Team Spotlight: Tempe
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Team Spotlight: Tempe
While GRR has already had a close look at the Tempe Rugby Club, we figured we'd give you an update.
As outlined in these pages, Tempe had some big dreams for 2020 thanks to a concentration on youth and developing players when they are young.
As outlined by HS Boys Program Director Hal Morgan, in 2014 Tempe had 20 players in youth rugby and their high school team had to merge with another team. Two years later they had 75 players through the whole youth-high school program.
Since we profiled Tempe, they beat well-regarded Red Mountain to remain undefeated in Rugby Arizona. Tempe then took up the sevens mantel and played in the LA Invitational. Tempe was the only regular club team to play in the LAI Boys U18 Elite bracket. After a little bit of sevens-specific training, the team suited up and came away with a very creditable 2-3 record. Two of the three losses were by a try or less.
The U16s also played, giving two teams worth of players much-needed experience.
"A 4-1 record was well within reach," said Morgan. "This trip was less about the wins and losses and more about our longer-term goals. We now have 24 players who have higher-level experience they never would have gotten in Arizona."
In the U18 bracket, Tempe beat San Diego Legion Academy 40-0 and Gorilla Rugby 29-10, while losing to Maui 25-10, Starts 19-12, and Midwest Selects 17-15.
Following on that, Tempe was back playing 15s and hammered the Tucson Blackbirds 80-12.
So Tempe continues to grow, and continues to think about developing their players with a view toward getting better at rugby, not worrying about winning.
That's why they entered the Elite bracket at the LAI. They could have entered the open bracket and probably won more games, but that wasn't their goal. (They weren't the only club to want to be in the elite bracket—others were looking for that challenge, too.)
By the time of the COVID-19 shutdown, Tempe was 4-0 in Rugby Arizona play.