An action packed week of collaboration!
Impact Beyond highlights:
In the lead-up to the tournament, we worked closely with Impact Beyond partners: NorCal Rugby, USA Rugby and PlayWorks to build momentum and leave a lasting legacy on young people in the Bay Area once the tournament left town. We’re excited to share our impact!
- Launched 12 new teams at partner sites
- Activated 22 new coaches at partner sites
- Reached 570 kids with rugby programming prior to the tournament kick-off
- Hosted 3 tournaments, enjoyed by almost 100 kids with a focus on the camaraderie and inclusiveness of Rugby
Kicked off with Family Day with corporate partner, AIG, on Treasure Island the Saturday preceding the tournament. Our Bay Area Program Director, Anthony Lenos, led the day, introducing 56 kids, all children of AIG employees, to the joys of rugby and getting them (and their parents) excited about the All Blacks and Black Ferns. We then re-joined AIG on Thursday morning for a “Rugby 101” session with their local office staff, to generate excitement ahead of the weekend. AIG have been a key supporter of our Bay Area efforts and it was great to cement the partnership through these fantastic corporate engagement events.
Our students at the Mission Education Center were thrilled to be visited by 2 Women’s players, 4 men’s players and 3 coaches from the Australian National teams. The Australian Nationals ran around and played some games with the kids, then joined their teams in scrimmages. Although there was a language barrier between our Spanish speaking students and our Aussie visitors, the language of rugby spoke loudest, and everyone had an unforgettable experience.
On Wednesday evening the fundraising portion of the week kicked off with The Rise of Rugby Sevens Dinner, co-organized with our friends at the British American Business Council and kindly hosted by Frank Dunlevy at the stunning St. Francis Yacht Club. A panel of some of the biggest names in British and Irish Lions history provided insights, predictions and banter to the crowd of over 140 Bay Area rugby enthusiasts. It was a fantastic celebration of the rise of sevens rugby in the USA and generated a lot of buzz before the World Cup commenced. The event included a live auction, a signed ball auction, and a round of heads and tails for various prizes kindly donated by sponsors. When all was said and done, thanks to the generosity of so many in attendance, we raised close to $50,000 (net) for Play Rugby USA programming in the Bay Area.
The Rugby World Cup
The sun rose on Friday morning and AT&T park was soon abuzz with rugby enthusiasts from across the globe, with USA Eagles fans out in full color and force – finally the tournament was getting underway.
100 children from our Bay Area Community Resource partner schools, and their families, were given complimentary tickets and found their way to prime seats overlooking the try-zone to soak up the action – many adorning Australia hats received at Tuesday’s training day. Such a fantastic experience for these youngsters to witness world class rugby in their own backyard.
The Irish Women defeated England, before the USA destroyed China to bring the Women’s Round of 16 to a close.
During the break in schedule, our Supporters and some key connections enjoyed a BBQ in a private residence overlooking AT&T Park. Generous donations of beer on tap from Woods Beer Co. and fine wine from Goldschmidt’s Vineyards loosed up the conversations and had everyone in a feverish mood heading back to the stadium for the Women’s QFs and the Men’s Round of 16. The Women threw up little surprises as New Zealand, Australia, France and the USA progressed to Saturday’s championship rounds with relative ease.
On the Men’s side, the first match of the evening was arguably the most extraordinary of the whole weekend, as Scotland somehow managed to overturn an incredible 26 point deficit against a Kenyan team that simply imploded in the second half. England and Team USA both impressed in their first action of the weekend, cruising into the next round against Samoa and Wales respectively; setting up a beefy QF meeting between the two on Saturday afternoon. A raucous Fiji contingent, spanning the lower and upper decks in a sea of blue, saw their men excite in a 35-10 Victory against Japan, with South Africa and New Zealand looking equally dominant.
Saturday offered up a full day of Rugby action, and another beautiful day in San Francisco. The Women’s Semi-Finals provided arguably the best entertainment of the weekend in back-to-back competitive encounters. In the first, France held on to defeat Australia, and in a determined showing the US ladies narrowly lost out to the seasoned Kiwis by a 26-21 final score.
South Africa and Fiji both looked scary good in pounding Scotland and Argentina in the first two Men’s QFs, before New Zealand squeezed past France in a less impressive 12-7 victory. The stadium reached fever pitch for the last of the Quarter Finals as the USA squared up against a good looking English side. A dramatic back and forth encounter finished tied at 19, and the game headed to sudden death overtime. A spell of good English possession opened up some gaps in the US defense, which was then exploited by a perfectly executed cross field kick and game winning try for the English. Heartbreak for the hosts, ecstasy for the English fans – especially Play Rugby Board Member, Stuart Bagshaw!
In the women’s medal matches, Australia pipped a tired looking US squad to the Bronze, and in the final, the Kiwis power, class and experience shone through in a comfortable 29-0 victory over France.
A great day of rugby drew to a close with the trophy presentation, and our sun-kissed supporters headed over to the ATwater Tavern, for a rugby collaboration drinks event co-hosted by Atavus and sportsYou.
Sunday morning saw fans slowly fill the stadium and get into some exciting place matches on the Men’s draw. The US defeated Scotland easily, before New Zealand and England advanced to the final with superb showings in upsets against the pundit’s favorites Fiji and South Africa. England, in particular, were superb against a South African squad that had shown little weakness throughout the weekend.
As the sun began to set over San Francisco Bay, the business end of the Men’s draw took center stage. Scotland played well in a thrilling overtime win against the French to secure a 7th placed finish, the US disappointed in a 7-33 defeat against an Argentina side that showed no mercy on the hosts in the 5/6 place game. The bronze medal match was a bruising encounter between Fiji and South Africa, with the South African discipline and power proving too much for the entertaining Fijian squad – whose travelling support was a massive highlight of the weekend every time they took the field.
In the final, New Zealand looked to cement their rugby dominance with a Women and Men’s double gold, but faced a fast and organized English team on top form. The Kiwis were flawless from the off, capitalizing on nervy English mistakes and ruthlessly running in tries on what seemed like every first-half possession. England struggled to fight back and the game finished 33-12. A topless Haka from the victors rounded off a wonderful weekend of rugby in a truly fantastic setting. Once again the world of rugby was All Black.
With critical funds raised and key partnerships forging, the Fall Season is shaping up tremendously well in the Bay Area. We have seven schools lined up for direct Play Rugby programming, and are confident of building our relationship with PlayWorks to train a further 20-30 coaches in East Bay and South Bay.
All-in-all, we expect to serve 500-700 children through the Fall Season, with massive potential to expand into 100 Bay Area schools throughout 2019.
Earlier this year we set a target of being able to reach 24 sites and serve 600 students following the tournament, and thanks to everyone’s efforts, it looks like we are well on the way to smashing this goal!
Congratulations to the RWC7s team, USA Rugby and World Rugby for hosting a fabulous tournament. Thank you to everyone who has supported our efforts before, during and after the Rugby World Cup.
Together, we can be proud of a lasting rugby legacy from this once-in-a-lifetime event.