Courtesy: Anton Malko
When the UCLA Bruins host the PAC Sevens Rugby Tournament Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3-4, at the North Athletic Fields on campus, all 12 member universities will compete in the seven-a-side Olympic format of the game, and the winner will earn an automatic bid to the USA Rugby 7s Championships held Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
Just as autumn has emerged as the prime season for the Sevens version of rugby, which returns to the 2016 Summer Olympics after a 92-year absence, so too has UCLA emerged as a prominent location to host the continued growth of college rugby among members of the Pacific-12 Conference.
“We’re looking forward to having all of the 12 member universities here this fall and plan to put on a first-class event featuring some of the best teams and individual talent playing at this level in the United States,” said UCLA head coach Scott Stewart.
The Bruins are experienced hosts who have presented the annual Dennis Storer Classic, named in honor of the former UCLA coach and first coach of the U.S. National Team, since 2006 at a venue that combines fine weather with a location that is equitably distant for all the participating teams.
Member universities like Stanford and California were part of the first international efforts of American rugby in the early 20th Century and PAC alumni helped the United States bring home gold medals from the last two Olympics to include rugby, the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp followed by the 1924 Games in Paris. Today’s student-athletes aspire to represent their country once again on that world stage.
“I believe that the involvement of Sevens rugby in the upcoming Olympics is a golden opportunity for rugby in the U.S. to grow to the next level,” said Stewart, who has made 64 international appearances and competed in five Rugby World Cups for Canada. “I fully expect that there will be athletes competing in this event that will be on the field for the USA in 2016 and anticipate that this number will increase in the future as PAC Rugby continues to grow.”
The 2012 PAC Sevens Rugby Tournament features the Bruins along with USC, the Cardinal, the Golden Bears, Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado in the most exciting college sevens qualifier of the season. Saturday pool play will be followed by Sunday’s knockout rounds and finals, with the winner punching its ticket to the championships in College Station, Texas.