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Provo Girls Looking Strong, And They're Not Done Yet

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Provo Girls Looking Strong, And They're Not Done Yet

Provo Steelers take the field before last week's final against United. Photo from YouTube.

This week is a week off for Utah Youth Rugby and it gives players and fans a chance to take a breath and see where we stand—and in the girls bracket, where we stand is that the Provo Steelers are a team to be reckoned with.

It was Provo that finally unseated United, defeating United 26-14 in the final of Round 2 of the Utah Youth Rugby fall 7s series. They did with with disciplined and physical defense, some opportunistic breakaway speed, and power up the middle.

“It’s been a long, hard time to get to this point, but it’s been worth it,” said Head Coach Tevita Fanamaka Langi. “We started with the girls in 7th and 8th grade, taking them to Idaho, and we’ve stuck with it.”

That they did. They are still very young, with most of the players still freshmen and sophomores, but they are getting stronger and more experienced, and thanks in part to Langi and assistant coached Katoa Fifita and Sokai Pulu, it’s showing.

“They are putting in the work,” said Langi. “We work the fundamentals all the time. With the girls being young, that’s the focus we set.”

The Provo Steelers has been a vibrant rugby club in Utah for years. It’s only relatively recently that they started a girls team, leveraging the interest from children of players on the senior teams.

“We’ve got three generations playing with the Steelers,” said Langi.

This younger generation is carrying the torch pretty well. They are very quick to the ball, with a second tackler coming in to rip the ball away even before the tackled player hits the ground. Then, when they get the turnover, their first move is to go forward, quickly. They hit hard, but are smart and disciplined, and very good at ensuring they enter rucks through the gate. They hit hard and clean, their passing is crisp and fundamentally sound, and then think fast.

Senior Jenalei Fifita is the captain of the forwards and a crucial leader on the field. She leads a cadre of forward that include freshman Lara Pulu, sophomore Ana Pulu, sophomore Lole Malupo, and freshman Hotaia Valeti.

Despite how young they are they have found a purpose in contesting for ball at the breakdown and wearing down opposition offenses that find it tough to break through.

Senior Joylyn Baguinon captains the backs and they are a nice counterpoint to the forward, showcasing pace and elusiveness. Sophomores Brighton Fonohema, Taimane Fiatoa, and Meilani Stanton, along with Freshman Taylin Iongi, round out this talented group.

Despite their youth, said Langi, they are not intimidated, and they continue to learn.

“They are not afraid of anyone,” he said. “It’s all about sure tackling, developing their rugby IQ, which they are doing every day, and a lot of heart.”