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EIRA Superb At Las Vegas Invitational

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EIRA Superb At Las Vegas Invitational

David Barpal photo.

Eagle Impact Rugby Academy enjoyed a hugely successful Las Vegas Invitational, rebounding from a slightly disappointing 2018 result.

EIRA Red won the Boys Elite 7s in Vegas, defeating longtime rival British Columbia ELite 1 in the final. EIRA Blue lost to Plate Final to Rock Rugby in the same bracket. The EIRA U16s blew through the Boys U16 bracket, while for the first time an EIRA girls team took the field, logging wins over Shawnigan lake and Legacy RA to take 9th.

(The Redshirts defeated the Utah Cannibals 41-12 in the Girls Elite final.)

"It was good for us in some ways and a learning experience in others," said program director Salty Thompson. "We have a really good rivalry with BC, and both of us getting to the final was reminiscent of some of the tournament we had a few years ago. Overall it was a good team effort, and our U16s were really stacked; I was pleased with them."

With a bunch of power up front and good decision-makers out wide, EIRA Red dominated pool play in a competition that is getting tougher and tougher. The Red team beat Rhinos Black 45-5, BC Elite 2 38-0, and the Midwest Thunderbirds 33-0.

See LVI HS photos

The EIRA Blue team had a bit more trouble, losing to BC Elite 1 29-5, but beating Kahu 22-7 and Rhino Javan 12-10.

Those two teams met in the quarterfinals, where the Reds won 30-0. The Blues went on to beat STARS 24-0 before falling to a tough Rock Rugby team 24-19 in the Plate Final. Red moved on to the Cup Semifinals, and beat Western Sydney 22-7, and then BC Elite 1 24-19 in the final.

Among those key to the effort were flyhalf Sean Nolan, whose restarts we high and accurate, while Dominic Tianga was following on his outstanding performance in Dubai for the North American Lions.

"I've never seen anyone in high school with that kind of hand time," said Thompson. Prop Mike Amberg, normally a wing in 15s, was often the one catching those restarts. Will Chevalier was the magician in the midfield, while Miles McCormick was the hard-charger in tight.

"We had such a good combination of speed, size, and skills," said Thompson. "We needed it. There is more parity. More teams are taking it seriously, there's better prpearation and better coaching."

Leading the U16s was Niuafa Tuihalamaka, who is a powerful athlete who is only a freshman, and big forward Mason Taliulu. Ethan Van Tonder was the snappy playmaker on a team that outsized most opposition.

The U16s outscored opposition 161-37 in getting to the final, where they beat West Idaho TOA to take the title.EIRA was shaken a bit with results in 2018 and has redoubled its efforts. Winning Las Vegas sets them up nicely for the NAHS 7s Series, which includes the Tropical 7s, Ontario 7s, and NAI 7s. EIRA has to be one of the favorites in any of the tournaments it enters.


EIRA RED HS Elite Boys
  1. Mike Amberg
  2. Dominic Tianga
  3. Miles McCormick
  4. Brett Dowgiewicz
  5. Junior Gafa
  6. Elijah Summerlin
  7. Jonathan Haley
  8. Jacob Cortinas
  9. Sean Nolan
  10. Matt de Frates
  11. Will Chevalier
  12. Peyton Wall
  1. Colin Turner
  2. Isaac Reyes
  3. Sergio Davis
  4. Jake Negrete
  5. Brayden Wilson
  6. Axel Arias
  7. Tiaan Mosconi
  8. Rhys Jones
  9. Guy Gryspeerdt
  10. Jackson Gray
  11. Jake Broselle
  12. Quinn Murray
  1. Chris Biagi
  2. Dougie Brown
  3. Pearson Hill
  4. Brock Kluempers
  5. Alanı Maafu
  6. Lucas Pattinson
  7. Mason Taliulu
  8. Niuafa Tuihalamaka
  9. Ethan van Tonder
  10. Evan Weigold
  11. George O'Brien
  12. C.J. De Vault