Tigers host (and win) 7s rugby tourney on homecoming Saturday, Sept. 24

Phil Lindeman

A good ref is hard to come by these days.

On Saturday, Summit Rugby head coach Karl Barth hopped into the black, white and bright yellow of a last-minute rugby official for his team’s home sevens tournament. He convinced a total of eight teams to come challenge his state championship Tigers on homecoming weekend, but for some reason two of three refs never showed.

“It’s like herding cats,” he told me before the Summit green team (aka JV) played in their first match of the day. Then, he launched into a breakdown of sevens rules and strategy: seven players per side with seven-minute halves held on the same field as 15s, which means speed and strategy are key. Good teams can turn that enormous field into a suffocating battlefield by “giving you space just to take it away,” according to coach.

“It’s a fun atmosphere out here,” Barth said before the green team took the field and he got ready for his first turn as ref. “It can be a long day, especially with the girls worried about homecoming, but you get a lot of games and a lot of different teams … If you mess up you can play again.”

The tournament ended with an overall win by the Summit black team (aka varsity) after two rounds of pool play — the second home tourney win after a Summit versus Summit final on Sept. 10. Teams included: the Lumberjackies (Evergreen and Conifer); Glendale; Fort Collins; Monarch; Chaparral; and Ponderosa, plus the Summit green and black teams.

The Summit black team went undefeated on the day before beating Chaparral 33-7 in the final match, while the Summit green team lost their first match of the morning to Fort Collins, 22-0.

Or at least that was the official score, unless you listened to the girls on the all-freshman squad, in which case things were never worse than 0-0. They repeated that mantra try after try — “It’s only zero-zero,” the players said to each other as Fort Collins celebrated — and the entire side believed it.

Keep an eye on these newcomers in three or four years. They’re your next All-Americans.

Summit also sent a sevens team to Falcon Bluffs Middle School in Denver for a Front Range tourney. The event drew six stateside teams — Littleton, Legacy, Regis, Palmer, Swarm and Summit — for pool play.

The final pitted Summit against a strong Swarm team, ending in a 40-0 loss for the Tigers. That doesn’t happen often, but then again, sevens is a whole new beast.

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