City teams not in running for rugby sevens national title

(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

At the beginning of Saturday, four city schools were among 20 teams vying for the 2014 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship at PPL Park in Chester. By the end of the day, none was among the top eight in the Cup Division that will compete for a national title Sunday.

Drexel, Penn, St. Joseph's, and Temple combined to go 2-10 against their pools during the first two days of the tournament. One of the victories occurred when two city schools were matched up - Drexel defeated Temple, 12-7, Saturday afternoon. It is Drexel's first year competing in the tournament.

"It's exciting, being in a venue and playing at an event like this to get a win, you know it's something you've been working for," Dragons coach Michael Burch said.

St. Joe's earned the other victory by defeating Notre Dame, 29-21, in its first game Saturday.

The slimmest margin of defeat for a city team against a non-city opponent was 14, when Temple fell to Maryland, 19-5, in its first game Saturday. The Owls went 0-3 in pool play and will finish the weekend in the Shield Division, for teams that finished 17th through 20th in pool play.

"We thought we could win individually, and that's not the way we're designed to play," Temple coach John Sciotta said.

Most of the other defeats for city schools were blowouts. In its first game Saturday, Drexel was pummeled by defending champion California, 36-0. The Dragons will play in the Bowl Division on Sunday for teams that finished 13th through 16th. They will play St. Joseph's in a semifinal.

Penn suffered two convincing losses Saturday as well. In their first game, the Quakers fell to Arizona, 19-0. The Wildcats scored all 19 of their points in the final eight minutes of the match. The Quakers fared even worse in their second match, losing by 35-12 to Virginia Tech. Penn finished 0-3 in pool play and will play Temple in a Shield Division semifinal.

"Our tackling wasn't good, our handling wasn't good," Quakers coach Omar Foda said. "In every phase we didn't do what we needed to do, and those were the results."

Saturday's 20 matches drew 9,167 fans. California, Penn State, Life University, Navy, UCLA, Dartmouth, Michigan, and Kutztown advanced out of pool play to compete for the national title.

Rugby Sevens allows for more room on the field for players compared to Rugby 15s, the most common form of the sport. Both versions play on the same-size field. The extra space also allows for a faster pace of play.