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EIRA Players Reflect on Day One

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EIRA Players Reflect on Day One

The EIRA team in Victoria. Left to right, Steve Brennan (also coaching the Washington team), Deion Mikesell, Ian Crilly, Nathaniel Short, Devin Lim, Aaron Matthews, Luke Bienstock, Cristian Rodriguez in front of Steven Branham, Sim Mander, Kyle Makaiwi, Will Brennan, Travis Heer, Salty Thompson.

Despite only going through a couple of training sessions together, the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy 7s team is on a roll.

The group that is largely the same as the HS All American 7s team that finished 2nd to British Columbia in the LVI Boys Elite 7s, is hoping for a rematch in the final of the Victoria International 7s, and it looks like that is what will happen.

After going 3-0 against two tough BC teams and the Utah Lions, EIRA will face the Upright Rugby Rogues Saturday at noon -  a team the HS All Americans beat convincingly in Las Vegas. BC Gold will take on BC Blue in the other semi.

“It's hard only having 2 days of practice, but once we got going we really gelled as a team,” said Back Bay U19 star Travis Heer.

Greenwich’s Luke Bienstock agreed.

“After the first game against BC Blue [a 19-7 win] we really just clicked as a team,” said Bienstock. “The second half against Utah we were playing really unselfishly - six tries by six different people - and we had all the momentum on our side. If we can play the way we did against Utah the rest of tomorrow nobody will be able to stop us.”

The final game of the day against BC White was 26-17, but Heer said it really wasn’t that close.

“Actually, I thought the toughest game was the first one because we have never played together,” said Heer. “In the last game we played great until the last couple of minutes, and then we lost focus and our defense fell apart.”

“We have have grown as an EIRA side as the day has progressed,” added Sim Mander, who plays for St. Paul’s School in London. “Coach [Salty] Thompson has been using all his expertise to blend lineups that match up well against each of our opponents. There is some familiarity and continuity there, with boys that have played and toured together as HSAAs. We aren't looking beyond the semifinal tomorrow, but if we can negotiate that game it looks like we are on a collision course with the BC Gold team that we desperately want to overturn in the final after the disappointment in Las Vegas.”

All it takes, added Bienstock, is staying consistent and mentally focused.