Summit High School girls rugby falls to Utah’s United in Pink 7s title game
Two of the country’s best girls high school rugby teams, Summit High School and United Rugby Club of Utah, rekindled their friendly rivalry this past weekend in the championship game of the Pink 7s rugby tournament in Salt Lake City.
“It’s kind of everything you think of when you think of the game of rugby,” Summit head coach Karl Barth said. “The players know each other socially, and on the field it’s full-out — but it’s great respect. Great rugby, and as soon as it’s over, we are back together pretty quick to console each other, which is nice.”
In the end, the Summit Tigers’ top team fell to the same United squad they defeated a month-and-a-half earlier on their home turf. Barth described the championship game as another enthralling edition of what’s becoming a year-in, year-out tradition with United. The game concluded with a 17-12 final score. With time running out, Summit star Clara Copley made a break down the sideline, before United corralled her to effectively end the game.
“It was pretty back and forth,” Barth said. “Both teams had their opportunities, but we did not finish in the end. Kind of a bummer, but they made some great defensive plays. Two good teams. Somebody’s gotta lose, unfortunately.”
In these elite tilts versus United, Barth said the teams are so similar in skill level that the matches typically come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and which side is most apt at making the most of the other team’s mistakes. Summit also took solace in the fact that they were the only team in the entire tournament to score versus United.
In that final, Copley scored Summit’s first try while Jordan Elam contributed the second.
“She had a really good game in the final,” Barth said of Elam. “I was impressed.”
As for the atmosphere in Salt Lake City, Barth described the championship game as being one attended by many members of the other rugby programs who had previously been eliminated from the tournament. With all of these rugby fans watching with bated breath, it made for quite the exclamation point to conclude a Pink 7s tournament that Barth said will almost certainly be the highest-caliber event the Tigers play in all year.
“It was pretty cool,” Barth said, “just fans from all of the different teams watching. Sometimes not even rooting for somebody, just into the spirit of the whole thing.”
The Tigers’ title game loss followed a semifinal match that saw them take on another one of Utah’s most revered programs, East High. It was actually Summit’s first time ever taking on East. The Tigers stuck to their speed-in-space game plan to win 21-10 against this physical team with several skilled individual players.
Summit’s Nicole Kimball played a stellar game against East, scoring two tries, including one on a great defensive play that she also finished. On that defensive end, Barth highlighted Tiger veterans CeCe Pennell and Copley for executing timely, important tackles down the line.
Summit’s second team had an up and down tournament, many of the squad’s players for the first time pitted against teams of this kind of size and physicality. Despite some struggles, the second squad finished in sixth place, paced by standout plays from Alice Porter, Melina Mero and Jenna Sheldon.
“They were kind of growing throughout,” Barth said, “and playing better by the end, which was cool.”
The Tigers will next play at a tournament, Oct. 27, in Boulder. This weekend, about 15 of the program’s players will have the chance to play in exhibitions during the breaks in the action at the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens Tournament at Infinity Park in Glendale. The event is an elite global competition that will feature the best women’s rugby talent from around the world.
“Some of the young kids will get great experience,” Barth said, “and a few of the older kids will be there to provide some leadership.”
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