The Utah Lions won the boys High School Division at the Denver 7s this past weekend under a sweltering sun and high humidity.
The Utah Rugby Academy club took two teams — a blue team and a white team — to Denver to try to extend its winning streak and bring home the trophy for the Denver 7s a second-straight year as the Lions took on a field of 12 high school and all-star teams from the rocky mountain area.
The two Lions teams won all their games except one and secured a championship as well as a third-place finish.
The most challenging games of the day would prove to be against Rocky Mountain Rebels of the Littleton, Colorado, area who are an up-and-coming academy. After handily defeating the Rebels in pool play, the white team would lose to them by two points, 21-19 in the semifinal match after a very disappointing start and several costly errors.
With the blue team dispatching East HS of Denver in the semifinals, it met with a Rebel team fired up and looking for a first tournament championship.
The first half ended 7-5 in favor of the Lions with the score and conversion coming from captain Kaymahn Siufanua of Lone Peak High School. The second half brought substitutes from both sides, especially since this was the fifth game of the day for both teams and fitness was quickly becoming a deciding factor.
Bringing in scoring machines Ma’afu Mahina of Hunter High School, Gavan Kirton of United Rugby and Kyler Burch of Herriman from the bench, the rejuvenated Lions began to dismember the Rebels. Kyler Burch scored two successive tries after punishing runs and incredible support from his teammates to seal the deal 21-12 with two conversions coming from Siufanua.
The white team, still stinging from a loss to the Rebels in the semifinals, took out their frustration on East High of Denver, the current Colorado state champs, as they played for a third-place finish, which was also a replay of the finals from 2014.
Utah cruised past East from the beginning, scoring in the first 30 seconds. That scoring continued with both Alma Schoenfeld (Olympus HS) and Taylor Robinson (Alta HS) putting a pair of ties down in addition to tries by Colin Snow (Herriman HS), Kody Jacobsen (Snow Canyon HS), Evan Wilson (Davis HS), and Keagan Barnes (Bingham HS) rounding out the 40 points total against the Colorado state champs.
In the meantime, a stifling Lions defense allowed a total of 12 points only for East High School.
The Lions are not done touring for 2015. On July 8, they will depart of Victoria, British Columbia, in an effort to become the first U.S. team to win the Elite U18 Division in the highly competitive Victoria 7s tournament held at the University of Victoria. The Lions took second in 2014 — a first for an American team.
The Lions will finish 2015 summer touring season with another trip to Denver for Serevitown, and elite invitational tournament and the equivalent of a national championship.
Lions Blue scores
- Lions 38, Northside Dragons 5
- Lions 47, Regis Jesuit HS 0
- Lions 31, Palmer HS 0 (quarterfinals)
- Lions 24, East HS 12 (semifinals)
- Lions 21, Rebels 12 (finals)
- Lions White scoresLions 62, Boulder Boys 0
- Lions 26, Rebels 14
- Lions 38, New Mexico All-Stars 5 (quarterfinals)
- Rebels 21, Lions 19 (semifinals)
- Lions 40, East HS 12 (third place)