Sacramento, Calif.– Eight teams from Northern California and the Pacific Northwest regions will converge on Seattle, Wash. for the Pacific Coast 7s Championship on July 20. The eight teams include Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach, the Eastside Axemen, Chuckanut Bay, the Valley Kangaroos, San Francisco Golden Gate, Olympic Club, the San Jose Seahawks, and the Sacramento Lions. Only the top two teams will emerge from this group and secure the two seeds reserved for the Pacific Coast at the 2013 Emirates Airlines USA Rugby 7s National Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa. on August 10-11.
Out of these eight teams who have qualified, San Francisco Golden Gate and Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach are coming into the weekend as strong favorites. Both teams boast rosters stacked with international-experienced players and Collegiate All-Americans, and neither team has yet to lose a match all summer.
OSPB seemed to be head and shoulders above the other competition in the Pacific Northwest, as they won the Can Am 7s last weekend defeating second place Eastside 55-0 in the final. Eastside, Chuckanut, and Valley should come into the Pacific Coast Championship strong and determined, as they have weathered the OPSB storm and will use this experience to be competitive with the Northern California teams.
Meanwhile in Northern California, SFGG has not lost throughout the NorCal three-tournament series. Nevertheless, SFGG has been challenged at times and the competition has been a bit more spirited. Olympic Club has been nipping at the heels of SFGG, meeting them in the final two weeks in a row. In the final weekend, Olympic opened up against SFGG with two consecutive tries from USA 7s player Colin Hawley and led 19-17 at the half. But during the second half SFGG was able to quickly regroup and prevented O-Club from scoring again, and proceeded to unleash their firepower to win the final convincingly, 43-19.
The third place team out of NorCal is the Sacramento Lions. Throughout the series the Lions have had their moments, but have failed to display consistency in the winning column. One of the highlights for the Lions was during the second week of the series when they pushed SFGG in pool play and were leading most of the game. SFGG managed to tie the Lions at 17-17 and threw everything at them in the final minutes. The Lions defense held and the game ended in a tie, and thus the only game SFGG did not win this summer.
The Lions concluded the series in week three with their best result by finishing 3rd. The Lions lost to SFGG in the semifinal but then bounced back as they pummeled Santa Rosa in the 3rd place match. Throughout the last three weeks, the Lions have experienced plenty of ups and downs.
“It is easy to make excuses when you don’t win as much as you’d hope, so we’ll just say we have experienced many of the same problems all teams deal with,” said Lions Manager Aaron Frederick. “But we have a core group of guys who have dedicated a lot this summer and despite our ups and downs, none of that matters going into this weekend. We know we need to focus on the task at hand. We know we can compete with the best teams.”
Head Coach Iferemie Tawake and Assistant Coach Aseri Batiratu have been working hard with the Lions all summer and have been looking for consistent cohesion from an experienced group of veterans and an athletic group of young players.
The Lions squad includes powerful veteran forwards Nemani Volavola and Eddie Matakibau and talented veteran backs Wayne Koi, Jerry Tavai, and Garrett Hawley. This group has a wealth of 7s experience and have helped lead a group of younger players who are eager to win games.
Complimenting the veteran players are Davita Pale, Sione Latu, and Joel Scott. These players are in their second 7s season with the Lions and have added a lot to the team with their athleticism. In addition, the Lions have seen great productivity from college players Andre Whaley, Denzel Washington, and Marshal Godfrey. The Lions go into the weekend as underdogs, but could create some surprises if they come out of the gate strong and remain consistent throughout the day.
“When the guys play their best, they are a really tough team to beat. We just need to stay focused and bounce back quickly if we make mistakes,” added Frederick. “We have a good system under Coach Tawake and Coach Aseri. We plan on giving it our all and leaving it all on the field. All things considered, we are just incredibly excited to be a part of the Pacific Coast Championship.”