The 2016 Play Rugby USA (PRUSA) Los Angeles Middle School Fall season kicked off with a fantastic staff training in Eagle Rock with over 20 participants from Beyond the Bell (BTB). PRUSA worked with 18 Middle Schools in the Spring of 2016 but BTB decided to offer Flag Rugby to 12 sites this Fall, which has ensured more site visits to all programs – and means we can keep the quality of our programs going across the sprawling city of Angels!
The school sites included: Burbank, Burroughs, Eagle Rock, Emerson, Griffith, Irving, King, Pacoima, Stevenson, Virgil, Wilmington and YOKA.
PRUSA sent Youth Development Mentors (YDM’s) to all 12 locations for one 90-minute rugby session per week to ensure all Beyond the Bell staff were able to deliver the ‘Give Rugby A Try’ and ‘Team Rugby’ curriculums. Leading up to this tournament – PRUSA attended 60 sessions with over 350 students experiencing flag rugby and it’s values – with the average attendance being 15-25 young boys and girls.
The November 19 Girls tournament – based on the format of the HSBC Sevens World Series – saw round robin matches in various pools with all teams making various finals depending on their rankings.
This tournament we decided to double the length of each match from 7 to 14-minutes. Each squad played against four teams in pool play. Following that, teams were then ranked from 1 through 12 based on their performance and put into various finals, ensuring some very exciting action! Each player took part in 5 total matches, totaling 70-minutes of non-stop fast-paced rugby.
RFK Ambassador Global Leadership Academies was a perfect location and host for this tournament with over 70 girls carving it up on the fields.
During the early rounds it was Emerson RED that dominated Pool B, until they met their second school team, Emerson BLUE. It was one of the best pool matches ever played – going down to the wire. Emerson RED won 9-8 in a cliff hanger, and booked their ticket into the Finals as the number 1 ranked team in the tournament scoring 28 tries and conceding 10. Burbank was the only other unbeaten team – topping Pool A despite some very stiff competition. Burbank won thrillers against YOKA 6-5, Irving 6-4 and Pacoima 7-5. Burbank also scored a total of 28 tries like Emerson RED, but conceded 19.
Girls Middle School November 19 Tournament – Results
Girls Cup Final: Emerson RED 9-8 Burbank (Overtime)
Girls Plate Final: King 7-4 Emerson BLUE
Girls Bowl Final: YOKA 5-4 Griffith (Overtime)
Girls Shield Final: Pacoima 8-6 Stevenson
Girls King Final: Irving 5-4 All Stars
The Finals were hotly contested with some magical rugby on display! Many of these girls have been playing rugby for 3-4 years and there has been a dramatic increase in the skill level and tactical play. This is extremely exciting with scholarships for women now available at many Colleges in the United States, plus USA Rugby is scouting players for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games! Earlier this year PRUSA hosted Olympians Kelly Griffin (USA Women’s Rugby 7s Captain), Madison Hughes (USA Men’s Rugby 7s Captain) and Perry Baker in New York City for an amazing fundraising event – with our Los Angeles Program Director Dallen Stanford acting as the master of ceremonies. Review the evening here – with video of the Olympians as well.
183 Tries were scored by the 70 Girls during the pool rounds, with an average of 2.6 tries per player. What is remarkable is that in the Finals a total of 60 tries were scored – with the winning margin of only 1 try in three of those five matches! Overtime was used in the exciting Cup and Bowl finals, with the winner scoring in sudden death after tied at full-time.
Massive congratulations to Emerson RED and Burbank that played one of the best finals ever witnessed! The running lines and support play on attack were superb – with a record 17 tries scored in the 14 minutes. Both sides had opportunities to win it at the death – but it was Emerson RED that touched down to claim the 2016 Los Angeles Fall Cup!
The Most Valuable Players (MVP) for the tournament were Gissell Green (Emerson RED) and Misty Garcia (Burbank) – both outstanding performers throughout the 5 matches. These sensations were awarded a Canterbury of North America rugby ball.
Several players stood out during the day for sportsmanship and those selected won the prestigious Spirit of Rugby Award: Makeda Nevill (Emerson Red), Jalen Tennyson (Emerson Blue), Leslie Rodriquez (Burbank), Chealse Reye (King), Dalia Hurtado (Griffith / Eagle Rock) and April Alexander (YOKA).
Special thanks to the PRUSA staff who helped so far this season: Barnaby Audsley, Samir Gongolli & Will Ayers (Occidental Rugby), Matt Raba & Harrison Herndon (Pasadena RFC), former USA 7s Eagle Peter Sio (Belmont Shore RFC), Morgan Saout & Geraldo Lopez (Santa Monica RFC) and Ann Hoang (UCSB Rugby).
PRUSA would like to Thank the amazing LA84 Foundation (www.la84f.org) for all their support in expanding rugby to Elementary, Middle and High School boys and girls across Los Angeles.
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 135 schools over the past five years, serving an estimated 3,500 students annually.
PRUSA works with after school programs After-School All-Stars (ASAS), the Sheriff Youth Academies League (YAL), Police Academies League (PAL), Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), Summer Night Lights (SNL), LA’s Best, Beyond the Bell (BTB), Woodcraft Rangers and the EduCare Foundation.
The two remaining Fall Tournaments will be the Elementary & Middle Schools from the After-School All-Stars and Elementary Schools from the Woodcraft Rangers on December 10th – plus the Beyond the Bell Middle School Boys event on December 17.