By 7s Coach, Phil Beck
Memphis Tigers arrived in Washington on Thursday 27th April.
After checking into the Hotel and a spot of lunch we headed to the Capitol where the office of Congressmen Cohen had organized a private tour.
The Tour was better than we thought seeing a lot of history and being able to see the Old Supreme Court Chamber, Old Senate Chamber and the Magna Carta replica which became such an integral part of the US constitution. We were also very lucky to see Paris Hilton, who was also touring and blew the Tigers a kiss, although there is debate on where she was aiming the kiss.
After an hour and a half of the Capital, we were escorted to the office of Congressmen Steve Cohen, where he spent 30-40 minutes talking to the players and answering any questions put to him.
Friday was game day and our first game at 10:00am was against Washington St Louis. An early try by Colin and converted by Conor settled our nerves and we were able to win 21-10 with Tries from Colin, Jason and Conor, with Conor converting all 3.
Our next game was just after 2pm against NC State. As the day went on the rain and the wind had picked up so much that most teams were in their cars or vans unless they were playing. Our first half saw NC State score an unconverted try making it 5-0 at the half. Second half opened with Conor tying up the game making it 5-5. Long into the 2nd half NC State were able to break through to score another try and convert making the score 12-5.
The conditions were so bad including hail and as our next game was around 5pm we headed back to the Hotel to clean kit and get warm. However, we were advised as we were getting ready to go back to the field, that all games were cancelled for the rest of the day and our final game that we would have played would take place on Saturday.
Friday night at approximately 11.35pm we were notified we were to play at 08:55am against Towson.
The weather was much better on Saturday. And whilst it took us a little while to get into our rhythm, Towson had put in a quick try making it 5-0. Jalen made a great breakaway try with Conor converting giving us a 2-point advantage and we did not look back after that with Jason, Conor and Tyler all putting in tries to make the score 28-5. Tries were by Jalen, Jason, Conor, Tyler and Conor converting all 4.
Unfortunately, the communication was not so great at Nationals, but we were to meet Georgetown in the quarterfinals after 2pm.
Georgetown were a very large side and could move the ball and with only a couple of mistakes made by the Tigers put us 14-0 in the first half. Tigers had been in this position before and came back fighting in the second half with Nick getting our first try and then Sehrab quickly put in our second try. Tyler had a great breakaway try making the score 15-14 Tigers.
We knew that time was up and just needed to hold on or get the ball off the field for us to move onto semifinals. However, a penalty was given for not releasing, 12 yards off our try line. Unfortunately, one of the Georgetown players fell awkwardly in a great tackle that caused a 20-minute break and when we returned, we were on our goal line and knew we had to get Georgetown to make a mistake and the game was ours, but at the tap penalty they took a well-executed drop goal and ended winning 17-15.
We would have one more game although unofficial. We played for 5th and 6th place against University of North Iowa and what a final performance it was with Joaquin as our Captain.
We went straight into typical Tigers sevens and racked up a very good lead in the first half 24-0. The second half was no different with Joaquin taking leadership opened up the middle of the field scoring under the posts and was able to convert his own try. Tyler and Emilio had not finished and Tyler took the score to 36-5 and Emilio finished it off by splitting UNI down the middle and scored his 2nd try of the game to give us a convincing 41-5 win.
Tries by Emilio 2, Tyler 2, Christian, Joaquin, Jalen. Conversions from Mat 2, Joaquin 1.
Apart from Auburn we did not know any other team in any of the pool games and Tigers did not let us down and played extremely well. I believe that we will be back again next year.
From the coaches standpoint it was a huge pleasure coaching the Tigers this season and both on and off the field Memphis Tigers were a force to be reckon with.
We are forever grateful for Tiger Rugby Nation getting behind our national championship run. We were honored and humbled by the outpouring of support from our families, friends, and alumni. Thanks so very much for your sacrifice and for your support. This opportunity to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the nation was a once in lifetime opportunity for many of our players. You have left an important mark on the lives of our young men. Thanks so much!
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