Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Utah Wins Club 7s Championship

Press Release

Rugby Utah went undefeated throughout the 2016 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships to win its first title by blitzing the Kansas City Blues in an All-Frontier-Region Cup Final 48-12.

“It’s been a long summer and it’s a huge credit to our guys,” said Rugby Utah National Development Academy (NDA) head coach Ben Nicholls, “But these guys came together well and got the job done.”

Rugby Utah captain Don Pati, a former University of Utah All American who helped lead his Utes to the 2010 Collegiate Rugby Championship, was named the 2016 USA Rugby Club 7s MVP.

“The boys played hard,” Pati said, “We came out to represent our friends, our family and the state of Utah and we came out firing in the final. The boys did so well over the weekend and it was just an awesome way to end things with this team.”

The tournament started strong on Saturday with Rugby Utah beating the Little Rock Stormers 38-5.

Take the jump to read more.

The NDA followed up the morning victory with a 21-10 win over three-time National Champion Belmont Shore RFC.  A final Pool B win over 1996 National Champion Northern Virginia Rugby 26-22 set up a Cup Quarterfinal clash with three-time defending champion the Seattle Saracens.

The Saturday evening match-up between the Saracens and Rugby Utah saw the fledgling NDA squad battle international veterans Mike Palefau, Miles Craigwell, Peter Tiberio and rest of the talent-rich team of Seattle.

With an early 19-0 lead over the Saracens the NDA squad fought off the efforts of the experienced Seattle side to push for a 33-5 victory.

“That first day was a battle,” Nicholls recounted, “We got past our pool which was huge, but beating Seattle was a big boost in confidence for our guys going into day two.”

The second day saw the Kansas City Blues playing the Chicago Lions in one semifinal and Rugby Utah squaring off with another former national champion in the New York Old Blue.

The Blues would take care of the Lions by the score of 21-5 to advance while Rugby Utah would follow against the Old Blue.

The scoring started early with the Old Blue taking a quick 7-0 lead. Rugby Utah would answer back via deft turn over to even the score at 7-7 at halftime.

In the second half a three-to-one try-scoring tally in the favor of Rugby Utah saw the NDA team advance to its first Club 7s National Championship Cup Final by beating Old Blue 28-14.

The All-Frontier Region final with Kansas City and Rugby Utah saw the NDA kicking off to the Blues. A gathered kick by the Blues was quickly knocked-on after the NDA’s Vernon Ale stripped the ball. From the ensuing scrum Rugby Utah would score via captain Don Pati and with each following restart the NDA would continue to reclaim possession and score in what took the better part of the entire 10-minute first half.

“Jared [Whippy] was perfect with his restarts,” Pati said, “We knew we had an opportunity there, but we didn’t expect things to go the way they did. It was fun to see all the guys get in on the scoring.”

By taking a 36-0 lead into the halftime break the NDA looked to be running away with things. But the Blues were not to be blanked by scoring a well-worked early second half try. Rugby Utah would answer back with a long try of their own from Whippy and the teams would exchange another brace of late tries to round out the scoring 48-12.

“The team did a great job with the challenge we set out at the beginning of the season,” Dir. of Operations for the NDA Steve St. Pierre said, “We wanted to represent our state with class and show the pathway of opportunities for our state’s players. Winning a national championship in just our first attempt would be a huge task, but that’s a credit to Ben Nicholls and Jeff Hullinger for their leadership and of course the entire group of players who helped set up this opportunity for the twelve men who represented our state admirably this weekend.”

The Rugby Utah NDA program will now look to build on the momentum from this weekend’s championship as it turns its attention to the Serevi RugbyTown 7s in Glendale, CO August 26-28th where the top domestic and international select sides will play for the coveted title. Rugby Utah will play in Pool C alongside the ATAVUS All-Stars, Atlantis 7s, British Army and Denver Rugby 7s.

With 20 teams vying for the RugbyTown 7s and with star-studded Pool C Rugby Utah’s path to a cup playoff berth will be a tough one.  For more information on the Serevi RugbyTown 7s CLICK HERE.

