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Friday, July 22, 2016

Pioneer 7s On Tap As Frontier Series Finale

Press Release

Salt Lake City, UT—Rugby Utah’s state-based elite representative 7s team, the National Development Academy (NDA), supported by GoPlay Sports Tours, will play in the final Frontier Region 7s Qualifier, the Pioneer 7s Tournament, hosted this weekend in Salt Lake City, UT at the SLC Regional Athletic Complex.

With the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics set to host rugby for the first time since 1924 Pioneer 7s organizers are excited to showcase Utah’s rugby community and the newest Olympic sport in such a premier local event.

“Rugby is big in Utah,” said Pioneer 7s Tournament Director Vea Ofa, “And this tournament gives our local clubs the chance to play against the best. And with the Olympics having rugby again this tournament gives our community a sneak-peek on what makes rugby so exciting.”

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With Provo native Make Unufe making the 12-man USA Olympic Rugby team and former University of Utah football and rugby standout Thretton Palamo making the training squad tournaments like the Pioneer 7s are key to providing the opportunities for Utah’s rugby community.

“Our rugby community can’t develop players like Maka or Thretton without top-end competition in Utah,” said Rugby Utah executive director Kimball Kjar, “So we’re grateful for people like Vea and the many others who see the vision that Rugby Utah shares with them to develop strong and well-managed events like the Pioneer 7s that provide those opportunities for players to compete and develop. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some future Olympians on the pitch this weekend.”

With the Rugby Utah NDA squad having already qualified for USA Rugby National Club 7s Championships August 13-15th in Denver, CO by winning the Denver 7s and Heartland 7s tournaments the team will look to hold serve in the final qualifier played on its home turf.

“We’re fortunate to have punched our ticket to nationals already,” said NDA head coach Ben Nicholls, “But we still have a lot to play for at home and as a team we need more opportunities to develop and improve before nationals and even RugbyTown 7s later in August.”

The Pioneer 7s Tournament will have two brackets playing in parallel with the Qualifier and Open Divisions.

The top four teams in the Frontier Region will make a final push before nationals in the Qualifier Division with Rugby Utah, the Glendale Raptors, the Denver Barbarians and the Kansas City Blues.

Top local teams will play in the Open Division headlined by Humless 7s, Mana, Liberty, Salt Lake Gladiators, Salt Lake Spartans, West Valley Lions, Park City Haggis and So. Utah All Stars. National clubs like the Hawaii Lions, EPA Razorbacks and Team Royal are also bringing their talent to Utah in an effort to win the $5,000 cash prize for the Open Division.

The Pioneer 7s Tournament kicks off with a youth clinic Friday morning with registration beginning at 7am MT, July 22nd. Educational workshops for the young players, speed clinics and rugby skills development will carry from 8.30am until a 12pm lunch, which is sponsored by All Poly Sports.

The Pioneer 7s Tournament Open Division pool matches will kick off at 1pm MT following the conclusion of the Youth Rugby Clinic.

Qualifier and Open Divisions will round out play Saturday, July 23rd.

For more details on the Rugby Utah NDA and for a complete schedule for the Pioneer 7s Tournament please visit www.RugbyUtah.com.

For live scoring updates please follow Rugby Utah on Facebook and Twitter.

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