Unknowns going into this men’s National 7s Championships, the Marist Hawaii Selects were picked to struggle early by RUGBYMag.com.
Hawaii in green and white. Dobson Images
And in a way, they did, but in the best fashion possible. Hawaii took on favorites Belmont Shore in their opening match and lost 24-7. As it turned out, 24-7 wasn’t so bad, as Shore won their next two games by a combined score of 91-7.
“I guess we came out of that game feeling we got thrashed a little bit,” said Hawaii's Lofi Fuatogi. “But it was good experience. The whole time I’ve been in Hawaii it’s been 15-a-side. We never played much 7s. Now we’re playing more 7s but we didn’t know how we matched up to other teams.
“It was a new experience for our guys,” Fuatogi continued. “They got their tries from us because we were not focusing, not pressing on kickoffs, and sometimes just watching the game. But we learned from that.”
Hawaii rebounded to beat New Orleans and tie Boston. In the end it was just enough, as Hawaii and Boston both finished 1-1-1, and Hawaii took 2nd thanks to that closer loss to Belmont Shore.
“A lot of people didn’t expect us to do well,” said Fuatogi. “But we accomplished what we wanted to today - get to the top eight. We felt we had a lot to prove, and we improved through the day. The guys were communicating more and stuck to the game plan.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, Hawaii has nothing to lose. They are set up against an excellent Utah Warriors side, and after that either the Cup or Plater semis.
“We told the guys, don’t think about it being nationals,” Fuatogi said. “Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do, just play to our game plan, communicate, and always support. We will play Utah like it’s a final. We will leave everything on the field. We will not leave feeling like we could have, or should have done something. We will make everyone proud.”