On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Harrisonburg, VA, James Madison University (JMU) beat Mary Washington University (UMW) 26-14 to take the first annual Cardinals Collegiate Rugby Conference 7s tournament.
JMU had cruised though pool play, winning four matches. On the other hand, UMW need to win their final pool game and score four tries to get to the final.
In the championships match, though, it was UMW that drew first blood when Charbel Medlej barged over for a try in the first minute. Joe Eustice converted for a 7-0 UMW lead.
JMU struck back quickly as their speedy wing, Donnie Carroll, turned the corner and scored under the posts. Chris Kunkel made the conversion to tie the game at 7-7. Two minutes later, Carroll pulled off a show-and-go to beat a would-be tackler and scored his second try that Kunkel converted (14-7, JMU). Shortly before halftime, Danny Lauro notched a third try for JMU that Kunkel converted to give JMU a comfortable 21-7 halftime lead.
After halftime, UMW pressed the attack but JMU played tight defense and stopped several opportunities. JMU added a fourth try late in the half, as Kunkel grabbed a loose ball and score in the corner. The conversion was missed (26-7, JMU). On the ensuing kick off UMW maintained possession and worked the ball wide. A several phases, Christophe Perdu dove in for a try the Eustice converted (26-14, JMU). With seconds remaining in the game, JMU controlled the restart and kicked to touch to end the game.
Virginia Commonwealth University took third place honors as the beat Longwood University. The tournament was well organized with Dan Wright doing a great job as the event coordinator. The Referee Society of Virginia provided teams of three for most of the matches and were top-notch all day. JMU provided lunch for all the players and officials and had a full staff of medical trainers on site. The conference looks forward to the 7s tournament being an annual event and JMU set the standard for future tournaments,