|Brian Welborn slips past his defender at Ft Worth 7s|
It would not be Texas Rugby without a bit of controversy. Fort Worth 7s experienced weather that certainly contributed to a bit of confusion that was exacerbated by the Austin Blacks not making the tournament.
However, the Texas Rugby Union and the Red River Rugby Conference 7s committee straightened out the confusion in this post about RRRC Qualifier #2. Now, there will still be some folks caterwauling about the amount of points awarded to Little Rock for the Pool Play forfeiture, but we all know far ahead of time that a forfeiture is 28 points to the team that shows up. We also all know that in 7s, the ball can bounce many ways, and no competitive team can afford to leave any points off the board. Judging by Huns 7s Coach Jacob Liberman's statements below, we can expect the Huns to be dotting center much more often on their home pitch than they have in the previous two tournaments (and that's saying something!).
Austin Huns Press Release
Austin Huns Awarded 2nd Place, After Remaining Undefeated, Due To Weather Technicality
Austin, TX (July 11, 2016). The Red River Rugby Conference completed its second 7s qualifier in Fort Worth, TX over the weekend. Austin Huns, the conference top seed, were poised to run away with their second consecutive tournament championship. Unfortunately due to weather related game cancellations, their undefeated winning streak was abruptly put on hold.
The Huns dominated pool play by winning both their games handily. Huns opened the tournament with a decisive victory over Ft. Hood winning 40-0, followed by a convincing win over the Prickly Pears, 25-5. Austin Huns success was attributed to unselfish play from the team. They allowed the ball to do the work, which made it easier for players to spread the field, stretch and capitalize on the opposition's defense.
After winning their pool Huns moved into the Cup Quarter Finals and competition grew tougher. They opened the battle against Ngeli with two crucial tries of restarts and turnovers. Huns closed the half up 14-0. Ngeli made some critical adjustments in the opening of the 2nd half to slow down the pace and disrupt the Huns. With less than 3-minutes remaining Huns received two costly yellow cards. The first card was on Kyle Breytenbach for playing the man after making kick downfield. The second card, 60 seconds later, was on Mickey Johnson for a late tackle. Ngeli capitalized, while the Huns played 2 men down scoring 2 quick tries and narrowing the lead to 2 points. With a minute remaining, Kyle returned to the game and added some much-needed support on offense and defense. A dominant defense and tackles at the gain line allowed the Huns to stop Ngeli, force a turnover, and make offensive gains. With no time left on the clock and a man down the Huns pinned back their ears and attacked Ngeli head-on. A critical line break and offload by fly-half Andrew Heller, lead to a game-sealing try by winger Justin Hale, after 2 shifty steps to get past the center and sweeper. Huns won 21-12.
Following the intense quarter final match-up Austin Huns moved to the semi-finals for an even closer match against tournament host Bonobo. The defensive heavy match was exciting, as expected. Big hits, longs runs, and a great display of rugby skills. The Huns once again emerged victorious in this battle after scrum-half Shawn Cox used his elusiveness and blazing speed to score a 40-meter try on the edge. Huns won 12-7.
For the 2nd consecutive qualifier, the Austin Huns remained undefeated and moved into the Cup Final as the top seed. Their opponent, Little Rock Stormers, would be looking for redemption after the Huns beat them in pool play and the championship game in the first RRRC Qualifier in Little Rock, Arkansas. Unfortunately, this rematch would never come to fruition. After a two hour postponement, the Cup Final was canceled. Texas Rugby Union’s Facebook reports that in the case of cancellations they look to total points on the day to determine the champion. Austin Huns earned 98 points on the day. Little Rock was awarded 99 points, after receiving an extra 28 points because the Austin Blacks forfeited, by never checking into the tournament. Jacob Liberman, head coach of the Huns 7s, was asked how he felt about the situation: “We learned a harsh lesson about the importance of every point in rugby sevens. Centering one more try would have booked our ticket to nationals."
Due to the circumstances the Austin Huns and Little Rock Stormers are now tied for 1st place in the conference, however, the Huns remain the only undefeated team in the conference. “Little Rock is a well coached and talented team. It's unfortunate that we couldn't decide the final on the pitch. Everyone involved is looking forward to the final qualifier in Austin” Liberman stated.
Immediately following the tournament Bonobo hosted its tournament, Cowtown 7s. Austin Huns showed its depth in 7s by entering a new set of 12 players to compete in the tournament. The Huns 2nd Side was as commanding as the first side, and they proved it by dominating pool play with a combined score of 92-19 and moving to the finals. In the championship match-up against a defensively stout OKC, Huns proved why they are an elite club by staying poised throughout the entire match. Battling to the last seconds of the match, Huns scored with no time remaining and won 14-7, bringing another tournament championship to the club.
Austin Huns look forward to competing to qualify for the national tournament in 2 weeks at the final RRRC Qualifier, which takes place on Huns Field in Austin, TX on July 23rd. The Austin Huns 1st side was coached by Jacob Liberman. The 2nd Side was coached by Justin Milan.
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More photos from the event will soon be on our Facebook page, provided by the gorgeous and elegant, Norma Salinas.