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NA Lions Experience Invaluable

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NA Lions Experience Invaluable

NA Lions at 2019 Dubai 7s.

After winning all three pool games at the U19 International bracket at the Dubai 7s a week ago, the North American Lions were defeated by KwaZulu Natal in the quarterfinals and that was the end of their run.

The Lions had beaten KZN in the opening game of pool play, but lost in the rematch. That may seem a bit of a surprise, but Head Coach Salty Thompson was somewhat philosophical about it all.

"I asked the guys how they felt and they all said they felt good, but it's very, very difficult to go to Dubai and play," said Thompson. "It's a long trip and after two days of competition it can wear on you."

The jet lag when it's nine to 12 hours can actually get worse over time, and certainly the Lions were a bit flat in the opening game of Day Three. In addition, KwaZulu Natal players were  pretty annoyed with themselves for losing to the Americans and came in to that game with a chip on their shoulders.

They decided to win the physical clash, and did so.

"Our guys were mentally prepared but they won the collisions, they drove us off rucks, and we had two yellow cards back-to-back," said Thompson. "That's what happens in 7s sometimes. If you don't get to play the game we want to play, and we wanted to play a wide-wide game. We couldn't."

It's worth noting that the NA Lions team that entered this U19 competition had only one player born in 2000, with the rest born in 2001 and 2002. Those players benefited from invaluable experience that will stand them in good stead in the future.