USA Rugby invades Irving

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The city of Irving hosted the USA Rugby Men and Women’s Senior Club National Playoffs at the Las Colinas Polo Grounds in Spring Trail Park.  The sudden-death tournament was held May 17-18 and showcased 20 teams in the quarterfinal and semi-final rounds.

In Men’s Division I competition, the New Orleans Rugby defeated the Sacramento Lions 62-32. The crowd favorite Dallas Reds, or Dallas Rugby Football Club, blew out the Los Angeles Rugby 51-5 in the quarterfinal round.

Dallas RFC tight-end, Chris Hopkins, said the team just stuck to the game plan against Los Angeles.

“We just played our game. We tried to stay together as a unit and won all our set pieces. Spreading the ball wide sucked everybody in. That is a big component to our game; set pieces. If we get that were pretty unstoppable,” Hopkins said, after a decisive victory over Los Angeles.

Dallas advanced to the final four for the first time in franchise history, which led to a much-anticipated rematch between New Orleans and Dallas in the semi-finals round. Dallas had gone 0-1-1 in the previous last two meetings against New Orleans.

“This is the result that we wanted; New Orleans in the final four. We needed another shot at them,” Hopkins said.

In the final round of four, New Orleans and Dallas went head-to-head for the third consecutive time this season. New Orleans controlled most of the first half and gained a 24-point lead over the Reds.

Dallas cut the lead to just five points in the second half, but couldn’t complete the comeback as New Orleans beat Dallas 24-19. The season came to an end for Dallas, but Reds player Chris Hopkins gained a lot of appreciation for the season.

“Being a part of a club with a bunch of guys that have your back – it’s been the fun part of my life being a part of this club and coming together as a team. Four years in the making and this is the result. Never as a club have we’ve been this far and in that it’s a satisfying experience,” Hopkins said.

New Orleans will now move on to the 2014 Division I National Championship Finals game on May 31 from Madison, Wis. against the winner from the Pittsburgh bracket, The Life Running Eagles from Georgia.

In Men’s Division II action, The Tempe Old Devils defeated Glen Dale Raptors D2, 35-22.  The Little Rock Stormers beat the Snake River Rugby 63-41. In the semi-finals the Tempe Old Devils were victorious over the Little Rock Stormers 55-37.

The So Cal Kings won 31-21 against the Kansas City Islanders in a Men’s Division III encounter. Dallas Athletic lost to the Life West Gladiators 31-14. The Gladiators clinched a finals berth by defeating the So Cal Kings 17-22.

The Oregon Sports Union beat the Austin Valkyries 46-5 in the Women’s Division I results. The Santa Monica Dolphins fell to the Denver Black Ice, 41-14, but it would be the last time Denver would score a point this season. Oregon Sports Union reached the women’s Division I finals with its 56-0 shutout win against Denver in the semi-finals.

In a quarterfinal meeting between two Women’s Division II teams, the Sacramento Amazon blew out the Houston Athletic 88-7.  In the same round, The Las Vegas Slots reached the Semifinals by defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 55-17. The Sacramento Amazon squeezed by the Las Vegas Slots 26-22 as it secured its place in the Women’s Division II Championship game.

At the end of the weekend, the rugby community seemed satisfied with the efforts from the city of Irving as a host city. “This is the second year in a row that Irving has helped us host this particular tournament,” Treasurer of the Dallas Rugby Football Club. Daniel Drabinksi, said.

“Last year they [Irving] hosted the sweet sixteen. This year we are able to host the final eight and final four.

“Certainly the efforts put together through Irving and Dallas Rugby Club have created just a phenomenal venue.  The fields have come together a little bit; with the rain recently, it definitely could have used a little bit more work.

“Certainly we would have like the irrigation a little bit better. We would like the field a little bit more in shape for a tournament of this status.

“Overall it’s a phenomenal event, we’re happy with the way everything went through from the Irving police and setups, we are very pleased with the event,” Drabinski said.