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Utah rugby team takes 5th at Las Vegas Sevens tournament

The Utes took fifth place out of 24 teams at the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens this past weekend to play in a qualifier for the Collegiate Sevens Rugby Championship in May.

On Thursday, Utah opened play by defeating Point Loma Nazarene (California), 48-5, and Wheeling Jesuit, 31-0, before meeting unbeaten American International College (2-0). Tied at 5-5 late in the first half, AIC scored a try and took a late hit as the ball was touched down. That gave AIC a penalty kick at midfield and it tapped, chipped over the Utes’ defense and scored another try for a 17-5 halftime lead.

Utah roared back in the second half to cut the lead to 22-19 and had a breakaway as time expired, but an AIC tackler drove the Utah back out of bounds at the try-line, preserving AIC’s win.

The Utes advanced to the Cup quarterfinals as a result of posting the best point differential of all the 2-1 teams, but they went as the eighth seed facing the No. 1 seed, Arkansas State (ranked first in collegiate sevens nationally), and Friday they dropped that match to the undefeated Red Wolves, 29-12.

The Utes moved on to consolation play where they beat an outstanding Kutztown side, 26-7, to finish the tournament in fifth place. Arkansas State went on to win the championship, defeating AIC in the finals.

Utah will now take a week off before returning to 15s play when they travel to Berkeley, California, to take on Cal.

Park City club preparing for spring

Park City Haggis is training for the second half of the 2014-15 Rocky Mountain Rugby season. Haggis went 4-0 in the fall league play and is in second place in its nine-team conference, one point behind Colorado Springs. Former Ute All-American Blake Burdette is the head coach. The team was an offensive juggernaut during the fall, but its weakness was defense as it simply outscored its opponents.

Park City opens its season on March 8 vs. Aspen.

Other Utah sides in Las Vegas

In all, 244 teams from 32 states and a number of Canadian provinces joined the national sides.

Mana Utah Select played in the Men’s Elite Sevens Division. In pool play it lost to the Maple Leafs (Canada), 14-0; defeated the All-Armed Forces, 24-17; and were shut out by Florida Select, 40-0. In the Bowl quarterfinals, Mana Utah lost to the Laie Lions (Hawaii), 21-10, and then dropped a tight 19-17 decision to Ronin (England).

In the Boys’ High School Sevens Open Division, the Utah Lions Blue team went 3-0 in pool play Thursday defeating the South Side Irish from Chicago, 17-14; Smokey Mountain from Tennessee, 26-5; and Edmonton Gold from Canada, 29-14.

Ma’afu Mahina played strong for the “invitation only” development team. On Friday, the Lions beat View Park Prep (LA), 19-12, in the Cup quarterfinals before falling to British Columbia, 24-7, in the semis. The Blue team finished the Open Division with a 4-1 record and third place.

In the Boys’ High School Sevens Elite Division Friday, the Utah Lions White team went 2-0-1 in pool play as it blanked Toronto, 29-0; tied British Columbia, 19-19; and defeated Palos Verde (California), 40-12. Only the High School All American First Team went undefeated and untied. On Saturday, the Lions lost in the Cup quarterfinals to Ontario (Canada), 34-12. The High School All Americans beat Ontario II, 44-0, in the quarters and Upright (Canada), 36-0, in the semis, but lost the championship match 31-5 to British Columbia.

Utah County Power United open its spring season by playing a couple of 15s matches in Las Vegas, as were the Snow Canyon girls’ 15s, but no scores have been posted. Park City Haggis was also supposed to play a match, but again there are no scores.

The Utah Vipers from Salt Lake participated in the Hugh School girls sevens. On Thursday they beat the Westside Swarm, 39-12, and San Diego’s Tribe, 17-7, before falling to Toronto, 24-21. This relegated them to Plate competition where they lost to Shawnigan Lake (Canada), 14-0, before defeating Tribe, 18-7 to finish 3-2.

In the Girls’ Elite Sevens the Orem Lady Stallions, a second-year club, had tough going losing all three pool matches to Edmonton Gold, 17-14; the High School All Americans, 40-0; and British Columbia, 32-0, Thursday. Then Orem stunned the All Americans, 12-10, in the quarterfinals before falling to British Columbia, 36-5, in the semis. In the match for third place Orem won again, defeating Atlantis (an all-star team), 12-7.

College rankings

The Goff Rugby Report put out its collegiate rankings Feb. 11 prior to this past weekend’s play. Life was ranked first followed by BYU, Saint Mary’s, Arkansas State and Cal. Army, Kutztown, Lindenwood, Air Force and Navy made up the next five in that order. The University of Utah was 46th, but moved up to 15th by virtue of its 38-0 victory over UCLA.

College scores

On Wednesday, Cal stormed over Stanford 78-3. The Golden Bears then took on PAC foe Arizona State Saturday and scored 16 tries in winning 100-17.

Other scores: Navy over Clemson, 39-25, Saturday. Life over Navy, 48-17, Sunday.