North Penn 7s Recap
On June 17, 2017 Schuylkill River RFC traveled to Hatfield, PA to compete in the North Penn 7s Tournament. This tournament saw the program accomplished a feat we are not sure any 7s program in the Country has done in recent times by sending 4 sides to another Club’s 7s tournament. The boys were not there to just show their numbers however, as Schuylkill River won both the Premier and Open Division of the tournament.
The tournament was split into 2 Divisions (Premier/Open) with SR Black and SR U23 competing in the Premier, and SR White and SR Grey competing in the Open.
In the Premier Division, SR Black was too much for the competition as they went 5-0 en-route to the Championship. The scoring was impressive, but only surrendering 5 points on the day was what made Coach Chris Ryan the happiest. “It was the result we wanted, but I was really impressed with the defense today. Teams threw a lot of different styles of play at us today, which we often don’t see, and the guys only slipped up 1 time the entire tournament” reflected Ryan. After winning their 2 pool play matches by a combined score of 89-0, SR Black faced the Northeast Irish in the quarterfinals and kept rolling with a 47-0 victory. The semis saw the boys in black give up their first and only try of the tournament to the Molly Maguire’s, but the end result was another win 42-5. In the finals, Schuylkill met Old Gaelic who was having equal success on the day with a 4-0 record, but that would end in the final as SR won 49-0 to hoist the cup. Coach Ryan ended with saying “we played unselfish and didn’t try to out athlete teams. Playing disciplined especially when the score lines got high is difficult, but the boys were able to. Now we need to keep that discipline as competition gets tougher next week.”
Although the U23 Academy didn’t have as much luck as SR Black in the Premier Division, it was a great learning experience. “The guys learned a lot today especially at the breakdown. Some teams we played weren’t your traditional 7s players, or teams, but they are great and physical rugby players. The boys found out quickly the breakdown is a little tougher on the next level, and we’ll fix that quickly as we prepare for the coming weeks.” Said Schuylkill Director of 7s Pat Boyle. The Academy side battled Runner-up Old Gaelic in the first match of the day, and for 10 minutes battled to 7-7 tie. In the end, Old Gaelic’s veteran savvy, and giving away 2 high tackle yellow cards, were too much to overcome in the 24-12 loss. The next pool match and subsequent quarterfinal were both against Doylestown which saw a familiar theme, too much turnover ball at the breakdown. Despite winning, or being tied in the second half of both games, Doylestown wore down the U23’s to eventually win both matches. “Doylestown has physical rugby players, and they saw our guys were a little smaller, and they went at us. Unfortunately, we wore down, but the guys are better after those games and really excited for this week.” Added Boyle.
Over on the Open side of the tournament, SR White found equal success going 5-0 and capturing the Open Championship. Pool matches were an early indicator of the day as the team racked up wins over North Penn and Wilkes Barre with a combined score of 74-0. The quarters and semis led to more impressive wins over Whitehorse (31-10) and Harrisburg (40-12). With the Championship on the line vs. South Jersey, SR jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead, and held serve in the second half monsoon conditions to win 31-12. “Obviously, any time you go 5-0, it’s a good day, but I think the guys wanted a crack at SR Black in the Premier, which would have been fun. Regardless, really impressed with how the guys played the system and trusted each other especially with some new faces. These guys are all motivated to get to the first side, and they played with that fire all day,” noted Coach Mike Burch.
SR Grey battled all day, and despite some injures and a learning curve, just missed out on some upsets. “Grey was up against it today both with inexperience and some injuries they took during the day, but they really improved which cumulated in a great comeback against Lehigh Valley,” said Coach Burch. After suffering a narrow loss to the Allentown Blues 10-5, and harsh defeat to South Jersey 46-12, the boys were a bit rattled heading into the playoffs. Getting down 24-0 at half in the quarterfinals to Lehigh Valley didn’t help the cause. The second half saw a different team though as they fought to 24-21 in the final minute. Unable to steal the kickoff, Lehigh Valley was able to control the ball and kick to touch to end the game. Despite the loss, the boys showed massive improvement as we head into the thick of the schedule.
This week, the club heads to Leesburg, VA to compete in NOVA 7’s, the first National Qualifying tournament.