The USC Rugby 7s Squad traveled to Berkeley for the PAC 12 Rugby 7’s Championships held at the beautiful Cal Berkeley field. This is the first year USC has developed a 7’s rugby program, and the newly formed squad’s energy was high. Everyone was ready to compete with the strong PAC 12 Rugby Conference.
The first day of the event did not go as planned for USC. The opening match was early on Saturday morning, and the pitch was still wet with dew. Facing Arizona State (the eventual runners up of the tournament), the USC team struggled to adjust to the wet rugby ball. Their many dropped balls and unforced errors allowed Arizona plenty of possession to score. USC dropped the opening match to ASU.
After the midday break, USC faced northern foes Oregon State in what turned out to be an exciting match with plenty of back-and-forth action. With only minutes remaining, USC was ahead 17-12. Then, in a dramatic final minute of the match, OSU marched down the field with energy, forcing USC to make numerous tackles. After a sustained attack, OSU broke through the USC defensive line and scored with no time remaining, beating USC 19-17. The stunned audience was as shocked as the USC players.
The rest of the opening day did not continue well for USC. A couple of injuries and more unforced errors resulted in the final two matches also being dropped, ending the day winless and at the bottom of the table. There was a lot of soul searching and introspective reflection on the day’s events by everyone on the USC 7s squad.
The second (and final) day of the PAC 12 7s Championships again did not begin well for USC, this time before the team even made it to the pitch. A local Berkeley marathon had shut down many streets in the surrounding neighborhood, and the USC players’ van was stuck in a jam only a mile away. With only minutes until kickoff, the boys finally made it to the field and quickly warmed up to take on the University of Oregon. But the morning’s troubles followed them on to the pitch, and the match was out of USC’s grasp very quickly. Another dropped match.
In their final match, the team worked together to boost moral and get ready to compete against their final opponents, the Stanford Cardinal. It was another wonderful match for spectators, as both USC and Stanford played enterprising rugby and created attack opportunities for many players. Scoring started when USC dotted down in the corner for the opening try. With a narrow lead at half-time, USC pushed the action and scored again to lead 10-0. But Stanford wasn’t giving up and countered with a try of their own, closing the gap. USC pressured, but couldn’t break through the Stanford line, and with only a minute remaining in the match, USC was forced to defend their line over and over, until a Stanford knock-on ended the game. That strong defense saved the win for USC. The large audience applauded both teams for an entertaining match. Well done USC!
Congratulations to USC forward Travis Fox, whose defensive tackling and all-around solid work earned him a nomination as one of the Players of the Tournament.
Highlights of the event can be seen here:
Joey Krassenstein – 2
Adam Bushnell – 1
Travis Fox – 1
Haico Kaashoek – 1
Nicholas Ludwig – 1
Corbin Bennett- 1
Joey Krassenstein – 1