On Monday 19th August, long time 1st team player and Head Coach for Marlborough Compeed 7s, Moree Nailago, travelled out to Rugby Town, Denver, Colorado, with the rest of Marlborough’s 7s players. We had been invited to attend the Tournament which has been running since 2011 and has a prize of $10,000 for the ultimate winning team.
The boys all arrived safely and quickly got on with training before the Pool games began on Friday 23rd August. Marlborough was part of Pool D which turned out to be one of the toughest and most competitive of all the Pools.
The first Pool match was against Lomaivitu Rugby Club USA which Marlborough won very easily, 24 points to 7. The tries were made by Waisea Nacuqu (the Game Changer) wearing the number eight shirt (half back). Regular Marlborough Compeed 7s player Ryan Morrell (number 12 hooker/wing) and the Fijian Flash also known as Alasio Naduva in the number 15 shirt out on the wing (he also made two conversions) and Sai Vunivesilevu (number 6 half back) converted the other try.
Next up was Nola Gold who we lost 21 points to 28; the Fijian Flash (wearing the number 19 shirt out on the wing) scored two tries and Kane Marafono (number 11, also out on the wing). Again, SaiVunivesilevu converted all three tries.
The boys were then up against Collegiate All-Americans which we won 26 points to 19 with both the Fijian Flash and the Game Breaker scoring two tries a piece with Alasio wearing the number 15 shirt out on the wing. Sai converted the three tries.
The final pool match was against CGIG Life West who we beat 19 points to 12; Sevuloni Mocenacagi or the Lamp Post (wearing the number 1 shirt as prop) scored one try as did the Fijian Flash and regular first team player Mitieli Vulikjapani (number 13 centre), with the two conversions made by Sai and Joe McGill (number 14 and hooker).
We were through to the quarter finals where we up against the US Army who were the favourites to win, this was a tough match, but Marlborough prevailed by winning 17 points to 15, with a try scored in the extra minute of play by none other than Waisea Nacuqu, in addition to his earlier try and the one which the Lamp Post popped over the line. This was an enthralling match, both teams threw everything at it and easily could have gone either way, but luckily it went Marlborough’s way.
It was then getting serious; we were now into the semi finals and we were up against Tiger Rugby who played hard with the final result at 31 points to 26, to Marlborough. This was another tough match and not just for the players, but spectators too, every emotion was experienced until Marlborough came through and scored the winning try in extra time – heart stopping, we were through to the final. Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Siti Tamaivena, Waisea Nacuqu, Joe McGill and Alasio Naduva were the try scorers with Sai converting three tries.
The final, and we were up against the formidable Ramblin Jesters who have been in fantastic form during the domestic 7s matches. This was their third attempt to take home the prize of $10,000 and though Marlborough Compeed put up a fantastic fight, the game ended 14 points to 26 to the Ramblin Jesters. Marlborough had had some tough matches and possibly the Jesters had had a slightly easier run. It was a fantastic game and the boys did brilliantly, earning respect from not only the opposition but one of the Tournament’s organisers Kieran Nelson who said “Oh my gosh, what a game! My husband and I truly thought that your team would win that final as, throughout the tournament, they rallied in the second half! They fought hard, though, so you and the boys should be nothing but proud of the effort put in! We really loved having your boys here!! They helped us end the banquet on a joyful note as they and their US Lomaiviti brothers treated us to a beautiful song! (Oh, how I love it when Fijians sing! Truly makes my heart swell!).” The tries were scored by Kane Marafona and Joe McGill with Waiseas and Sai making the conversions.
Marlborough Compeed 7s put up a gallant effort, they put everything they had into all their games and the Club is very proud that on our first visit we have left as the runners up and gained many more friends across the pond. Within the next three to four weeks the videos will be made available to the Club of all our matches which will be put onto the website. Until then, you can go onto https://rugbytown7s.com and watch replays of the matches and see the photos from this amazing tournament.