Heat Men's Rugby
LAS VEGAS, NV - The UBC Okanagan Heat men were scheduled to play 6 games at the tournament in the Aces division. Most teams in the division were composed of premier level players that were much larger than our young team.
The first game of the tournament resulted in a 52-0 loss to the EPA Bulldogs, who were the eventual Aces division champions. Although the EPA team did have a series of large talented players, the Heat did not play with the intensity and commitment needed to win against such a team. Even though this was a painful loss, it was also a necessary wake up call for the players. The next game was a 14-0 forfeit win against the Marist Hawaii team. Thursday's final game was against the Dixie State 7’s. For this game UBC Okanagan played with the intensity needed to beat top competition. Specifically, the Heat were aggressive defensively and moved the ball rapidly across the field. After the first 5 minutes of such play, coach Rob O'Brien observed that "our superior fitness became evident and the opposition began to get frustrated." 18-year-old Jared Curry lead the scoring with 2 tries and James Scott, Bryce Stirling and Ben White added a single try each. Judah Campbell and Neil Fowler also had impressive games defensively. The improvement in playing style and intensity resonated with the entire club and everyone began to see the type of style our Heat team needed to play in order to win big games against tough competition.
The first game on Friday morning was another pool game and had UBC Okanagan facing a very tough Eastside Tsunami team, who eventually finished in 2nd place in the Aces division. This team was very similar to the EPA Bulldogs that the Heat lost to on Thursday. The game became a tough defensive battle and the score remained 0 – 0 for the majority of the game, despite a number of very close scoring opportunities by the Heat. Unfortunately, the Tsunami scored on the final play of the game to take the win 7 – 0. The next battle was against the Dog City Howlers and the Heat again came up short 21-12. The final game was again against the Dixie State 7's and the Heat again won 35-5 in a game that was never in doubt.
Coach O’Brien shared his thoughts on the men's tournament: “This was an important development step for the young Heat team. They now know that they can compete against much larger and more experienced men. They are fearless, organized and committed to winning; I could not ask for any more.”
Heat Women's Rugby
LAS VEGAS, NV - The UBC Okanagan Heat women played in their first formal university rugby event in Las Vegas on the weekend. They started the event with a well-deserved win over Notre Dame College 14 – 10. Madeline Reeves and Kristine Slater scored the tries and Krystal Carpenter made both conversions. The Heat’s second game was against Brock University and was a hard fought 20-7 loss again with Madeline Reeves scoring the try and Krystal Carpenter converting. In the final game of the day the women played a very strong Stanford University team and lost 15-0.
Watching the men’s impressive win over Dixie State, the women arrived on the pitch Friday morning ready to compete hard. The women’s first game was against a powerful Dartmouth team and they came away with an impressive win 17 – 7. In the next match against Brock University, the Heat women played a much better game but still lost 17-7. By the final game against a strong NYU team, the Heat team were weakened by a series of injuries and lost 31-0.
Coach O’Brien reflected on the women's tournament: "I am extremely proud of these young women. They have pushed themselves very hard and have developed into a team that I am confident can compete against established CIS teams. They have the heart and desire to beat any team they could face in the National Seven’s Championship."
"It was an amazing experience," added Heat women's player Kelsey McFarlane. "We played some exceptionally skilled teams and it showed us just what we can do. It was a rough two days with 6 games, pushing us to our limits but it was well worth it. For most of us it was the first time that we have ever played Rugby 7's. Finishing fourth in the tournament was an amazing ending to the weekend. I can't wait for nationals to see what we can accomplish!"
- with notes from Rob O'Brien
Tournament Website: http://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/
Heat rugby schedule and results: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/athletics/clubs/rugby/results.html