July 22, 2016
Pioneer 7s – Last Frontier 7s Qualifier
Photo: Rugby Utah
Rugby Utah Release: Kimball Kjar
Salt Lake City, UT—Rugby Utah’s state-based elite representative 7s team, the National Development Academy (NDA), supported by GoPlay Sports Tours, will play in the final Frontier Region 7s Qualifier, the Pioneer 7s Tournament, hosted this weekend in Salt Lake City, UT at the SLC Regional Athletic Complex.
With the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics set to host rugby for the first time since 1924 Pioneer 7s organizers are excited to showcase Utah’s rugby community and the newest Olympic sport in such a premier local event.
“Rugby is big in Utah,” said Pioneer 7s Tournament Director Vea Ofa, “And this tournament gives our local clubs the chance to play against the best. And with the Olympics having rugby again this tournament gives our community a sneak-peek on what makes rugby so exciting.”
With Provo native Make Unufe making the 12-man USA Olympic Rugby team and former University of Utah football and rugby standout Thretton Palamo making the training squad tournaments like the Pioneer 7s are key to providing the opportunities for Utah’s rugby community.
“Our rugby community can’t develop players like Maka or Thretton without top-end competition in Utah,” said Rugby Utah executive director Kimball Kjar, “So we’re grateful for people like Vea and the many others who see the vision that Rugby Utah shares with them to develop strong and well-managed events like the Pioneer 7s that provide those opportunities for players to compete and develop. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some future Olympians on the pitch this weekend.”
With the Rugby Utah NDA squad having already qualified for USA Rugby National Club 7s Championships August 13-15th in Denver, CO by winning the Denver 7s and Heartland 7s tournaments the team will look to hold serve in the final qualifier played on its home turf.
“We’re fortunate to have punched our ticket to nationals already,” said NDA head coach Ben Nicholls, “But we still have a lot to play for at home and as a team we need more opportunities to develop and improve before nationals and even RugbyTown 7s later in August.”
The Pioneer 7s Tournament will have two brackets playing in parallel with the Qualifier and Open Divisions.
The top four teams in the Frontier Region will make a final push before nationals in the Qualifier Division with Rugby Utah, the Glendale Raptors, the Denver Barbarians and the Kansas City Blues.
Top local teams will play in the Open Division headlined by Humless 7s, Mana, Liberty, Salt Lake Gladiators, Salt Lake Spartans, West Valley Lions, Park City Haggis and So. Utah All Stars. National clubs like the Hawaii Lions, EPA Razorbacks and Team Royal are also bringing their talent to Utah in an effort to win the $5,000 cash prize for the Open Division.
The Pioneer 7s Tournament kicks off with a youth clinic Friday morning with registration beginning at 7am MT, July 22nd. Educational workshops for the young players, speed clinics and rugby skills development will carry from 8.30am until a 12pm lunch, which is sponsored by All Poly Sports.
The Pioneer 7s Tournament Open Division pool matches will kick off at 1pm MT following the conclusion of the Youth Rugby Clinic.
Qualifier and Open Divisions will round out play Saturday, July 23rd with champions being crowned later that day.
For more details on the Rugby Utah NDA and for a complete schedule for the Pioneer 7s Tournament please visit www.RugbyUtah.com.
PIONEER 7s TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
About Rugby Utah
Rugby Utah (RU) is the official Recognized Geographic Rugby Organization for USA Rugby and is focused on aggregating the strengths of rugby in the state of Utah, from the youth to the elite levels. The goal of RU is to unify rugby within the state through High Performance programs like the Olympic Development Academy and Community programs like the Rugby Business Network, Touch Rugby League and A 2nd Try Foundation. With these programs already producing positive results on and off the pitch the “United State of Rugby” looks to develop the most elite rugby players, coaches and referees and to develop the economic engines necessary to build and strengthen America’s rugby culture. For more information, visit www.rugbyutah.com #UnitedStateofRugby
About GoPlay Sports Tours / ACIS
Since 1978 ACIS, the American Council for International Studies, has been a leader in quality travel for middle and high school students and their teachers. We believe in the power of travel to open students’ eyes and change their lives—and every detail of our tours is carefully crafted to help make it happen. This is replicated through our sports division, where we believe coaches, players and parents alike want the best possible experience, on an exceptional program. We are also committed to being partners with the coaches who take our trips, and work hard to help them select and customize trips that fulfill their team’s objectives. While we offer a range of trip types to fit different budgets and goals, every trip features, training at great facilities, games against the best opposition, tickets to see the best teams in the world, authentic meals, and centrally-located hotels. We believe this brings our teams closer to the people, places and culture. We’re also known for the quality of our tour managers: smart, well-traveled individuals hired for their knowledge, enthusiasm and ability to bring sports and culture to life. Visit www.acis.com/goplay.