An exciting summer season of 7s rugby kicked off last Saturday with Orlando capturing the championship at the Todd Miller 7s Benefit Tournament.
Fifteen teams competed in the men’s division, including the University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University. USF and UCF finished in second and third, respectively, demonstrating the wealth of talent in the collegiate ranks.
Speaking of collegiate rugby, UF finished fifth overall, capturing the Plate Championship.
For a club that’s made its mark in 7s over the past few years, including three Collegiate Rugby Championship appearances, this was a great beginning to a promising season.
Graduate student Matt McGee captained the UF squad, who outscored their opponents 120-31 in a dominant defensive effort. McGee was pleased with the team’s solid one-on-one tackling.
“If they came close to us, we brought them to the ground. We also did a pretty good job of pressuring them on offense and forced turnover ball,” said the fifth-year player.
The Gators allowed just five tries in the tournament and shut out Brevard in the Plate final.
Florida’s only loss came against a fit USF squad that won 12-0 and was the tournament runner-up.
“USF did a very nice job of playing traditional 7s rugby. They maintained possession for a while on offense and had no issue with going backwards while waiting for a break in our line,” McGee said. “They made solid tackles and just bided their time on defense until we finally ran out of players to offload to as we were being lazy with support.”
Though the Gators came up short in their quest for the Cup, the opportunity for younger players to get more experience was a point of emphasis for a squad that saw its top player, Lucas Baistrocchi, finish his career in the spring. Brennan Schneider led the Gators with six tries. Laurence Kidd finished second on the team with five while McGee added four. Caleb Gilmer scored three tries and made nine conversions.
“We hit gaps at pace and even had a few pick and goes for tries,” McGee said. “We were quite aggressive on offense because we broke tackle after tackle as we had such a large team.”
On the women’s side, the Orlando club also took home the championship, making it a clean sweep in both divisions in the hometown tournament. USF finished in third, giving the school two top-three finishes at Todd Miller 7s. Congratulations to all 20 clubs that participated and made Todd Miller 7s a fantastic tournament.
Final standings are available below.
1 Orlando (1)
7 St Pete
8 Orlando Iron Horse
12 Treasure Coast
13 Orlando (2)
14 Orlando (3)
1. Orlando (1)
5. Orlando (2)