The final Play Rugby USA (PRUSA) fall rugby tournament took place on Saturday December 20th with 30 Elementary schools in action from the brilliant Beyond the Bell program.
Eagle Rock High School hosted the Los Angeles event, which was the second tournament for these Elementary sites in their 10-week flag rugby season.
The tournament format – based on the HSBC Sevens World Series – saw teams play six-minute matches against five teams in their pool. All 30 teams were then ranked based on their performance and put into various finals. This ensured those finals often being decided on the final play of the game!
Besides the extremely active nature of flag rugby, PRUSA’s focus is infusing rugby’s values into the coaching curriculum. These values in action are showcased at the various tournaments, with teams tasked at Saturday’s event to create a poster board explaining what ‘Switch On’ means to them on the field, and in life. PRUSA staff selected the students from Malabar Elementary to receive special ‘Go Forward’ bracelets for their great responses. Special mention must also be made of Sierra Park for their excellent feedback.
On the field, it was First Street who bounced back from the last tournament to score an amazing sudden death 5-4 win over Lorena to claim the Bowl trophy (3rd place).
Mount Washington – who scored 23 tries earlier in the day – were ranked number two after the pool round matches. They conceded 7 tries, with a points difference of +16. They faced veterans Bushnell Way in the Cup Final – champions from the October 18th tournament. During the pool stages Bushnell Way scored 26 tries, conceding 7, for a points difference of +19.
Mount Washington started the Cup final off superbly with two excellent tries. But the experience from Bushnell Way proved the difference, as they raced in some well worked team tries, winning 4-2. This was one of the rare occasions that a team has claimed back-to-back Cup Championships!
The Girls MVP went to Ximena Hernandez (Bushnell Way) and the Boys MVP Newman MaCoy (Cahuenga). Both students displayed superb skills on the field, and led by example off the field.
The prestigious Spirit of Rugby Award for sportsmanship was presented to Hailey Mejia (Mayberry) who actually helped out and played for Lockwood as they were short of a few players. The other Spirit of Rugby Award for sportsmanship was awarded to Mark Flores (Buchanan). Both these students were extremely positive and encouraged their team mates throughout the tournament.
A newer award, called the Green Card (not the one given out by the US government), is given to students who best display any of PRUSA’s values in action (Try Makers Not Try Scores, Go Forward, Switch On or Get There). Instead of issuing Yellow or Red cards, which are used in sport for discipline issues, the positive Green Card award is used by Play Rugby USA and given out by the referees. The students honored for this award were: Carlos Altamirano (Annandale), Isiah Wright (Allesandro), Clark Dandridge (Dorris Place), Jeronimo Amaya (First Street), Andrew Leon Vidales (Mount Washington) and Aliza Chavez (Micheltorena).
“We would like to thank the sensational Beyond the Bell program and LA84 Foundation for their partnership in developing youth through rugby. Flag rugby is now played by an estimated 2,500 students in Los Angeles, more then half those from the Beyond the Bell program” – Dallen Stanford, PRUSA Los Angeles Program Manager.
Several volunteers were present during the tournament, and PRUSA would like to thank the Pasadena Women’s and Men’s Rugby Club for all their support during the event. For students wishing to find out more information about youth tackle rugby in Pasadena, visit their website here.
Thanks also to Eli Mandel (University of Washington Men’s Rugby) who captured some excellent images for our media.
Massive thanks to the PRUSA staff who helped at this tournament: Julia Notar, Casey Bollinger (Santa Monica Women’s RFC), Mayra Jimenez (Pasadena Women’s RFC), Janet Lee (Occidental Women’s RFC), Barnaby Audsley, Fernando Zepeda (Occidental Men’s RFC), Augustin Brajeux (Santa Monica Beachboks) and Zac Winter (Santa Monica Men’s RFC).
View all the fantastic tournament photos by Casey Bollinger on PRUSA’s Flickr account.
Beyond the Bell Elementary Fall Tournament Results (Eagle Rock)
Cup Champions: Bushnell Way
Plate Champions: Mount Washington
Bowl Champions: First Street
Participating Elementary sites: Albion, Allesandro, Annandale, Bright, Buchanan, Bushnell Way, Cahuenga, Clifford, Dahlia Heights, Dorris Place, El Sereno, Euclid , First Street, Franklin, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Ivanhoe, Lockwood, Logan, Lorena, Malabar, Mayberry, Micheltorena, Monte Vista, Mount Washington, Norwood, Second Street, Sierra Park, Toland Way, Yorkdale.
Play Rugby USA (PRUSA) was founded by Mark Griffin in New York City in 2003, and with it’s mission of ‘Developing Youth Through Rugby’ the program has spread to Los Angeles in 2010 and San Francisco in 2012.
The LA program has grown from 6 to 115 schools over the past five years, serving an estimated 2,500 students annually. These are exciting times for the sport, especially with Rugby returning to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio in 2016.
PRUSA works with after school programs LA’s Best, After-School All-Stars (ASAS), the Sheriff Youth Academies League (YAL), Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), Summer Night Lights (SNL), and Beyond the Bell (BTB).