GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

American Teams Take Hardware at United World Games

irish rugby tours

American Teams Take Hardware at United World Games

The NA Lions Boys.

It was a day of championships for American teams at the United World Games in Klagenfurt, Austria Sunday as all three brackets the US teams played in were won by the Yanks.

The North American Lions Girls U18 capped off a perfect run through the two European tournaments they played in—the Heidelberg 7s and the UWG—by beating Rugby Academy Ireland 19-0 to take the Cup. Rhinos Rugby Academy shut out the Texas Outlaws 40-0 to take 3rd with the Outlaws taking 4th.

For the Lions, it ended a 12-0 tour with six of those games, including Sunday's final, being shutouts.

The U18 Boys bracket was won by Rhinos Rugby Academy, the only American team in that bracket. Rhinos beat the Causeway Barbarians from Ulster 19-7 to take the Cup.

Key for the Rhinos Boys was how they improved through the tournament. On Day One they lost to the Causeway Barbarians 26-24 and French team RC Compiegne 7-0. But in Saturday's semifinal they defeated Compeigne 30-0 and, as we mentioned, beat Causeway in the final.

The U16 boys North American Lions  team set the stage for their Day 3 championship game by going 3-0 during pool play and beating a physical Texas Rangers team in the semifinals.

During pool play the Lions beat RC Havirov (Czechia) 52-0 in their opener. The onslaught of tries was started by Belmont Shore’s Jasiah Lolesio-Pua, who scored two. Those two tries were quickly followed by tries from Elizabethtown’s Francis Burke, Western Suburbs player Dylan Bevilacqua, Orem Zombies standout Netane Fakahafua, and Belmont Shore’s all-everyhting flyhalf Lenny Ibarra. Regis Jesuit's Riley Scrogham added two. 

In Game 2, the Lions faced ASA Tel Aviv (Israel). Much like in Game 1, the scoring came fast and often. Tries by Charlotte Cardinal Aiden McLaughlin, two from Bevilacqua, and one each from Amari Barron (Western Suburbs), Scrogham, and Fakahafua gave the Lions a 43-0 win. 

Pool play continued on Day 2 but tries did not come as easily. In Game 3, the Lions played a strong RC Donau Wien from the host nation of Austria. Powered by precise restarts, Donau took a 12-0 lead in the first three minutes. After spending most of the first half on defense, the Lions offense started to click as the first half progressed.  Moving the ball from sideline to sideline, they found a way to get the ball into the hands of captain Lenny Ibarra. Ibarra chipped it over the top from the 50 and outran the defense to scoop it up for the try.  

Ibarra converted his own try and the lead was cut to 12-7. Donau took the restart and put the Lions back under pressure to score a try and extend their lead to 19-7. As time was running out in the first half, center Lolesio-Pua made a 30 meter break off a scrum before he offloaded back inside to his Belmont Shore teammate Ibarra. The skipper took it the rest of the way for the try and converted to make it 19-14.

The second half featured strong defense by both sides.  As time was running out, Bevilacqua was able to break through the defense and streak down the sideline for 50 meters and the try that tied the game 19-19. Lolesio-Pua made the clutch conversion to give the Lions a 21-19 win. 

The second game of Day 2 was the semifinal against fellow Americans the Texas Rangers.  In a physical matchup, the Lions were able to find the offensive groove they had on Day 1. Tries by Scrogham, Western Suburbs player Beckett Robinson, Barron, and two from Fakahafua gave the Lions a 36-0 victory. 

Day 3 was finals day and the Lions were facing a rematch with RC Donau. The Lions knew they had to stop a repeat of Donau’s fast start and the key to that was success on recovering their own restarts.  The Lions were able to do this with an explosive start of their own. The Lions built a 12-0 lead in the first three minutes through two tries from Scrogham (making it six on the weekend).  Ibarra added another along with Bevilacqua to take a commanding 24-0 lead into halftime. 

Lolesio-Pua started the second half like the first with a quick try to extend the lead to 29-0. Donau was able to get on the board with a try before Lolesio-Pua added his second try. One last try was added by Donau before the final whistle blew giving the Lions a 36-12 gold medal win. 

“We had an incredible group of boys," said Coach Greg Stelluti. "They bonded as a team off the field and it turned into chemistry on the field. They just kept getting stronger as the tour went on. They worked extremely hard, ignored any distractions a tour can bring and kept their eyes on the goal. They played for each other and it showed.”  

Coach Chris Ryan added that the skill level of the team was very high and that anyone walking by watching them play would not believe that they were U16s.  

The Texas Rangers took 3rd with a 33-12 defeat of Czech team RC Prelouc.

Overall Success

Six US teams, three girls teams and three boys teams, played in this tournament. NA Lions Girls U18s went 7-0, NA Lions Boys U16s went 5-0. The Rhinos U18s Boys went 5-2, beating both teams they initially lost to and winning the Cup. The Rhinos U18 Girls went 5-2, with their only losses being to the two finalists. 

The Texas Rangers U16 Boys finished 3-2 with their losses being to the eventually winners (NA Lions) and a team they beat on Day 3. The Texas Outlaws Girls U18s went 2-5 in a tough competition. They finished 4th out of six with three of their losses being to the two finalists, and the other two being to Rhinos, who took 3rd. So ultimately they only lost once to a non-American team.