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Fairfield Takes U18 Bracket at Warrior 7s

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Fairfield Takes U18 Bracket at Warrior 7s

The Fairfield team with their trophy.

The Fairfield Rugby Club won the U18 Boys Division at the Warrior 7s over the weekend.

Taking part in a robust U18 division that included 12 teams from four states, Fairfield started off with big wins against Hempfield and St. Joes. As the day went on, the competition became harder, and the Minutemen out of the DC area proved a difficult opponent.

Fairfield jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to runs by Corbin Smith and strong team defense. The Minutemen pressured in response and were awarded a penalty try to make it 14-7 at halftime. The ruling also landed Fairfield with a yellow card and they finished the first half down a player.

In the second half the Minutemen scored a well-taken try off a scrum to tie the score at 14-14. Fairfield would pull ahead again with a crucial score from Kevin Kirkland in the final minute. That made it 21-14, but the Minutemen kept coming, scoring with seconds remaining on the clock. The conversion, however, didn't go over the Fairfield escaped with a 21-19 victory.

This secured Fairfield second place overall in the tournament seeding, with a similarly undefeated Berks above them due to point differential.

The semifinals consisted of Fairfield playing Berks 2, and Berks 1 playing Minutemen. Fairfield was led by their forwards. Kevin Splan scored twice and Jack Reidy was impressive with his poaches. Those turnovers gave scoring opportunities to the Pegasi and props Josh Pastore and Lucas Meyer both took advantage with long, bruising runs for tries.

Berks 1 defeated the Minutemen and so the two undefeated teams in the tournament met up in the final.

Berks was aggressive from the start, scoring a quick try off the kickoff with some good ball movement to go up 7-0. Off the ensuing restart Berks would regain possession, quickly move the ball to space, and score under the posts. Less than two minutes into the game Berks was leading 14-0.

Fairfield cut into the lead midway through the period with a run by Corbin Smith, who made several defenders miss before dotting down for the try. Fairfield then had multiple opportunities to tie the game in the first half but the Berks defense held strong and Berks led 14-7 at the break.

In the second half, Fairfield received the kickoff and Jackson Chudzik quickly ran right in for the try. The conversion was good and the game was now tied. Fairfield won the ensuing restart thanks to pressure from Rowan Sierra, who forced multiple turnovers throughout the tournament. The ball was quickly recycled to Smith, who cut through the Berks defense to put Fairfield ahead for the first time in the match. Once more Fairfield pressured on the restart, and the battle for the ball resulted in a scrum.

Off the scrum, Berks put on some heavy pressure, but flyhalf Griffin O’ Connell found a gap in the defense and put in another try for Fairfield, making it 28-14.

Berks kept playing hard and tested Fairfield defense throughout the remaining half, but Fairfield defense was able to keep them scoreless for the remainder of the game. The final score was 28-14.

"It was a great team effort," said Fairfield Coach JT Smith. "We came down with a deep bench, all who contributed to the tournament win. We got outstanding performances from everyone and were able to come into the final with some fresh and rested bodies."

The 2021 Fairfield Summer 7s team is joined by several players from West Hartford Rugby Club. Corbin Smith, who played center for the Pegasi, was MVP and thus received the prize of a free annual subscription from Next Phase Rugby, the college rugby recruitment platform.