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Exciting Field for Red Bull Uni 7s

    

College Men

Exciting Field for Red Bull Uni 7s

Utah (David Barpal photo) is one of several college teams looking to make a good showing in Glendale.

Glendale, Colo. - August 25 sees eight college rugby teams clash at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. for the USA qualifying round for the Red Bull Uni 7s tournament.

The international tournament will see 11 of the best universities from across the world compete in the global finals, which will take place in the city of Bath, England on September 17, 2016.

The participating teams for the Red Bull Uni 7s at Infinity Park tournament are:

·         Arizona State University

·         Clemson University

·         Lindenwood University

·         University of Colorado

·         University of Denver

·         University of Utah

·         University of Wyoming

·         Utah Valley University

It's been a challenge for many of the teams as they try to ensure players are available and able to play as a unit.

Among those, Clemson is in one of the better spots, as the players were already on campus anyway. While Clemson Head Coach Steve Lynch has been in Glendale working with the All-Navy team, he has a couple of pretty smart 7s heads working with the Tigers in James Walker and Nese Malifa from Tiger Rugby. In fact, that has gone so well that a couple of Clemson players have been asked to do double duty and play with Tiger during the Serevi RugbyTown 7s this same weekend.

While Clemson lost a couple of players from last year (as everyone did), they retain Dylan Goulding, who has impressed, and Jason Damm rejoins the 7s team. Damm missed the CRC in Chester, Pa. due to an internship. A newcomer to the squad is Grant Weston, a freshman who was an excellent leader for South Greenville in South Carolina.

Utah is looking solid, too. Junior Chad Goff, fresh off a tour with the collegiate All Americans, junior Gabe Rufflin, senior. Taylor Thomas, and senior Casey Raymond all bring experience from several tough college 7s tournaments. Incoming freshman Kelsin Pupunu (KoaToa/Utah Cannibals) is a nice addition

"Utah will be fielding a mix of experienced and new players to the program. I am pleased to see how well our young players have meshed with our veteran players," said Utah 7s Coach Mark Drown. "We are very excited to compete in the Red Bull 7s in an incredible rugby facility with an experienced events staff. This will be a really great experience for our players."

Lindenwood is going into the tournament with a bunch of changes coming thanks to the change in 15s Head Coach. But 7s Coach Jimmy Harrison has a job to do and he still has some players from the 2015 national 7s championship team to call on. All-American Mickey Bateman will be the captain of the team, while Mid-South forward of the year Wes Parker is expected to make an impact.

"Although we only have 2 prep sessions, we feel that the senior players will be able to lead our youth," said Harrison.

 

"I’m sure that all of the teams are challenged by the timing of the tournament," added Arizona State's Coach Ian Gregor. "We start classes soon, and I’m sure that some of the other schools participating don’t start classes until after the tournament.  Our players just arrived in Tempe in the past two weeks from summer break, so it has been a challenge to get them organized to compete right away, but we’ve got essentially the same team that participated in [national championships in] North Carolina, so there will be good continuity."  

Connor McRae and Nate Short, who were not available for nationals, will add both athleticism and sevens experience.

The team got some altitude training in Flagstaff and worked out with the Phoenix Rugby Club, and they looked solid, with Alex Sandstrom, Bailey Stringer, Matt Brennan, and Ryan Spiwak leafing the way.

As for Wyoming, this could be a chance to make a statement. Wyoming had a solid spring in 7s and while the Cowboys are still somewhat new to 7s, they are eager to prove themselves. Unfortunately, Cody Jerabek broke his collarbone while touring with the Collegiate All Americans. However, Wyoming will call on the talent of the likes of Terre Hellander, Dominick Rufran, Timothy Mendoza, and Conner Rezzonico.