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Monday, April 18, 2016

West Virginia Take Keystone 7s Finale, Temple Win Series

By Brendan Triplett
@brendanUSArugby

It was nothing short of perfection. The weather, the teams, the outcome, it was a day built for rugby. While we all got our homes ready and our DVRs set for the advent of PRO Rugby on Sunday, those of us lucky enough to be at West Chester University witnessed some outstanding game ball, and the drama unfolded early.

First, the results. West Virginia took the Cup Final over Temple (22-0), Saint Josephs took the Plate Final over Millersville (48-5), Pittsburgh took the Bowl Final over West Chester (24-19), and Villanova took the Shield Final over James Madison (27-24). The final standings of the tournament leave us with Temple University at the top of the leaderboard with 53 points and the Championship Title for the second year running.

There were some changes to the lineups for some of the teams that aided in the final outcome of this leg of the tournament but WVU came out of the gates like a rocket, blanked JMU and kept WCU and MU to 5 points each before blanking Temple in the final. We knew that WVU weren’t to be trifled with but their attack ball was incredibly impressive. They ultimately came away with a commanding 2nd place overall.

Take the jump to read more.

Temple maintained their strong performance staying undefeated in pool play and it was all but certain after their win against Pittsburgh (33-5) that they were the champions. The loss of the cup is in no way a reflection of their play throughout the tournament as we saw an aggressive team this season. Coach Sciotto reflected on the way that JMU have been playing and his own efforts for the men from Temple, “They (JMU) play an aggressive game… it is high risk but with that comes high reward. I love the pace of the game and Temple are doing the same thing, playing aggressive.” There is no doubt that focusing training in this direction has paid off and where other teams might win a championship and then rest on their laurels, Temple is ever-improving and has shown that it won’t suffer from victories. There is always room to improve and always a way to step up their game.

SJU came out with a commanding run and despite an early loss against Temple they fought their way through pool play to an incredible win in the plate final. High scores were the name of the game for the second half of the tournament for the Hawks with a (38-0) win over Villanova to couple with their enormous Plate Final. They were looking to upset some big names and played rough with PITT and NOVA showing they meant business. Ultimately they came in 3rd for the tournament and have some excellent building blocks to take with them in developing their 7’s and their XVs for the fall.

James Madison fell hard this weekend and it was noticeable. As we mentioned there were some changes made that affected the teams and I think this is where we noticed it. Obviously their sights were set elsewhere and I think what we can take away from this is that JMU felt they did really well and every team in the conference knows that they are contenders. Don’t get too excited to see them this fall as they are heading out of our conference relatively soon. More on this is future articles.

Our other conference teams did well and kept the competition… well competitive. We missed the likes of Rowan, Shippensburg, Rutgers, Drexel, Lock Haven, and some our B-sides but this is ultimately a 7’s championship tournament for the conference and we show up for these to see the best of the best match up. Our endgame prediction of Temple/JMU fell through but we saw the meteoric rise of WVU and the strong continuation of our top teams.

The name of the game now is the CRC. It is fast approaching and the KRC teams can take a lot from a tournament like this. It is an early litmus test of strengths and weaknesses but also matches up many different types of play. Some of the best teams that punch their way to the top of the CRC have similar schedules and I think what we will be seeing this year is not just a less easy run for teams like California and Kutztown making their way to the finals. The sport is getting bigger and better. Temple is taking more risks on the ball and are reaping the benefits, JMU are doing the same. How will this pan out in pool play for the CRC’s? Well, only time will tell. Not all of our teams will make it to the CRCs but those that do will be taking a lot of match-day experience with them.

Once again congratulations to Coach Spider and the Temple Owls for their Tournament victory and impressive gameplay. We expected great things, weren’t disappointed, and are hungry to see what you will bring to the table at your next matchup. Keep up the good work. Ruck on.

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