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Tropical 7s Boys, Men Wrap

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Tropical 7s Boys, Men Wrap

Rangataua on their way to a try in the final. Alex Goff photo.

It was a pretty eventful Tropical 7s boys and men's competition this past weekend, with champions coming from all over.

Here's a look at what happened with some comments from the players.

U18 Elite

The expectation was that the Rangataua team form New Zealand would be the best side there and that proved to be correct. Their execution was spot-on, they made decisions quickly, and worked very hard to avoid getting isolated in the tackle—that last being perhaps the most glaring difference between them and the opposition.

Led by captain Hohepa Chandler, the physicality of Jackson Wood, and some superb playmaking and tenacity from Gideon Lasaga, Rangataua rolled through their pool games and won their quarterfinal by 42 points.

But the semifinal was a little different. Rebel Rugby Academy came with a mindset that they had little to lose, and even when they fell behind 14-0 early, they didn't back down. With Baylor Kobularcik providing a go-forward mindset, Arnaud Agassi a steadying influence, and Diohnny Ruiz making breaks they came back and were perhaps one defensive breakdown from tying the game. As it was, Rangataua held on 26-19.

The final was against an Atlantis team that had put it all together against EIRA. Atlantis matched up well with EIRA, fielding a bit of a bigger, more powerful lineup than usual and then breaking through for two early tries. Pressed into their own end, EIRA found it difficult to score from long range and Atlantis won the semi 26-10.

In the final, Rangataua was the team that scored early and they didn't let up, keeping the ball alive and forcing Atlantis to stay super-organized on defense. Eventually the gaps showed and Rangataua won 33-7. EIRA found what they were lacking in the semis, and perhaps Rebel had left too much in their semi—EIRA took 3rd 21-19.

U18 Open

In a huge bracket Rebel Rugby Academy edged a very tough USA Rugby South Blue team 19-17 in the semifinals. Pioneer 7s defeated a Laguna Beach team that had enjoyed huge success in their pool.

In an entertaining final Pioneer 7s beat Rebel Rugby Academy 19-10 to take the trophy.

U16 Elite

Gorilla Rugby fielded a team of mostly Texas players, plus a couple of Kansas and Oklahoma, and one from New York, providing some more geographic diversity to the tournament. Playing a smart team game that didn't rely on size but did rely on smart defense and good ball movement, Gorilla took the trophy.

They beat Canada's Oakville Crusaders 28-19 in the final, but really the story was their defense. Through pool play and the quarterfinals, Gorilla allowed zero points. USA South was the first team to score on them, in yet another tight semifinal (won by Gorilla 19-17). Oakville's defense was also quite good, holding their quarterfinal and semifinal opponents, Layton Christian and Atlantis, to a try apiece.

U16 Open

USA West edged USA South 12-10 in the semifinal (yes, yet another nailbiter semifinal) and then held off Oshawa 19-12 in the final. USA West's quarterfinal was a 19-17 win over Alaska, so all three knockout games for them were decided by a total of 11 points.

U23 Open and Elite

The U23 Elite bracket wasn't much of a surprise as the Canadians Maple Leafs won as expected. They did have to work for it, though, as all three of their pool games were relatively close. NAV 7s and St. Bonaventure were in that pool and they showed quite well through the weekend.

St. Joseph's was in Pool B as the only other stand-alone American college team in the competition and they played hard but ended up winless. The Bears were winless in their pool games but on Day Two turned it around and beat Tsunami and NAV 7s to make the final, which the Maple Leafs won 26-14. St. Bonaventure did well to take 3rd.

In the Open bracket this was much more of a college competition, and Alabama got by a very tough Eckerd Tritons side 19-14 in the semifinal and won handily over te Montauk L=Pleides 29-5 in the final.