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South Panther U16s Find Glory at Tropical 7s

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South Panther U16s Find Glory at Tropical 7s

The USA Rugby South Panthers are #1.

The USA Rugby South Panther program had a pretty successful weekend at the Tropical 7s, winning at three different age groups, including at the U16 level.

Mike Orefice scouted and assembled the team and Gary Anderson and Andy Thomas coached the squad. 

"Mike Orefice put together an incredible group of kids that made mine and Andy Thomas’s job a lot easier," said Anderson, who also said the teams the Panthers had to was a "murderers row" of teams.

"Charlotte Tigers, Atlantis , Rhino, Belmont Shore, and EIRA in the finals was pretty much a who’s who of Elite 7s rugby," said Anderson. "After our first practice it was apparent that we had plenty of speed and lots of height, but I was not sold that we could play enough elite defense to get the job done. I was mistaken."

Mistaken indeed. They gave up only 10 points in pool play, and then held Rhinos in the quarterfinals and Belmont Shore in the semis to 12 points each. They didn't give up three tries to anyone until EIRA scored on the final play of the championship game. At that point the South was well ahead and won 27-19.

Captain Justin Albouy was the glue that kept the team together.

"The amount of heart they showed was a real inspiration," said Anderson. That kind of leadership was needed as yellow cards put their side under stress at key moments. They finished their 12-5 battle with Charlotte with five players against six.

Against the Rhinos in the quarters, two starters had to sit because of cards in earlier games, and so other players had to fill in.

"That game was a real key to our growth and confidence," said Anderson. "Several guys had to step up and play serious minutes that they were not sure they were capable of. Once we came out of that game with a win, the boys felt they had the horses to run the table and that’s just what they did.

USA South Panthers Blue U16 Roster:
Eli Smith
Justin Albouy
Chris Newcomb
Andrew Weeks
Richard Wofford
Evan Lewis
Eli Baumann
Howie Heller
Dylan Forbes-Roberts
Will Wright
Max Orefice
Bishop Reilly
Jack Netherland