance against the Midwest today in the Tier B finals. The South won 47-5 even after sending two players to the sin bin early in the second half.
“Our defense really stepped it up today. We were solid on Thursday, but we were a little slow with the tackles. Today we fixed that and we got those big guys to the ground quick,” said South coach Vince Atkinson.
The Midwest scored their only try just before halftime and came out of the break feeling a switch in the momentum, but the South continued its strong defense even with only 13 on the field and the Midwest saw their chance slip. By the 60th minute, the South was back to full strength and were able to finish the Midwest off, scoring three tries within 15 minutes.
“It was nice to be able to walk away with such a solid finish,” Atkinson added. “We were scrambling a bit early in the second half, but our captain (Benji Goff) and No. 8 (Roland Evans) were able to keep us under control.”
In the Tier A consolation match, the Pacific Coast ran away with the match, scoring 53 unanswered points in 70 minutes against the Mid-Atlantic’s All-Star side. MARFU was able to score the final try of the game, but was more for its pride than anything. Pacific won 53-5.
“I think the difference was the work Peter Baggetta did with our defense,” Pacific Coast coach Jonathan Griffin said. “In addition, I was able to sit down with the captains and change our game plan a bit. We came in on Thursday a bit complacent and our loss on Thursday helped us to refocus.
“Mid-Atlantic had a very hard game Thursday and we were a bit fresher than they were today. Our ferocity at the break-down shut them down, although I respect their desire to move the ball. Their ambitious style of rugby says a lot about that program,” Griffin added.
Nonetheless, the Mid-Atlantic side will be relegated to Tier B for 2010, while the Pacific side will be given the third-seed in next year’s Championship tournament.
In Tier B’s consolation match, it was again primarily one-sided, as the Northeast dominated the competition, scoring 38 unaswered points in the first 50 minutes. The Military Academy didn’t roll over, though, and scored two tries in just over 10 minutes and put up a fight until the end. The Northeast’s lead would prove to be too much, however, and the Northeast walked away with its first win in two years, with a convincing 48-14 victory.
“These guys deserved it,” Northeast coach Mike Hodgins said. “They’ve been waiting for this for a while and really wanted to redeem themselves (after last year’s loss to the Military Academies in the Tier B Consolations). I couldn’t be happier for them, they deserved a win.”
Following the conclusion of these Collegiate National All-Star Championships, the hard part begins for the 2009 All-American Team Selectors. Just as in 2008, the primary selection venue for the All-American Team has centered on this event and after spending several days reviewing all of the eligible players, the selectors plan to have the All-American Team set for announcement on Monday.
Saturday, June 13
Tier 2 Consolations – Northeast 48, Military Academies 14
Tier 1 Consolations – Pacific 53, MARFU 5
Tier 2 Finals – South 47, Midwest 5
Tier 1 Finals – Southern Cal 32, West 12
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