The 2016 Play Rugby USA (PRUSA) Middle School Spring season saw 19 schools from the Beyond the Bell program take part in the next Olympic sport throughout a 10-week period, attending two wonderful tournaments.
The school sites included: Burbank, Burroughs, Byrd, Columbus, Dana, Elizabeth, Emerson, Harry Bridges, Hollenbeck, Irving, King, Maclay, Nava, Nightingale, Pacoima, Portola, Reed, Sepulveda and YOKA.
This season PRUSA sent Youth Development Mentors (YDM’s) to all 19 locations for a few sessions to ensure all Beyond the Bell staff were able to deliver the ‘Give Rugby A Try’ and ‘Team Rugby’ curriculums. PRUSA attended 35 sessions with over 850 students experiencing flag rugby and it’s values – with the average attendance being 16-20 young boys and girls.
Additionally, Program Director Dallen Stanford hosted a professional development workshop for all Beyond the Bell staff, which emphasized the ethos of rugby as well as delivering PRUSA’s mission of ‘Developing Youth Through Rugby’.
The tournaments – 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.
The first flag rugby tournament of the season saw teams play seven-minute matches against five or six teams in each pool. All teams were then ranked based on their performance and put into various finals, ensuring some very exciting action!
But it was another first for our Los Angeles program, with Beyond the Bell deciding to split up the March 19 tournament into two locations, as to ensure better participation from all the sites spread across Los Angeles. PRUSA divided it’s staff and had tournaments on the same day at both Mulholland Middle School and the Santee Education Complex.
March 19 Tournament – hosted at Mulholland Middle School
Girls Cup Final: Nightingale 6-3 YOKA
Girls Plate Final: Burbank Red 4-3 Hollenbeck
Girls Bowl Final: Irving 3-1 Burbank Blue
Boys Cup Final: Dana 7-6 Emerson Blue
Boys Plate Final: Emerson Red 3-2 Nightingale
Boys Bowl Final: Burbank Red 6-5 YOKA
Attending Schools: Burbank, Burroughs, Dana, Elizabeth, Emerson, Harry Bridges, Hollenbeck, Irving, Nava, Nightingale and YOKA.
In the Boys bracket it was a real cliffhanger with a very usual looking points table – not a single team winning all 5 pool matches – but instead the four unbeaten teams all recording a draw in one of their matches. Cup Champions Dana tied 4-4 with Emerson Red, while Nightingale tied 2-2 with Emerson Blue. This showed the fantastic skill level on display and that little separates the top teams – much like the Sevens World Series.
A total of 129 tries were scored by the 10 boys teams, while the girls rounded off 64 tries from their 7 teams. An impressive 175 students attended this tournament!
March 19 Tournament – hosted at Santee Education Complex
Girls Cup Champions: Pacoima
Girls Plate Champions: Columbus
Girls Bowl Champions: Sepulveda
Boys Cup Champions: Pacoima Blue
Boys Plate Champions: Pacoima Red
Boys Bowl Champions: Maclay
Attending Schools: Byrd, Columbus, Maclay, Pacoima, Portola, Reed and Sepulveda.
The Pacoima girls team scored 23 superb tries during their pool matches, and conceded the least number of tries, claiming the Cup Championship title. A total of 52 tries were scored in the girls competition – with plenty of new players experiencing their first-ever tournament. Columbus and Sepulveda did brilliantly to finish off their matches claiming the Plate and Bowl Championships respectively.
In the boys section, it was also Pacoima (Blue) who dominated with 21 tries and conceding a record 2 tries during the tournament. Pacoima’s other team (Red) notched up several impressive victories and despite losing one pool match to Portola, were able to make the Cup Final. This was the first time the same school has ended up with two teams in the Cup Championship!
Maclay stormed through to claim the Bowl Championship, and bring home silverware to their school. A total of 78 tries were scored from the Boys teams during the day.
Rugby’s values are one aspect that sets it apart from other sports. These values in action are showcased at the various tournaments, with teams thanking the opposition after every single match.
Out of the 85 boys and girls that attended the tournament, awards for the Girls MVP went to Ashley (Portola) and the Boys MVP to Fabian (Byrd). Both students were excellent on attack, setting up several magical tries for their team mates. The prestigious Spirit of Rugby Award for sportsmanship went to Yoshi (Sepulveda) and Angel (Columbus) who both displayed wonderful respect for opposition teams, officials and assisted PRUSA staff during the tournament.
Massive thanks to the PRUSA staff who helped this season: Julia Notar (Santa Monica Women’s RFC), Mayra Jimenez (Pasadena Women’s RFC), Ronald Chan, Oscar Flores, Philip Grove, William Wilson, Fernando Zepeda (Occidental Men’s RFC), Gabriel del Campo (Los Angeles RFC) and Kyle Sullivan.
For more information visit Play Rugby USA (www.playrugbyusa.com) and Beyond the Bell (http://btb.lausd.net). PRUSA would like to Thank the amazing LA84 Foundation (www.la84.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 2,500 students annually. These are exciting times for the sport, especially with Rugby returning to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio in August 2016.
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) and the EduCare Foundation.
There is still one more tournament left – the annual 2016 Los Angeles Rugby Cup – which occurs on Saturday May 7th at Webster Middle School – featuring over 65 teams! The event is held in conjunction with BritWeek in Los Angeles and has seen generous support so far from the Australian, New Zealand and British Consulates!
Click HERE to donate to this wonderful cause.
PLUS attend the superb BritWeek Cocktail Event in which Play Rugby USA will be honored – along with Guest Speaker from PRO Rugby: Steve Lewis, Director of Operations.