At the Serevi RugbyTown Sevens tournament, Glendale is a club team in the midst of all-star teams. The Raptors are one of just two sides playing exclusively with guys from within their club. The Serevi Selects are the other, with their roster filled by Seattle-OPSB players, who won the National Championship just last week.
The Raptors, on the other hand, finished fourth on the West 7s circuit and failed to qualify for Nationals. This weekend, they’re one of four teams left vying for $10,000 and a prestigious title.
“We went into the tournament with the mindset of this is our Nationals, because we didn’t go to Nationals,” said Glendale coach Andre Snyman. “We’re going to show people we can compete. Even though people say Glendale this and Glendale that, but we just want to go out there, from a player’s point of view, and show people that we can be competitive.”
Glendale has done that. They finished 2-1 in pool play Saturday, with the loss coming 26-15 to the All Americans. They beat Bermuda, who added Waisale Serevi to the lineup mid-tournament, and Negro y Azul, who fortified its arsenal of players before the competition. Sunday, Glendale beat the previously unbeaten Northeast Olympic Development Academy 21-12 in the Cup Quarterfinals. The Raptors took a physical game plan at the Northeast, who had bullied opponents Saturday, and secured a two-try lead early. The Northeast rallied for two-straight scores in the second half, but Glendale got the last try and held on.
“It was in our mind that we had to go out there and play hard and try and avoid them having the ball in hand, because they are a good side,” said Snyman, “and I think the boys did a good job of doing it.”
No one superstar has done all the work for Glendale. Mike Graham appears to be the leader, but at any given time Dewon Reed, Preston Bryant, Chad London, Brett Willis or another Raptor has stepped up and made a play.
“That’s how we train – one team one voice. No individuals. We believe we are 12 individuals coming together as one team,” said Snyman.
“We’re trying to put the guy in better position with ball in hand, rather than being selfish. The guys have been doing a great job in doing that throughout the last two, three weeks preparation for this tournament. I’m really pumped for the boys, and like all sportsmen say, I hope they peak at the right time.”
Luckily for the Raptors, the bracket pairings have fallen their way, and they’ll face the French Armed Forces in one semifinal, while the two most star-studded teams, the All Americans and Tiger, meet in the other.