For more news on the Rugby Utah NDA and to follow them as they prepare for RugbyTown 7s please
visit www.RugbyUtah.com or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship Results
Pool B Matches
·      Rugby Utah 38 Little Rock 5

·      Rugby Utah 21 Belmont Shore 10

·      Rugby Utah 26 Northern Virginia 22

·      Rugby Utah 33 Seattle Saracens 5

·      Rugby Utah 28 New York Old Blue 14

·      Rugby Utah 48 Kansas City Blues 12

Rugby Utah National Development Academy Roster (For USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship)

  • Robbie Ah Sue, Park City Haggis/Utah Brothers 7s
  • Vernon Ale, Mana Rugby
  • Josh Anderson, Brigham Young University
  • Naki Angilau, West Valley Lions
  • Iaone Iaone, Salt Lake Gladiators
  • Pei Kuli, Provo Steelers/Humless 7s
  • Joseph Nicholls, Brigham Young University
  • Peni Pahulu, Provo Steelers/Humless 7s
  • Don Pati, Park City Haggis ©
  • Jason Pye, Park City Haggis
  • Jared Whippy, Brigham Young University
  • Zach Webber, Brigham Young University

Other NDA players who participated in the 2016 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship campaign but were not available for selection: Calvin Whiting (BYU), Seu Seulala (SL Gladiators), Ben Keith (BYU/Humless 7s), Keoni Dellerman (Weber State), Kevin Schofield (BYU), Tua Laei (BYU),

Staff: Ben Nicholls (Head Coach), Jeff Hullinger (Asst. Coach), Chelsea Clayton (Physio), Steve St. Pierre (Dir. of Operations), Ken Rivera (Rugby Utah Executive Director), Kimball Kjar (Rugby Utah Executive Director)


  1. Why does the Frontier only have two bids to nationals?

    With an all Frontier final match at Dick's Sunday, and the 7s track record of the Denver Barbarians, Kansas City Blues, Glendale and now Rugby Utah .... USA rugby should think about re-allocating nationals bids next summer.

    Both Mid-Atlantic teams went winless and the two teams from the Southern region tallied just one win on the weekend.


    How does USA rugby allocate the club 7s national tournament bids?

    1. I could not agree more with you!

    2. Actually NOVA, a mid-atlantic team, won the bowl and if I can remember correctly the closest match Rugby Utah had was against one of those winless mid atlantic teams..

      Yes the West has better depth of clubs but the mid atlantic can hold their own. Just ask that Rugby Utah team you so praise

    3. I just meant winless in pool play, but you are correct NOVA represented the Mid-Atlantic well. They would be represented in nationals as the #1 seed from Mid-Atlantic, but that should be the only bid. Award the best finishing regions with an additional bid. Relegation at it's finest

  2. How is it fair that what is essentially a representative sode can enter a club championship? Surely, a representative structure above would be a more fitting competition.

    1. Well, a lot of these sides are already representative. The ARPTC side is one of them. And many clubs pull college athletes that are only there for the summer, so they may never play 7s or 15s for that club again. Do you know if Utah imported any talent from outside the states? If not, I'm completely okay with them winning.

    2. There is an increase in the number of NDAs entering teams directly in Club 7s. Rugby Utah, Scion and 1823 are NDA's. Seattle is effectively an NDA for both Men and Women. Army played in MARFU last year Is Clubs 7s becoming National All-star 7s? Does it matter? It would seem that the quality of rugby is improving.

    3. Interesting question. Exactly how 'club' are the National Club 7s? If it deliver an overall increase in quality then I agree that it provides a net benefit. Just find it a little odd that's all.

  3. Mid Atlantic Team NOVA lost to Utah by two conversions (same amount of tries). Went undefeated out of pool play and took the Bowl. The other team Schuyklle River have been main contenders in nationals for a while. If frontier was walking over every other div there, you may have an argument. Winning by a try here or a conversion there doesn't give you a leg to stand on. frontier teams that didn't make it will be hungrier next year. That's the game of 7s, any given day.