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RUGBY SEVENS READY TO LAUNCH

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By Bucky Brennan

This weekend the UOG Field House will be the place to be as players and fans converge for the first ever Heineken Guam Rugby Sevens Tournament.

GSPN’s John Arceo tosses the ball to his teammate before getting taken down by a Southside defender. (photo by Errol Alegre Jr.)

With the culmination of Heineken’s Guam Rugby Sevens League through the four weekends of July, the University of Guam Fieldhouse will play host to the inaugural Heineken Guam Rugby Sevens Tournament on August 11 and 12. The tournament is “the first event of its kind here on Guam” says event organizer Matt Sgro of Tropical Productions. The two-day event will feature eight men’s teams and four women’s teams battling it out for the prestigious Heineken Cups. All teams have honed their skills over the past month and are tweaking their patterns and strategies to face-off this in what is sure to be an exciting, action-packed weekend-tournament. The fast-paced and hard-hitting sevens style of rugby will be in full swing from the first kick-off at 10AM on Saturday through the end of the two-day tournament on Sunday.

So this weekend bring your friends, your families and yourselves to watch the tantalizing action that is one of Guam’s fastest-growing sports, SEVENS RUGBY!

Sevens Rugby

Para Todu’s Avalon Romero gets the wind knocked out of her after an open field tackle by Comrades defender Erica Quichocho. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Seven-a-side rugby is a high-action, fast-paced variation of rugby where each team fields seven players covering a regulation 100M x 50M field (roughly comparable to a full size adult football or soccer field). The game is played in two seven minute halves. While some might think that seven minute halves are short, anyone who’s played sevens would beg to differ. Consider this, seven players are responsible for the same field that sometimes 15 players find it hard to defend. Compare running at 120% for seven minutes at a time, then add in the chance of getting tackled with no pads, or chasing down the likes of football phenom Will Williams and Matt Sablan. In short, whoever says sevens rugby is easy, has probably never played.

This weekend’s action will feature some of Guam’s top current, past, and future rugby stars. Sgro says“All the teams have a pretty good shot as the talent is spread pretty evenly.” Spectators can expect to be dazzled by some of Guam’s top athletes who will leave you at the edge of your seat without moments respite. Take, Ana Borja, a first-time spectator who was able to watch a few games in the July league, she says “I love how action packed the games are… The tackling makes every game so intense and exciting — especially since [players] have no padding whatsoever to protect themselves.” Borja’s sentiment was evident in the league as jaw dropping tackles and hits were commonplace in July. The tournament will boast even more action and ferociousness as the teams know its win or go home.

P.J. Calvo is chased down by the Southside Colts during Week 3 action of the Heineken Rugby 7’s League Sunday. (photo by Andre Gadia)

According to Sgro, Heineken decided to put on Guam’s first Sevens tournament because “with our speed and island tenacity, the open play sevens rugby is the future of Guam Rugby. When we travel, Team Guam always puts on a good showing, both our men and women get compliments on their tough defense and fast-paced style of play,” says Sgro.

“The two biggest things for the tournament are gonna be fitness and accurate passing,” says Sgro. With more field to cover, teams skills will surely be tested. Sgro adds “Its gonna be intense from that first kick-off on Saturday all the way until the end of the tournament on Sunday. In terms of team sports, there is no other team sport like rugby sevens, don’t blink in the seven minutes, or you’ll miss something.”

Sgro alluded to Heineken’s big plans for the tournament saying, “the original concept was to have several divisions: with competitive, masters and younger (colt) sides. But since this is the first year, we wanted to concentrate on the tournament and get the players out to generate interest. Most people don’t know, but Heineken is one of the biggest sponsors of Rugby in the world. Heineken has hopes for this tournament to become on of the premiere tournaments of the region. With the interest generated this year, we aim for more international and regional participation in coming years. All the tournament’s sponsors are new to rugby on Guam and this is an exciting way to get more interest and truly grow the sport which is what I and many others in the rugby community want.”

Heineken has pulled out all the stops for its inaugural tournament. The field was lined professionally throughout the league and the careful planning and preparation of the event ensure that all families and fans can enjoy the tournament in one way or another. Rugby won’t be the only draw to the tournament this weekend. Tournament sponsor Lonestar restaurant will feature food and other concessions for sale to spectators. Heineken will also set up a huge beer garden for responsible fun for spectators. “Other sponsors of the tournament will also be out and about this weekend to support the rugby teams and community” says Sgro. Sgro added “one lucky fan will even attempt a 45 meter drop goal for a chance at $10,000!!”

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