St. Mary’s won its second 7s tournament in as many tries this fall, defeating San Diego State 38-17 Sunday in the final of California 7s. The win earns the Gaels and automatic bid to the inaugural USA Rugby national championship Dec. 16-17 in College Station, Texas.
St. Mary’s beat rival Cal 26-17 in its first game of day two, having gone 2-1 in pool play. The Gaels led 19-0 at halftime off of a Bubba Jones try and a pair from Kingsley McGowan. Andrew Cook added one in the second half. Cal’s Seamus Kelly scored two in the latter half, and Paul Bosco one, but that wasn’t enough to keep Cal alive.
The eventual champs then edged Cal Poly, whom they’d beaten by a single point in the final of a warm-up in San Luis Obispo, Calif. just two weeks earlier, 17-15 in one semifinal.
San Diego State, whose only pool loss came by just two points to Cal Poly, slid past Univ. San Diego 19-10 in the quarterfinal round and edged UC Davis 19-12 in the other semifinal.
The Aztecs did not compete in a high-level warm-up like that held by Cal Poly, and they fell victim to day-two fatigue in the final, says SDSU coach Matt Hawkins.
“It basically came down to fact that we left on Friday in the afternoon and drove 10 hours to get up here, and the guys didn’t get a ton of sleep so they had to put a ton of work in on the first day, and a lot of these guys haven’t played a second day,” he said.
“So all of that, they just struggled to get the grips of that unfortunately. We managed to just get through, get through, but we just ran out of steam, unfortunately.”
The Aztecs trailed St. Mary’s just 14-12 at halftime but were outscored 24-5 in the second stanza.
“We started to play some pretty good strategic 7s,” said St. Mary’s 7s coach Mark Bass, “and heck we ended up down to six guys the last four minutes and ended up scoring a couple tries.”
Bass said the Gaels were led by outstanding performance from Garrett Brewer, Bubba Jones, Lloyd Evans, Andrew Cook and Chad Clark.
San Diego State is likely to be extended an at-large invite to the national championships, which says Hawkins, they’ll gladly accept.
“If we do get the opportunity, yes we would really like to go, because we know we played well within ourselves and there’s a lot more we can do and I believe we can go and win that tournament, so that’s basically what we want to go and do.”
California Collegiate 7s Day Two
Mike Geib photos