Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
By Conor Bertrand
Texas A&M RFC will host the University of Texas on Friday, April 8th at 7:30 pm (CST) in their annual battle for the University Cup. The Aggies have been able to handle the Horns in the last two years to secure the cup, and Texas is hungry for the chance to get it back.
The Longhorns like their chances as this is the first year in history that the University Cup will be decided via a 7s match as opposed to 15’s. UT has just been accepted into the CRC, or Collegiate Rugby Championship Sevens tournament, which hosts 16 of the best college teams in the USA.
Since their 15’s season ended several weeks ago, UT have been focused on refining their 7’s skills and are eager to show the 7’s world that they are contenders by defeating the Aggies on their home ground.
Texas A&M will have to rely on their skills in 15’s making a smooth transition to the 7’s game in order to keep pace with Texas. Although A&M will only have three practices to prepare, it is a challenge they are excited to take on. The Aggies are bringing in 7s Guru David McPhail to help them transition quickly.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to work with the talent they have at A&M. I only wish I could spend more time with the club,” said McPhail.
The Longhorns counter with former USA 7’s player Dallen Stanford who is helping prepare the team for their trip to the CRC.
The match has traditionally been close according to Hunter Leland, “You can throw the records out the window when UT and A&M get together. Playing each other usually brings the best out in each team as the longtime rivals share a mutual distaste for each other.”
This will be classic match as two highly motivated teams with much to prove to each other and the 7s world, square off in a new game with a long history.
The Varsity match will be preceded by a Junior Varsity and Developmental match that will provide fans with a full night of rugby.
“It should be a great night full of rugby, music and a great environment,” stated Club President Tim Telanues.
”We plan to make this an annual event and this will serve as the official kickoff to the Texas A&M 7’s program that will play a full schedule next fall.”
The following day, The Gareth Jones Challenge Cup involving over 30 youth teams will take place at Veterans Park in College Station, Texas.
The 7’s event will be held on the campus of Texas A&M University at the Penberthy Sports Complex with the Developmental match getting thing started at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $3.00. A map to the field can be found at www.aggierugby.com
The 7’s game is experiencing a tremendous growth spurt in the USA with the addition of the game to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janiero. It has led to the establishment of numerous 7s events including the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s that will be held in Philadelphia in June and will be featured on NBC.