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Significant involvement from Utah in successes at international rugby 7s tournament

LAS VEGAS — Utah continued to show why it is one of the best rugby playing states with a number of successes at the fifth leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. One of Utah’s own, Maka Unufe, was a part of the USA Mens Eagles’ march to the semifinals, where they fell to 7s powerhouse, Fiji.

In the Las Vegas Invitational tournament, the USA Falcons men’s team, made up of fringe and former USA Eagles 7s men’s team members, had to dispatch a strong international competition from Fiji and France to take the competition. Utah players Tua Laei and Thretton Palamo were prominent and powerful in the Falcons' domination.

At the collegiate level, the University of Utah won the College LVI 7s in dramatic style to qualify for the prestigious College Rugby Championship in Philadelphia. After a back-and-forth game against a fast and furious Notre Dame team, Utah heavyweight Chad Gough showed a combination of initiative and power to take a quick tap in the dying seconds of the game and burst through three Notre Dame tacklers to force the ball over the line to win the final.

There were jubilant scenes among the Utah players, who had to defend stoutly throughout the match to blunt the pace and power of the Notre Dame team. On the national stage, it was Utah that proved more resolute and took home the spoils, including a trip to the CRC.

The Utah domination continued at the high school level, with Herriman High School going 6-0 in defeating teams from around the country to win the high school LVI. This feat was made more remarkable give that some of the opposition teams comprise all-star teams, rather than single schools.

“That was some superb rugby from the Utah teams and Utah players on the national teams,” said Rugby Utah CEO Ken Rivera, who was on hand to support the Utah teams. “Utah has some of the best top tier and up-and-coming rugby players in the nation."

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